October 22nd, 2015
The Scene: Two men are talking on the phone, trying to set up a date for the weekend. Sam called Jamal to ask him out on a date. Sam is VERY interested in Jamal, and feeling very vulnerable.
Sam: Do you want to get together this weekend?
The Voice in Sam’s head: He won’t want to see you. He’s got better things to do.
Jamal: Sure, that’d be great.
Sam: When are you free?
Jamal: I’m free all weekend.
Sam: Ok. Let’s do Saturday night.
The Voice in Sam’s Head: He has nothing better to do so he’ll go out with you.
Do you ever have these kinds of conversations in your head? They’re not uncommon. But for those of us who have insecurities about our attractiveness, wonder if we’re worthy of love, or question if we are lovable, they can be quite a regular occurrence. In fact, the author of “The Untethered Soul”, Michael Singer, has name for this negative self-talk. He calls it the roommate in our head. I added “nasty” to highlight the bad attitude.
The nasty roommate in our head doesn’t give us a break. The roommate offers constant criticism and reminds us of our fears and insecurities on a regular basis. It seems like the roommate’s goal is to make us feel bad about ourselves. And it’s hard to resist the roommate’s suggestions. We often believe what the roommate has to say. The funny thing is, if this were an actual person, we would never hang out with them. But since it’s our own mind – shaped by traumas and pains – it’s hard to ignore or push to the side.
However, all is not lost. I encourage you to experiment. Notice when the roommate is talking. Remind yourself that it’s just the roommate, doing it’s nasty habit. Maybe refocus on your breath, how you feel sitting in your chair, or notice the wind on your skin as you walk. Sometimes when the roommate is particularly insistent, you might choose to call a trusted friend; someone who will remind you that what the roommate is saying just isn’t true.
Whatever you choose to do, it’s so important to be kind and understanding with yourself. You can’t leave that up to the roommate. Self-compassion goes a long way! Learning how to cultivate it is worth the effort.
If you’re looking for a therapist or counselor in Dupont Circle, Washington, DC to help you with negative self-talk, contact Mike Giordano, LICSW at 202-460-6384 or Mike.Giordano.MSW@gmail.com.