Inner babble is that stream of speeches, rehearsals, nagging, put-downs, gloating, and other disturbing messages that pass through our brains almost continuously. It isn't the only inner stream of course; others are more organized, more creative, and might even be the source of inspiration now and then.
We each have our own favored patterns of inner babble, and we favor some over others in certain situations. Here are some examples.
- I better not do that. People might think less of me.
- I better do that. If I don't, people might think less of me.
- I better stop doing this. It's too much fun.
- I like this, but I don't deserve it.
- I don't have to do this distasteful task right now. I'll do it later.
- If I do this, the world should reward me.
- I don't have to do this, because the world didn't reward me last time.
- People should behave according to my rules.
- Some parts of my body work, but they need to be larger (smaller).
- Some parts of my body work, but they're in the wrong place.
- I can conceal my physical defects with X.
- I'm an inferior being. Only X can help me.
- X is a shortcut to achieving my dreams.
- I can get X only by giving money to somebody else.
If you're hearing
that success or failure
will follow inevitably,
you probably aren't
thinking logicallyBecause inner babble can be misleading, tiring, and demoralizing, controlling it helps focus your energy on more constructive pursuits. When you suddenly suspect that your thoughts might be inner babble, check for these identifying characteristics:
- Absolute language
- Concepts appear in stark terms: "my body is inferior;" "I have to do this;" "I must never do that." Everything is either good or bad.
- Very little in life is all good, all bad, or always so.
- Promises of certain success or predictions of inevitable doom
- If you're hearing that success or failure will follow inevitably, you probably aren't thinking logically.
- Life just isn't that predictable.
- Unverifiable assertions
- You find yourself hearing things that might be true, but can't be checked. Just how exactly will X help you achieve your dreams?
- Try asking "How?" Often the answer is unavailable.
- Money-based "solutions"
- Purchased "solutions" rarely last, even if they're real. And there's a good chance that the likely vendor is the originator of the babble message.
- Doing what's really needed is much more difficult than spending money, but it has two distinct advantages — it's usually cheaper, and it works.
When we're trying to change, we sometimes see our current behavior as "wrong" or defective, and we can become discouraged if the change is difficult. Beware — changing inner babble can be especially tricky if you get to babbling about your inner babble. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
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- And on September 4: How Messages Get Mixed
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