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Listening? Really? How Listening to Yourself can be a Big Help

Author: Marc Gravelle, Certified Hypnotherapist and HMI Instructor

Marc Gravelle

Date Published:
Publisher: Hypnosis Motivation Institute

There is a vast difference between hearing and really listening. By really listening I mean being very present and consciously aware of what is being communicated.

In twenty-one years of practicing hypnotherapy I have noticed and observed, that many people are not really listening to what they tell themselves.

Have you ever noticed that what people tell themselves, they often live out, or realize? An example is the person who tells themselves ‘it’s going to be a lousy day,’ experiences just that: a lousy day. The person who tells themselves ‘I’m going to hate this,’ ends up disliking (or even hating) whatever that experience was.

The reason this occurs is that we are all the most suggestible to one person in our lives, and that person is us. Whatever we suggest (tell ourselves) to ourselves, we usually experience, or live out, that suggestion. Another example is when a person tells themselves ‘it’s going to be a long day,’ to them the day may seem to never end.

Being aware of this simple concept or idea, that we are the most suggestible to ourselves, can be most helpful to the person who talks negatively to him or herself. The kind of person who says to themselves (verbally, or just in their own head), ‘I can’t do anything right,’ or, I’m such a loser,’ or, ‘I’ll never meet the right person.’

The effect of this negative self-talk is that it keeps the person stuck, and unable to improve their lives for the better, and thus, are happier.

The first step to correcting this condition is to become more present and consciously aware of how we talk to ourselves. This step creates a new possibility: that we can replace the negative self-talk with more positive self-talk.


In her book, The Happiness Makeover, M.J. Ryan has a chapter titled “Is Your Head Full of Negative Self-Talk?” She advises “if you hear yourself think ‘I can’t do anything right,’ stop (be conscious and present) and recall three things you have done right.” If you think, “I should be able to do this; I’m such a loser,” stop and think “I may have made a mistake this time, but I can learn.”

Martin Seligman, in Authentic Happiness, advises to treat negative thoughts ‘as if they were uttered by an external person whose mission is to make your life miserable, and then marshal evidence against the thoughts.’

Clients I’ve worked with sometimes give the negative voice a name (like dad, mom or critical uncle Harry, whomever taught us to be negative) and respond to the thought by saying ‘there you are again, but I’m no longer listening to you.’ It’s helpful because it creates a distance between you and the negative thinking so that it controls you less.

Eckart Tolle, the spiritual guru, explains the negative voice in our head as the ego. It’s a voice we are born with, is constantly at work (in our head) even when we sleep (worrying is a strategy of the ego, and worrying can wake us from sleep). The ego generates negative thought processes, which can manifest into negative verbal self-talk.

Solution? Or how to fight this? Tolle suggests we step outside of ourselves and become a witness to the thought, or talk. This is similar to the process Seligman (above) suggests, that we create a distance between ourselves and the negative thought or talk.


We are all most suggestible to ourselves. What we tell ourselves, we live out or experience (we are self-programmers). If we talk in a negative manner to ourselves we make difficult for ourselves to change or improve our lives. The first step to solving this is to start really listening to us, in a present, conscious manner. Then we can replace the negative talk/thought with a more positive self-monolog.

The big payoff? We’ll be generally happier.