The question, 'Do you oppress yourself?' has been floating about in my head for a while and I want to share my thoughts with you. If I asked you that question, I bet you'd say 'no', I mean who would do that, oppress themselves?

Because the definition of the word, OPPRESSOR, according to the Cambridge dictionary is: "someone who treats people in an unfair and cruel way and prevents them from having opportunities and freedom."

Take a few moments, right now, and just observe the thoughts, sentences, dialogues, monologues and images going through your mind. They are all telling you something and making noise; this is your chatter. We all have it, and not one of us is immune. Some of that chatter is empowering and we love to listen to it and some is oppressing and we can’t wait to get away from it. The trick is to maintain a higher ratio of empowering chatter. Before, you can do that of course, you need to know, if your chatter is empowering or oppressing you. A simple way of doing this is to imagine your chatter as a radio talk show and if you can’t imagine it, write it down as a script, or even record it on a dictaphone. Once you’ve recorded it in some way, replay it, listen to it and ask yourself, ‘Would I stay tuned in to this show, or continue reading this script?’

If you didn’t like the majority of what you heard or read, it is likely that your chatter is oppressing you and of course the opposite is also true. If you loved most of what you’ve heard or read, it is likely you’re constantly empowering yourself with your chatter. Becoming aware of how your mind works is paramount to achieving anything in your life, because the bottom line is that our internal chatter has the greatest impact and influence on our lives and we cannot turn the chatter off for long periods of time. It exists because it is how we experience and internalise the world we live in.

Everything we know about the world, is learnt through seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling it. In order to customise and rationalise these sensory experiences, the mind creates stories. Once it has a story, the mind begins looking for past similar experiences to match the story with and the more matches found, the more validity it gives to the story. For example, using the observation technique you just used, I discovered an oppressive story that was created when I was still a child. The story was that whatever I did or said wasn’t good enough. Over the years, my mind managed to collect dates to ‘prove’ this story, leaving me with the belief that ‘I’m not good enough’, which is just one of my stories. In essence, our minds are running on a loop as we constantly create, match, and internalise our experiences. The outcome of this is our chatter. Just like the stories, our chatter is very repetitive and runs on a parallel loop because it is simply the expression of the stories. We are expressing ourselves all the time, and in almost all cases, what we are expressing in our mind leaks into our external world and before we know it, we are mirroring our chatter in everything we do as well as in how we look.

When I discovered this I no longer wanted to be out of my mind, and I realised that changing my stories will move me into a much more powerful position in my life, I did just that, and this is how I did it. The first part was becoming aware of it, so that was half the work done right there. I observed my chatter daily for one week. It wasn’t easy or comfortable, but just observing motivated me even more to do something about it because I just couldn’t stand what I was hearing, and believe me, I was hearing a lot of it! So I decided to take action.

I scheduled time for myself in a quiet comfortable place where I wouldn’t be disturbed, just to sit and reflect on everything I had recorded about my chatter. Whenever, I recognised an oppressive story, I asked myself questions like: Would I talk to anyone else like this? Would I stand and listen to someone else talking to me like this? Naturally the answers to those were a big fat ‘No’. I went a step further and asked more questions like: What words of encouragement could I have used instead? What would I tell my best friend if she faced this situation? What would I have liked to hear instead? I wrote all my answers down. When you try this yourself, you will notice that all the stories boil down to one definitive statement, even the new ones that emerge from your reflective questions. I took more action because I wanted to change my stories quickly. I could already feel the difference and it was exciting. I stood in front of my mirror with my list of empowering statements and said them out loud, to myself, over and over again, every day, first thing in the morning. It’s a great way to start my day; seeing and hearing words of encouragement and empowerment. Using two senses instead of one also helps to reinforce and solidify the experience into a visual as well as an auditory one, directing my mind to create new empowering stories.

A word of warning, this doesn’t happen overnight and it may feel odd or strange at first, but continue anyway. The key to this working for you is to do it regularly and consistently.

Abby Hussein is an empowerment coach and author. Her business, supports and guides clients to cultivate nurturing and empowering relationships with themselves as well as others from the perspectives of life coaching, neurolinguistic programming and psychosynthesis. 


coaching neurolinguistic programming psychosyntheses mind chatter positive self-talk


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