William James, an American philosopher, historian, and psychologist, was the first educator to offer psychology courses in the United States. He is considered to be the founding father of psychology and was a thought-leader who was well ahead of his time.
The quote in the photo above is well known in the field of psychology. However, there is another one of James' quotes that I want to share below:
“Most unhappiness is caused by people listening to themselves instead of talking to themselves”.
Think about this quote for a moment......"most unhappiness is caused by people listening to themselves instead of talking to themselves". This quote challenged people, way back in the day, to become more aware of their own habitual ways of thinking. He challenged people to think about their thinking so to speak. Did they gravitate more toward always listening to their internal voice or did they habitually take control of their internal voice and choose their words carefully when speaking to themselves?
According to James, people who chose to listen to and be controlled by their own critical, harsh inner voice were the ones that experienced more unhappiness, anxiety, and worry in life. As opposed to people who took control of their inner voice and spoke to themselves in empowering ways. Rather than letting themselves be controlled by their negative inner voice, they took action to speak to themselves in more productive ways.
Over the decades, psychologists from far and wide have studied the concept of ‘inner dialogue’ and they now know that how inner voice manifests itself in a person’s life can vary dramatically from individual to individual for a number of reasons. However, there are things that people can do to begin the process of building a more empowering inner voice and it all begins with self-awareness.
A thought activity I encourage anyone reading this to try out is to draw more attention to their own habitual ways of thinking. When you catch yourself in thought over the next week you can:
Try this activity for one straight week without any self-judgment. If you are experiencing more negative thoughts on a daily basis, it's OK because you are just beginning the process of bringing more self-awareness to your habitual ways of thinking. If your thoughts are mostly positive, great! Keep on doing whatever you are doing.
Next week, I will do a part two to this blog post to give people specific strategies that they can apply to begin the process of building a much more empowering personal narrative. However, genuine curiosity is the first step in this process, so I encourage you to take on this challenge and let me know how it goes. Thanks for reading.
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.