Do you ever look in the mirror and think “ugh I could not look worse today” and it’s like… you’re hearing a voice but you’re not really hearing a voice because it’s your voice? But it’s also not your voice because you would never be so mean to yourself, right?
Or you’re studying hard for a test and you just subconsciously know you’re going to fail. Like no one is really telling you that you’re going to fail and on one hand you’re studying hard so half of you is like “but what if I don’t fail?” but the other half is there to remind you “oh you definitely will”.
How can there be two parts of you, when there’s only one you? Where are these thoughts coming from if not from yourself? And how can you defeat them and convince yourself “I’m going to get an A, darn it!!” when you’re just trying to convince yourself?
Meadowlark Monaghan, mental health worker turned blog lead for Madhappy, calls “that little voice inside your head that is narrating everything” your Inner Roommate. Meadowlark, like all of us girls, has plenty of experience with that judgmental and talkative frenemy, and fortunately has some ways to get her to give you some peace and quiet (finally).
“If you’re sitting here reading this thinking ‘I don’t have that voice’… That’s exactly the one I’m talking about”, says Meadowlark. Often, we don’t realize how negative and detrimental our Internal Roommate can be! “Experts say we have about 60-80k thoughts per day.” That’s a lot of thoughts— and naturally, they can’t all be positive. However, there are practices we can implement to begin spending more time with thoughts that serve us, and turn our internal roommate into one we actually want to live with, explains Meadowlark.
Sometimes, your inner roommate decides to be more friend than frenemy and she’ll remind you how awesome you look in your new outfit, leaving you feeling confident and self-assured all day.
Other times… not so much. Meadowlark’s first step in differentiating which is which begins with “separating yourself from the self-talk by asking yourself ‘am I the one talking… or the one listening?’.” In this way, you begin to learn that the real you is separate from your thoughts, emotions and behaviors, and you have control over all of them.
Once you’re able to identify the difference between you and your thoughts, you’ll notice when your mind starts racing or chatting away- this often happens in the shower or right before bed. Take a step back, inhale deeply, and analyze whether your thoughts are positive, negative, or neutral. Meadowlark reminds us that “your thoughts do not get to dictate your reality if you don’t let them!”. However, that can often seem easier said than done— fortunately, Meadowlark has a few tricks up her sleeve where her internal roommate is concerned.
Meadowlark named her internal roommate “Chatty Cathy”. “By naming her, you are literally personifying her” as someone separate from yourself. She’s an entire other girl and you do not have to listen to her when she’s being rude. “This distinction helps us not be fully controlled by our Cathys!”
When you’re feeling a little down and negative, Meadowlark recommends grabbing a piece of paper and writing down all your negative thoughts on one side. Later, “when you’re feeling like 100% that b****,” come back to the same paper and write your positive thoughts on the other side. This is an awesome way to challenge your negative thoughts, and a great reminder later when you need it. We know we’ll need it because let’s face it, we girls are just a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
This is otherwise known as a “flow state” and it’s achieved when you’re so into whatever you’re doing that you don’t have the time or mental capacity to think about anything else. “You can get into a flow state in so many different ways— playing a sport, painting, reading, doing a puzzle, yoga” or whatever brings you joy and requires concentration!
“Self-talk fuels the fire that is anxiety.” Like we’ve talked about before, stress is directly caused by a situation, whereas anxiety is caused by your thoughts about the situation. By distancing ourselves from our thoughts and separating ourselves from our Inner Roommate (Chatty Cathy), we can begin to control them, and therefore our anxiety. Meadowlark has experienced personal success with this, noting that “learning to listen to my thoughts as separate entities from myself has been a game changer for my anxiety”.
“Positive self-talk doesn’t come overnight, y’all! It’s hard,” Meadowlark reminds us. It’s a process but with practice and repetition, we can begin using our tools to better manage our Chatty Cathy, and therefore our negative thoughts and anxiety. “There are many other resources if we need extra help as well… Like online support groups or therapy, or even finding your own community to chat about this stuff.” Looking for an online support group or community? Meadowlark is building an app, Cherio, that connects people in anonymous group chats to discuss mental health! Yeah, she’s really that cool.