Watch Your Head!

Watch Your Head!

Watch Your Head!

On my daily walk this morning I went past a mother and toddler.  The woman was getting something out of the boot of her car and the child standing just beside her.  As we walked by she said “Watch your head” …. The child did understand what she meant and moved but it got me thinking.


How do you ‘watch your head’?

It’s physically impossible – you can watch your head in your imagination or in a mirror – but other than that we can’t see our head.


We use language as one of the main means of communication. (I’m not getting into a discussion on body language and the unspoken ‘tells’ we display)  And when we say anything we assume that the other person knows exactly what we mean.  Yet how many times do we find that that is just not true?


We learn cultural norms and meanings – like the child learning that ‘watch your head’ perhaps means “move out of the way and be careful as I’m about to close the car boot and your head is possibly in the way and it would hurt if it landed on your head” He might have assumed it means something else depending on the previous contexts in which he has heard that phrase.


I wonder what that child imagined when he heard the phrase ‘Watch your head’?  I wonder if he repeated it to himself and how his inner voice sounded to him – curious, confused, neutral?


Self Talk

Most of us have an internal dialogue going on.  As I write this I’m saying the words to myself in my head.  In some contexts that inner dialogue is helpful, other times it’s not.  We are often very good at berating ourselves for things we’ve done or said or haven’t done or said.  For many people this internal chatter becomes extremely unhelpful and makes them less able to live their life to the full.


Sometimes inner chatter is a true statement like ‘I’m no good at maths’ At school I could not get my head around algebra so in one way that statement is true.  However, unconsciously, my mind and body make millions of complicated mathematical calculations when I walk, drive a car or other task.  It knows exactly how much insulin to release after I’ve eaten food, all without me having to sit and get out my calculator! (Thank goodness. It would be very time consuming).


The following quote just came to mind.


“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child” (1 Corinthians)


I’ve found, in my experience, that the ‘negative’ internal chatter is, at a deeper level, usually trying to protect us in some way and keep us safe.  Often that chatter has been learned early on in life from how we were treated as children and what ‘meaning’ we gave that treatment.  Sometimes what we assumed it to mean as a child is, when we consider it as an adult, only one of many assumptions we could have made.


You Can Change It


Steve Andreas, a leader in the NLP field, has written a lovely book called “Transforming Negative Self-Talk”.  You don’t have to be an nlp’er to use it.


In it he explores many different ways in which we can change our self-talk.  We can make many changes including:


  • adding music
  • spacing              the                    phrase                         out
  • changing the spelling
  • putting in punctuation
  • placing the emphasis in a different place (you can give this sentence seven different meanings!)
  • fading out a word


All, and the many other suggestions in the book, will help change your connection with that self-talk in different ways.  Some may work better than others.  ‘Playing’ around with the self-talk is interesting in itself as it encourages you to consider the meaning you are placing on it.


If you’d like to know more or explore how your negative self-talk is holding you back do get in touch.

Comments are closed.