inner dialogue

I do now.

I do now.

March 20, 2020
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When I think back and – gently – lay my eyes on Helena of the past, I can see the strain. The harsh inner dialogue. The insecurity, the lack of self-honoring, the constant belittling of myself. Not thinking I was good enough, never ever good enough. Knowing, somehow, that I’ve lots to give (as we all do), but not knowing what, not knowing how (to birth it), not being in touch with it.

I do now.

My inner dialogue has changed completely. I am gentle with myself today, gentle with an edge. #Tankespjärn provides that edge. (And it’s along the edges the magic happens.) Having learned to do #tankespjärn, to humbly receive it, to generously gift it to those who are interested, I have had such a pivotal shift in life, from being the most negative person I’ve ever encountered… into something completely different. Perhaps not the most positive person alive, but heck, I sure do have a hard time staying pissed, annoyed, angry, for longer periods. And most often, I am in full acceptance of what is, instead of wasting my energy on refusing to accept what is.

From this point of acceptance, I can create. Freely.
Reshape what is, into what it can and wants to become.

#tankespjärn is the essence of this pivotal shift of my life, which has me Live today, not simply go through the motion. That’s why I want to share it, with anyone who wants to receive it.

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Automate it!

February 6, 2019
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in Tip
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Automate it, I said, and she frowned. That sounds like robots and stuff, she responded and had me off on a rant about the marvel of automating things, and how it can be robots and stuff, certainly, but also what I make automatic in my life. Like the question Does this serve me? which I’ve asked myself thousands of times since… 2012?

In fact, I’ve asked myself this question so many times, that I no longer have to ask it to answer it. It’s now something I do automatically, whenever (or at least most of the times) I experience a really strong sensation, be it anger, irritation, frustration, fear, sadness, anxiety, worry. Or for that matter extreme elation, joy, curiosity, bubbling eagerness. The script of does this serve me runs automatically, and my response has me make a more conscious decision. It gives me just enough of a pause, or a distance if you will, to be able to observe what I am experiencing and respond to the question.

If the answer is yes I keep on going. If the answer is no sometimes I keep going anyway, taking full responsibility for it, and sometimes (most of the times, I would like to think) I stop, since the pause I’ve given myself gives me a way out somehow.

Insights are amazing. They are one of, if not the best superpowers of human beings. One of the most impactful insights I’ve gotten was that I don’t have to be so hard on myself. Sounds silly almost, but I was actually about… let’s see… 35 years old when I fully got this. So for 35 years, I lived with an extremely harsh inner dialogue. But – and this is important – just because I got the insight, didn’t mean that I automatically stopped being hard on myself. You see, for 35 years, I’d very efficiently built a whole system of neural pathways on how to be hard on myself. And just because I got that insight, those pathways didn’t disintegrate. They didn’t, because neural pathways don’t. (Unless you have a neural degenerative disease of some sort. Luckily, most of us don’t.) So what I had to do, once I got that insight, was learn new ways of interacting with myself.

I was helped along by my willingness to change my inner dialogue (which definitely also affected the way I interacted with everyone else. As above, so below and all that stuff!) and my observatory powers. I started to observe myself being hard on me. At first… it could take me hours (if not days) to spot it, after the fact, that is. After a stint of that, my revelatory observations crept closer and closer to the actual situation, and before I knew it, I was picking up on my soon-to-be-harsh inner dialogue. Before it happened. When that happened, I had a choice. Harsh. Or gentle. And I could pick which route to go down. And once I started picking gentle I started to build new neural pathways, training myself into new patterns of being with me.

Now 10-11 years after that first initial insight of not having to treat myself so harshly, I’ve gotten sooo good at being gentle with me. Not soft. Not weak. Not letting myself off the hook, and never challenging me. No, not even close to that! I challenge myself so much more now that I no longer fear my internal judge! So in a sense, I’ve not just automated does this serve me, but also being gentle with myself.

Both of these are ”automated scripts” that I find truly serve me as well as those around me.

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Advent Calendar 12 – To try new things with a curious mind

December 12, 2018
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To try new things, with a curious mind – what a gift that is. To me. For everything I try, I can stop to think I might like it, or not. Because I know, since I have tried it. I’ve just given myself one of these gifts, having just attended my first ever silent after work – two hours of complete silence, sitting, standing, lying down, in a room with others, and the possibility to have a cup of tea or a sip of water. Two hours went by much faster than expected. And it felt really good. Perhaps because I’ve befriended Silence? My old self, the one with the extremely harsh inner dialogue, wasn’t all that thrilled about silence, as it made the harshness so much more apparent and obvious. But nowadays, with my gentle and curious inner dialogue, I have gotten to love silence. And new stuff as well.

Because the two go together.

I mean – silence and trying new stuff go together with respect to my changed inner dialogue. As you might imagine, having a harsh inner dialogue isn’t the best encourager of trying new things… dreading the response from within if I would fail (How stupid you are Helena! Did you really think you could do that?), or not like it (Come off it Helena, stop wasting your time on stupid things like this!) or any other discouraging response you could think of.

There’s also something special about firsts. So my first silent after work deserves a bit of special attention simply because it is a first. When my eldest child was born, and I was a single mom, I missed having someone to share all of my child’s firsts with. So I created an email list of everyone that I cared of – and I shared with them all, whenever there was something special. And often, when there wasn’t anything special as well – simply for the joy of sharing our day with others.

Since then, I’ve been extra attentive to firsts of all kinds. The first snow of the year. The first spring flower of the year. The first time visiting a new country, eating a new dish, trying something new and so on. There are so many firsts available for us, and I enjoy celebrating them, in one form or another. Just for the fun of it.


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 12 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Advent Calendar 1 – Being gentle

December 1, 2018
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I decided to join the #BusinessBoomutmaning (i.e. challenge) in December as well, doing 21 FB Live’s, just like I did in November. This time around, I will be doing my live’s in Swedish, and as an Advent Calendar on the theme of being gentle. But I also wanted to share my current thoughts on this subject here, as this entire site is centered around Being and Doing Gentle. So I will do a written advent calendar here on the blog, in writing sharing what I share in words on Facebook (in Swedish). The background for why I landed in Being Gentle is simply thus: I have spent 75% of my life in the opposite corner, being extremely harsh with myself.

My inner dialogue was hard up until around ten years ago when the following occurred: 
I was headed to my therapist, and as I hadn’t taken the time to withdraw cash from the ATM the day before, I went to the small kiosk along the way, with the intent of buying something small and withdrawing cash at the same time. However, as I came there, the phone lines were down, so they could not accept my credit card. Hence… I came to my therapist without cash to pay her. And I felt awful. Horrendous. Disrespectful towards her, with the knowledge that I was a dreadful and despicable person for not living up to my end of the bargain.

I told her as much… and she looked at me (with the kindest and most curious of gazes) and stated the obvious: You are very hard on yourself. 

I nodded, a bit perplexed, and asked: Don’t you have to? 

She shrugged her shoulders, and said, gently: No. If it had been me, I would simply have said that I’ll bring double the money next time. 

And, like the wrecking ball that Miley Cyrus sings about, my beliefs shattered. The beliefs that I had to be hard on myself… or perhaps rather, the belief that that was the only way to be me in the world. All of a sudden, I got a glimpse that perhaps there was another way of talking to myself, one that did not make me feel so bad, much (most…) of the time.

From then on, I have worked at transforming the ingrained habits of 30+ years of living life being hard on myself, into living a life of being gentle towards myself. Have found ways of being and doing gentle towards myself, and today, wholeheartedly, I can say: I like being me. I enjoy the way I am with myself, and how I show up as me. And I love myself. But that was not the basis for this transformation, that has been a bonus effect!


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 1 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Doing gentle – 27 – How fascinating!

July 17, 2016
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Have you seen Benjamin Zander? He is wonderful, and he has a life-hack that I’ve adopted. When something happens which is hard to grasp, perhaps really not something you wanted, or just out-of-the-blue odd, he throws his arms into the air, and exclaims How fascinating! When a colleague make a decision that is totally off, or you kid paints all over the new sofa with permanent markers. When you accidentally put a teaspoon of salt into the pot instead of sugar, or open the washing machine only to notice that in the white laundry a red sock was hidden, turning the entire load pink.

How fascinating!How fascinating!

This exclamation surprises me. It shifts the inner dialogue. It’s like an old-fashioned record-player, that jumps a song if you bump into it. Might scratch the record a bit at that, but you suddenly hear a new tune, and not the one you believed was coming. That’s what happens to me at least.

And I must say, using Benjamin Zanders wonderful How fascinating is a great way to become more gentle with yourself, especially in instances when you’re the one who messed up. When I was the one who loaded the washing machine. When I was the one making the dessert inedible. When I do something so stupid I don’t even want to own up to it.

How fascinating!

It changes the inner dialogue. Try it!

Welcome to my humble abode, where the underlying tone centers around being gentle to oneself. On Sundays I share thoughts on how I do gentle, and I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please subscribe to updates so you won’t miss out on future posts in this series.

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An epidemic of harshness

March 10, 2016
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I used to have an inner dialogue akin to a mix of Hitler/Mao/Stalin, or that’s how I remember it, anyway. I don’t anymore. The voices of dictators inside myself, is a thing of the past. I can’t pinpoint an exact time when they stopped, but gradually, over these past 10 years or so, their once overpowering and loud voices got more quiet, less frequent, and nowadays, I basically don’t hear them, at all.

I know the moment where I realized I didn’t have to believe them, didn’t have to act out their orders. It’s probably 9 years ago, by now. Coming for a session with my therapist, I didn’t have cash with me, to pay for the session. I berated myself, prostrated myself, viciously whipped myself with verbal lashes. So ashamed of myself, stuck in the feeling that I was disrespectful to my therapist. She looked at me, astonished at what she saw. Asked “Why are you so hard on yourself?” and I gasped “You don’t have to be?“. “No“, she said, continuing, “I would have just said ‘I didn’t bring cash today, I’ll bring it next time“.

Flabbergasted, my only respons was “You can do that? You don’t have to whip yourself into submission for failing to live up to your own standards?“.

That was a pivotal moment in me, discovering myself.

Since then, I’ve come such a long way that the dictators rarely, if ever, let their voice reverberate within my head.

I quite often recount this story with coach clients, because I’ve found most people recognize this. All but one client, actually. And I’ve had coaching conversation with hundreds of people by now.

All.

But.

One.

Of those I’ve brought this up with, recognize this in themselves. harshnessThat has led to me to the conclusion that there is a raging epidemic, spread across the globe, across the human population. At least within the Western hemisphere. An epidemic of inner harshness. A harshness that makes us behave internally in a manner we would never want to expose another living being to.

And the problem with this epidemic is that it’s all but invisible. Because when I see someone that I really admire, I compare my inside (my inner climate) with someone else’s outside. Having no clue. Absolutely none, as to what that person’s inner dialogue sounds like. He/She might look like he/she has it all together, on the outside – but what goes on within?

Welcome to the English writings of Helena Roth. Since 2012 I have blogged over at herothecoach.com and this post is a sample of what I’ve been writing over the years. I hope you enjoy this #ThrowbackThursday, originally published here, and if you do, please subscribe to updates so you won’t miss out on future posts.

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Doing gentle – 3 – Notice my inner chatter

January 31, 2016
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doing gentle 3 bwHave you picked up on the tone of your inner dialogue? I have. I used to have a dictator within, I remember it as having been a mix of Hitler, Mao, Stalin… And it was awful. Horrendous. Harsh. Evil. Mistrusting. Sadistic. Unrelenting and cruel.

But yeah. I wrote used to, because this is no longer the tone of my inner dialogue. I no longer experience this inner dictatorship. A faint echo of it might show up from time to time, but in no way close to what it used to be like, being me.

Today, my inner voice is gentle. Encouraging. Loving. Kind and appreciative. Playful even, and really curious. With a strong urge to experiment and discover, to expand, learn, evolve. So even if the echo of my inner dictator sometimes comes a-knocking, I greet it with a gentle curiosity, wondering what brought it here this time around. What the message might be, if there’s something to learn?

I often ask coaching clients what the tone of their inner dialoge is, and all but one have replied that it’s generally holds a harsh tone. All but one, out of a hundred, at least. Strange isn’t it. We seem to live in a culture that tunes our inner tone into a harsh one. Why is that? And why not re-tune it?

What’s the tone of your inner dialogue?

(And note! If the answer is harsh. You don’t have to be harsh on yourself because of it. Just notice. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just become aware. Step one, remember!)

Welcome to my new website, where the underlying tone centers around being gentle to oneself. On Sundays I will be sharing thoughts on how I do gentle, and this is the third of those. I hope you enjoy it and if you do, please subscribe to updates so you won’t miss out on future posts in this series.

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