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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
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Intrapersonal Communication

You communicate with yourself more than you do with anyone else. Talking to yourself is more formally referred to as intrapersonal communication, and it's sometimes called the internal dialogue, although it is often more of a monologue. These conversations actually structure your reality. Since they will influence what you find out there," they will have an impact on your health and happiness. So, as we discussed at length previously, be aware of what you tell yourself.

When you were a child, the world was described for you and you got attention for repeating these descriptions. "Nice doggy!" "Bad cold." "Pretty girl." "Ugly mess!" You soon came to understand that words were symbols for things and that some things were good and necessary; others were bad and should be avoided. As you asked "Why?" and "What is it?" you received not only a verbal message, but also a whole range of more subtle, nonverbal cues about what was approved and what was not. Since you didn't comprehend all the words used in these descriptions, you relied more upon the emotional tone that accompanied them. You were very perceptive in picking up these nonverbal cues. Your parents and others around you used tone of voice, facial expression, and physical touch (such as a restraining touch on the shoulder as you approached the stove) to teach you, to protect you, or to control you.

As you grew older, you moved from a simple awareness of a few things into the process of talking to yourself about everything. You began to draw on your rapidly developing linguistic skills to describe your world. Any white stuff that fell from the sky was called snow. You understood snow. Or so you thought. The fact that some of it was heavy and very wet, while some of it was light and powdery may have escaped you. Snow was snow, falling, piling up on the fence or trees, frozen into ice, turning gray as it was trampled underfoot. All of its textures, its infinite patterns, its many stages may not have been appreciated. Snow was snow! This is what we mean when we say that the way in which we describe the world limits us.

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