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Walls (3/7) - Self Talk (Article)

Updated: Feb 24, 2022

Every advertisement we see comes from deep studies of psychology that have spanned across hundreds of years or more. Within each add, every single color holds a psychological influence and taps on the emotions of the viewer. Every sound, voice and visual element does the same. And every combination of those elements is a deep strategy that is planned at great length. It may not feel like it; but mainstream media, more specifically music, TV, movies and product advertising; they are one of the biggest influences on how we speak to others, especially to ourselves.

How exactly I'm defining "self talk"

Mainly, I'm referring to the inner statements we all have about ourselves, as in, what we think or speak about who we see in the mirror. But also, I'm lightly typing about the inner words we have for others as well.

Yes, media is a huge influence

If it wasn't, quite simply, the immense, virtually immeasurable amounts of money wouldn't be there. I don’t know a single person who isn’t affected by some sort of mainstream media. I know plenty of people who don’t realize they’re affected, but the underlying messages are always there and always changing who we think we should be.

Industries like music tend to teach people that you can’t be an artist unless you sound a certain way or display specific types of lifestyles. The modeling industry is constantly throwing out unhealthy, unreasonable ideas of how we should look, walk , dress and express ourselves. Advertisements are often sending the message that we have to have the stuff they’re selling to be happy and accepted.

The reach of such media is wide and deep, and it affects us all in at least one way shape or form. Consumers look at a quick ad or commercial; it’s only seconds that flash by us. We usually see/hear just a picture or video, some text, maybe some background music and possibly a narrator. To most of us it just feels like something that passes by. But to those who create the advertisements there is a deep truth, that every single one of those ads is an incredibly intricate system.

Mainstream music is the same way. Singers and songwriters actually lose most of the control of their work once it gets into a producer’s hands. And if the music has any kind of notable, mainstream success, it means the producer is highly trained in reshaping each song so it not only sells, but also influences. The amount of money that is given to the performer is horrifically minimal compared to what floats around higher up in the companies that deliver the music.

As a musician myself, what I've learned from interacting with many other musicians is that it’s such a cold, ailing business that there are normally unspoken, even illegal job functions; like the person who’s job it is to bring “the briefcase”; that is, the case full of drugs that keep the entertainers numb and performing. It’s all done in the name of sales and influence. The actual art gets all but forgotten. The artist gets used up and tossed, usually pushing through and ending a career with depression, drug addiction and financial destruction.

You simply don't produce products like this without it affecting the consumer. And like my article Porn is Okay, Right?, the supply and demand system cannot survive without the demand. It means the consumer is part of the system in ways we often don't realize. THESE are the kind of influences we accept every day. If they were as innocent and ineffective as they often seem, they would have died off before we ever knew them as part of everyday life. How does that system of business know it's good for them to keep up such serious production? Because we don't just vote by conventional means. We vote with our dollars, our voices, our actions and our radio dials.

Self talk starts early and builds into adulthood

I’ve personally seen the concept of comparing, categorizing and rejecting self and others applied in real life, both in children and in adults. Here are just a few of the many things I've seen:

  • It's a highly common thing for children to bully other children; choosing their victims by the comparison of children to people in media. The bully will almost always pass up the kids who are wearing the clothing, or toting the products seen in the most influential ads and peer groups. But, for the child who wears the tattered or unpopular clothing and carries the generic stuff; they are moved higher on the list of possible victims.

  • I once watched an entire neighborhood reject helpful people who don't look as they do, while warmly accepting celebrities who had clearly visible poor behavior.

  • Our town now is engaged in a battle between those who accept everyone, and white supremacists.

  • I'm seeing a family right now live through serious hardship. The father believes he's failed his family because his business failed. It was no fault of his own, but the self talk is tearing his emotional and physical health to shreds.

When a group of adults condemn someone they can’t understand or agree with; they also have to check their ideals about who should be what. And, as with the schoolyard bully, the group of adults who hate and destroy also have to have a reference when judging their victims, someone they can compare the victim to.

That reference also comes form somewhere. Of course it often comes from ideas that are passed down from one generation to the next, hatred that started a long time ago and doesn't belong to those who live now. But we also constantly see images that enforce those references; billboards, magazines, movies, music, shows, and even the packaging on an item we might buy.

Image not available in writer's photography portfolio

Those things program us to compare and judge; not just others, but ourselves. In the mechanism of the human mind that decides how we will treat ourselves or the next person; you have to choose either empathy or judgement. There can't be both. And the appearance of judgement is everywhere.

The 'self' in self talk

All of this influence gets absorbed at an early age. Excessively revealing clothing is getting worn by younger and younger children. Many people stop themselves from eating enough so they can stay trim. Women paint their faces to match the woman on the billboard. Adults will often pine over the things that others have just because of the image it brings the owner. And even when it’s not conscious, it all comes down to self talk; how a person compares themselves and others to the rest of the world.

Am I actually blaming media for all of this?

Don’t feel media is at fault? You’re right, it’s not; we humans are. It often comes down to things like parenting, community influence and peer influence. But if media wasn’t a hugely significant part of the problem, you wouldn't have the kind of hypocrisy and rotating, subjective opinions we have everywhere. What I mean is; many actors, sports figures, models and singers have continued to have poor behavior; no remorse, no regret, no repentance. Meanwhile the world continues to love them. That comes from a person being made to look like something they’re not. And in reality, all it takes is a giant photo of them on a billboard or a few effects applied to their voice in a song. That’s what media often does.

Manufacturing self talk

As a photographer and video producer, even though any subject I shoot can be ordinary; I have a thousand tricks I can use to make anyone or anything look larger than life. It's one of the reasons I'm usually not affected by someone's celebrity status. When I see a dramatic photo of someone or hear a big voice in a song; instead of sensing a god-like being, I just see a normal person behind visual techniques and audio effects. Mainstream media constantly uses such tricks and plasters people across multiple platforms until we see them everywhere.

People get compared with each other out of context and in a skewed way. So when someone looks in the mirror and sees a natural human being instead of a modified, overexposed image or video of another human, there tends to be self talk about that comparison.

Self talk also comes from a darkened past. And what I know personally is that when a person is constantly talked down to, it’s all too easy to believe that talk. Someone else’s words become our own. The heavy remarks about fault that once came from the outside; they can become your own and start coming from the inside.

That’s not the worst thing in the world for adults because we can apply the concept given by Christ:

What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.
Matthew 15:11, NIV

But for children, at a time in life when this often starts because they’re exposed to the same media we are; they usually don’t know there's a choice to keep this stuff from influencing who we finally are. And THAT causes all kinds of ripple effect, found in both the destruction of a child’s God-given self worth, and the cold and excessive judgement of who that child turns into later in life.

Whether those negative, but often seemingly innocent comments come from billboards or a personal encounter; whether they are about the way a person looks, acts or speaks; in the end they all come down to “I’m just not good enough for...” That doesn’t just put walls between us and a better future. It also puts them between people and people; and, people and God.

The results

The judgement and condemnation; this is a wall because we’re made to believe a false sense of imperfection is a reason to dispose of people and relationships, completely going against what Jesus taught. It puts judgement and control in the hands of those who build the walls between us, but only as long as we let self talk blindly lead us.

How to make self talk a positive thing

I’ve heard so many people say we have to change our words to change our lives. To some degree that is truth, but not as importantly as it often seems. While God backs what we speak/communicate to ourselves and others, I believe there’s something even more important that we have to change; it’s literally the heart of the matter.

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
Matthew 12:34, KJV

In other words, what fills our hearts is reflected in our words. This self talk, this influencing world, all of its most powerful advertisements; when it comes to our behavior, that media holds influence, but not the truest power. That power exists only within ourselves, within our hearts. Again...

What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.
Matthew 15:11, NIV

So if we want to put a sledgehammer to this wall, we have to change our hearts first. This can be one clear example of how putting God first makes everything else fall in line.

Image not available in writer's photography portfolio

Changing the heart

Easier said than done? Sure. But it HAS been done, many more times than the media mentioned above will tell us. It starts with prayer. And one thing I can verify is this; that no matter what else you may or may not have received through prayer, God ALWAYS responds to requests of self improvement.

I've struggled with words in certain situations for my entire life, 45 years until the time this article was first released in 2019. Sometimes the words have been my own, words I'm not proud of. Sometimes the struggle was with words other people said to me. Therapy, books, videos, self reminders, etc; they've helped me deal with those words more often, but never completely stopped them. And then, I saw the passage in the Bible mentioned above; again...

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
Matthew 12:34, KJV

That's when it hit me. The self talk I've had and the words I had for others were, most importantly, coming from my heart. If I didn’t change my heart I wouldn’t be able to completely change those words. So I prayed. Every day for weeks I said a quick prayer and asked God and Jesus to change my heart; and that's when it all changed. Before that I’d read the entire bible, so I had the manual to life in my mind. But it wasn’t until I asked The Holy Trinity repeatedly to change my heart; that’s when all of that information about self talk began to sink in.

After that I almost immediately started having these moments when I would respond to someone with love where there used to be frustration. Those moments would take me by surprise as I had not planned them and usually believed I couldn't change how I felt about them. I was also finding more strength to stand my ground as a forgivable child of God. In short...

I read. I prayed. I asked. It changed. The wall came down.

What's more?

Links mentioned above

Porn is Okay, Right?, (article) - Who is the "demand" in the supply and demand system?

Related content

Walls, (1/7) - Filling in the Blanks (and Series Intro) (article) - Series intro. We feel the need to understand our situation to move on, but often times that need backfires.

Walls (2/7) - Technology (article) - We can end a relationship during a TV commercial break, or eat a meal with others while almost never looking up from our phones.

Walls (4/7) - Anger and Hate (article) - None of it makes any sense or benefits anyone. And the glue that holds it all together is deception, the kind the Devil uses every day.

Walls (5/7) - Deception (article) - If you can convince your opponent the real you doesn’t exist, you can stand right next to them with a smile on your face and hand on the controls and no one will say no.

Walls (6/7) - Money (article) - Is it bad to be wealthy? The question sounds simple enough, almost as if there should just be a “yes” or “no” answer. But in truth it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Walls (7/7) - The Investments That get us Out (article) - would you want to set up a fort every time you go #2? It takes an initial investment, but it works.

How the Enemy Works (article) - A general idea of how the enemy seeps into every-day life and how to deal with it.

Forgiveness pt. 3/3 - Forgiving Yourself (Video) - I got this heart that wants to beat the right way and I need to teach it to do that, and I can't do that if I can't forgive myself for what I've done wrong.

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