Many people have an active monologue or dialogue going on in their thoughts – a monologue or dialogue with themselves. It can be a conversation that is well worth paying more attention to. Often, we don’t realize that changing what we say to ourselves, or how we say it can have a big impact on our emotional well-being. For example, if we have a one-sided stream of conversation that represents our Inner Critic, we would do well to listen in and offer some contradictions from a more compassionate and positive viewpoint. Are you constantly talking yourself down? Pointing out your own faults and mistakes? What effect would it have if you talked to yourself like your best friend, or biggest fan? What if you gave yourself the benefit of the doubt? Or encouraged yourself to tackle difficult tasks with confidence?
A study from Poland identified four main emotional types of inner conversationalists: Faithful Friend, Ambivalent Parent, Proud Rival, and Helpless Child, along with a Calm Optimist that the study author thought deserved additional validation. Wouldn’t it be great if your inner voice were a Faithful Friend—Advising, commiserating, sometimes questioning, but always encouraging?
We have briefly mentioned PACE in previous articles, defined as “An attitude or stance of Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy; qualities that are helpful when creating emotional safety and when trying to stay open and engaged with another person. This, in turn, helps the other person stay open and engaged with you. These traits are similar to the attitude that parents routinely show when communicating with infants.” It is also spoken of broadly as “a way of thinking, feeling, communicating and behaving” that aims to create a safe atmosphere for emotional development, particularly for children or adults who haven’t had safe, positive connections with caregivers (often as a result of childhood trauma, neglect, or abuse).
A publication from the Fife Council of the United Kingdom outlines PACE and advocates its consideration for use in response to the extra stressors on children and families due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The five-page document gives background information about PACE, as well as practical examples of how it can be used.
PACE can be used in nearly any relationship—including our relationship with ourselves. Practicing PACE in any of our relationships can help us to also internalize it for ourselves. Learning to use PACE can help us to truly care for ourselves emotionally, along with substantially altering our self-talk and its effects. This self-development sets us up for success in other areas of our lives too.
Additional resources on PACE: