Ever wonder what you really think of yourself? What comes from the unconscious when you lay asleep at night? The key is bringing your awareness to the thoughts that ruminate around in your mind during the day time. Our thoughts are often so automatic that we aren’t able to recognise the negativity and judgements within them. Our brains are on autopilot constantly in a society filled with social media, busy lifestyles and limited time to just think.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- our thoughts influence our behaviours. If I tell myself I’m a shitty person, I will likely engage in behaviours that make me one. We need to be able to recognise the content of our thoughts in order to change them. You’d be surprised how many of us engage in negative self-talk with ourselves without even knowing it. Our thoughts feed into our self-worth. I’m willing to bet that if you frequently indulge in negative self-talk, you will have low self-esteem and therefore low self-worth.
All negative self-talk starts somewhere- a distinct moment in time. For me personally, I had a very critical parent. I was made to feel as if I were never adequate enough as a child and this led me to question my capabilities in adulthood. The moment something in my life went wrong I’d tell myself it’s because I “wasn’t good enough.” WHAT A LOAD OF BULLSHIT LIMITING BELIEF THAT WAS! My point is though that our negative talk stems from events in our lives we perceive as negative or harmful to our ego. Something that goes against who we believed we were as a person. These beliefs that have been on autopilot are so ingrained in who we believe we are at the core.
Eventually I learned to get my mind off autopilot and question my own horrid train of thoughts. I did this with one SIMPLE technique that literally changed my inner world. It’s a technique from ACT therapy called Cognitive Defusion. My favourite part of this therapy is that it doesn’t try to remove the thought/symptom all together as most therapies do, it accepts and reframes it in your mind. It allows us to let go of the internal struggle or resistance. Cognitive defusion is more about noticing our thoughts rather then getting caught up within them. Trust me- I know how easy it is to get caught up on them. For years I got on the same old recycled train of thought that inevitably lead to me thinking I was inadequate and unworthy of love. I learned that these weren’t initially my own thoughts I just held onto them because they were spoken by people that had power over me at the time. I adapted them to be my thoughts and I elaborated on the toxicity of them.
HOW TO COGNITIVELY DEFUSE YOUR NEGATIVE SELF-TALK:
- NOTICE THE THOUGHT.
Example “I will never be successful”, “I am ugly”, “No wonder why ___ dumped me”
- RETHINK THIS THOUGHT BUT PUT “I am having the thought that….” INFRONT OF THE THOUGHT.
Example: “I am having the thought that I will never be successful.” “ I am having the thought that I am a shitty person that will never amount to anything.”
- THINK ABOUT HOW LESS PERSONAL THAT FEELS.
That’s not you. It IS your thoughts. It’s less of a personal attack on who you are as a person and simply allows you to NOTICE how you construct your thoughts.
- QUESTION WHERE IT CAME FROM.
Where did this stem from? Is there a distinct moment in your life? Do you have this thought often? What triggers the thought?
The world looks very different when we accept our thoughts as they are. Sure, there is 100% room to create new and more empowering thoughts. However, to create different thoughts we need to recognise our own sabotaging ones. Notice the thought and create some distance between YOU vs YOUR THOUGHTS.