7: #1 Technique for Negative Self-talk

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:

  1. NOTICE THE THOUGHT.  
    Example “I will never be successful”, “I am ugly”, “No wonder why ___ dumped me”
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

6: Ending the Suffering

There comes a time in our lives when we need to hold onto people, places and events. Alternatively, there comes a time when we need to let go of them too. Some of the people we meet won’t stay in our lives forever. They come to teach us a lesson about the world, who we are and what we need in our lives. Some of our experiences will be pleasurable and some will be painful. Yet simultaneously, both allow us to grow. There is opportunity in every experience. Pain in life is inescapable BUT it drives change. We need to understand that in order to appreciate the good we must experience the bad. There is no light without the darkness.

It is important that we allow ourselves to feel pain for some time as a natural response to painful events. If we repress our feelings they will eventually simmer for so long that they’ll come to the surface. There is a distinct difference between pain and suffering. Pain is inevitable and suffering is not. Pain is the root of our suffering. Suffering is the biproduct of pain and non-acceptance. We cannot change our circumstances or what we feel unless we first accept it for what it is.

For most of us, when we experience a painful and traumatic event we are likely to fight the reality of the situation. This is common in trauma or losing someone you value.  There is a technique in one of my favourite therapies, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, called Radical Acceptance. Essentially radical acceptance is about saying yes to the reality of our past and present moments. NOW before anyone jumps down my throat about how insensitive this is to trauma victims- HEAR ME OUT…

Radical acceptance is NOT:

  • Agreeing with what happened.
  • That you are okay with what happened.
  • That you allowed it to happen.
  • That you like what happened.
  • That you take on full responsibility for what happened.
  • That you can’t do anything about what happened.

Radical acceptance IS:

  • The acceptance of things as they are.
  • Understanding what we can and cannot control in life.
  • Being non-judgemental.
  • Acknowledging our situation.
  • Letting go and not fighting against reality.

Initially in my own personal experiences I struggled to accept the things that had happened to me in my life. Instead of accepting my experiences for what they were, I simply questioned why I had experienced them at all. This led to a lot of self-blame and invalidation. I thought that there must be something wrong with ME. The reality was that I could not control every person that walked into my life or every experience I encountered. Once I began to understand this, I was able to realise that not everything is my fault, I don’t deserve bad things and I am worthy of happiness.

 I do not agree with the actions of those that have brought me pain… but I accept that these people and experiences exist. I accept that I tried my best.  I accept that pain is a natural part of life. I accept that there is nothing wrong with me. I accept that the pain inflicted upon me was a reflection of those people, not a reflection of me. I accept that these experiences make me the person I am today.

Accepting meant that I was able to let go of the pain attached to these experiences. Once I accepted everything it gave me the power to decide how I wanted to be impacted by these individuals and events. That is one of the very few things in life we are able to control: the level of impact.

And that, my friends, is how you decrease the suffering in your world. Accept experiences for what they are. Acceptance will lead to change. Change will lead to happiness. And I wish you all the happiness in the world.

-B

5: Mental Wellness Tips

In 2019 we’re all looking to stay mentally and physically healthy. It’s normal for people to go through periods of higher and lower moods. The frequency depends on their situation and personality structure. You can’t avoid having periods of lower mood, but you can change your mindset around it. There are so many physiological, psychological and social contributors to one’s overall wellness. Below are my top tips to a happy mind:

1. SLEEP

Sleep is one of the things we all tend to underestimate. When we are tired we become more vulnerable to our triggers and emotions. I know that when i’m tired I’m far more impulsive about little things like my food choices. I won’t lie, I can eat an entire block of chocolate on minimal sleep. The optimal amount of sleep differs per individual but aim for 7-8 hours per night.

2. EXERCISE
I’m sure it isn’t a shock to you that exercise has made the list. Exercise allows the body to release endorphins so we FEEL emotionally better. Exercise for me is an outlet, a distraction and an emotion regulation strategy. You don’t have to become a body builder, you just simply need to take a walk regularly. Exercise increases the chances of better sleep.
Tell yourself you don’t have time? Stop lying to yourself there’s 24 hours a day. Don’t have the motivation? Neither do I 50% of the days but I do have routine and discipline. Create a habit and increase your mental wellness!

3. NUTRITION
Eat your fats, proteins and carbs. Don’t restrict. Find balance. It is literally as simple as that. Fuel your body for a good day, every day.

4. INHALE POSITIVITY, EXHALE NEGATIVITY.
You are surrounded with both negativity and positivity every single day. How many of your thoughts are based around something you deem as negative? Finance? Relationship stress? Work? Self-image? What other people think of you?
A few years ago I remember being someone that only heard the one negative comment amongst three positive ones. Some of our minds are trained to focus on the negative and this is often related to our childhood experiences. This also depends on our values and what we as individuals have constructed as negative and positive in our minds. The truth is every aspect of our lives comes with a negative and positive aspect. Learn to hold onto the positive and let go of the negative. You can’t please everyone. You can’t be perfect. You CAN choose happiness.

5. GOOD COMPANY
Surround yourself with people that make you feel worthy, wanted and lift you up. If you think there’s a toxic relationship in your life then you are most likely correct. Those kinds of people bring negativity with them, so let them go. They can take that negativity/toxicity into some other humans life because you are prioritising what YOU need! Choose individuals that compliment your own values and are willing to give you support when required. Talk about what’s going on for you and listen to what is going on for them.

6. SELF-CARE
Be kind to yourself. You deserve wonderful things in this world, even when your mind tells you otherwise. Do something that ignites a fire in your soul. Give back to your body because you put it through SO much every day. De-stress. Some common methods of self-care are: Massage, pampering, meditation, learning muscle instrument, reading, watching a movie.

7. MINDFULNESS
Yes yes, we all know it was going to be on the list. If you’re groaning at the sight of the word- I HEAR YOU. I’m not saying you need to go full on yogi and meditate 3 hours a day… Meditation and mindfulness are different things. Either are going to be beneficial to your mental health but when you are mindful you don’t necessarily need to be in a room alone. Mindfulness is described as “paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and without judgement” (Smiling Minds- i’ll link below).
You can do this easily as you go for a walk. Notice the air. Notice the sounds you can hear. Notice your feet as they hit the ground. Notice what the air smells like. Notice what is going on for you on the inside- are you anxious? If so, where do you feel that? Do you feel heavy or light? Is your mind racing or is it calm? Is your heart beating fast or slow?
There are a million apps to help you out. Some of my faves include: Headspace, Smiling Minds, Calm and Insight timer. Give it a go and watch it bring clarity and clearness to your mind!

If you need any further help send me a message! Best of luck,
-B

https://www.smilingmind.com.au/mindfulness