Do You Harness Your Power?
You own the most sophisticated computer operating system on the planet. Were
you aware? Most of us aren’t or choose to ignore that fact much of the time. I’m talking
about your brain-the gray matter between your ears. Why is it important to know and
harness this information about ourselves? When we don’t take the time to
acknowledge and understand the power we have in our brain, we won’t use it properly
not just day to day but particularly under stress, in times of severe anxiety or other
difficult situations. Its like owning the latest and greatest smart phone and just using it
to make phone calls.
So lets talk specifics: If I tell myself something negative, i.e. “negative self talk”,
it affects how I feel about myself, others and how I cope. This is allowing thoughts
such as “I’m not good enough” to stand unchallenged. This is bad enough on a run of
the mill day under normal circumstances. This kind of thought has a negative impact
on how you feel, how you manage yourself, manage relationships and a myriad of day
to day situations. In periods of high stress, high anxiety or difficult/painful
circumstances this loop of negative self talk will reek havoc on you, increasing stress
and anxiety and decreasing your ability to function.
Perhaps this your life story, the negative self talk is such a part of you or who
you are that its hard for you to even realize the degree to which it impacts your life.
Maybe you’ve never been one to struggle with negative self talk until your life hit a
speed bump so big it has you reeling and all you hear in your head now is destructive
self talk that you can’t stop. Maybe you fall somewhere between the extremes. No
matter if this has been a constant pattern in your life or born of a specific stressor or
hardship , the good news for all of us is that we can change the talk looping in our
brains! We can train our brains to recognize the negative, self defeating thoughts that
are plaguing us and with practice, learn to replace them with healthy thoughts.
So how do we do this? First we have to recognize the thought(s). This may
sound easy but if this pattern is ingrained as the default loop playing in your head, you
may not even realize the degree to which your thinking is self defeating. Some thoughts
are so insidious and sneaky you may not even realize its self defeating. Maybe it looks
like comparing yourself to others. Ex: “She has it all together, I wish I could be that
way.” That's about someone else right? Actually the underlying message here is that
compared to others, you don’t measure up. Other thoughts are easier to recognize
because they are so big and encompassing but maybe still hard to pinpoint as self
defeating if you feel its true and a devastating reality that you are facing. Ex: “My life is
over.”, if you find yourself getting divorce or having just lost your job, it may not feel self
defeating as opposed to the reality you feel you are facing.
To change the negative thoughts really listen to what you are telling yourself.
This brings me to step two. Examine the thoughts with the thoroughness of a
detective. Remember thoughts do not equal facts! Hold the thought up to the facts
that you know to be indisputably true. Ex: I may not be as organized as she is, but I
operate in a way that makes sense to me and I have family and friends that like me
how I am.” Ex 2: It feels right now that my life is over and it may never look the same
but I do have these people, place, things, that I can hold up as positives in my life that
are good and something I can hold on to at this awful time”.
Step three requires you to be alert. Keep yourself aware so that the moment
negative or self defeating thoughts/self talk pop into your brain (remember they can be
sneaky!) you can tell yourself “stop” or “no” and replace the thought with a neutral ,
fact based or positive thought(s) born of your investigative work. Again just because
you have a thought, doesn’t mean its a fact.
Finally, practice, practice practice and don’t give up! This is hard. But with
practice you can train your brain to operate in a way that gives you comfort and
encouragement and an enhanced ability to mange stress and anxiety rather than
exacerbating stress, anxiety and doubt. But if you feel you need help to accomplish
this, reach out and we’ll do it together!