Is your Self-Talk to Blame? How to Stop Negative Thoughts in their Tracks
We all know that voice in our heads that likes to have an opinion about absolutely everything. Whether good or bad, it just seems to chat all the time. While this voice is certainly helpful in making decisions, learning and analysing, it can also be very unhelpful if our voice says hurtful, self destructive and condescending things.
I recently read a great book by Michael A Singer called The Untethered Soul. I highly recommend this read! The book helps to put a face to the voice by asking you to picture that voice as a guest in our house, sitting on the couch having a conversation with you. The interesting thing is, if this was a real person, saying these things, we would be unlikely to just roll over and take it. We would most likely, some more politely than others, tell that person to stop what they are saying and get out of our house!
So why do we take the negative self talk from our own voice? Well most times we are not mindful enough of this voice and the self talk continues without challenge. Negative thoughts arise and we let them go by without contemplating if this is true or not. We have sixty to eighty thousand thoughts a day and most of these go by without our awareness.
Time to get control of this self talk with some helpful tips:
We can only change what we are aware of.
In a fast-paced world, it is easy to be doing five things at once, not really focusing on any one task and losing connection with the present moment, with what we are doing and how we are feeling. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing our attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgement. Mindfulness is being absolutely present in this very moment. Not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow but focusing on what is happening right here, right now.
Mindfulness is always being mindful of something. We can practice mindfulness when we walk, when we eat, when we breathe... at anytime. It is all about stopping, really focusing on what you are doing in that present moment and allowing yourself to find your centre throughout whatever activity you are partaking in. This will help you to observe your thoughts and emotions as they come up as you won't be preoccupied with every other thing you need to do in that moment.
The House Mate Approach
I want you to think of the voice in your head as a housemate, visitor or guest in your house - whatever the image is of a person that you could challenge or ask to leave if you were not happy with how they were talking to you.
Imagine yourself having a conversation with this person on the couch. If what they are saying becomes hurtful, threatening, negative or guilt ridden, challenge them. Take control of the situation by challenging what is being said or asking them to leave. Then invite a nicer, happier and supportive friend over and see what they have to say!
To do this we can use the CRAFT approach:
CRAFT Your Mind
If you find yourself having negative thoughts or saying harmful words to yourself, there are some simple steps you can follow to turn your mind around. At your first negative thought, just remember the word CRAFT:
C - CANCEL the thought, it’s not logical.
R - REPLACE it with rational new information.
A - AFFIRM a new thought with a new imagine; think about a time of success from the past or create a vision of one in the future.
F - FOCUS on an image of a successful you for 30 seconds.
T - TRAIN by continually repeating the steps every time you have a negative thought… the more the better.
Know Your Unhelpful Thoughts
There are unhelpful negative thoughts that go round in our mind, and a lot of them we all commonly share! Know what yours are. Becoming mindful of what you are likely to say to yourself helps in the mindfulness process as you are more likely to pick it up when it is happening because you have previously identified this as your pattern.
Here are some common unhelpful thoughts:
- I am not good enough.
- I’m not smart or strong enough.
- I’ll never reach my goal.
- I don’t like being different from other people.
- No one cares about me.
- There’s nothing I can do to make things better.
- Others have better luck than I do.
- This is the worst thing that could possibly happen.
- Everything is my fault.
- Bad things always happen to me.
Replace your unhelpful thoughts with some positive affirmations. Say these to yourself everyday. Speaking aloud helps too, don't just read them. Really feel them and say them until you feel differently. If the unhelpful thoughts swirl around in your head more than once or on repeat, then we must do the same with our selective helpful thoughts.
- Something good comes out of everything.
- I am worthy of other people’s love.
- I can recover and learn from my mistakes.
- I have a lot of opportunities to succeed every day.
- I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to.
- With time and effort, anyone can improve.
- Every situation has positive aspects.
- I have skills and knowledge that benefit others and myself.
- I can make a positive difference in peoples’ lives.
- I have control over my thoughts, emotions, and decisions in life.
For help with your positive affirmation process, check out our Oh Happy Day Cards!
These cards have 52 affirmations that you can use to create your practice of helpful thinking!