How to Change the Negative Chatter In Your Head.
Scene: Person searching wildly through the house looking under papers, seat cushions, pillows, in the closet, coat pockets, in the fridge. Becoming increasingly frustrated and irritated.
Monologue: Numb Skull, you will never learn to put things away properly! You have a memory like a sieve. Pretty soon you wont remember your own name. No wonder you don’t remember where you put the damn phone!
Sound familiar? This monologue runs through my head more often that I want to admit. It is not a matter of forgetting where I put my phone, glasses and keys. It is the fact that I did not pay any attention to where I put them in the first place. I did not create a memory to lose.
To solve part of the problem:
- I put hooks inside the coat closet door so that as soon as I walk in, I hang up the dog’s leash and my keys (which are now on a long cord that I can wear around my neck).
- I bought 5 pair of reading glasses that I can leave by every chair I occupy.
- I stick the phone in my bra.
In spite of these brilliantly creative solutions. I still lose my keys, phone and glasses in the house. And I still berate myself with words that I would never use on anyone else.
Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.
I would never say to another person:
- You can’t …
- OK, Stupid…
- It’s too late for you to learn to…
- You dont deserve…
- It’s too hard for you.
- You might as well give up.
- Why can’t you ever…?
- You will never be able to…
- You suck at…
Nor would I ever call someone:
- Numb Skull
So why do I do it to myself?!
I am on a quest to be a happy person. I have been trying to understand how my brain (and yours) works so that I can make the necessary changes to pursue my quest. (Is Your Brain Positive or Negative? How to Teach Your Monkey Brain to BE QUIET? Unplugged or Unhinged? )
Our brains are wired for negative thoughts and emotions. It is self preservation from our early days as primitives being chased by tigers. Danger! Fear! Run! Hide! Fight! These emotions are so deeply embedded in our brains that they aren’t going away. And I am coming to appreciate their protection.
Today tigers aren’t a day-to-day threat. Most issues that raise these defensive emotions are not immediate life or death dangers. They may be long term threats, especially if we let the stress of our emotions build and build. (That’s a future topic.)
However, the negative thoughts and emotions can create major road blocks and long torturous detours in my quest.
I am learning SO much that will guide me on this quest! But I still have these nasty monologues. Though I am getting good at momentarily pausing the chatter by focusing on the moment and breathing, I have not eliminated the chatter. And I think it is unrealistic to believe I can completely silence all of those thoughts.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but my words can surely defeat me.
That playground platitude is all wrong. Words do more permanent damage to our brains than do sticks and stones. I cannot change the words that others have used in the past to describe me, but I CAN change the words that I use NOW to describe me.
In that moment when I PAUSE the chattering monkey brain, observe what is around me, and breathe, I am now changing words I use during my inner monologue. I am substituting my name for all of those negative names.
- I am NOT Numb Skull. I am NOT Stooge. I am NOT Stupid.
- I AM Tamera Ann.
All of the connotations of those negative names override any other message we are trying to communicate with ourselves. When my mother meant business, I was not Tammie and never those other names. I was Tamera Ann. I knew to stop and listen and do exactly as Mom demanded.
Well, I mean business now. And Tamera Ann gets my attention and sends a strong message that this is a teachable moment.
This is a small change but it has potential for a major over-haul in how I think about myself. And I need strong, curious, adventurous feelings in order to move forward with my quest.
What about you? Does you inner monologue get nasty? What are the negative names you call yourself? How can you change it to be kinder to yourself? How can you create your own teachable moment? Share your thoughts in the Comments or on Facebook.