Without doubt, some folks are more challenging than others. Nevertheless, the most difficult person you’ll ever meet is right there in the mirror.
It’s the same for each of us. We think it’s our partner, neighbors, relatives, or someone else who provokes grief. They might be tough to deal with, but it’s the perpetual drip-feed of critique in our heads that reduces joy, not the irresponsible driver we face on the road to work, the disgruntled boss, or snappy spouse.
The happiest times in our lives have one thing in common; they coincide with an absence of painful self-talk. Usually, we’re in the flow, loving a concert, fooling around, or being creative and our brain fills with the present moment.
When we stop thinking of what’s gone wrong or what might go awry, we are liberated. Our minds enjoy here and now, and in our stress-free state we open to contentment.
Negative inner-taunting creates the opposite mindset. We close ourselves off from enjoyment and let resentment grow. Our concerns dominate our blessings, and we are no-longer grateful.
Why does critical self-talk flow?
Because we’re wired to note problems and surmount them. It’s instinctive to delve into potential setbacks and study patterns and shortcomings in ourselves and others.
Yet, we aren’t built to sustain a perpetual onslaught of self-abuse, pity, or antipathy. When we over-think, we veer into fight-or-flight and our ancient fear system flicks on inside us.
As a result, the logical part of the brain ceases to function at full-throttle. It slows down, along with several physical functions, to make way for pinpoint focus on whatever we deem the problem at hand.
If we’re wired for self-criticism, how can we stop?
Calm your parasympathetic system.
When negative thoughts strike, take deep breaths. Picture the air you breathe out traveling along your spine to its base.
Hold each breath for a few seconds, and let go slowly, making each exhalation slightly longer than each inhalation.
Or use the 4–7–8 breathing pattern. Put your tongue behind your front teeth, so you feel its tip resting there. Inhale via your nose for the count of four, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale to the count of eight.
Changing your brainwaves also alters your breathing pattern without the need to count or think about the process. Pick an entrainment audio from YouTube. Or calm music will do the trick.
Alternatively, picture yourself walking along a gorgeous sandy beach. Hear the waves and the cry of the gulls. Feel the breeze and taste the salty air. Add pleasant details like warm water or sand on your toes and the sun on your skin. You’ll soon feel calm and critical thoughts will stop.
Stand back from your thoughts
Rather than see thoughts as part of you, imagine they are separate. Listen to them the way you would a song. When you hear music, you register its presence, but you know it’s not you, and the same can be true with critical thoughts.
Don’t struggle or identify with them. Just let them be there as background noise. As a result, they will pass since they can only grow when you give them full attention.
The person you struggle with the most is you, but you need not suffer from relentless disparaging thoughts. Turn off fight-or-flight and replace it with deep calm and relaxation. Unwanted thoughts will vanish and you’ll enjoy a state of peace.
Remember, too, to stand back from unwanted inner talk and witness it rather than claim it as yours. The more you practice, the easier doing so will be.
Copyright © 2021 Bridget Webber. All rights reserved