Negative Chatter

Friday, August 9, 2013

Our inner chatter is much like tabloid articles.  The feature stories have little resemblance to truth. They are biased, exaggerated, and taken out of context. They’re based on half-truths, hearsay, assumptions, and false thinking. Our negative thoughts are usually not based in truth either. Since our thoughts end up as words and actions, it's important to get them under control.

Consider these fun strategies to get rid of negative inner chatter.

Label your thoughts instead of yourself.  Instead of saying “I'm a loser,” say, “I'm having the thought that I'm a loser.” Instead of saying, “I'm going to blow this test,” say “I'm having the thought that I'm going to blow this test.” The difference may seem subtle, but it can help you gain the perspective that you are not your thoughts.
Sing your thoughts – Using the melody “Happy Birthday to You,” you might change the words to “I’m going to explode, I’m going to explode, I’m going to explode, if I don’t lighten up.”
Say your chatter in a funny voice. Use your best Bugs Bunny voice to say, “What’s up, Cathy. Get a grip!” 
 Give your chatter a name. We often repeat the same chatter so frequently that it has a storyline. Your story might be called, “The I’ve Messed Up Again Drama” or “The I Never Get Things Right Story.” Learn to recognize when the story is about to play out and stop it before the drama starts.
 Create a Mental Image
1.   Create a mental picture of your inner chatter.
For example, if you tell yourself you are “dumb,” create a picture of a dumbbell.  Picture yourself with dumbbells doing some silly. Make the dumbbells oversized and made of plastic. Imagine they are on your shoulder weighing you down so that you must shuffle along.
2.  Create a replacement thought and turn it into a mental picture.
For example, instead of thinking, “I’m dumb,” think “I’m bright.” Now attach a picture of something bright, like the sun.  Imagine the sun shining down on you creating a beautiful halo around your head. Everywhere you move the halo follows you.
3.   Mentally chain the two images together.
Now take the images in Step 1 and Step 3, and mentally glue them together.  This strategy is used in a memory technique called chaining. Imagine the sun beaming down on you and melting the plastic dumbbells that weigh you down. Every time your “dumb” thought enters your head, play your “chained” video in your mind. Continue to allow the sun to “overshadow” the dumbbells.

Finally, let’s remember that the more emphasis we put on our strengths and the more love and joy we pour into others, the more love and joy we will experience.

Psalm 126: 2-3 reminds us to pour love and joy into others. When we do, we experience more love and joy ourselves.

How we laughed, how we sang for joy!
    Then the other nations said about us,
    “The Lord did great things for them.”
Indeed he did great things for us;
    how happy we were!
Psalm 126: 2-3


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