Self Help Rocks is the third in my series, Talking to Ourselves. You can find the second installment, Talking to Others here. Chatter, The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It by Ethan Kross is the source of this information.
We can’t expect others to heal us, we must take an active part in our transformation. Kross makes these suggestions when doing battle with the negative thoughts running amok in our brains.
Several tricks are available to aid in stepping back from the brutal, negative self-talk:
- Address yourself with your name or “you”. Marie, that is so stupid. This lessens the activity of the brain networks associated with rumination.
- Imagine yourself as a fly on the wall, looking down at the situation. If you were advising a friend from that perspective, what would your guidance be?
Focus on the big picture.
How does the event you’re chewing on compare to adverse events in your own (or others’) lives? How would they respond in similar situations? How will you feel in a month or a year from now? Remember, you are not alone. The nagging voices are a human condition; everyone struggles.
This technique is helpful for me. The worst year of my life is a benchmark.
- I was pregnant.
- My marriage was rocky.
- My mother and two-year old were in different hospitals at the same time while I was in the middle of graduate school end-of semester exams.
- My mother died.
- My baby was rushed to intermediate intensive care after birth.
- My precious infant had colic and screamed incessantly for several hours every night for a good two months. Sleeping through the night did not happen.
- My neighbor contracted hepatitis, and we had to get shots. My newborn was so small the nurse was scared to give her the injection.
- Both children suffered with severe allergies and were constantly at the doctor’s office.
- The pediatrician told me that he took out a loan and used the Watts family as collateral.
- The pharmacist recognized me on site; I did not have to give my name to pick up prescriptions.
- The summer was blistering, no outdoor activities.
To date, none of my trials and tribulations have come close to that disastrous period. I am confident I can survive anything thrown at me.
Negative rumination is triggered when we feel threatened. Reframing it as a challenge we can handle helps us move into a problem-solving mode. And that stress attacking you? That’s normal. Your body is assisting you in responding to the challenge.
One technique I like to use is, as bad as the situation seems, it could have been worse.
- I totaled my car–I wasn’t hurt.
- My roof leaked during the hurricane—The roof stayed on.
- Health insurance premiums are rising— I have health insurance.
I’m sure you, like me, have a never-ending list.
Other helpful activities.
- Write expressively. Journaling your stream of consciousness is an excellent way to get it out of your system, providing distance.
- Clutch a lucky charm or embrace a superstition. Remember, our brain is a powerful organ. If we expect the lucky charm or superstitious behavior to still the chatter, it will.
- Perform a ritual. Huh? This one is interesting. They provide us with a sense of order; we are performing behaviors we can control. Pro athletes frequently use this technique. Come to think of it, I have a morning ritual, preparing coffee and watching the first fifteen minutes of the Today Show while sipping my joe.
Thanks for joining me on my journey to still those pesky voices in my brain.
Photo Courtesy of Alysha Rosly on Unsplash.