Quieting Negative Mind Chatter

I am blessed in many, many ways, one of which is being surrounded by really wonderful people.  People that I am grateful to call my family and friends.  I have dear friends that I’ve known more than half of my life and some friends are more recent additions and have brought me such joy.

Indeed, I am blessed with these good people.  I find myself comforted by their kindness, rooting for their success and in awe of their accomplishments. 

They, my people, are all different.  Different upbringing, different education, different religions, different professions. 

What I’ve noticed is that there is a common thread that runs through each one – they each are plagued, to one degree or another, with negative internal dialogue.

Negative self-talk is that little voice that banters in our head things like, “well you screwed that up”, “you aren’t good enough”, “what do you know?, “you are an imposter”. 

Negative inner dialogue leads to worrying about future events that may not happen (borrowing trouble) and the worrying leads down a path for more negative self-talk and more worrying.

I have incredibly educated, talented, fabulous people in my ‘group’ that listen to that little voice when it says, “you are too fat”, “too thin”, “too short”, “too tall”… as if their physical form negates anything they have to contribute.

I find it so sad for I can see them for who they really are.  I see the light that shines in each one of them. 

Thinking about them ... a friend that is such a terrific husband and father – always supportive of his wife and involved in his children’s lives, or a friend that went back to school and finished her degree after 40 while working full time and keeping her family running, or a family member that has four children and is such good Mom (think Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart rolled into one), or the friend who is a single Mom and has been single handily 'holding down the fort' for many years.  These people are the people I look at and think, “wow, look at them, they have it together”.  But, these are the individuals that are plagued by that chatty voice that tells them they aren’t enough.  They are enough – they really are – if only they could see themselves as I do.

I’ve been thinking about that voice – What is it? Where does it comes from?  (Much to the chagrin of my parents, when discussing this topic, I have told them that I have begun to refer to that voice as the ‘chatty ass hat’ that resides in my head).

We mistakenly believe this ongoing sideline color commentary keeps us safe, keeps us from venturing too close to the edge, keeps us from making mistakes.  No, it keeps us from trying, from pursuing the next adventure, from being all we can be.

The non-stop vocalizing mechanism keeps us trapped. It keeps us from knowing who we really are – limiting our beliefs and potential.

This topic resonates with me deeply, because my ‘chatty ass hat’ is burrowed in and quite the analyst to my every move. (think Jabba the Hut, on a couch, with a bags of potato chips, screaming commentary like a sportscaster)  Oh, ‘he’ has kept me from plenty – because I bought into what Jabba the C.A.H. was saying (if you’re reading this Mom the abbreviation is for your delicate sensibilities)

Until now.  Now, I find myself questioning what the C.A.H. is trying to sell me.

I have begun to recognize when my internal dialogue takes a nasty turn and when I do, I stop it dead in its tracks.  How? By thinking something positive (true story – it works) and it doesn’t matter how trivial the positive is.  Some days I can muster a whole thought like, “thankful, grateful, blessed” to negate the negative, on other days I only have the energy to look down at my feet and say, “good fluffy socks”.

It is not that we are to continuously strive for some state of perfection never ever having a negative thought … seriously that’s just not going to happen.  If we are honest we know that there will be days that are really, really crappy … the ‘secret’ lies in how we deal with those days, deal with that mind chatter, the negativity, that is chirping away … and how do we deal with it?

Drum roll please …

We face it head on.  We acknowledge the banter that is holding us back … and then … let it go (cue the song from Frozen) let it go, let it go … like a slide during a power point presentation, acknowledge the thought and the feeling that the thought brings, then flip to the next screen.

Now, I will let you in on some more ‘secrets’ – everything, absolutely everything - is energy (google it – it’s true), thoughts are things (this may be too 'woowoo' for some, but stay with me) – when we continuously allow our C.A.H. to feed us negative thoughts the energy of our ‘self’ is lowered – attracting more negative thoughts – creating a negative crap magnet – which attracts more negativity… (and a vicious cycle is born)

I can prove this to you – think of a day that you woke up in a bad mood, then maybe you were out of coffee, or you couldn’t find your keys, or you spilled a Frappuccino on your pants … there was traffic - you were rushed, late, frazzled.  Now, think of how the day went as you emanated that negative, rushed, frazzled energy.  A co-worker was nasty, your boss was demanding, your husband/wife was short with you on the phone, as your internal banter became more and more ‘other than positive’… you became a walking, talking negative crap magnet … (you did, your day spiraled out of control)

The day that started with a slightly bad mood devolved (I do like that word) into “I will not be able to take on that project – I’m not good enough” “I can’t” “This is too much” … Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Some people I know have had their entire being taken over by negativity (we all know someone like this) They repeatedly say, “I can’t” “It won’t work” “I’m not good enough” … But, we can see the good, the talent, the potential that resides in them, unfortunately that are unable to see that in themselves.  They have been in the cycle of being ‘down on themselves’ for too long.

Unfortunately, most often, WE are unable to see the potential that is within ourselves as well.

How do we break the cycle?

We break the cycle by acknowledging it.  I was thinking this way - now I will try thinking another way – and the other way is to counter the negative with positive.

You are in control of you – your thoughts are yours to harness.

You have stayed with me thus far – thank you – now for some practical ways to combat negative inner dialogue.

1)      Face your inner dialogue head on – acknowledge it and the feelings it brings with it - then (cue the Frozen song) LET IT GO.

2)      Combat the negative with positive.  When we purposefully choose to counteract the negative thought with a positive one (warm socks) we cut that negative thought off at its knees – stop it in its tracks – thereby (love that word) we no longer are a negative energy crap magnet (Be mindful that you aren’t beating yourself up with pressure to change – this takes time to rewire our thinking.)

3)      Stop borrowing trouble – when we are not present in the moment – mindful – and we are thinking about the future – maybe we are worried about a conversation that might happen – (you know how we do) – if she/he says this then I will say that – we are disrupting the energy of now AND putting negative energy into the future (yuck!)

4)      Be aware of how your speak of yourself and to yourself – anything that follows “I AM” is what you are manifesting for yourself (I am sick, I am tired, I am broke) (Ick, Ick and Ick) Even if you have to bite your tongue and say, “I am fine” pick a neutral statement before relying on a negative one – (trust me – this is IMPORTANT)

5)      Make the choice to be kind to yourself and slow that voice in your head down – “Did I really make such a big mistake?” OR “I am making more out of this then it warrants?”

6)      Be a spin doctor!  Instead of “My closet is so disorganized – I will never be organized!” acknowledge the thought and counter it with “I am acknowledging that thought of never being organized – never is a really long time – and that is illogical”

Spin it - Get to the point where Fox News and CNN are after you for political commentary because you are soooo good at spinning a story!

7)      Give your inner critic a name!  I’ve shared with you my inner critic's name – Jabba the Chatty Ass Hat - and where he screams commentary from – the couch in my head.  Silly I know, but how serious am I going to take him from now on?

8)      Embrace your imperfections … It is incredibly freeing when we acknowledge our true limitations.  I know I will never rock climb in this lifetime (me being silly) – but I also know that I will not receive the coveted mother of the year award either … Relax your standards, be willing to mess up and move on (it’s okay, really)

9)      Every day – before bed – grab a piece of paper and write down (I’m serious about this – it works) three things you are appreciative of  (any three – last night I was appreciative of my soft pillow, my bed and my cat) some days it is hard to come up with earth shattering stuff – maybe the day had piled on a bunch of crap – if all you can be thankful for is your pillow - it is ok! AND write down three things you accomplished – again they can be anything you got done – (yesterday I loaded the dishwasher, drank my required 115 ounces of water (yes, I spent the day floating to the bathroom) and made an effort to finish an exam for a course I’m taking -  that was my claim to fame for the day). 

These 'exercises' will help to re-wire your brain to feel appreciation and gratitude, to have more positive thoughts and responses. 

Look at yourself objectively.  How do your family/friends/coworkers view you?  I’m going out on a limb here and I’m going to say they view you the way I view the people in my world – wonderful, kind, accomplished, successful – you are, you know, all that and so much more. (Duct tape your Chatty Ass Hat – and get about living your best life)

 

Many Blessings On Your Journey,

Natalie