Friday, December 7, 2007

Silencing Those Negative Messages Within

We all do it...........negative self-talk. Just some of us participate more than others, particularly victims. Victims tend to raise this behavior to the level of an art form, specially sculpted and designed for our own particular circumstances.

In More Thoughts on Therapists and Therapy the comments suggest that readers see the problem with labels and double standards. Even though it was expressed in different ways, it still comes down to the same thing. That would be our self talk.

Knowing that we abuse ourselves through our self talk is actually the first step in being able to make it better. We sure can't fix it if we don't even know it's a problem. So if you now the things that you say and do to yourself that beat you down, that's a good thing.

The next step, obviously, is changing that behavior. It's certainly easier said than done. And I think it's easier done with a therapist because you have someone to check in with, hash it over, get ideas etc. BUT it can be done without a therapist. Because the fix comes from within. And, hey, with the blogging community many of you have built, you have lots of sounding boards so why not take it on.

For me, Garbage Feelings was what I called my negative messages. To identify them, I started with a list of the strongest most obvious ones. Just writing them down helped me to recognize them faster when they popped into my head.

Once I recognized them, it was time to change those negative messages. Replace them with a positive one. Sounds easy enough. I can tell you I had lots of pretty loud debates going on in my head. I wanted to hang on to that old s*** like it was some kind of treasure.

Taking on new positive messages in the place of the old negative ones was not easy. I had to start off knowing that it was going to feel weird, unreal, insincere. But it was a start. Just allowing myself to think something contrary to all of those years, was an important step.

I had to do things to remind myself I was working on this project. Sometimes I would sit down and write out the new message over and over. I had little pieces of paper taped up everywhere (the fridge, the microwave, mirrors, doors etc) with my new positive messages on them. Sometimes I tore up those pieces of paper and every once in a while, I drew glorious pictures to illustrate them.

One step at a time, I confronted them. I made it my goal to not let a day go by without challenging those old voices. Sometimes I had to get on the phone and call friends to talk about those messages. Other times I got out my "new rule book" and read through the pages over and over.

.Sure I didn't believe it at first. And sometimes I took three steps backwards to only two steps forward. BUT I never quit. It gradually got easier and easier. I still have days every now and then that I find one of those messages trying to sneak back into my head. But they are no longer welcome friends, just reminders of a time better left behind.


Lynn said...

This is a very interesting post, RR. Negative self talk, for me, was so stealthy and lightening fast, that for many, many years, I didn't even know it was there. It took a lot of work, which I did alone before I started therapy, to even discover it. It was just automatic. I used the same tools I used previously to discover anxious feelings and/or thoughts that came before panic attacks. My problem still, is that my thoughts don't usually match my feelings. I think that is odd, but I'm wondering how many people have the same thing. No matter how much I counter the thoughts, and even change them, no matter how much I talk to myself and write these things down... I just haven't been able to get the actual feelings to change, even after many years of working at it. It almost seems like my healthy thoughts are just some kind of cover, or 'surface chatter', while the stuff inside remains. I don't know if you understand what I mean, but this is what I'm talking about when I say my thoughts don't match my feelings. I guess that's why sometimes my feelings have to go bye-bye. I can survive without feeling. I can't survive without thinking.

katy said...

i used to write and write and write, then would rip it all up into tiny shreds or burn it, i am now going to get me a nice note book, something pretty, and write my feelings down and keep it, also have been told that writing letters to those who have hurt us and putting them in a sealed envelope never to be opened or read again helps, thank you for a very interesting post x

April_optimist said...

What a great exercise!

Kahless said...

"I wanted to hang on to that old s*** like it was some kind of treasure."


And you located the word I was looking for... "insincere"

Saying nice stuff to myself seems so unreal and insincere and hollow.

kïrstin♫ said...

hi! yes it was a good way to spend the afternoon. i love riding horses!
i also liked this post a lot! i have done the same thing using the Word of God to change the image inside ... a work in constant progress ... and although i also suffered abuses as a child, i think everyone can use this.
and lastly, i guess i didnt realize you had two blogs. ha ha ... silly me. i like this one too. i liked the meme - i like reading little memes about people.

Kahless said...

RR, I have an award for you on my blog...

Anonymous said...

very interesting post. my negative self-talk is really fast and it is automatic. it is there before we even know it.
thank you for the post.

Rising Rainbow said...

lynn, I know that you are not alone in having your feelings detached from your thinking. It probably feels safer to have the wall so high between them. But it really is just another trap. The only way to true centeredness is for there to be balance between the two. That means you must nurture that inner child.

katy, let us know how it goes. I have a box full of journals and letters etc. As hard as they were to write, they sure made a difference.

april_optimist, I'm glad you like it. I didn't like it much in the beginning but I still enjoy getting it out sometimes to look at. It's really amazing the things I learned about myself through that.

kahless, yes I understand the insincere part, that's why we must back it up by treating ourselves better too. Allowing our child to do something fun not burdened by the restraints set upon us as children can make a huge difference. And it doesn't have to be big things. Like the darn bubbles, I swear I can still sit and blow bubbles and feel better.

kirstin said, I don't know how you do those cute little notes in your name. Must be somekind of hot keys I know nothing about. lol

But I'm glad that you liked the post. Thanks for visiting my blog.

kahless, thanks for the award. I will get it posted soon. I'm still thinking about who to pass it on to.

miniquecrew, it sounds like you have your negative self talk down to an artform just like the rest of us. Finally being able to turn it off is such a relief.

Patricia Singleton said...

It takes a lot of hard work for me to get the negative self-talk out of my head. It is worth the effort. Sometimes, it still sneaks back in when I am tired or feeling emotionally drained.