By Angel Naivalu – MSW, Life Coach
At Movara, we understand that in order to reach your goals, you will need to understand the physical, emotional, and mental barriers that may be getting in the way of your success. A common, often unnoticed, pattern in our human thinking is to apply judgment, guilt, shame, and fear, towards ourselves.
“Self-talk” is a term used to describe our stream of consciousness. That inner voice is like a sportscaster that lives in our minds and gives a play-by-play commentary on everything we experience. It is in that space of self-talk where our thoughts breed our emotional responses to each experience. Quite often, our self-talk is motivated by fear. When we make a mistake, for example, sometimes we say to ourselves, “Why am I so stupid?” When we don’t reach a goal that we have set for ourselves, we might think, “I am such a failure!” Such thinking leads us to feel angry or frustrated with ourselves, and perhaps sad. It’s fascinating how directly self-talk governs our emotional responses and then our actions, yet we can be so oblivious of this pattern and the tone of our thoughts. We might not realize how often we speak to ourselves from a place of fear, guilt, shame, or judgment. Making an intentional effort to observe the tone of our thoughts is where we can intervene and influence the direction of our emotions.
Becoming mindful is the act of pausing to notice what you are thinking. A simple question will bring your awareness to your thoughts: “What am I telling myself right now?” Asking this question allows you to bring your focus and attention to your thinking. Clients of mine are often surprised at what they discover! They will say things like, “I never noticed how hard I am on myself.” It is so important to be able to just notice and suspend judgment. Once we begin to notice our thinking patterns, we can ask ourselves a question that will divert us away from being self-critical. In situations where we feel embarrassed because we think we did something wrong, for example, or when we think we are not good enough, try asking yourself, “Can I love myself through this moment?” That question creates a pattern interrupt. It redirects the normal sequence of thinking from a place of criticism and poses a much deeper query. “Am I still lovable?” Asking this question brings awareness to one’s mind that despite what has taken place, it does not change one’s worth and value.
A young woman in her early 20s recently shared this experience with me. She had saved up money and paid cash for her dream car. In celebration, she took off on a road trip to a nearby state to experience adventures on her own driving her brand new car. Just two days into her trip, she got into a multi-car pile up, of which she was at fault. In the middle of the chaos, she remembered this question and asked herself, “Can I love myself through this?” She reported to me that immediately after asking herself that question, a thought replied in her mind in the form of a statement, “I CAN love myself through this!” She said to me, “I’ll bet I said that statement 100 times that day. And I can honestly say that it prevented me from caving in to overwhelming and self-deprecating thinking.”
I invite you to try this in your own life. When stress, tension, anger, fear, or overwhelm creep up, pause and ask yourselves the question, “Can I love myself through this?” You can!
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