Hello dear friends.
A few weeks ago we had a little chat about self talk and negativity. It was a good few weeks ago, so I wont blame you if you have to hop back to it for a refresher.
This week I want to get practical. It is one thing to recognize the danger of negative self talk, but what does that matter if we don’t do anything about it?`
1. Get grateful
Cultivating thankfulness gets us on the offensive against negativity. Looking for reasons to be grateful takes our attention and thought power away from the negativity and places it right on the positive. Research in positive psychology suggests that “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” I don’t know about you, but when I am happier, I am a whole lot less negative, duh!
There are many ways to get grateful of course. Maybe you want to take the Ann Voskamp approach and find 1000 reasons, big or small as you go about your next few months, storing them up like little treasures. You could instagram, tweet, journal, facebook, or blog the things that make your heart sing with gratitude. Write a thank you note or send a text or email. Pray your thankfulness. My suggestion, try them all.
As for me, I have found it immeasurably helpful to start my day with a written practice of thankfulness. The act of writing slows me down, helps me to really dwell on it. Also, days when the negativity beast is there first thing in the morning, I have pages of little nudges toward all the good.
On the best days I light a nice candle and have a tasty beverage at my side (on most days its just a quick plop on the couch, because you know, bed) with my journal ready to write. Some days I can give it more than 5 minutes, other days thats all I have, either way, listing things I am thankful for in that moment sets my gaze on all the goodness around me.
P.S. The Five Minute Journal is a sweet little resources to get your hands on if you need some prompting.
2. Name your inner nag
[Warning, woo-woo up ahead, but I promise its worth it]
Often it seems to me like the hardest part of overcoming the negative talk is the fact that the inner voice of criticism feels engrained in me, like it is me. It is as though all those negative thoughts must be true because my mind is perceiving them and screaming them at me. But the thing is, the fuel for negative self talk and shame is your agreeing to it. And lets be honest, when the wheel of negativity starts turning, it can feel almost impossible to step off, and the more we let ourselves spin the more we are agreeing to.
So how do we get off you ask? Name that inner nag and have a little talking to. I call my inner bully Mean-meg (not the most creative I know, but I couldn’t pass up the alliteration) and when she starts getting in my head, I have a little talk. Here’s a chat that may or may not have played out only minutes ago:
“Wow Mean-meg, your really loud right now.”
“You are not smart enough to write this blog post Megan, these are still things you struggle with, you cant possibly think that you have any kind of authority to write about this”
“Mean-meg, what is making you so fired up about this, what are you trying to do here?”
“Well, I am afraid your going to be rejected, that your going to be embarrassed, and then you will feel bad.”
“Mhmm, well mean-meg, thanks for trying to protect me, but my experience is valid, and I am enough. Even if I am rejected by some, sharing my truth is empowering and the potential for growth outweighs the potential for harm.”
Giving your inner critic a name allows you to separate yourself, to get inquisitive about what he or she is saying to you without internalizing its words as truth.
Oo, this little conversation brings me to my next point;
3. Call it what it is
When you take a step back and get inquisitive with the inner voice of negativity, you can process and respond to it for what it is. In the little chat I had this morning(and every one I have with mean-meg), I Take some time to figure out what the motive is for all that nastiness. I have learned that its pretty rarely actually about being fat or stupid or whatever name, and is more often something totally different like fear or rejection. So, call it what it is, and speak the truth over it. Like mean Meg was trying to protect me, but the truth is, keeping me quiet is actually hurting much more.
Along these lines, it can be really helpful to spend some time journaling through your most consistent negative thoughts or narratives and processing what it is exactly your gaining from the negativity.
You read that right. What are you gaining from this negativity. When you can put your finger on that, you can speak truth over it and shut. it. down.
Heres an example, “you are a gigantic mass of wasted potential” (I am telling you guys, mean-meg is MEAN). What could I possibly gain from such a nasty thought? Well if I am honest, it gives me an excuse. I don’t have to try because I am just going to fail anyway, so I can just stay as I am and do nothing about it. But here is some truth now that I am aware of whats happening here; failure is not the opposite of success, it is part of the process. The truth is, the world is full of opportunities, and I am free to try whatever I want. The truth is, I am only wasted potential if I give up. The truth is, God has great plans for me, and He will complete what He begins.
Which reminds me;
4. Affirmations all day
Literally all. day. Write down the truths that counteract the negative thoughts, hang them on your mirror, repeat them in your mind. Memorize scripture and/or positive quotes. Dwell on the goodness of God, the world, yourself, and others. Let that become the new loop in your head.
Some of my favorites are
“God is good, and He has good things for me”
“I am a beautiful badass woman, capable and worthy of love success and friendship”
“I am Gods masterpiece, and He is using me to do mighty works”
5. Treat yo self
Plain and simple, when you feel at peace and filled up, there is less space for negativity. Love yourself well, figure out what brings you joy and make space for it. Go for a walk, exercise, take a bath, play a sport, have coffee with a friend. Know what your self care needs are and do not negotiate on them.
Also, don’t underestimate the value of quietness and prayer in your self care practice. Stay connected to God, because He has nothing but good and beautiful things to say about you.