Here we are at the beginning of 2018 and I’d like you to take a critical look at your thinking.
A few months ago I met a young woman who described herself as “abrasive and unlikable.” Those were her words. She’s in her mid 20’s, very attractive, fit and presents herself as a professional. I was taken aback by her self-effacing talk and told her what I saw. She said that she’d never felt good enough and couldn’t compete with the people around her — especially other woman. I asked her if there’d been a specific incident that brought this on and she said that she’d been very shy in high school and just “knew” that others didn’t like her.
This was so sad because she’d allowed herself to become crusty and defensive in her negative stance simply because of her own, (I think false) thinking. She compares herself to others, “knows” what others are thinking about her without actually experiencing it, and is stuck with that terrible echo in her head of not being good enough.
Does it sound familiar? It’s not unique — we all do it, it’s just to what degree. What we need to remember is that those messages we allow to live (and sometimes fester) in our brains are not always tried, tested and true. As we progress into this new year, it’s a great time to reflect on the internal dialogue and perhaps work on making some changes.
This is so powerful to consider because of all the situations you encounter and internalize on a daily basis. Thoughts, both positive and negative, can become a part of you as they loop around in your head.
Do you ever silently beat yourself up emotionally over and over for things you’ve said, or didn’t say? Did, or didn’t do? Should, or shouldn’t do? It’s endless.
All simple and mundane actions or words that have the ability to spin out of control and get in your head whether coming from your best friend, a co-worker or complete stranger.
The day can be lost when a comment, a look, or gesture gets caught in that loop in your head that won’t let you rest because you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve made an egregious error and force yourself to live it over and over.
Picture this…you’re walking down the street and someone vaguely familiar is coming toward you. You can’t remember their name or where you’ve met—what do you do? Panic? Hide? Then they walk by and don’t even look at you…Now where does your brain go? For some, it’ll go straight to the negative and disparaging.
I’m forgettable…They don’t like me…They probably think my shoes are ugly…I have bad breath…on and on.
Can you see the spiral getting out of control? A downwards descent into self doubt, anxiety, and depression—boom—just like that. You felt positive about the day when you left home only to slide quickly into the proverbial rabbit hole of darkness and isolation by your own thoughts.
Nowhere did you consider that the other person maybe lost in their own spiral, on the phone, or is too nervous to say hello because they don’t feel worthy.
What’s really happening is, that like the young woman who sees herself as being unlikeable, you’re stuck in your brain as judge and jury without a trial. There’s no truth in the thoughts — you’ve made them all up. If you begin to recognize the false thoughts you may be able to pull yourself back enough to reevaluate the situation and your conclusions.
The mind is so powerful and you can find the strength to realize that not all thoughts belong — they’re false, they’re damaging, they’re toxic. Close your eyes and imagine putting them in an envelop, sealing it and mailing them away. I know, it may sound silly, but remember you’re the one in control of those thoughts and sending them away may be enough. Perhaps each time you think a negative thought, you have an envelop on standby and stuff it.
One that always works for me is to recite ‘not my circus-not my monkey.’ Simply meaning that I’m not going to allow those outside thoughts that don’t concern me into my brain.
What you need to look at is whether or not any of those negative, self-destructive thoughts are enough to take you off your game. Find some strength from deep within and remember that not everything you think, or even feel, is truth, and just because you think it, doesn’t mean that you have to believe it.
If you find yourself stuck in the negative thought patterns with no sign of breaking free, it may be time to seek help. Let’s make 2018 the best yet.
Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Reach her with your comments or, if you have a topic or question you would like her to address at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.fayeearcand.com.