Make Negative Self-Talk Work for You
I am generally a positive person. That doesn’t make me immune to waking up filled with negative self-talk some mornings. Our brains lose their resistance to negativity overnight. When I learned this, it made me feel better about occasionally preferring to pull the covers up over my head, and hide.
What I have learned is that this unpleasant thought train can be quite useful, when I understand it, and harness it in the right way. It actually becomes the seed of powerful transformation.
On mornings when I am down on myself, feeling overwhelmed or anxious, I have three steps I take to explore what’s happening and understand the clear message the feelings contain. It’s not difficult or terribly time-consuming. Yet the results are incredibly freeing and can create positive transformation at an accelerated rate.
Step 1: Three Pages
You can be outrageously opposed to anything about writing and still do this exercise effectively.
I always write in my journal in the morning before beginning my day. It is a cleansing practice for me, and it gets my brain activated. But don’t feel like you need to be a writer and author like me, in order to keep a journal. In fact, you can be outrageously opposed to anything about writing and still do this exercise effectively.
First, let go of any preconceived notion of how much you have to write on a page. You do not need to fill it up. Also, you can release any perfectionistic need to use correct grammar, spelling or syntax. You are the only one seeing this. Be poetic. Doodle. Write in a spiral if you like. This is for you. Have some fun.
Second, first write down whatever the internal (negative) dialog is about. What are you afraid of? What do you feel you are doing poorly or wrong? What is missing in your life right now? Those are the common threads, which can show up as nagging doubts, or outright panic. Be clear about how this makes you feel.
Third, on the next page, write about one thing (or more, if you get inspired) you could do differently today to inspire, nurture or support yourself. Remember, this is not a demand, or an opportunity to beat yourself up if you don’t do it. This is just considering what is possible. You might do it. Or you might not. All you need to do is remain open.
Fourth, on your final page, simply write 5 things you are grateful for right now. Try to be creative here. Don’t just jot down a list of your kids and family, or your job and your friends. Maybe listen to the birds, and write that down. Consider something that really made you smile yesterday, like a sweet thank you note, or a delicious meal. Once you get the hang of this, it won’t be difficult at all.
That’s it. You’re done. Name the problem. Feel the feeling. Consider an action or two. Be grateful. Journal done. This entire process might take you 15 minutes at most. If you have already had coffee, it could take a little less!
Step 2: Power Meditation
These a five jam-packed minutes, and can bring out massive shift.
You either love meditation, or you run screaming from anyone (like me) who mentions it. If you are in the first camp, you are likely saying, “Just 5 minutes??? Why not 20 or 30 minutes – or more?” And if you are in the latter camp, you would rather submit to water torture than spend a single minute meditating. For both of you, let me explain before you judge me on this.
The meditation I am suggesting is a fact-finding mission. This is not what most meditation teachers describe meditation as. But these a five jam-packed minutes, and can bring out massive shift.
I am creating a 5-minute video to demonstrate this technique, which I will share on Facebook and Instagram, but it goes like this:
Sit comfortably in a chair, with you feet flat on the ground, back supported and straight, hand on your lap, palms up.
Set a timer with a gentle chime sound for 5 minutes. You can use a sound only meditation App, such as Insight Timer, if you prefer.
Close your eyes, visualizing yourself someplace in nature. It might be a forest, mountaintop, beach, meadow, or beside a river or stream.
Look around yourself in your visualization. Feel how there is a presence with you there. This presence, seen or un-seen, makes you feel extremely safe. This is a guide, angel, or perhaps your higher self. Greet them.
Let this presence know that you are experience some uneasiness right now. You are confused about why this is coming up, and you would like to know more about it. Ask the presence, “What would you want me to know about X?”
Then, in your meditation, listen for what the presence has to say. They may immediately tell you something. Or there may be a lengthy silence before you hear their answer. Do not be surprised if their answer is not verbal. They may show you a symbol, or another vision within your vision.
When you feel you have received something, ask them one thing further, “Is there anything I should do with this information right now?” Listen and watch for a response.
If you do not receive any direct or obvious answers during this process, that is absolutely fine. However, know that we have a tendency to unconsciously tense up and try to direct this conversation at first. That is a good way to get silence as a response from your inner presence. All you need to do is relax, ask, and receive. The more relaxed you are, the more readily you get answers.
Step 3: A Note to Yourself
On your gratitude page in your journal, write down anything that came up during your meditation, such as, “This is where I am healing right now.” Or “call mom tonight.” Some of the suggestions you will receive in your meditation will seem obscure, unrelated, or outright bizarre at times. However, usually I find that over time as life unfolds, they actually do make sense, when I know more of the big picture.
Utilizing these tools of brain dumping, redirecting, and then becoming curious, I have found my negativity is a resistance to an important inner shift I am making, which feels a bit uncomfortable in the moment. The resistance actually strengthens my ability to navigate the change successfully, when I don’t get ensnared in staring at my discomfort.
I am able to observe myself with the journal and the “note from my presence” and begin to see patterns which, over time, are nothing short of incredible. I encourage you to try it for yourself, and reach out to me to let me know how it goes!