Choose how to react - part 2
I have been sharing with you the dramatic change that a client of mine achieved within one year from a smoking, overweight, over-emotional loner who had too much debt - to a fit, smoke-free, debt-free young woman who is in a stable relationship.
I have discussed how she had divided her goals into do-able steps, and has stayed on course to succeed by not reacting to distractions but by responding and returning to her goals every time.
The second strategy she used was by focusing on her self-talk and constantly changing it to the positive.
The importance of self-talk has become more evident in recent years. Everyone has a "little voice" in their heads that provides almost constant commentary-often in very critical terms-on what they do.
Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware of what they are saying to themselves and, even if they are, fail to question these thoughts when they are unrealistic, harsh, and critical. This seems to be especially true for people who often set very high expectations for themselves or has grown up with constant criticism.
There is a direct connection between how we think about things or how we talk to ourselves and our emotional reactions, as well as how we perform or behave.
When we judge ourselves unfairly, evaluate our performances in excessively critical ways, or, in general, speak to ourselves in negative ways, there are predictable reactions. We are prone to frustration, discouragement, hopelessness, and depression. In addition to these emotional responses, inaccurate or inappropriate thinking often leads to poor or substandard performance.
Conversely, people who think about themselves in realistic and positive terms learn to value themselves and their abilities in ways that enhance their performance and constantly motivate them to work towards their goals.
Regardless of the purpose, the steps for maximizing self-talk are as follows:
- Identify self-talk. Become more aware of what you say to yourself. Especially check in on your self-talk when you are feeling some negative emotion such as depression, frustration, or irritability.
- Evaluate the content of your thoughts. Is the thought valid and realistic? What evidence is there that the thought is true? Is there evidence it is not true? Would you talk to your best friend or teammate the way you're talking to yourself? Even if the thought may have some validity, is it helpful or useful for you to focus your thoughts and energies on it?
- Change the negative thought to something more realistic and positive. This may include identifying any patterns of irrational and distorted thinking that may occur with some regularity. Once the thought is identified, practice countering the thought with the evidence you gather and, when appropriate, reframe the thought by looking at your situation from a different perspective.
My client had constant thoughts of “what does it matter”; “you couldn’t do it before” and “it is too much hard work”. She countered this by saying and writing in bold letter where ever she could see it: “it matters to ME”; “I am doing right now” and “I’ll do it for another week”.
Each month she reassessed her progress and because it was evident that she was making headway-this motivated her to keep on for several months. The result was that she spent less, caring what she eats, cutting down on cigarettes and started to exercise in the privacy of her home.
She succeeded because of her constant focus on her short-term goals, thinking before doing and controlling her thoughts-only allowing positive, realistic thoughts to dwell in this all important control centre.
Never give up-replan, reinvent, recharge and recharge. It can be done-get help if needs be.
Best wishes from my heart to yours.
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