Building Awareness of Self-Talk
Let’s talk about the way we talk to ourselves.
Let’s face it, it's not good. We flood our minds with thoughts; about our bodies, parenting skills, worth, finances, etc. All the time. Here’s the thing. The brain strengthens in the areas that you use it. Have you heard the phrase, ”What you resist, persists?” Active resistance is actually concentrating your attention on the very things you don't want. You are telling your brain that this thing you don’t want is very important and to look for more of it.
Let’s look at how that relates to self-talk.
When you are constantly telling yourself you are terrible, you are telling your brain you are terrible. It gets easier and easier to think it, because you are strengthening those neural pathways. It gets HARDER to disagree with those thoughts, because they become so automatic, we may not even realize we are having them. This is a great reason to hire a coach. We are trained to identify this type of thinking and help you see it and stop it. Your brain is trainable, and you can fix it. All you need is a plan, and practice.
Shauna Shapiro, PhD, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University has some interesting videos about the effects of meditation on the brain. She says you can actually raise your happiness baseline by mediating daily on positive, loving things. And it’s because you rewire the brain to think those things more.
I think a meditation practice is super valuable, particularly meditating on self-acceptance and love. But changing your self-talk is an all-the-time thing. You’ve got to build an awareness about the kind of things you are saying to yourself. Pay attention. Many of us, especially women, habitually shut down and avoid negative feelings. We stay super busy, we eat, we drink, we medicate. Anything to avoid them. Notice when you are in avoidance, and tune in to your thoughts. Managing your thoughts will literally allow you to feel however you want.
Okay, so you noticed you’ve been scrolling on your phone for half and hour because you’re avoiding something. You focus on your thoughts. You realize you’re worried about something you said earlier and you’re telling yourself everyone hates you and you're fat. Don't judge yourself for thinking it. Celebrate the awareness and the opportunity to change!
Acknowledge your thoughts. Then let them go; gently, lovingly. Say instead, I no longer believe I’m a horrible, fat monster. This acknowledgment piece is important. You're not shutting down the old thought and avoiding it or judging it. You are saying I no longer believe this___.
Next, create new thoughts. And I’m not saying affirmations are the answer here. Your new thoughts need to be believable to you. So a new thought may be just a bit kinder than the old one. I now believe I’m an ok, overweight human. Say it to yourself whenever you notice that thought:
I no longer believe I am a horrible fat monster
I now believe I am an okay, overweight human.
Do it and over and over. As you notice yourself getting more positive, amp it up.
Say I am a badass woman in a normal body. With amazing hair. Love on yourself!
Another tool for checking negative thoughts is body awareness. Take a breath and notice icky feelings in the body. A tension in the chest, or butterflies in the stomach. When I feel those things I pay attention to my thoughts. Then I usually realize Im hating on myself.
Your brain is an incredible thing, my friends. Taking responsibility for it and mindfully working to create more positive thoughts creates epic change in your life.
Does any of this resonate with you?
Let me know in the comments!
I’ve been studying this awesome free MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course, and what I’m learning is blowing my mind. Particularly about how neuroscientists have been able to prove and measure the benefits that a mediation practice can have on the brain.
According to Shauna Shapiro PhD, we all have a happiness set point. This means that we all stay pretty much at our personal baseline level of happiness no matter what happens. Her example was, whether you become a paraplegic or win the lottery, after about a year your level of happiness returns back to your baseline. There is scientific evidence that you won’t be happier even if you have all the money you want. Let that sink in.
Another study measured the activities in the prefrontal cortex that are associated with happiness. A group of participants who had no meditation experience were measured before and after 3 months of daily practice, and their brains were showing more of those positive brain activities. The take away here is that meditation can literally make you happier, and that’s fucking awesome.
But it’s hard, right? You sit down and your monkey brain is hopping all over the place and you start feeling like a total failure and you give up. This is why cannabis and meditation are a match made in heaven. Cannabis helps you to relax and focus. It makes it easier to think positively and be kind and compassionate with yourself. It just puts you in such a good place to meditate. Not every single time, but generally. So give it a try, friends! I especially like this app. Do the Learn to Meditate in 7 Days class. Commit to 10 minutes a day. Let me know what you think!
Do you have experience with medicated meditation? Let me know in the comments!
I am Jessica DaCosta, I'm a proud cannabis enthusiast, advocate, and mom of two.