Here I am sitting on my bed like a wounded animal, licking my wounds caused by loved ones who hit me hard with harsh words.
It always catches me by surprise when someone does that to me: you are totally oblivious about how that person feels about you until that person explodes in your face with words of blame and hatred which you never knew existed.
But what about if that person who hits you between the eyes with those hateful words is you?
Today, I want to talk to you about the effect of self-talk.
At Not Guilty office, one of the things I noticed while counseling many women who have been abused and others who have not is the negative self-talk.
Asking counselees what they say to themselves about themselves, I found that negative self-talk leads to a lot of emotional and sometimes physical symptoms.
Self-talk is simply what we think. These are the automatic thoughts that pop into your mind, consisting of words and images.
How we think, affects how we feel whether we like to admit it or not.
What we think is a reflection of our worldview of the world and ourselves and everything else that we have ever encountered.
As @Ayesha Punjabi put it so well on Quora,
“Now let’s bring it back to the emotional level. Somebody says something mean to you. You have the thoughts: “Wow, I’m such an idiot for having done [whatever it was that prompted the person to be mean]. I suck at social interactions. I should probably just go home because there’s no way I’ll have any fun here. I’ll never get any better at this sort of thing. I’m going to die alone and unloved.” These may be simplistic or exaggerated, but next time you find yourself in one of those tough situations, pay attention to exactly what you’re thinking; I think you’ll find that it’s not so far off in character from the above example. And notice that these thoughts are a reflection of underlying mental models & beliefs. In this case, there are beliefs about your culpability for this person’s anger, the extent to which he was justified in being mean, your social abilities, your ability to change or improve, your performance in social interactions, and if you dug deeper, probably a lot more. These thoughts are clearly “negative” thoughts, but the question you should be is asking is not, “How do I think more positively?,” but “ARE THESE THOUGHTS AND BELIEFS ACCURATE?”
Resilience against those negative thoughts is not an easy matter, it is something we learn. Putting something in a new frame, or reframing is changing the point of view on any given situation, the facts remain the same, but a deliberate shift is made in how we see it.
Studies have shown that patients suffering from depression and anxiety oftentimes display irrationalities in their thinking, especially about themselves. So, if you’re feeling down or scared, take a second to check if your thoughts are accurate and rational. Cognitive therapy has actually developed a catalog of irrationalities and a method of correcting them called the 3 column method.
The 3 Column method is a proven practice for improving your internal self-critical dialogue.
In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, David Burns introduces the 3 column method. as a method for developing a more effective self-evaluation system.
Here are the key points that David Burns suggests:
- Train yourself to write down your critical thoughts. Train yourself to write down critical thoughts that run through your mind.
- Identify distortions. Learn why these thoughts are distorted.
- Talk back to your distorted thoughts. Practice talking back to them to develop a more realistic self-evaluation system.
If you want to know more, read my book, What Happens After #MeToo– Tackling the Iceberg sold on Amazon and Kindle.
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If you have any questions, do not hesitate to send me an email