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negative self-talk [mindfulness 101]

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As part of mindfulness practice, I’ve begun to monitor the way I talk to myself in the negative. From automatic phrases (“Now that was a stupid thing to do”) to silent mutterings (“Merde. Again!”), they pop up habitually and have their roots deep in others’ judgements. During childhood and apprenticeships, for instance, I was persuaded that I was “no good” and “not worth loving.” Along the way these views became part of my ‘inner critic’ vocabulary.

My first step, as always, will be to become aware of instances when I talk to myself derogatorily. The second, to welcome and recognize such talk as mere voices, not the truth. The third, to put them aside as unkind and replace them by sentiments and words of loving kindness. But I’m getting ahead of myself: psychoanalyzing and making plans. How about I begin at the beginning: becoming aware of what goes on?

When a thought pops into your mind, you can think of it as an event of your mind. You can become aware of it even as it arises and also notice as it eventually passes. In the same way that you can sit by a stream and watch leaves float by or look up in the sky watching the clouds come and go, while practicing mindfulness you’ll learn to become more aware of all the stuff that’s in your mind without attaching to it — just being aware of it as it comes and goes.[1]

I’ve drawn up a journal sheet — with columns for times, instances, triggers, and responses — to track negative self-talk over the next three days. Let’s see how that goes.   

[1] Stahl, B., & Goldstein, E. (2010). A mindfulness-based stress reduction workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, p. 54. image: istockphoto.com

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