What we think and say to ourselves does create our feelings. We want to tell ourselves confident, positive and encouraging things. We want to do this because what we tell ourselves, our thoughts, guide what we do.
A client of mine ‘Mark’, (37 years old) had given up alcohol two years before. By his admission, he couldn’t drink without messing up his life. The problem he was having was the recurring thought that he, “Had no control.” It bothered him that he had no choice but to be sober which he interpreted as being out of control and this was painful to him. No amount of intellectual reasoning he did would help how he felt. He even said to me, “Susan, I know I could look at it as I am in control, or I’ve got even more control now that I don’t drink. Doesn’t make me feel better, though.” We explored what he could tell himself, to make him feel better. He started with, “I make choices all day long. I am in control.” He left our session and practiced this till our next session a week later. He told me that it almost worked. He said he realized he liked his life and that he’s made it good. That’s it I said! “I like my life, and I’ve made it.” That’s yours for sure. He shortened it and made his personal encouragement statement, “I like my life.”
It doesn’t have to be complicated!
Before you do the following exercise notice what you tell yourself. Your clue, where to begin, is when you notice emotional discomfort. What did you just tell yourself? Chances are you will find that you’ve just told yourself something that is not very encouraging or even downright mean.
What would you say if you were talking to a friend? Would you say the same thing you are telling yourself? I often ask my clients what they’d say to a 10-year-old. Would you speak to a 10-year-old like you are speaking to yourself? This invariably gets a reaction from them like (a little smile), “Well of course NOT.” Experiment with the following exercise and be gentle on yourself, please.
- Write down three encouraging, positive statements for yourself.
- Practice using them for a week.
- Modify them after a week. Continue using the statements that uplift you and make you feel more confident.
Be well and BE nice to yourself,