Brain Tricks

November 1, 2020

Just give up.
I’m not enough.
There’s something wrong with me.
I’m a failure.
I’m broken.
I don’t deserve this.
I should of…
I could of..
If only….

Sound familiar? These are lies. All lies. Our brain is wired to protect us and to try to uncover the why in things. Ironically, flooding your mind with these thought distortions is its way of protecting you, yet these thoughts cause physical and emotional stress affecting our body, mind and life and are linked to types of mental health problems like depression. Negative self-talk can also lead to more limited thinking and beliefs; the more you tell yourself you can’t do something the more you are going to buy into it and believe it to be true. Gaining control of your negative self-talk is something you definitely want to fix. Challenges with relationships with not only yourself but others are also another negative effect of this kind of sabotaging self-talk. 

Picture this - a friend follows you around all day and says your thoughts out loud to you. Every. Little. Thought.

Why did you choose that muffin for breakfast?
Wow. You forgot to send that email? You’re so stupid.
Don’t even think about trying that new workout. You’ll never be able to do it.
You can’t even handle managing your doctor appointments? You’re completely incompetent.
You will never be successful.
You’re not good at this.

Pretty rough, huh? So why, WHY would we ever think it’s okay to do this to ourselves? It’s not and it needs to stop right now.

Shifting our self-talk empowers our minds and has plenty of health benefits such as:

  • Lower rates of depression 
  • Lower levels of stress
  • Better coping skills during difficult times
  • Greater resistance to minor illnesses (such as the common cold)
  • Better heart health 

So what can you do to fix it?

First, you need to start by being your own best friend. It’s important to simply be mindful that these thoughts exist. Check-in with yourself throughout the day with a mindful pause, really tuning into what is going on upstairs. Acknowledge the thoughts, thank your brain for working to keep you safe and then take back control. You have control of your brain; your brain does not control you.

Recognize that your thoughts are not always your truth. Your observations about what is really happening can be skewed or you can just be in a bad mood. Search for the facts. 

It’s sometimes helpful to use a phrase like, “Yep, well that sucks that that just happened. The world will keep turning and I will be okay. I am safe.”

Be actively curious about your thoughts. What things ARE true? What things ARE positive? Just as much as your negative self-talk can harm you, research has proven a direct correlation between positive self-talk and success. 

Try saying your thoughts out loud to hear how they really sound. You will start to recognize how untrue and unrealistic they are. 

Reframe your negative thinking and shift your mindset. Take the thought and change it into something that is both true and positive. For example, “There’s no way this will work,” becomes “I can try my best to make it work.” 

Positive self-talk is not all rainbows and unicorns and doesn’t mean you will never encounter an unpleasant situation. It means that you will approach the situation in a more positive and productive way without thinking the worst. You are your own best friend. Start treating yourself as such.

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