More from the Mindset series # 8. This one is really important – and I will admit not always easy for me.
Fortunately, life gives us lots of opportunities to practice this one – which is all about “Acknowledging the Negative Thoughts” AKA the self-critic.Think of your negative thoughts as an untrained, jumping, barking dog. You can try and ignore them, tell them “no,” or turn on Netflix to tune them out, but they’ll keep hounding you until you give them some attention.That’s their job, after all — to convince you to tune in. So, once you’re aware of the negative thoughts, listen to what they have to say. Whether you’re at home or work, find a quiet place to pause and ground yourself.Close your eyes. Relax your brow. Release your jaw. Draw your shoulders up toward your ears, then roll them backward and down your spine. Open up your heart space. Take a few deep breaths deep into your low belly and ask, “Negative thoughts, why are you here?”
You may be surprised by the answer. You may think it’s about something that happened earlier in the day, yet there’s a chance that your current situation reminds you of a wound from your past that still needs to be healed, making you feel that much worse.
If you find it difficult to sit still and tune into your thoughts, that’s OK.
You might find it easier to process these emotions or thoughts by walking in nature by yourself, journaling in a stream of consciousness, or working with paints or colored pencil
Recently, I experienced a flood of negative thoughts. I found myself on
Mother’s Day back in the town where I grew up. My daughter and I decided to get bagels at a favorite place only to find a very long line. I wanted something special for breakfast – now turning into brunch as the clock ticked on and on but every restaurant was really crowded (note to self: plan ahead if you want to eat out or carry out on Mother’s Day).
I looked out the car window and saw all these people celebrating their moms and all I could think of was the decades that I didn’t get to celebrate having lost my mother when I was 9. It was like a rain storm formed in my eyes and wanted to rush down my face.
While I was grateful to be with my 15-year-old and this present
moment didn’t escape me, the pain and critical thoughts roared in my head. They kept saying. “Why didn’t my family plan anything for me this year” (long story), “maybe I don’t deserve to be honored on Mother’s Day…” “How can I really do a good job as a mom having not had one for so long?” I became really aware and acknowledged these thoughts and let them be. After all, the pain of losing someone never goes away and some days (like for me this past Mother’s Day) we get triggered and it really hurts. I needed to acknowledge the negative thoughts that came up with my sadness and pour on the empathy for myself, so I could feel the real pain. I know my critic was letting me know that I needed space to process this old pain (working on that!).
How do you do with creating space to acknowledge your self-critic. We all have one (or many!). Is it easy or hard for you to acknowledge, be and ask your negative thoughts what they are really telling you? Why are they here and what can we learn from them? Can you give yourself empathy once you acknowledge these thoughts?
I promise you – once we keep practicing these Mindset techniques in our daily life — we live in more health, joy, love — and in the moment.
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