I’m happy to have Clinical Social Worker and Marriage Family Therapist, Michele Germain, also the author of “The Jill Principle – A Women’s Guide To Healing Her Spirit After Divorce Or Breakup (Llewellyn Worldwide) as my guest.
Creating A Healthy Mind
Are you trying to “bully” yourself into shape with your self talk? Is your mind flooded with thoughts of self-criticism, should’s and self-imposed pressure? Where did all this negative self-talk begin and why? If you don’t know the answer to these questions then it is time to carefully listen to your mind and find out exactly what it is you are telling yourself. First let me explain where it all begins.
Your negative self-talk begins in childhood. Our natural vulnerability is obvious. When you receive negative messages from your environment, your parents and others, your child’s mind is very impressionable. Unfortunately, those negative messages are taken in and they become part of your self-esteem and self talk.
The negative messages you internalize do not go away, they just become hidden and that becomes part of the negative internal dialog you presently have with yourself as an adult.
Let me explain further. In working with thousands of adult men and women one-on-one and in marriage counseling, I have found that affirmations are simply not enough. Even counseling or psych-therapy where all you do is talk, talk, talk, does not necessarily change your negative thinking.
It is important to connect with the voice of the inner child, name the negative thinking, and acknowledge that it started very early in your childhood.
Then bring compassionate understanding to yourself. Your child’s mind was not mature enough to say,” well my parents really don’t mean what they say; they are just frustrated and did not get the love they needed from their parents.” Instead the child internalizes the messages and now the negative messages and voice of the parent becomes your own. Your parents are now sitting on your shoulder.
We all need to use our minds to manage the changes, stress and the unknown. But, it order to achieve positive results you cannot start with self-criticism. It does take time to change your negative self-talk, but not impossible.
To investigate your inner child’s early programming you might quickly consider going through your day and noticing your negative self talk. If you do this for a few days you will notice a theme. You may notice that you frequently worry about the future, or obsess over past events beating yourself up, to name only a few themes. This self-talk theme you may not notice as it can be silently be going on in the background of your mind. Or, your negative self-talk could be spoken out loud when you are casually going through your day, or when someone ask you “how are you doing”?
How do you change this negative self-talk?
The first step is to just notice that you are engaging in self-critical or fear based self-talk. Most people spend 80% of their time in their minds, either thinking, thinking thinking, or talking talking talking, but not listening. The first step requires that you pause during your day and be silent, stop and listen to what you are telling yourself. Write down five negative thoughts that you are hearing yourself say.
The second step is to be compassionate with yourself, knowing that what you are hearing is the voice of your wounded inner child. Much of the time we spend putting ourselves under a microscope judging and being critical with decision, behavior, etc. Compassion is a critical step to develop and it will be easy now that you know this self-talk started with the innocent mind of the child.
The Third step is where you begin to update your inner child by reprogramming and putting in positive thoughts. This is like putting your inner child on your lap and saying that what she/he thinks is not really the truth of who you are, it is bringing self-love and understanding and the positive viewpoint which is updating the old into the new thinking.
Do not be hostage to your negative thoughts. You can change your negative thinking just follow the three (3) step process, it works. The process can be speeded along by working with a professional who deals with inner child work to help you identify your negative self-talk. Be patience and you will create a healthy mind.
Michele Germain is the author of The Jill Principle – A Women’s Guide To Healing Her Spirit After Divorce Or Breakup (Llewellyn Worldwide) and licensed as a Clinical Social Worker and Marriage Family Therapist in California. She’s a Certified Bioenergetic Analyst, specializing in the mind/body connection, an approach that resolves the emotional pain remaining in the body. Germain is also a relationship expert, and helps individuals find the spiritual gift in their crisis or breakup and does phone counseling. She has appeared on radio, cable television and in print media. She can also be found on www.beyondbreakup.com.