Thought Stopping

Several of my clients have been talking with me lately about their “inner chatter.”

They are noticing that the comments they make to themselves about how they look, or what they are or aren’t able to do, or how poorly they measure up to the person next to them aren’t very supportive – or helpful.

These comments tend to run in the background of our daily life. A little newscast that stars us – but criticizes our thoughts and actions.

When you are living with a chronic illness or daily pain, that script can become even more dangerous. It can contain thoughts like “This will never change.” “ I cant’ stand this.” “I’m never going to be able to do … you can fill in the blank.

How do we get these comments to stop? How do we quit badgering ourselves, and dragging ourselves down?

There are a few tricks and tips that I suggest.

The first is to begin to notice what the chatter is. What are you typically saying to yourself or about yourself? Don’t take it for granted – really listen. Would you speak to your friend, your partner, your child – or even your pet – like that? Probably not.

Next, as you notice the kinds of things you are running through your mind, imagine a red light or a stop sign – STOP. Create an obstacle in your imagination to curt the repeating loop. See it.

Some clients use a rubber band on the wrist and snap it lightly as if to say, “Snap out of it.” A physical interruption works well. Get up and move around. Step to a window or outside.

Distraction also helps if you find you keep returning to those negative inner monologues. Check your email, brush your teeth, throw out some clutter – it doesn’t matter. What does matter is to turn your mind in another direction.

Research is beginning to show that using mindful meditation twice a day creates some inner space for compassionate focus.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Sit with your hands in your lap and breathe deeply. Imagine your thoughts like clouds – let them pass by.

Or use a meditation CD or podcast – they even have a great phone app you can carry with you.

I make these suggestions because those harsh critical or depressing statements are corrosive for mind and body. They will wear you down and wear you out.

Taking one small step to eliminate these toxins can lighten your spirit and your life.

Try it and let me know what you discover.

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