“Feel the feelings, drop the story.” Pema Chodron.
Studies show we have between 60,000 and 90,000 thoughts per day. That’s a lot, and if they all contributed towards making ourselves into the best human we can possibly be, happiness would seem far less elusive. Unfortunately many of those thoughts are repeated multiple times throughout the day. Some of them may be checklists of things we don’t want to forget; others are those past and future daydreams we become lost in; and some may be those critical thoughts we need to apply in our work. Many, however are thoughts that don’t help our mental health in any way.
With my clients I talk a lot about the inner critic—that nagging, authoritative voice that tells us we’re getting it wrong, should be doing better, and aren’t good enough. We all have an inner critic, but it shows up louder and more intensely for those who have struggled with trauma and adverse relational experiences in their lives. Such experiences can lower an individual’s self esteem making them more likely to be critical of their actions and less sure of themselves. However, no one has to live under the authoritative weight of that voice. We all have the power to overrule and work with the inner critic and change our perspective.
Expanding Your Perspective
We don’t see the world as it is; we see it according to our own experiences and perceptions. Your reality is different from my reality, which is different from your neighbour’s reality. In truth, we are all living in the reality we have created for ourselves in our minds. To expand our perspective, we need to a) start looking at perspectives other than our own, and b) ask ourselves if the internal negative chatter is serving us.
Think of a recent situation in which you felt hurt, angry, or sad. It’s likely you have a certain perception of how that event played out. Is it possible that someone else involved sees it differently? Is it possible that there is no right or wrong but actually just an event that happened and your perception of it compared to someone else’s? If your answer is no, consider a different situation. If you keep coming up with no’s, it’s likely your perspective is rigid and could be expanded.
Next, tune into your inner dialogue. Does it support you? Is it kind? Would you speak to a friend in the same way? If the answers are all no, it’s time to have a showdown with your inner critic and start challenging its narrative. Ask yourself if there is any evidence for the thought that you are believing and align yourself with the facts only. Is there room for another perspective other than the one you have decided to take?
Changing our thoughts and the way we view situations doesn’t happen overnight, but it is absolutely possible. As you begin to challenge your thoughts you will create new neural pathways that actually rewire your brain. So, if you are aware that you tend to look at the negative side of life and are harsh towards yourself, remember change starts with one thought and one simple act of self-kindness.
Want to reach out? Please contact me so we can talk.