Friday, March 2, 2012

Retro 3: What Can We All Learn About Realistic Thinking, NST, and PST from Laura Munson?

Continuing with the retrospective this week and probably through next week too. Now that I've started, I'd like to complete the round on negative self-talk and update all other sections too: new blogs on the roll, smoother, simpler techniques for linking, updated intro comments.  The slightly altered post below comes originally from May 10, 2010.

The title of my new book-to-be is Handbook #1 for Intelligent Women: Break the Negative Self-Talk Habit, not Cure the Negative Self-talk Neurosis. If you label your behavior as neurotic or whacko, then you think you need therapy. If instead you recognize that you'd like to get rid of an annoying, unproductive habit, then you're more likely to take action, to do some problem-solving thinking, develop successful techniques to break the habit, and end up as a realistic thinker.

The purpose of eliminating negative self-talk, the NaSTy habit, and reducing expectations of positive self-talk, the PeSTy habit, is to move  toward internal and external resolution of stressful situations. The concept is simple. The execution is harder — even for intelligentwomen.

Laura Munson (http://lauramunsonauthor.com/) in her book, This Is Not the Story You Think It Is, gives a very good example of living in the mode of realistic thinking under difficult circumstances. Yes, she occasionally gets sidetracked by her own negative inner voice, which she refers to as her Evil Twin Sister Sheila, but never allows herself to be a victim. Nor does she project an image of a perfect woman coping with rejection, parenthood, and a disappointing career with grace, brilliance and confidence. it's hard not to find her very real and likable, even if you don't agree with her.

As Munson explains early in the book, she had recently made a personal commitment to "not wanting" in order to take full responsibility for her own happiness. Her commitment came after years of "bashing herself bloody" (sounds like NST to me). She experienced a release from fear and a welcome sense of freedom through her commitment. With the help of her therapist and all the books (". . Buddha to Jesus to the Sujfis to the Christian mystics to Dr. Seuss and beyond") she had been reading for years, she understood finally and suddenly that basing her happiness on situations over which she had no control didn't, doesn't, and will not work.

When her husband unexpectedly told Laura that he didn't love her and wasn't sure if he ever had loved her, she was able to stay calm with her commitment as she answered, "I don't buy it." No hysteria or panic, no NST — "This is a catastrophe. I can't deal with this. What have I done to deserve this? How could he say this to me?" Also no PST or denial — "He doesn't mean it I'm sure. Everything will work out. We have a beautiful family. He'll change his mind and stay with us." She used realistic self-talk including problem-solving and cognitive restructuring. She also distracted herself regularly during the months following her husband's disavowal. She detached when the emotions of the situation became huge, then returned again to realistic, instructional thinking with a calm state of mind and emotion.

  Munson's success is not in saving her marriage, it is in saving herself. This book could be inspiring to many women, in many different and difficult situations where they don't have control and their NST overwhelms them. Although inspiration perhaps wasn't her goal, she has saved readers time on the learning curve by telling her story. Women may find their own unique way to use Munson's philosophy or approach, but they will end up saving themselves if they, as she did, take responsibility for their own happiness.
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