Sunday, July 25, 2010

First Step in Dumping NST — Recognize that You Do It

If you've been reading this blog, you know that negative self-talk is a nasty thinking habit; a consistent pattern of frequent, often automatic, critical inner monologues. “I’m a loser.” “How stupid was that move?” “I never handle these situations the way I should.” “I look like a blimp.”

Today I'm suggesting that the first step in breaking the habit is noticing if you have it! Perhaps you don't have the NST habit. It's easy to find out. Just take a minute as you're getting ready for work in the morning, again at mid-day, and at the end of your workday or after dinner to listen to what you inner voice is saying to you.   You might hear the put down message delivered with subtle whispers, a contemptuous tone, or even intrusive inner shouts, which tell the thinker, “You’re not good enough.” Because women define themselves in terms of relationships, their negative thoughts are often about what other people think of them. “Why doesn’t my best friend/ mother/ lover/ boss/ like/ love/ respect me more? What’s wrong with me?”

We often learn the habit as children, listening to our mothers put themselves down about appearance or abilities. “I have such ugly legs.”  “I never could do math and I still can’t even balance my check book.” We also buy in to family labels: the shy bookworm, a total klutz, the airhead. Girls often adopt negative self-talk by imitating older sisters or girlfriends, thinking it’s the way to act mature.
 For many women, the gray ghoul of self-doubt and disapproval dwells within, from the age of eleven or twelve. Over time, negative thinking’s insistent presence creates submission and acquiescence “I know. I know. You’re right. I messed up again.” The misguided mental behavior is repeated. The habit is acquired.

Just notice, without reaction or evaluation. Strategic allocation of attention can focus attention on your self-talk as well as take focus away when you want to detach. Right now you want to focus on it only briefly to see what's there.Then you want to detach rather than analyze or obsess, just as you might notice that there were clouds in the sky, without further interpretation or rumination. It just is!
First Step in Dumping NST — Recognize that You Do ItSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Do You Play Musical NST with Friends and Family?

Caroline, the oldest of three similar-looking middle-aged sisters, all smart, self-aware, and long-time, experienced negative self-talkers, tells a story about the siblings’ shared habit. The pattern developed over decades, unplanned but predictable. Any one of the sisters would start by putting herself down, while the other two jumped in rapidly to reassure her that none of her self-criticism was true. In fact they would comment that the negative self-talker was smarter, prettier, thinner, more talented, funnier than the reassuring sisters. One of the reassuring sisters then moved on to self-denigration, and the other two became the reassurers. The musical chairs continued with different sisters occupying different roles as the pattern played on.

 The three were looking at recent photographs, when the middle sister, JoAnne, said to the youngest, “You said I looked great in these pictures. How could you say that? Look at my fat cheeks. Uck! And my hair looks terrible. I look fat and matronly.” Alert for the usual volley of disagreement and reassurance, she faced an awkward pause instead. Then Caroline said, “JoAnne, you’re pointing at the picture of me, not you. You’re saying all those nasty comments about me, not you.” A moment of shock followed, then a jolt of laughter. Suddenly they confronted the ridiculous ritual that the negative self-talk habit had generated. JoAnne would never have been critical about Carolyn’s appearance. Because she thought the photo was of her, not JoAnne, she reflexively jumped into negative self-talk mode.

A bad habit — shared by many American women who engage in the common, harmful negative self-talk habit; a consistent pattern of frequent, often automatic, critical inner monologues. “I’m a loser.” “How stupid was that move?” “I never handle these situations the way I should.” “I look like a blimp.” We allow it to rule our thoughts and feelings, to take over our common sense and self-worth, to misdirect our behavior. If you do it, you're wasting time and energy, self-esteem and productivity.

Time to get a grip and dump the NaSTy habit. Stay tuned or read back to the beginning for more info, suggestions, clarification!
Do You Play Musical NST with Friends and Family?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Are Internal or External Stressors the Real Cause of Your Stress?

I propose that for many women, inner stressors such as unrealistic demands and expectations of themselves, communicated through harsh negative self-talk, create greater and more frequent pressure than external stressors. For example, you've invited friends over for dinner Saturday night. You've got a busy day as most weekend days are with the kids activities, house stuff like weeding or finding outdoor furniture, but you figure you can make it work. Maybe you can get to the Farmer's market and have burgers, corn on the grill and a big salad  — on the patio. Oops. It starts raining mid-day. Your 2 year old is grouchy. The house is messy.

What’s the major cause of the stress? The external or the internal stressors? The chaos itself or your negative self-talk about the chaos? The icy road or the self-criticism? The deadline ahead or the inner critic? I'd like to know your response. Please send me your comment, particularly if you disagree.
Are Internal or External Stressors the Real Cause of Your Stress?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend