Sunday, November 28, 2010

How do you change from negative self-talk to positive self-talk?

"How do you change from negative self talk to positive self talk? I try but its like im kidding myself and just saying it in my mind consciously without believing it!? (Its like I dont mean it when I say it!)"

This question appeared on a yahoo answer site — without an answer. As regular readers of intelligentwomenonly.com know, the question is  up my alley and fits right in with the current Technique of the Week plan.  No one, except perhaps very experienced and confident monitors of their own self-talk, can change from negative self talk to positive self-talk in one step;  just like you can't change from a flat tire to a functioning tire in one step. There's no on-off switch. 

First, you have to get rid of the immediate negative self-talk. 

 For example: Inner voice: "I should have just kept my mouth shut. I talked way too much. They must think I'm an idiot."

                        Action:        Change the inner voice to coincide with slow, deep breathing, saying, "Breathe in.                                                     Breathe out." 

                       Action:         Hear the calm, quiet of your inner voice. Then change to, "I can let go. I can let go of the critic."

                       Action:         Then change to realistic thinking. "Next time I can count on myself to listen more, talk less."  

As the person who asked the question above commented, "It's like I'm kidding myself." She's right. We are often kidding ourselves by substituting a fake positive inner comment for our negative self-talk. For example: " I'm sure they loved listening to me. It was fine. I communicated well." If you have a brain in your head of course you're going to say to yourself, "Hey, who am I trying to kid? I was a jerk," just escalating the inner negative monologue.

Research by JoAnne Wood, a Psychology Today blogger,  determined that attempts at using positive thinking to overcome negative thinking makes things worse, particularly if you are not a self-confident person. You feel bad about who you are, and then the positve thinking, from yourself, seems so far removed from what you truly believe that you feel even worse than before. e.g. trying to use affirmations such as "I am a happy, successful person," or "I am a lovable person."

The Technique of the Week reminds us that it takes 3 or more steps to move from negative to realistic self-talk. Many more to move from negative to positive self-talk because first the volume on the negative self-talk needs to be turned down! 





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Friday, November 26, 2010

UPDATE-post-power outage.

Just in case you were looking for a Wedneday post and didn't find it I have a good excuse! We (and our neighbors and our town) were powerless from Monday through Thursday sometime. Yes, even on Thanksgiving we had no oven. So we had to drive 4 hours round trip to join family and a working stove!

No land line, no lights, no heat, and no charging of electronic stuff and of course no internet.
Lots of reading — by flashlight. Lots of conversation, by firelight. Life suddenly became very simple; few decisions to be made, nowhere to go, lots of sleep. I realize again how often less is more.

In the same theme, this post is less than usual and there'll be more, but not more than usual, on Monday.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Anxiety vs. Intelligence

OK. The day that I wrote about the warring opponents, anxiety and intelligence was the day before my birthday which accounts for the possible slight increase in my anxiety and decrease in intelligence. Plus I had attended a Field's End (Writing Community) Roundtable the night before; Anthony Flacco told us that all writing takes the form of a screen play. I was trying out his model.

Now a few days later, my anxiety is gone, my intelligence seems to have survived, and I have a new Macbook Pro, which increases my general sense of well-being but hasn't helped my screenwriting techniques. But, I'm ready to take on the aforementioned drama, with a stressed woman as the protagonist, fighting the spoiler, anxiety, who is assaulting her own intelligence and the perception of her intelligence.

Act I. Introduction of the Protagonist; Stressed woman (See Nov. 17th  post for further description of protagonist)

She's pacing, talking out loud to herself, berating herself, sounding stressed out, uptight, and negative. She's alone on the stage, in a grey suit, looking grey, feeling grey, sounding grey. She stops at a desk, looks down at her computer and reads out loud:

" JCT at intelligentwomenonly.com
Stress most frequently is caused by anxiety and creates anxiety. Anxiety is fear of the unknown. Anxiety is often caused by negative self-talk, an internal stressor.
E.g. If you are presenting a report to the Board of Directors, you are anxious. You fear the unknown.
How will your report be received? Will you forget an important part? Will the equipment for your Power Point presentation work? Will people respond positively or think you don't know what you're talking about?
Neither the flight nor fight response will help you reduce stress in this situation.

Stress can also be caused by fear. Fear generally is elicited by a known external stressor. 
E.g. if a bear attacks you, you are afraid and stressed. You fear the bear, a known potential aggressor who can hurt you. Is he going to kill you? Can you get away? Should you fight back? Should I "play dead?"
Either the fight or flight response will help you reduce stress in this situation."

"Oh my gosh," she says. "This blogger is reading my mind. But she doesn't tell me what to do and I have to go to this meeting in 10 minutes. I don't have time to go back and find out how to fix my problem. I'm stressed to the max already. Now I feel even worse."

Act II. The climax.

The same intelligent women, making a presentation to the Board, recognizes that her internal monologue (loud and intrusive) is raising her anxiety and lowering her confidence. It's decreasing her focus on what she is saying and how the audience is responding. Although her IQ hasn't actually dropped of course, she's not thinking clearly and quickly. She's coming across as preoccupied, a bit slowed; she sounds uncertain. She realizes with sudden awareness she has to make a change — or lose the battle between anxiety and intelligence. Fight or flight won't work. The enemy is internal anxiety, not an external force. She summons all the power of her intelligence, remembering a few lines from the blog she had just read.. "I won't be my own worst enemy. I will be my own supporter," she says. "I can stop the descent into charcoal grey because I'm smart even though I'm stressed.  I can do this. I can do this. I can do this, " she says inside her head
Act III. Dénouement or the resolution
With a flash of lightinng, the grey suit turns to red, the protagonists color pinks up, her body language becomes expressive, energy flows outward from her brain, her voice lifts with confidence. Clearly, she has vanquished the enemy, anxiety, and his weapon, negative self talk. Her intelligence has snapped to attention. Her internal monologue, displayed on a screen above the stage, is now saying, "I am doing this well," while she is presenting her report with polish and pizazz. The Board rewards her slick turnaround, her snappy style, her solid content with a standing ovation. She controls her tears of joy and relief as she takes a modest bow.

I think I'll have to practice a lot more before I try another screenplay on my blog!

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Men, Negative Self-talk, and Technique of the Week

Men are users too — of negative self-talk. I've heard them say neg stuff out loud about themselves, although not as often as I hear it from women. Attribution theory again. when good stuff happens, women attribute it to luck, random happenings. Men take credit. When bad stuff happens, women take blame and med attribute it to bad luck, random happenings. OOPS!  Not a gainful stance for women.

If you've been reading this blog regularly you already know about attribution theory. You also know that the research findings show that women are the biggest, best ( or worst?)  gender group of NSTers, according to Women Who Think Too Much by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema Ph.D.

Out of curiosity I've searched online occasionally for stuff about men and negative self talk. Not much out there, but the information that I have found (written by men for men) is focused on eliminating negative self-talk as it applies to picking up (now more generally called hooking up with) women. Not surprisingly, if a guy is thinking, "She'll never give me a second glance. She's so hot and I'm such a geek," he won't come across as the cool, confident, successful guy many women are looking for. On the other hand, the guy who is thinking, "I'm looking so cool, feeling so confident, and in fact am so successful, this babe is gonna feel really lucky that I'm showing some interest," doesn't quite make the grade either.

I have two entirely different reactions to this piece of NST trivia.

•  I feel empathy for men. I remember reading something from Warren Farrell years ago that men have to face potential rejection at least 172 (not an exact number from me) times from meeting a desired women and sleeping with her. That's exhausting to even think about. If they only knew that half the women they were hitting on were thinking to themselves, "He's cute, but he wouldn't look twice at me," they'd feel much better. But of course they can't go around saying, "Are you a negative self-talker?" as a way of finding commonality. It would be unusual and could work to increase bonding, but certainly would be a counter-gender culture move.
• I feel some annoyance that the only finding about men and NST online is related to picking up women. What about a little more NST about being a boss, or a father, or a spouse? When you're only an occasional NSTer, not an addicted overthinker, a little negative self talk can motivate useful change.

A piece of advice given to men online isn't bad, but it won't help." It’s going to take some dedication on your part to get this part of your life sorted out. It’s not going to happen overnight. You need to get that negative self talk rewired and then go out and start talking to people." Getting the negative self-talk rewired? What does that mean? How does one do it?

So all of this provides grist for the new technique of the week tip:
When you as a woman find yourself negative self-talking in a dating, bar, pick-up situation, focus on the man or men and figure out if he's an overly negative or overly positive self-talker. This is a  form of the distraction, detachment set of skills. This specific form of detachment hasn't been researched, although the general category of detachment is certifiably effective.  Let me know what happens. You'll learn something. Anything is better than same old habit.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nature, Nurture and Gender Differences

This article is borrowed from Suite101.com 

Same question: culture or biology? Same answer: it's complicated. This is the end, for now, of this issue for me. But if readers have other sources of interesting research, supported beliefs and concepts, pass them along. We probably can't come to a definitive conclusion but seeing the bell-shaped curve of the discussion could be fun.

Gender and the Brain: Hormonal and Cultural Influence

Nov 7, 2010 Gina Barrett
The Human Brain - aigarius
The Human Brain - aigarius
We've all heard that men and women are so different; they might as well hail from different planets. Men and women are said to use their brains in different ways, and it can be proven with MRIs and PET scans. But does this mean that biology is trumping culture? Recent evidence exists for both sides of the nature verses nurture argument.

 Research on Gender, Hormones, and the Brain

The National Association for Single Sex Public Education's website details many recent findings on the structural differences in male and female brains, maintaining that hormonal influences in utero have irrevocably marked brains as male or female. The differences found in male and female brains lead the association to call for single sex education.
Women are said to use both left and right sides of the brain when processing language, men only the left side. Parts of the brain used to navigate have been found to be different in men and women as well. Men are said to be unable to clearly process their own emotions, as they do not activate the cerebral cortex in the same way as women. The male and female brains are said to mature at very different rates as well, with boys brains in some respects resembling a girl's brain that is six years older.

Hormones prime male brains to pay attention to sexual cues, threats to territory and status, while women's are pre-wired to be more empathetic, responding to facial cues. In men, the left inferior parietal lobe is larger, in women, the right. The left side is associated with preception of speed [sic?](I know that the left side is associated with speech, but I don't know what "preception of speed" means. Do you? JCT)  among other things, the right with feelings.  But are hormones our destiny?

Criticism of the Interpretation of Current Gender-based Brain Research

Yet even these hormonal arguments are fuzzy when examined more closely. One intriguing finding is that while testosterone affects the brain, both men and women with high testosterone levels ("high T") react similarly to challenges, cranking up brain activity. Other research notes that our hormone levels themselves fluctuate with environmental influences. Men produce more oxytocin, the "female" hormone, after orgasm. Brizendine chronicles the influence of hormones on men's brains, particularly in relationships, but also notes what cultural factors interact with and modify those hormonal influences. Brizendine notes, for example, that a male's brain circuitry will change as it learns the male cultural norm of not expressing emotion.

Social research has demonstrated the strong influence of cultural expectations about gender. In fact, research on assumptions about gender and behavior demonstrates that being even subtly reminded of a cultural stereotype affects behavior. When students must check off gender before performing mathematical tests, for example, research shows that females tend to do worse. This "priming" has been demonstrated to affect tests of spatial abilities as well. If behavior and brain activity were primarily mediated by patterns set before birth, such differences would not be expected to occur.

In sum, our brains respond to our hormones, which vary between and within members of both sexes. In fact, in large population studies, only slight trends emerge. While we maybe predisposed to one type of response or another, culture has a profound affect on the end result of the response. In short, it's complicated.
Related article
Are there Differences between the Brains of Males and Females? accessed November 7, 2010.
Brain Differences accessed November 6, 2010.
Brizendine, L. The Male Brain: A Breakthrough Understanding of How Men and Boys Think. Broadway Books, New York. 2010.
Fine, C. Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference. W.W. Norton and Company, New York. 2010
Oxytocin accessed November 7, 2010
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Did you Choose (or Were you Socialized) to NOT go into a Math Related Career?

I found the following article about women, math, and choice (from the Association for Psychological Science)very interesting.  I hope you will too. The most thought-provoking part for me is the factor of "choice." My husband's philosophy is that most adults have choices about all matters in life. Homeless people can choose to work or to sleep on the street. Alcoholics can choose to drink, or not to drink. Men and women can choose to be good or bad parents.

I don't agree. I think that many factors such as culture, genes and the socialization process can easily and often bias our "free will."There are times when we really can't make a choice. The choice is made by pre-ordained circumstances; being born into a family that was homeless, or alcoholic, or provided bad parenting biases you to be similar.  However, my view about choice doesn't sit down companionably with my other strong view that we need to be responsible and accountable for our choices, decisions, and behavior. How can one be responsible for a choice that isn't really a choice? Enough said. Even if you don't read the article, I'd like to hear what your thoughts are about choice and/or you and/or accountability in the general sense. And even specifically:

Do you choose to be a negative self-talker or did you learn to be?

Did you choose to be smart or was it in the genes?

Are you choosing to be emotionally expressive or does it just happen?

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