Re-wiring our brains
- Notice that the negative voice is there. If you notice it, than it can begin to lose power. Accept that it is trying to help you and it is a part of you that needs love and acceptance. It probably has helped you in the past. We all have that negative voice because focusing on negative aspects of our environments helped us get by at one point in our lives individually or as a species. That voice is no longer helpful so thank it for its effort to help and kiss it good-bye.
- If the negative thought is overwhelming you, make up a little song and sing the words of the thought to the tune, like “Happy Birthday, ” or “Oh Susanna.” You can also give that voice in your head a nickname so it seems less threatening and feels less like a voice that is a true part of you. Or, write the thought on a piece of paper and throw it on the floor to distance it from yourself. Taking the thought less seriously will help you evaluate whether it is a helpful thought or not. (Some of these ideas come from the work of ACT- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.)
- Take time every day to notice new and different good things in your life. Thanksgiving is a great time to start this practice since we traditionally focus on our gratitude on Thanksgiving Day. Ultimately noticing and absorbing good experiences will help to rewire your brain. Notice the sunshine and the beauty of the seasons changing, notice that you feel ok right now, notice that at this moment nothing is really missing- you are alive and probably healthy enough and are basically ok. Notice good friends and loved ones who help you feel cared about (that you may or may not be spending Thanksgiving with!). Notice the good food you are eating. Notice succesess in your life. Take 15-20 seconds to really focus on letting yourself take in the good experience (For more on this, see “Hardwiring Happiness” by Rick Hanson.)
- Try to accept whatever emotion comes your way. If our intent is to get rid of our emotions, we won’t feel better. Like the Chinese Finger Trap, we need to relax ourselves out of the trap, not pull too hard. The idea is to embrace our emotions as being an integral part of us and being ok with them showing up for us. Remember, emotions are guide posts, and as such are there to help us.
Can you focus on good things in your life or does that critical voice come up and try to sabotage good experiences and feelings? Thanksgiving can be a good time to start noticing. Let me know.