Negativity

Hey let's give this a go. Go grab a piece of paper. Sticky note, an old receipt, a notepad, anything. Really, go, I'll wait.


A coach did this with me and to say it was a powerful exercise is a bit of an understatement.


Now. Write down your negative thoughts. Here I'll help you, here were a couple of mine.


~ You will never lose weight.

~ You can't change careers.

~ You're not spending enough time with your kids.


Oddly enough, given the space, these come floating into the brain pretty easily, how about you? Same. Now the hard part. Take your list and go say them to someone you care about as if it were about them. Literally, like out loud, like eye-to-eye. We actually did it at a workshop with friends and strangers. Woah.

Now, if you are hesitating, or ignoring my advise to try doing this completely, why? Is it because these are mean/cruel things to say? Maybe. If you dig further, I bet you'd discover it's because IT'S NOT HELPFUL! Even if they were facts (they usually aren't), leaving a conversation at this point would be unbelievably unproductive, and likely derail any real progress towards success.


Martha Beck calls it our inner lizard. You can make it any animal you'd like. Pick a creature, or a person you met long ago (or a particular cranky family member) and practice pretending they are saying these things about you, not you. They are on your shoulder, not in your brain. I like to take these words and give them a different voice, a difference sound, an accent if you will. Give him or her a name, separate these thoughts from your own brain. (really, we're like some of the only creatures who can do this) Then have the conversation.


Separating yourself from your thoughts, allows you to analyze them honestly. Are you having these thoughts? Is it true? Is it helpful? Is that b*tch back again? Am I really just hungry?


When you can separate yourself from the negative thought, and instead turn it into a conversation, instantly you see the real fear or concern and can address that for yourself. Let's look at that list you wrote again. I'll do mine. (you do yours, duh)


~ You will never lose weight. MAYBE NOT NOW, BUT I CAN AND HAVE WHEN I MAKE IT A PRIORITY OVER OTHER PARTS OF MY LIFE.

~ You can't change careers. IT WON'T BE EASY, AND I'LL HAVE TO LEARN NEW SKILLS, SO IT MIGHT TAKE TIME BUT ITS WORTH IT.

~ You're not spending enough time with your kids. I CAN SPEND WEEKS IN A ROW WITH THEM AND STILL FEEL THIS WAY, SO WHAT I'M REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT IS QUALITY OF TIME SPENT.


Oddly enough this works with negative people, too. When you hear what they are saying as their own fear and not as something that is true about you, instantly you can agree on topics and concerns and both find solutions moving forward, rather than getting defensive and reacting to the negativity.


So go forth, and don't pretend negative thoughts never occur to you, but know that you have the power to address them as they arise (unless you are hungry, tired, or on your cycle, in which case eat, sleep, or do what helps there. And if those don't work, I STRONGLY encourage you pursue all necessary support/treatment available to you.)


And maybe, just maybe, you'll go a little bit easier on yourself this year.

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