(First published: Sometime during 07-08)
Negative self talk. Very destructive habit this. I was great at it myself.
I spent years repeatedly confirming to myself how completely screwed my life was. And it was but I was making sure it stayed that way with all that negative reinforcement.
See, the subconscious is a tool. It takes what you tell it, verbatim, and works hard to bring you that very thing.
If you think that people are generally good, you will find that strangers and friends do nice things for you on a consistent basis.
If you think everyone’s out to get you, you will find that you are frequently being taken advantage of and let down by others.
Your mind will bring you whatever it is you talk to it about.
It doesn’t know any better. It doesn’t know what your intent is, what you really mean. It only processes data at its face value and then does all it can to find that very thing in your day.
You will either think the world is the way it is, even when all around you don’t see it as you do, or you will bring the things into your life to literally make it the way you think it is.
You can think your way out of a bad life. Or you can think your way into one.
That’s why negative self talk is so destructive. And I was a master of it.
I’d complain out loud and to myself all day long about what sucked in my life.
But the night, when I was trying to fall asleep, is when the tidal wave of disastrous thoughts would hit me.
Without any activity to occupy or deflect my thoughts, I was free to wallow like a sow in the filth of my failed goals and disappointments.
I couldn’t stop myself, nor did I know for a long time that I should be trying to stop myself.
I had forgotten something I once knew: In my search for life improvement I frequently came across the fact that we should not do such things to ourselves.
But the bipolar really made any attempt at fixing this problem futile. It was out of my hands even though I knew I had to quit it.
You are not in control of your mind when bipolar is in charge. You just aren’t.
I gradually developed a system, which enabled me to slowly take charge of my own thoughts.
I had to focus on stopping bad thoughts as soon as I realized they were about to take place.
I was unable, in the beginning, to replace them with good. I just constantly warred with the bad; just told myself to go somewhere else mentally.
I knew I had to begin replacing the bad with good. But that proved to be slippery.
Your subconscious cannot be fooled, even as you trick yourself consciously.
What I mean is this: You must think positive thoughts as soon as you detect useless bad thoughts beginning. But – you must believe what you are telling yourself.
Without belief your subconscious keeps right on bringing the bad into your life. It simply doesn’t know any better.
This is why I have always had a problem with affirmations.
I believe they are good but too many people say them without conviction. They want to mean what they say but underneath they have already given up, even as the words fall from their lips. This nullifies the affirmation.
It’s hard to gain that belief. I know.
So the first thing you need to do is remove all grammatically negative words from your self talk.
You can’t say what you don’t want. The subconscious only hears the subject. If you say you don’t want to be broke, you most definitely will stay broke. (That was one of my most common self talk topics.)
I would instead tell myself,
- “I’m doing the best I can and it’s ridiculous to think otherwise.”
- Or, “This is out of my hands right now so it’s best that I focus on getting well.”
- Or as my life really did begin to slowly improve, “It’s all coming together and I am patient enough for it to work.”
Verb tense is important.
You have to phrase everything in the present tense, as if it is taking place the way you want right now.
It’s a little weird to talk to yourself in such a way but give it a try. It was a big step in getting my life back.
I still have to do this from time to time but I don’t fall into the trap anywhere near as much as I used to. But I stay on guard.
I’m better, hugely so, but I still strive to continually upgrade my position in life.
So watch what you’re telling yourself in your most vulnerable moments.
If you tell a kid all his life that he is no good, chances are he will become a criminal.
Your subconscious is your kid. Build your kid’s personality the way a proper parent would.
The photographer of this post’s featured photo: Mantas Hesthaven