Have a Better-Feeling Conversation with Yourself

I've always been a positive, upbeat kinda Gal, but I can assure you- I have my moments (just not and many as I used to, thanks to coaching).

Back in my less stable, up & down days, my creative mind worked overtime- concocting wild stories about who I was, who everyone else was and how other people saw me (and what they thought about me, and what they said about me, because of course, I was the focus of every conversation, right?).

I call these stories wild because they were far-fetched falsehoods that held me captive. When they took hold, I became defensive, frustrated, bitter and resentful. Believing the negative, unproductive, self-deprecating thoughts in my head brought me down, until I realized there was an alternative.


Before I go there...

As a Coach having conducting well over 600hrs of calls with female clients, I've come to know this is a common and debilitating challenge for so many women- distinguishing false stories from reality.

In the world inside our heads, thoughts hold power. Our thoughts shape our emotions, our actions, our reality and our perception of self and others. There's a dual force at play- positive vs. negative, objective vs. subjective, good vs. evil, love vs. lack of love.

On one end of the spectrum, there's the nasty habit of beating ourselves up with self-deprecating talk and the unproductive habit of making up wild stories. 

Ever catch yourself belittling your own skills, doubting your capabilities or just plain trash-talking yourself to others? That's self-deprecation at its best. You're essentially feeding yourself a narrative that you're not enough, and guess what- that story can start to feel pretty real. If left unnoticed (i.e. you're unconscious and unaware), the stories in your head become a corrosive narrative that can shape a "less-than" perception of self. On top of the emotional toll, you may start to behave in ways that reinforce your false perception, which limits your growth and blocks opportunities.

Then there's making up wild stories we concoct about our lives and others (I was really good at this). These stories are the assumptions, exaggerations, catastrophizing predictions and flawed interpretations that distort reality- basically seeing life through a funhouse mirror. Living this way is stressful, anxiety-inducing and typically far from reality.

On the other end, there's the game-changing power of seeing things as they really are- an objective, fact-based reality without all the drama.

Instead of letting those self-deprecating thoughts and wild stories run the show, you can embrace a more objective mindset, based in fact and truth. Start recognizing the good and the not-so-good in yourself (and others) without judgment and without making it a great big drama. (I like to say "thoughts are just things")

This shift doesn't mean ignoring your flaws or pretending life's all sunshine. It means understanding your challenges are part of life's ride, not the whole story of who you are (and not meant to define your worth). Challenges are opportunities to learn lessons, and from this perspective you can be real with yourself, accept responsibility where you can, take action to get back on track, commit to doing things differently next time and give yourself a whole lotta grace.

Making the shift from unconsciously believing those wild thoughts in your head, to consciously seeing what's real takes practice. Here are a few tips to help awaken a more objective, reality-based perspective:

  • Practice Mindfulness: Heighten your awareness of your thoughts. Notice when you're going down a rabbit hole of negative self-talk or making up wild stories in your head. ("___ doesn't like me, hates me, is ready to quit," or "I'm not ___ enough," etc.) Name it out loud to disempower its hold, saying something funny like "You're one of the most creative people I know, to be telling such creative stories! I outta submit that one to Netflix for a series!" Then, have a good laugh and gently guide your mind back to a more objective reality. (Such as "I'm improving and growing every day, taking baby steps towards better.")
  • Fact-Check: Challenge your spiraling thoughts by looking for evidence. Are you freaking out over something real or is your inner critic on overdrive? Are your thoughts based on facts or assumptions? Ask yourself "Is it true? How do I know it's true?" If the thought isn't true, release it and let it go. (Such as "The person that just cut me off in traffic may be in a hurry for good reason." One of my Clients tells herself "They may be delivering a baby in the backseat" and that story makes me LOL!)
  • Flip the Script: Learn to reframe negative, yuck-feeling thoughts in a more positive, better-feeling light. Instead of thinking, "I'll never be good at this," try- "I'm facing challenges now, but every day is a new day. With time, a commitment to new, healthy habits and a new perspective, my situation will improve."
  • Celebrate the Wins: Got through a tough day? Experience a shift? Notice your thoughts and lettign go of assumptions? Give yourself some credit. Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. This can help reinforce the value of more conscious, mindful, objective, reality-based thinking.

For me...

I realized there was an alternative when I discovered Byron Katie. She's a magical woman who had a powerful epiphany moment that instantaneously changed her life, for good. Since this moment, she has dedicated her life to "The Work," her process for helping other see reality and live in it, on daily.

When I find myself feeling yuck (any kind of bad-feeling emotion), I turn to "The Work." I work through each of the questions, I take my statements to inquiry and I work the turn-arounds. "The Work" has helped me through some dark times, with some of my most challenging relationships. And now that it's become a practice for me, I see it as something so simple- reality. I made it so complicated for years, and it's really so simple.

If you're intrigued, I encourage you to visit Byron Katie's website. She's very generous, offering an abundance of free materials, along with videos of her doing "The Work" with others (so you can see an example of the process in action).

I've also read her book, "Loving What Is." I've dog-eared more than half the pages, and left a few tear-stained. Not all my tears were sad, some were joyful. Because when I stepped into reality, I felt FREE!

If you get stumped or come alive with "The Work," let's connect! I can help you work through inquiry, turn-around your statements and uncover a shift that (who knows) could change your life for good!

The Bottom Line...

Your thoughts are powerful. They can hold you back or propel you forward. By moving away from self-deprecating talk and embracing a more objective and compassionate narrative, you can transform not just your inner world but your external reality (and relationships), as well.

Remember, the journey towards growth, change and transformation is not an overnight thing, and sure, it's tough. However, the whole of the journey is purposeful and meaningful, helping guide you to the kind of life you really want.

Make a conscious choice to feed your mind with the better-feeling stuff— the thoughts that uplift, empower, and bring you closer to the most authentic and fulfilled version of you! 



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