It’s been quite a year and a couple of months hasn’t it?
You’ve spent a large extent of it indoors, mainly in pajamas predominantly peering at screens of different sizes.
Sometimes you think there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but at the back of your mind you suspect that it could be an oncoming train.
You’re in stasis, cryogenically suspended, which would be ok if you were headed somewhere - Mars for instance - but no, you are still rooted firmly on Terra.
With yourself, with your thoughts.
Talking to yourself, talking to your thoughts.
Sometimes in your head.
Often out loud.
“I’m useless. Can’t even do 10 pushups. I’m never gonna get fit.”
“Everyone’s making money from Bitcoin except for me. Such a loser!”
“I don’t know how to get this printer to work. Why am I like this?”
“This virus thing is never going to be over. Those vaccines will never get to everyone. What’s with these new strains? Where’s that bottle of wine? Where’s my remote? Oh look, there’s a shoe sale on Amazon!”
“Forget the damn laundry, who needs clean clothes anyway. It’s not like I’m meeting anyone this year. Or next year. Wait, what month is this?”
You don’t live alone.
You have a hundred roommates on autopilot, all fighting for your attention.
All trying to define your life experience.
There’s a quote from Dr. Jim Loehr, a world-renowned performance psychologist training world class athletes, business people, actors and scientists, who appeared recently on The Tim Ferris show:
“The power broker in your life is the voice that no one hears. How well you revisit the tone and content of your private voice is what determines the quality of your life. It is the master storyteller, and the stories we tell ourselves are our reality.”
- Dr. Jim Loehr
We would even go so far as to say that your story is your destiny. Change your story and you change your life.
So how do you do this? How do you tell yourself stories that can reduce stress, boost confidence, build better relationships, make you more effective and help you achieve your goals in a healthy manner?
Here are 3 simple Mindfulness based steps:
The first thing to do is to acknowledge that that your inner monologues and dialogues exist, and to pay attention to what they say:
There goes the sarcastic one, the negative one following not far behind. The perfectionist one that wants to distract you from taking action, the one who’s decided that it’s the judge and juror of your situations, the one who scolds, cusses and word-whips you and sounds a lot like your grade 1 teacher. And of course, that unending, fearful chatter of the one who knows for sure that the world is going to hell, so what’s the point of doing anything anyway.
Listen to them, notice what they say, look for the pattern. Catch them all.
One of the best ways to do this is to journal. Write down your thoughts as they come. Don’t censore, they’re for your eyes only. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed to quieten most of them, attention seekers that they are. And as you get better at this, you may even find a certain calm and confident voice, the one that stands out from all the noise, the one that you know deep down you can always trust.
Should you believe all the stories coming out of you? Is what they’re saying objectively true? Or is most of it an exaggerated, repetitive rumination focusing only on the negative. Are you jumping to conclusions, blaming yourself or others? Are you looking at things in a never-ending pattern of defeat? Are you trying to read the mind of others, assuming that they are thinking the worst about you?
Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat, ask for evidence. Become the chief investigator of your thoughts.
This may be hard because the state that you’re in may actually fool you into believing your story. In this case, imagine if it was a friend who came to you with these statements. What would you tell them?
Another good way is to talk to yourself in the third person since this helps to create a little distance between you and your thoughts.
Once you’ve identified the unhelpful fiction, replace them. Substitute them with strong and effective statements that can benefit you and help you achieve your goals. You are your own mentor and coach. Tell stories about yourself to yourself that are inspiring and compelling.
How do you want to be? What persona do you want to ‘download’ so that you are can be the person you want to be?
What encouraging statements do you want to say to yourself so that you can create the situations that you want in your life?
How can you be kinder to yourself so that you can be healthier emotionally as well as physically?
“I’m always lucky”, “It is ok to trust others”, “I’m capable of handling anything that comes my way”, “I do make mistakes but that’s just because I’m learning”, “I can’t control the situation, but I can control how I react.”
Of course, we can’t have it all. Not every day is perfect, and we can’t be joyful and successful all the time.
But your stories define your experiences.
You can tell yourself that you suck, you’re not good enough, that everyone else has it together and they don’t care about you, that there’s no use trying, you’re never going to improve, and things will never get better.
Or you can say that you’re proud of yourself for trying, that you can achieve your goals, that you’re capable of learning anything, that you have within you all the resources needed to succeed and if not, then that it’s ok to ask for help, for people are generally kind and helpful.
Either way you would be right.
Metta Visions team
If you want to learn more about mindfulness and how it can help you be happier and more effective, check out Siri Chandler’s course Mindfulness, Your Path to a Happier Life on Metta Visions.