Ah, spring! The birds are back, the grass is green, and our negative self-talk continues to yell at us through a megaphone. Just as the seasons change gradually and day by day, so do our inner worlds and patterns. No quick fixes here!
If you could use some kinder language in your own mind, read on for some “self-talk seeds” to plant. Our “seeds” are taken from the greenhouses of therapy practices that counselors use every day to help their clients thrive, so we know they are good! Water and cultivate them every day and in a matter of time, they will show their beautiful blooms through better moods, more joy, and healthier self-confidence, and we could all use some of that!
Seed 1: “Just the Facts”
This seed comes to us from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Ask yourself the question, what are JUST the facts about this situation? Remove the emotion for the time being.
Maybe the fact is that you forgot to buy bread for the sandwiches you need to make tomorrow. While this is a HUGE bummer and stressor, you focus on the fact (you forgot bread) and remove the intense emotions and judgmental statements of, “I can’t believe I forgot bread!” “WHY did I forget bread?!?” “What’s WRONG with me?!?” “Don’t I want my family to eat?!?” You get the picture.
Focusing on just the facts allows you to safely turn the car around and go get the bread OR change the menu.
Seed 2: “Reframing”
Our next seed comes to us from Solution Focused Brief Therapy, which yes, is as awesome as it sounds! You can reframe a thought or situation by looking at yourself or a situation through a positive frame of mind or imaginary positive lens. Instead of viewing a rainy day as an inconvenience or disappointment, you can say, “Now I have a chance to bake cookies!”
If you are trying this on yourself, it might look like this:
“I never finished that book, I can never finish a book, that sucks!” Swap this for a more truthful and positive statement of, “I’ve put off reading my favorite book for so long, now is the PERFECT time to pick it up again!” Instead of engaging in self-criticism or judgment about neglecting your literature, you open the door to support yourself and act.
Seed 3: “Is this absolutely true?”
This gem comes to us from therapy super-star, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. When engaging with a negative or unhealthy thought, ask yourself, is this ABSOLUTELY, 100% TRUE? Most of the time, the answer is going to be no, (there are usually SOME exceptions), and in reality, the truth is MUCH more nuanced.
Our thought might go from, “I’m an idiot!” to “I made a big mistake.” The second thought is truthful about the situation without the side of judgment and self-loathing. As a bonus, it invites you to be human and pivot out of that situation to somewhere much healthier.
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Pick one of these ideas to try this week and know that just like the seeds we plant, with some attention and cultivation, these too will sprout, grow, and bloom for us to enjoy!