Notice your thoughts. Do you treat yourself with kindness and love, or with impatience and harshness? In short, have you listened to yourself lately?
Ratio of Positive to Negative Thoughts
In her book, ‘The Sweet Spot‘, Christine Carter suggests you become more mindful of the kind of thoughts you are having.
To feel happier and more contented within yourself she suggests you increase your ratio to 3:1 so you are having 3 times as many positive thoughts as negative.
Carter describes negative thoughts as the keel in a ship. This gives us balance and direction. And of course, we learn from these kinds of thoughts. But negative thoughts can sometimes become overwhelming.
So how is your ratio of positive to negative thoughts?
Sometimes the mind seems to bombard you with negative thoughts. You may feel overwhelmed with resentments, feelings of shame, lack of motivation. Changes in circumstances fuel you with fear.
With recent world events, you may have lost your job. It takes a great deal of strength to shift from fear to positivity. From viewing a life-event through the eyes of fear to the opportunity for new possibilities.
Whatever thoughts are tugging at you, you know that you can redress the balance.
Our Default Setting is to Off-load
Brene Brown says:
‘… you’d be surprised how many of us never recognise our emotions or feelings – we off-load instead. Rather than saying I failed and it feels so crappy, we move to I am a failure. We act out and shut down …’
This is the crucial bit – truly listening to yourself. During any day you may experience what you perceive as a failure or a disappointment.
What follows these experiences is the difference between ‘rising strong’ (Brene Brown’s term) and berating yourself with more unkind words.
Most of us have a negative inner critic that compounds our feelings of failure, self-loathing, shame and blame.
It’s like a default setting. Instead of being curious and noting what emotions and thoughts we’re experiencing, we jump straight to avoidance and damning ourselves.
Have you listened to yourself lately?
So next time your inner critic is on over-drive, really listen to yourself. Notice how you experience panic or overwhelm, or get hooked into the swirling clutter of your harsh thoughts.
Remember that you are perfectly capable of shifting your inner words. Allow yourself to accept that you are feeling a strong emotion or that your mind is berating you big time.
Be curious about what you are experiencing. Let yourself feel the fear, shame or anger. And when you feel ready, speak silently and kindly to yourself with words of wisdom. Or adapt words or phrases in ways that feel right for you.
Listen to yourself and Keep it Kind
Rest your hand lightly on your heart and recite words of loving kindness towards yourself:
‘May I be filled with loving kindness
May I be well
May I be peaceful and at ease
May I be happy.’
This can also work if you’re feeling judgemental, critical or angry towards another person.
Visualise them in front of you and offer these phrases of loving kindness towards them.
If you’ve listened to yourself lately and there’s too much doom and gloom in your thoughts, shift your focus. Notice things to appreciate. Look around you, I guarantee there will be something:
‘I am thankful for my delicious food’
‘I am so grateful I can see/sing/swim/listen to music’
‘I love this blue sky/the smell of the grass/the birdsong …’
‘I enjoy looking out for miraculous tiny things’
The Power of your Breath
Have you listened to yourself when you are about to do something important?
- You may feel nervous or fearful.
- Sense into your feet and abdomen.
- With deep breaths, focus on a sense of balance and grounding.
- Breathe up as if through the soles of your feet.
- Let your breath flow up to your lungs and heart, and back down and out through your feet.
- As you inhale say: ‘I breathe in peace’
- As you exhale: ‘I breathe out tension/anxiety/shame’
- Visualise the tension or anxiety rolling down through your limbs and out through your feet with every exhale.
The Power of Affirmations
Louise Hay has published a treasure of affirmations in the form of books and cards. They are easy to keep close to hand and dip into.
A positive phrase that you say to yourself has to be felt. Learn an affirmation so it becomes a powerful mantra for you to access any time and place. Feel deeply into it and let the vibrations of your affirmation reverberate around your body. This can help keep you uplifted even in the most uncertain of times.
‘I am good enough. Life is easy and joyful’
Make up your own:
‘Negative thought – I let you go’
‘I am calm and at peace’
‘I embrace change and know that I am strong’
‘All is well’
‘I am peace’
‘I am love’
Do you have any helpful mantras or affirmations that help you shift to a stronger and wiser place? Listen to yourself and communicate with kindness and love.
You are welcome to share your go-to affirmations in our Comments below.
‘Rising Strong’ by Brene Brown
Louise Hay – Affirmations and Wisdom on her website
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Guide
This blog post has been updated since its first publication in October 2015.