by Julie Cohen on Oct 14, 2009
I was talking to a friend recently about how she personalizes other people’s innocent mistakes. She says even though she knows it’s irrational she can’t seem to help herself. She explained that a few days back a friend had invited her over for dinner. That dinner was to take place yesterday. When she did not hear from her friend by the late afternoon, it became clear that her friend had forgotten. Even though she knew her friend has a very chaotic life right now and that is wasn’t personal she was consumed with negative self talk. She ruminated on thought such as, “she doesn’t like me and why would she” and “what did I do wrong?” Even though she didn’t do anything wrong she was consumed with guilt.
I think many of us have experienced similar situations. Our irrational thoughts wreak havoc with our self-esteem. We do this often out of habit. I think most of our irrational thoughts have been around for a long time, maybe even since childhood. They rear their ugly heads whenever given the opportunity such as when we feel rejected.
Irrational thoughts reside in our unconscious. You can identify an irrational thought when you find yourself saying, “I don’t know why I feel this way.” “I don’t know” is a very important clue and marker to the unconscious. If you find yourself saying that, then it may be you are operating from a very old script that may feel familiar but is no longer applicable to your current life. In fact, allowing those irrational unconscious thoughts to have free reign impedes you from living a fulfilling happy life.
When you find yourself immersed in negative self talk stop the thoughts for a minute. Be an observer of your own thoughts and feelings. Instead of answering the question why do I feel this way or what is wrong with me, ask yourself are these thoughts helping me in any way. If the answer is no (which is usually the case) you have just created an opportunity to operate in the rational. When you operate from a rational place negative self talk will disappear along with guilt and shame. Creating new habits takes time and practice. But, to lead a fulfilling life free of negative self talk it’s imperative to not personalize other people’s mistakes.
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