In the past week, what can you think of to make yourself smile?
Last week I wrote about letting go. This week I would like to focus on how to take it in. Often when we have struggled with poor self-esteem, lack of confidence, worries, depression, etc… we also struggle to accept or take in the positives. Someone pays us a compliment and we minimize it or flat out deny it to ourselves. “He’s just saying that”. “If they really knew me…”
How do you change the process of believing the negative to taking in and accepting the positives? How do we learn to believe such thoughts and beliefs as: “I am good enough”; “I am worthy of love, caring, and understanding”?
This process involves various steps. One step involves deciding that you are willing to try. This can be very difficult. The negative is so automatic and natural. Change takes practice. (Review the June 13, 2012 blog on “Move your trashcan”). Another step involves listening for the positives throughout the day. When someone offers a compliment, practice saying, “thank you” instead of dismissing or minimizing it. You might make a list of the positives you have done in the past few days or past week. Another step would be to review that list of positives or compliments throughout the day. Looking in the mirror as you recite this list can help too. Although this may be more challenging, especially at first.
From my perspective, to truly take something in means that you start to believe it. In order to believe something, it must be reinforced. Did you know that research indicates that the average person talks to himself or herself 50,000 times a day!!! WOW! That’s a lot. Since we spend the majority of our day engaged in self-talk, we can reinforce a lot of things. What is it that you want to reinforce? What do you want to take in? Do you want to be more confident and believe in yourself? Do you want to believe that you are worthy and good enough? If so, you will need to start saying it over and over and over again. This will take longer than just 24-48 hours. It may even take longer than the suggested 28 days to create a habit. It may take weeks and months and consistently and continually noticing and repeating the positives throughout the day.
Often what helps us believe something is evidence. Look for evidence throughout the day. Be careful not to judge the evidence. For example, you notice that you held the door open for someone and they said thank you. You think to yourself, “That was nice of me, but it’s what I should do”. That would be an example of minimizing and discounting. Holding the door for someone is nice – PERIOD. No buts about it.
You will be tempted frequently to minimize and discount any of the positives and any evidence that you notice or that others point out to you. This is because, taking in the positives is different. It is a change. When we introduce change, our first reaction typically is to recreate the equilibrium by reverting back to old automatic behaviors. The old automatic behaviors and way of thinking is “natural” and “normal” to us. It is what we know and feel most comfortable with. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to change and it does not mean we can’t change. It simply demonstrates how difficult changing our thoughts and developing new beliefs can be.
Take one day at a time. Decide today to “Take in” the positives.
~ Dr. Lou