Its my pleasure to introduce my guest blogger Alison who writes The Mindset Effect, who works as a Counselor with ten years experience in the community services field. In her guest blog Alison introduces the power of thinking and its affect on those with a mental illness. I fell in love with this blog and the great advice that it provides for the mentally ill and even those that are healthy. Her quest is driven by the desire to support people to know they are worthy that they deserve love, health, happiness and respect that has been previously absent. I hope that you not just enjoy reading this guest post from Alison but you take something away from it that can assist you.
From The Mindset Effect
Have you ever been in a position where you have heard words such as “you’re such an idiot!” (or something similar)? When it’s said with contempt and disdain I’m betting that it feels pretty crappy to hear it. Hurtful? Painful? Maybe even confusing? I guess you’d probably wonder what you may have done to cause someone to say something like that. You may have even thought to yourself, “why are you saying this to me? I haven’t done anything!” I think most of us can relate to this.
Have you ever said those kinds of words to someone else? Maybe when you’ve been upset or angry? And maybe you regret it afterward and feel the need to apologise? Or, maybe you’re the type of person who would never dream of saying those kinds of words to someone else. After all, nobody deserves to be put down like that, right? People deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. Right? Maybe you subscribe to the theory in this picture?
So, why then do we believe that it is ok to say things like this to ourselves?
Think about that for a minute … Are we not as deserving of kindness and respect as everyone else on the planet? Or maybe we believe that we deserve to be punished? The thing is, most of us dislike a lot of the habits we have. We dislike the way we feel about ourselves. Some of us despise ourselves. We have learned to put ourselves down and we do it without even thinking about it.
Let me just point something out here: we treat other people with respect because we wouldn’t dream of making them feel bad (because saying those kinds of words would make them feel crappy, right?) And yet it’s ok to say them to ourselves and make us feel crappy. How does that work? Isn’t it a little contradictory?
I can just hear some of you thinking about this and telling yourselves that it’s not the same. That the way we talk to other people doesn’t have to be the way we talk to ourselves. And you’re right. That is absolutely true. You are allowed to talk to yourself in any way you want to. It is your mind, your body, and your mouth. You own them – and you can do anything you want with them.
Before you decide how you want to proceed, let me explain something.
Our brain is an amazing organ. It can do incredible things, protect us and get us through some horrific experiences. And we can come out the other side of unimaginable horrors in amazing shape when you consider the circumstances.
It has this unique ability with language too. No other species on the planet can learn and associate language the way humans can. It’s a complicated process and to explain it would be long and tiresome. And it would pretty much do your head in. So I’ll follow the KISS principle (keep it super simple).
Have you ever heard about elite athletes, the likes of Dawn Fraser or Lleyton Hewitt, imagining themselves on the winner’s podium? As part of their training program they will work with a sports psychologist and go through visualisations and meditations, seeing themselves in their heads, crossing that finish line victoriously. They will do it over and over and over again. Day after day after day. They use their mind to help them win. Mountain climbers do it. They climb mount Everest in their heads. Cyclists do it. Boxers do it. Weightlifters. Gymnasts. Dancers. Public speakers and politicians. Even bankers, personal trainers and psychologists. They visualise themselves achieving their goal. It’s powerful stuff. And it works.
Your brain cannot tell the difference between what is real or imagined.
So, when you tell yourself that you are an idiot, your brain takes that in as fact. When you tell yourself that you’re ugly or stupid or … whatever … it becomes real.
A quick example for you. If I give you an instruction – DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, THINK ABOUT A RED CAR!
What is the very first thing that pops into your head?
I’m betting that for most people it’s a red car. Am I right?
Your brain can’t tell the difference. When you tell yourself, “I’m an idiot” (even if you do it as a joke) …. Your brain hears that, absorbs it, and processes it as ABSOLUTE TRUTH.
So, when you say these words and phrases to the people you love most in this world, and when you say them to yourself, please understand that you are pulling yourself and your loved ones down into a pit that can be difficult to get out of. It’s possible. Just difficult.
So my suggestion to you is this. Practice self-awareness with the things you say and think. Whenever you catch yourself with negative and disempowering words, change them to something that will be more empowering. Practice gratitude for the things you have in your life now. And watch your world open up.
Alison Bengough is the author of ‘The Mindset Effect’, also a Counsellor, Alison’s blog is to provide education and insight into mental illness. With topics to provide greater awareness about different mental illnesses backed up by personal accounts by individuals living with these illnesses Alison also writes about factors that contribute to these illnesses and affect someone’s ability to recover. The range of topics covered in this very informative blog include automatic thinking, how to change your thinking, stress, your brain, and many more topics that can assist those with a mental illness.