How often have you heard your inner voice remind you of something that’s wrong with you? You better not do that. No one’s going to like it. What makes you so special? Do you think they will listen to you? etc. It happens to all of us. Call it an internalized critical parent voice, your ego, or another voice of fear.
Even though it seems out of your control, you can learn to stop the downward spiral of negativity.
I want to share a technique I have used for years that has helped me as well as hundreds of clients shift their focus away from the negative downward spiral of criticism.
This process is derived from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and is called “thought stopping.” The moment you become aware of a disturbing thought sneaking into your mind, use this technique to interrupt it. Any thought that is blaming or judgmental would be a start.
Thought Stopping: 5 Steps That Can Save Your Life
1. Identify Your Happy Place (Preparation Phase) Close your eyes and visualize a beautiful scene in nature where you feel happy and at peace with the world, like a secluded beach or forest path. Make it as detailed as you can – the feelings it evokes, the fragrances, the weather, the sounds. Utilize all your senses. Make it a place you feel completely safe and secure. Spend about 5 minutes visualizing your happy place and name it something simple, like “beach.”
2. Say ‘”STOP”: As soon as you become aware that you are thinking a negative thought (any thought that feels bad), say “STOP!” (out loud if possible). The sense of hearing is activated to interrupt the negative thought cycle.
3. Hit Something: At the same time you say STOP! hit something with your hand, or flick a rubber band on your wrist. It has to get your attention. The sense of touch is activated to further distract your mind from the negative thought.
4. Move Your Body: Change your physical position. sit down if you’re standing; stand up if you are sitting. If driving, just move your shoulders and sit up straighter.
5. Visualize your Happy Place. Think “beach” and visualize your happy place. You don’t have to close your eyes if you’re driving. You can still imagine it with eyes wide open.
That’s it. Simple and effective. You may have to use it several times if the thought is tenacious, but stick to it.
Use it to dispel judgment, criticism, self-recrimination, blame and guilt. If the thought feels bad, use this technique on it.
Keeping the faith (in you),