As a therapist in private practice I ask people daily to extrapolate and describe their inner world, to identify what they were thinking, feeling and what they are telling themselves about themselves. I ask them to run through a typical day with me–from waking up, to the first look in the mirror, to the last pore examining glimpse before bed. Overwhelmingly, people’s inner critic likes have a say in most of our daily duties. Some people’s inner voice is the internalized criticism of a parent, guardian or teacher, or a product of childhood bullying. Irrespective of origin, person after person describes their inner dialogue in a tone that has begun to sound eerily familiar. It is the same voice that we all hear blaring day after day, from morning till night, sucking up oxygen and your emotional bandwidth all the while gas lighting you with your own internal dialogue.
If your inner voice has been trumping your positivity lately, don’t despair. You can fire it Apprentice style.
1.) Control the Shit Show: Do you check your phone before leaving your bed? Are you checking out your social media feeds before you enjoy a shower or have coffee? Are you spending your breaks checking the news? Do you feel guilty if you skip a protest? You’re not alone. It’s a really important time to start having some firmer boundaries and discipline regarding technology and information. Don’t get me wrong, A LOT is happening right now and it’s important to engage and be informed but you have to put it away if you want to have less negativity floating around your brain. WHAT WE THINK– WE CREATE! Notice when you are most vulnerable.
2.) Slap the Bag: in the land of psychobabble this is called “negative thought stopping”. It’s a staple of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and fundamental way of firing the inner asshole. If you are anything like me, your inner asshole can be intrusive and it won’t stop its bullshit just because you want it to. I like to literally shake my head to interrupt the thought as a physical rejection, my partner imagines a giant eraser wiping the negativity away. If you like physical reminders you can wear a rubber band or hair tie around your wrist and pluck it when you’re bumming yourself out. Whatever your method, stopping the negative thought in its tracks is key!
3.) Create a Badass Bio: When you are trying to stop shitty thoughts from pummeling your psyche, you need a replacement thought. It’s damn near impossible to think of a an affirming thought when you are spending all your energy not having the crappy one. Keep a mantra on hand. A quick go-to that is easily repeatable and clearly conveys what you would like to think and feel. I personally like “you are a badass, you got this”. Choose something that you would like to believe about yourself, because remember WHAT WE THINK WE CREATE. Don’t worry if the mantra does not FEEL true right now–it will! I know, I know, you’re thinking “I can’t just make myself believe something that isn’t true”…YES YOU CAN. You have already made yourself believe negative things about yourself that aren’t true just by thinking them. Why wouldn’t it work in the other direction? It may sound cheesy, but it works.
4.) VIP Ass Anchor: There has never been a better time to build in some grounding routines. Morning meditations, yoga, exercise, sex, masturbation, prayer, nature, gardening, cooking and cleaning can all help you feel good in your skin and in your space. Invest in yourself everyday before you’re distracted by the rest of the world. If you treat yourself like a VIP, your psyche will follow.
5.) Support Beams: As overly simplistic as it sounds, the utilization or expansion of your support network is pivotal in fighting back against the inner dick. Reach out to old friends, join new groups, take classes, see a new type of practitioner or go to therapy. This thing called life is a weird ping-pong game of behaviors and insights which yield our perspective. Getting the right support can help shift our perspective to be more self affirming. The roof of your house would never weather a storm without support beams and you can think about your perception in the same way. If you fortify your soul, protect your positivity, accept help and offer it back, you’ll find that you’ve got a pretty solid shelter to survive the shit-show.