I don’t know about you, but this winter has taken its toll on me. Even living in Colorado, where there is still quite a lot of sun, I’ve felt the winter blahs quite a lot this season. I feel like I’ve been in slow motion both mentally and physically.
This morning as I went through my arsenal of all natural, pick-me-up “tools,” I rediscovered something I haven’t been bringing into my self-care practice:
How did that one slip away from me?
It’s quite simple. Every time you feel negativity, boredom or self-doubt creeping in, you just erase the blackboard of thoughts in your mind and replace them with the advice and encouragement that you would say to yourself, if you could, when you were a child.
We would never speak to a child the way we speak to ourselves in our own mind.
How does this work, practically?
Thoughts are nothing more than patterns or habits. It may be difficult at first to catch a negative thought before it gets a little out of control. Chances are you’ve been criticizing yourself or being harder on yourself than you should have for a long time.
So the first step is just to catch the negativity. That’s anything negative at all about yourself. Here are some examples:
“I should have woken up earlier to exercise.”
“That was a dumb mistake.”
“I wish I’d started sooner.”
You might be thinking, “Those things aren’t necessarily self-deprecating. They are observations.” However, look a little deeper.
There is a negative connotation to each one of those type of thoughts. “Should have, dumb, I wish” are all regretful.
It’s great to self-reflect by making an observation and want to improve yourself. It’s not so great to feel regret, remorse, not good enough or disciplined enough. Those type of thoughts lead to an overall feeling of not being good enough or having enough worth. They can easily lead to a mind that dwells on that negative vibe or feeling that you’ve wasted a chance or a day.
For this practice it doesn’t matter where those thoughts came from (although it can be very helpful to dive deeper into the origins sometime). Instead, we want to work on changing the mental habit of negativity.
So, after catching any negative thought (you’ll know by the way it makes you feel) the next step is to simply STOP. Stopping the pattern of negativity could change your entire world.
The last step; step three, is to replace that negative thought with whatever you would say to a young child.
Using the examples above, how would you respond to yourself as a child or any young person if they said those things out loud?
Probably something like:
“Ah, that’s ok. It’s just one day. How about if you set your alarm early tomorrow or make a goal to wake up early three times a week to fit in your exercising”
“There’s no such thing as a dumb mistake! We’re all learning. Mistakes mean you’re trying! High five!”
“It’s never too late to start! There have been many successful people who started much later than you in life! You got this!”
See how this works?
It’s a little thing that can make a huge change overall. Just by changing the habitual negative thoughts into habitual positive thoughts about yourself you can change your entire world.
I know that sounds too incredible to be true but it does work. Just like anything else though, it can slip away from us. Diet, exercise, self-care in general can get away from us when we’re feeling well. We notice it when we are not feeling well.
It’s kind of like taking a vitamin. You don’t really notice the effect from day to day but if you stop taking them for a while you may notice more colds or feeling run down. (I know not everyone takes vitamins but that’s what I’ve noticed to be true for myself anyway. You can replace “taking a vitamin” with “eating well” if you prefer).
Is this part of your self care practice? Do you have a self care practice? Is this something you would try? Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear from you!
May you be happy and well!