The beginning of my work with clients is in building a foundation where we understand and can build awareness of how we ‘think’ – what our self talk is, and whether stress has become a disorder that has caused a shift in thinking to a distorted negative self talk, which causes inappropriate and unhealthy emotional and behavioural responses to life events and situations.
Having done exploratory work on our negative thinking habits, and having challenged them, quite literally during journalling – we have a new knowledge that a lot of our thoughts and beliefs are off base and cause us upsettness, and we have new language to replace the automatic negative self talk with a new rational realistic healthy self talk. We do that by applying ‘thought stopping’ techniques to pause, reappraise, and reframe (to change the thinking with ‘evidence’, which changes how we feel and behave).
So – that’s all good. It works. It begins a rewiring of our brain. After a certain amount of time, saying simple keywords to yourself will kick in with the brain to spark associations and refer to the work you’ve done, and will shift your thinking in a matter of seconds.
I introduce the ‘just noting’ exercise of mindfulness at this stage. Basically, when we become aware we’re doing our bad habit, we pause and acknowledge it by naming the arrival of a thought/belief/emotion/behaviour (with a keyword, the word being the habit). No blame, no shame, just noting. [Ah, here it is. Okay. And, let it go.]
“Here’s musting and shoulding”
“Here’s mind reading”
“Here’s fortune telling”
“Here’s comparing and rating”
“Here’s emotional reasoning”
“Here’s fight or flight”
At this point we know what our habit is, when and how we use it, where it’s irrational, what is more rational, and how to reframe it. So the ‘just noting’ kicks in that learning in a way that our brain likes, and helps us to instantly reject and move away from that thinking, and to choose not to do the self sabotaging behaviour.
(You can choose instead to say ‘just anger’ …. ‘just anxiety’ ….. etc. – I prefer ‘here is’ as an associative link to our previous work in fully understanding the issue, but hey, whatever way the tool works for you is good…)
It’s simple. It’s unconditionally self accepting. It’s practical. It’s beautiful. It works.
More on mindfulness: