Have you ever felt like you’re just existing? Going through life on autopilot? Working and working and getting nowhere? And, you keep telling yourself, “If only I did more___. If only ___ hadn’t happened … “, keeping a constant stream of negative self-talk and judgment, just trying to get through the stresses in life. People often wonder why they don’t enjoy their life. A lot of the time it’s simply because of their own inner self talk and not working through past trauma.
While past trauma issues are deep and often require therapy, the self-talk can be a bit easier to work on mindfully with one’s self. From doing a Google search, it looks like we have between 60-80,000 thoughts per day; that means we have an average of 2,500 – 3,300 thoughts per hour, 50 every 60 minutes. That’s almost one per second. I really wonder how much a client is participating or hiding in a session when I ask them what they are thinking, and they say they “don’t know” or “nothing.” It usually means we have encountered a thought they want to suppress or deny about themselves. Those are the thoughts we can work on growing through. They are important as to how we experience our lives. We have great denial as to the acknowledging of our own thoughts, particularly when we judge them as inappropriate or negative.
The main trick to self-growth is to mindfully, with acceptance, acknowledge these thoughts so we can not only acknowledge the dark side of ourselves, our possible perceptions and judgments, we can also get to know who we are and then transform what we wish so that we can lead a life that we enjoy. Simply put, the thoughts that we have, have the power to determine the quality of life we experience.
Knowing this, we can also probably agree that most of us perceive and experience events differently in our own mind. Depending on our thought patterns, we can change stored memory, especially childhood memories, and distort it to accommodate our negative self-talk pattern. Pretty understandable when as children, we’ve only a certain amount of experience to base our perceptions on; usually programmed by our parents. Yet, as adults, we can take responsibility for our thoughts and perceptions. Distortions can help us survive. As we distort those experiences, we get to survive something traumatic, make sense of the world, be right, not happy. That self-talk, positive or negative, and those distortions make sense with how we’ve experienced the world so far. The ego, our defense mechanism, is not concerned with happiness; it is concerned with survival and making sense of the world.
So, to start your own journey of self-growth, do what myself, other therapists and guides have recommended for centuries — keep a journal of your true thoughts without censoring, just for you. No one needs to see them besides you. Just because you think them, does not make them real as discussed above, yet these uncensored thoughts can lead you to see how your thoughts are controlling and determining how you experience your life. Just try it, see how your life can change, just by recognizing these thoughts. Then, you can work on transforming them!