Archive for category Negative Self-Talk
Finally, my life feels stable. I am extremely happy and I can do anything I want. Yet, there is always that foreboding feeling that something bad is going to happen because that’s how the past has been, even the last two months have had difficult things to deal with. But, I know, no matter what happens I will prevail because I always have. This last week I had a dream I was driving on a mountainside with two family members in the car. The mountain roads were slick and covered in snow. Like in a video game I’ve played I accidentally fell off the cliff and into a bottomless ravine. I felt so much remorse for taking my family with me. Yet, I had this feeling “we’ll be ok, we’ll get out of this somehow.” And then I woke up before I’d find out if we were dead or not.
I don’t know exactly what the dream was about. If its just me dealing with the feeling that something bad could happen again next. Or if I’m feeling like I need to protect my family. One of my closest friends expressed the opinion to me that if they were in my shoes with the person who abused me when I was a child, they would confront them now and tell them how much they hurt me. I don’t feel that’s necessary, but a large part of why I don’t want to do that is more because I want to protect that person. I truly believe they did not mean to hurt me and that they did it because of how they were treated as a child. I’m at the point where I want nothing more than to just break the cycle. I want to get better and stop thinking the ways that I do (my PTSD brain) and I think from the conversations I’ve been having and dealing with the difficult coworker, I am doing a very good job at it. Just sometimes I get worried I’m forgetting to pay attention if I’m doing negative self talk or anticipation. But, I think I have been doing that a lot less lately because my self-esteem has grown. I have surrounded myself with some loving people and have done a lot of self-acceptance. I have been recognizing when some people make me uncomfortable and recognize that it’s their insecurities they are projecting onto me and I don’t need to worry about those. I’m not saying I should stop caring about other people’s feelings altogether and not do nice and thoughtful things for other people. But, what I’m saying is their problems are their problems and I don’t have any real control over their happiness. But, I do over my own.
This whole weekend I had someone worrying about whether or not I was happy. While its nice that they cared how I was feeling, I wanted that person to concentrate more on enjoying themselves this weekend, not worry about me. One of my biggest strengths is I find a lot of positivity in everything, even an injury. Last year if I had never gotten an injury running, I would have never done a triathlon. Traveling, I hear people constantly gripe about the plane and the seats and whether the wine is crappy or the plane being late. I’m just happy to have hours to read and catch up on news and my thoughts. People constantly gripe about how hard it is to exercise and eat right. Every time I run I feel a zillion times better and I have taken up learning how to cook healthy and delicious meals. I set aside time for these things because they are important to me. I wish more people would find the joys in their life. Because at this stage in the game I am feeling truly blessed to have the amazing life that I do. A huge turn around from 3 years ago.
So maybe “falling off a cliff in mountain snow” is nothing to worry about. I know great things will come of it later because of the resiliency I have gained.
I’ve been quiet for a while now because I’ve been so busy reacting. Weeks ago I left off in therapy and in my last post, working on memory of the last (or first, however you want to look at it) trauma of the 3 traumas I experienced that I haven’t addressed. The past 6 months have flown by faster than I’d ever want my life to go. My memory problem keeps popping up. What was 6 months ago feels like yesterday and what was yesterday feels like days ago.
We remember that a major PTSD treatment goal is to integrate dissociated trauma material with associated memories so that the fabric of our memory becomes like one continuous memory. The problem is that traumatic memory doesn’t mesh with the way we want to look at the world. The dissociated memories often contain misinterpretations and inaccurate conclusions that were formed under great duress, while strong emotions and arousal continue to interfere with processing.” – Cognitive Restructuring Chapter, The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook
Every day I am making unproductive thoughts. I still stay “I’m sorry” too often. I still make decisions within split seconds in order to “protect” myself. The Chapter on Cognitive Restructing addresses a lot of the automatic thoughts and distortions that I am dealing with day in and day out.
A —-> B —–> C
A is the Activing (or upsetting) event. B is the Belief (or automatic thoughts) that we tell ourselves about A. C is the emotional and physical Consequences (or arousal).
I can think of several situations in the past few weeks where I have done these things.
- Flaw Fixation – Fixation on what went wrong
- Dismissing the Positive – Discount positive things, as if they don’t matter
- Assuming – Mind reading, jumping to conclusions, and fortune-telling (or what I call anticipating what will happen and trying to prevent a negative outcome except you have no control over the situation)
- Catastrophizing – making things much worse than they actually are
- All-or-None Thinking – or Black and White Thinking
- Shoulds (Should Haves) – “I should have done this better…” “I must be strong”
- Making feelings facts – I don’t know if I have this problem since I still have a hard time even expressing my feelings in the first place though I have really made an effort to
- Overgeneralizing – “Things always go wrong”
- Abusive Labeling – “I am the only moron who didn’t do this right” which I said tonight actually
- Personalizing – Seeing yourself as more responsible or involved in a given situation than you really are. I do this at work ALL the time.
- Blaming – I don’t do this one either and think I’ve talked about it in a previous post because I have a real pet peeve with people not taking responsibility for their own mistakes. I own up to my mistakes even when I am not really responsible (see Personalizing).
- Regrets – “If only I hadn’t…” In therapy I still catch myself doing this in regards to my marriage and divorce on why I didn’t know I was in an abusive relationship earlier and leave it much earlier, even before marriage.
So now that I torn myself down more, how do you fix this? Which I’m sure everything I’ve worked on is not to be thrown away. But, apparently I need a refresher course in this.
1. A Daily Thought Record
You know those “Things That Bother Me” posts and reflections I do? And the Babel-fish cartoons? Yes, those are good for this. But, I need to dive a little deeper. What are my thoughts? How much do I believe in them (rate them)? What have I distorted? Then be more self-compassionate. What would you say to a friend if they had said or thought these things?
The next chapter is on Confiding Concealed Wounds, which talks a great deal about Trauma and Avoidance, something I have discussed a lot. “People might find ways to avoid the topic by staying occupied with trivial distractions such as work, cleaning, or exercise.” I know I can be guilty especially of the exercise and talked a good amount about. But, this is for another day. Good night!
Yesterday my SuperBetter ally sent me this image. She always has impeccable timing. These things have been on my brain for sure.
I need to work on the following:
1c. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself
I have been struggling lately with the idea that anyone could love me or find me amazing. This is a sad thought. I’ve been finding a lot of negative self-talk creeping into what I say. I know in my heart this is not true. I have a friend who always tells me how amazing and adorable I am. The way she says it and shows me I am, it is very hard not to believe her. One of my family members always tells me I put others first. I never see it that way. I always think I don’t ever do enough for anyone. But, to hear it, I can start to think of the things I do for people, including listen and give advice or a helping hand. One of the most eye opening events for me to realize how special I am, was to actually watch a video of myself. I could not believe that was me, so smart, adorable, and funny. I know that many years of being told I’m not amazing and being abused made me feel I am worthless. I can choose to believe those things, or I can choose to believe I am lovable and amazing. I would match rather believe the latter. But, I realize a lot of hard work and practice will go into that.
2. All of 2 – Don’t take anything personally
This one I wrote about in my last blog entry with work, dealing with controlling people, and feeling pressured. Like the image says, what those people were saying and doing is a projection of their reality. My therapist had gone over this with me before. I can’t control how they feel. I can think I can try, but then what’s the point? It will just make me suffer needlessly to worry about it and do things that won’t make me happy in the long run.
I think I fully understand, but could always use more practice on the following:
3. Don’t make assumptions
I have made an effort to now always ask questions or to clarify things if I am anticipating judgement. Sure, I have a million questions and worries, but I continually remind myself, is that worth worrying about? Can I do anything about that now like ask questions? Or should I put that aside and address it if it is still bothering me later?
4. Always do your best
This is really about self-compassion and not passing judgement on yourself. I know that each day I do my best. I know that some days and some moments I’m going to make a mistake, but if I am as compassionate towards myself as I am of others, I will never feel self-judgement, self-abuse (beating myself up) or regret.
I promised myself I’d at least check in on the Negative Self-Talk tracking I did over the past couple of weeks even if I have no real answers to work on it so that it goes down over time.
I am very sure I missed a lot of negative self-talk in this tracking, but what I did track does give me a clear picture of:
- My biggest offenders: I’m sorry and “should have”
- Times of day I say these the most: Not a big surprise here, but when I get up and commute to work in the morning and after work
It did help to track it or be consciously aware because I noticed when I was saying I’m sorry or “I should have” thinking “I could have prevented that from happening to you” versus when I’m saying sorry to just empathize with someone, such as “Oh that really sucks.”
My next steps to working on Negative Self-Talk is to pay more attention to the context of it and then to notice the consequences of it. What situations trigger the negative self-talk?
This week was for some reason tough. I had a nightmare every night about being attacked. One night the nightmare was about being attacked in my home again. I ended up leaving the house to the back yard and found all these dead bodies were strung up in the trees. One of the bodies fell down and I found she was actually still alive so I started to untie her and help her get to her feet as the perpetrator started to come towards us very angry that I was helping her and she was still alive. Then I woke up.
In the SuperBetter forum a little discussion came up about what qualifies as a Battle Win vs. a Battle Fail against our Bad Guys. Since you don’t really have control over having a nightmare or not, I considered that I didn’t wake up drenched in sweat and in tears, that this nightmare was a win. Just like if someone was experiencing pain from an injury, you can’t prevent the pain, but you can bare with it and get through it. As someone explained it best, “I think a win is you come face to face with the bad guy, but you don’t let it ruin your day. None of us can really expect to completely avoid our bad guys, but just not letting them take us over is a big win.”
This week I helped someone else through SuperBetter also. While being conscious about their thing that they need to quit worked for them, the more I thought about when I was saying something that was negative self talk (“I would have…”, “I could have…”, “I should have…”, “I’m sorry”, “I feel bad for…”), the more I ended up doing it. As I remember Jane McGonigal explaining in her book Reality is Broken, you can learn from and even enjoy failure. And it will help you get to the wins! So I’m not going to let a few losses get me down.
In therapy I talked about someone at work I find I’m standing up for more and more now that I understand why she does certain things. I need to do that for myself. The negative self-talk and guilt go hand in hand. I feel guilty about doing something for myself and standing up for myself because it may not benefit or interrupt someone else. But, I need to do things for myself and not worry about how it impacts someone else. I am human too and deserve to be treated like everyone else.
I also discussed how I use exercise as a way of coping or a way of avoiding dealing with things that bother me. It’s the one thing I feel like I have control over. And I may over do it sometimes. This week’s therapy session was probably the first time I just ranted for 5 minutes or so about things that bother me instead of just avoid them. I felt a little out of control, but also that it was a major break-through in some way.