When it comes to our deepest convictions about ourselves and the world, our minds can behave like little lawyers that run around gathering “evidence” to build a case. Information that supports our beliefs is stressed; and any data to the contrary is ignored, oftentimes to such a degree that we no longer even see it. This is the way in which we structure our daily lives with our own self-talk.
If we’re struggling with depression, personal frustrations and/or other kinds of problems, it can be helpful to remind ourselves that limiting thoughts came first and then our despondent feelings followed. We’ve literally talked ourselves into a negative state of mind. If we could nurture more expansive ideas about our lives and about what is possible for us then this would serve as the best remedy for virtually any difficulty we might be faced with.
To do this, we have to catch ourselves entertaining negative self-talk in the first place. We need to practice being self-aware until we reach a point where can literally feel our thoughts constrict during certain moments, and our whole world seeming to grow smaller. We’re denying ourselves our own creative power during such times; or worse, we’re using our creative power to throw all sorts of roadblocks in our way. Then all sense of freedom and possibility flies from us, and fear takes over.
We can perform these same sorts of self-sabotaging acts with the stories we tend to spin about the past. The self-talk that we indulge in influences our perceptions of early events in our lives. If what we’re focusing on in our past is negative in nature then that darkness will cast a shadow on our present life. Our memories will always seem to support the discouraging story. But we have the freedom, instead, to look into the events of the past and uncover sources of love, joy and accomplishment. Being aware of our thoughts in the present moment is not the only way to change negative self-talk, therefore. We can also change it by re-writing personal history.
We restructure our memories of the past just as we restructure our thoughts in the present moment. If we nurture unsympathetic attitudes towards the people we were ten years ago then those attitudes can work to perpetuate negative circumstances in our present. In either case, we are structuring our lives around negative ideas.
Expansive ideas tend to attract more of their own kind. We can only learn the truth of this if we’re willing to let go of some of the negative refrains that run rampant in our heads and give more optimistic mantras a chance. The creative energy within us can never really be blocked. If it is denied flow in one area it will get channeled into another. Imagination, belief and emotion all work together to move it in the direction we want it to go. By exposing and changing our negative self-talk, we ensure that it doesn’t get channeled into those undesirable aspects of our lives that we long to be rid of.