By Tracy Henderson
In the current media environment we are inundated with a tremendous amount of negativity. We see and hear derogatory statements and witness unfathomable tragedies through news feeds from our social apps to the opening statements on the nightly news. The negativity can become overwhelming. Fortunately, we can put the phone down, we can close the app, and we can shut off the TV.
Now, stop for a moment and ask yourself “Who is my biggest critic?” Frequently the answer will come back as “myself.” While we can lessen the negativity from external sources we are commonly challenged by our own inner voice. We cannot turn off our brains. Our inner talk track sticks with us wherever we go. Unfortunately, our inner dialogue that takes place can be as shady or even more harsh than what we see and hear across various media sources.
It’s not uncommon to sit with clients and hear a disapproving voice. For example, “I’m not a good cook”, “My partner doesn’t find me attractive”, “I’m a terrible parent”, “I’m always late”, “My boss hates me”, “I don’t like how I dress”, or “I don’t work hard enough.” If we allow it, our thoughts can flood us with a host of unhealthy characterizations. We can become stuck in our own version of “fake news.”
There’s a concept called confirmation bias which resonates from our own inner thoughts and beliefs. When we want something to be true, we end up believing it to be true. We begin to see and interact in the world through this warped viewpoint. This perspective can lead us to stop gathering information and skews our own view to see what we would like to be true.
For example, if you have the thought that “my boss hates me,” then each time you interact with your boss you will look for cues that confirm that he hates you. If you have the thought that “I’m a terrible parent” then each time you interact with your child you will focus on what you’re not doing right versus what you are doing well.
Over time, if we continue to buy-into the “fake news” in our head then we can begin to believe we are a “terrible parent” or that we are “lazy.” To combat the onslaught of “fake news” our thoughts spread, I frequently suggest and remind clients to simply be kind to themselves. If we are our own worst critics then we must become our best ally. Now, that is easier said than done.
To effectively overcome our own “fake news” we must ground ourselves in truth. Which means we must be intentional in how we treat ourselves. We must become our own inner advocate spreading thoughts of kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and recognition.
A first step should involve intentionally overcoming our own confirmation bias. Instead of focusing on the challenging moments that lead us to “I’m a terrible parent” our viewpoint needs to expand and include the good qualities within the situation you are experiencing. Instead of repeating the mantra “I’m a terrible parent” after a difficult interaction with your child replace that statement with “I am tolerant and forgiving.”
Truth be told the first step is the most difficult. Overcoming our own biases can be extremely challenging. In the on-going effort to be kind to yourself there are many other steps you can take to extend forgiveness, compassion, and recognition to yourself.
You may take 2 minutes in the morning and evening to appreciate yourself, invest 5 minutes daily to journal about the good qualities you exhibited throughout your day, take a laugh break and find something that makes your belly giggle, and finally something that you can repeat to yourself anytime during the day is a simple “Metta” meditation.
May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.