Imagine your boyfriend has just dumped you, leaving you blindsided and feeling rejected. You go to a friend to talk it out. She says, “Why of course he dumped you, your thighs are too big, you’re not as fit as you could be and you’re so needy.” Shocking, right? What if I told you that person wasn’t your friend at all but rather, it was your inner voice, your negative self-talk, kicking your self-esteem when it’s already down. Why does it make that scenario, more believable? Why do we show more compassion to other’s than we show ourselves?
Negative self-talk, everyone does it at some point. Maybe not to the extent of the scenario above but nonetheless we do it.
We also tend to ruminate. Rumination is re-chewing over a scenario, replaying it over and over again in our minds. Maybe we’re thinking about ways we could have handled the situation differently or things we could have or should have said. Either way, rumination is not good for our inner voice or for our health. Rumination fosters negative thoughts. If you spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking negatively it can change the way we generally perceive the world into a more negative way.
The good news is that if you’re prone to rumination or negative self-talk, we have the power to change how we habitually are conditioned to think. That is because of brain plasticity. Meaning our brains are malleable and ever changing, we are continually strengthening, fortifying or creating neural networks.
This can be achieved by changing the way we think, by bringing awareness to our self-talk and then cultivating more positive thoughts. By doing this, we can create a mind that sees the glass half full versus half empty.
By training our minds we can ultimately train our minds for happiness by sustaining inner contentment.
“Paradise is not a place; it’s a state of consciousness.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Training Your Mind For Happiness
What are patterns of thought we want to discourage?
Perfectionism- Often confused with conscientiousness which involves appropriate and tangible expectations- Perfectionism involves inappropriate levels of expectations and intangible goals.
Social comparison– When we strive to do and be better than others rather than better than we did in the past.
Materialism– People who attach their happiness to external things and material wealth are always in danger of losing their happiness if their material circumstance changes
Maximizing– Maximizers search for better options even when they are satisfied. This leaves them little time to be present for the good moments in their lives and with very little gratitude.
What are patterns of thought that we want to encourage?
Gratitude– feeling thankful for something or a deeper appreciation for someone (or something)
Resilience – the ability to bounce back from setbacks or failures.
Connectedness – this can either be the sense of all being connected to one another at a level of consciousness or a sense of social connection that provides emotional support.
Mindfulness- Mindfulness is the practice of continuously focusing on the present moment in order to make the most out of present experiences. When we are in the present there is no time for comparisons or rumination.
Optimism– expecting that the future will be desirable.
Article Written by GUADS staff member, Jennie.