Did you know, your negative thoughts and self-talk are a purely biological phenomenon that you have no control over? They come up unbidden and grab you, making you feel very bad about yourself and your situation. You have a sense that you may be a bit paranoid, but how can you be sure that people are not actually judging the way you look or thinking that you’re not good enough? It may even feel safer to give in and agree, internally yelling at yourself “I know! I don’t need you to tell me!”
According to Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, author of You Are Not Your Brain, our brain produces what he calls “deceptive brain messages”. They are your negative thoughts and self-talk that are untrue. You may doubt that they are untrue, but he says that anything that’s not helpful is also a deceptive brain message. They create emotional sensations in us, which he differentiates from real emotions that arise from actual events. Grieving after loss is a real emotion. Feeling alone and unlovable at one certain moment, even though you do have loving family and friends, is an emotional sensation caused by a deceptive brain message.
Deceptive brain messages and emotional sensations are biology, so don’t blame yourself for having them. When they come, they come. What we do have control over is how we respond, and we should absolutely practice and exercise this power, so that we don’t fall into the downward spiral of self-loathing, or do and say things that are hurtful to ourselves and others.
Notice the negative thoughts and the discomfort they bring, then choose the action you take. Choose to direct your attention on something else. To engage yourself in something constructive. The discomfort will still be there at the start but the new focus and new activity will eventually take over.
You have negative thoughts, but trust that you are not negative.
You are the sky. Your thoughts and feelings are the weather.
See Dr. Schwartz’s book for more details on this topic, and the 4-step process he teaches to overcome the deceptive brain messages and break out of any damaging habits you’ve developed when you tried to get rid of the unpleasant messages and emotional sensations. Dr. Schwartz calls this Self-Directed Neuroplasticity, and it means we have the ability to re-wire our brain.