Do you take yourself a bit too seriously? Does your mind feed you a constant stream of self-critical messages? Has your mind told you that you can’t do anything right? Really – you can’t do anything right? Can you gently laugh with yourself and see some humor in that?
We have the choice to change our train of thought. We don’t need to listen to our inner critic and self-talk! People often resist the idea of monitoring and changing their thoughts because they see it as form of escapism. You may worry that if you change your thoughts, you may start to actively avoid facing problems and issues in your life. This won’t happen if you pay attention to what you are thinking. Are you considering action to help you move forward or are you only berating yourself? Distinguish if your thinking is helpful or hurtful and make your choice from there.
The key is to consider your thoughts as they happen. One way to tell if you should allow a thought to continue is to apply a ‘lightness test”. Does the thought make you feel light or heavy? If a thought is helpful to you, it will feel light and may include action to move you forward; A hurtful thought will feel heavy and may make you feel defeated or depressed. Choose those thoughts that make you feel light and consciously override those that make you feel heavy.
Our thoughts generate our feelings. When we choose to allow thoughts that make us feel heavy, the stress response is engaged. Your heart may begin pounding, your breathing becomes shallower, and your muscles tense. Once this is set in motion, it may take more effort to change your thoughts and mood.
If the stress response is engaged, laughter and humor can be used to counteract the physical effects of stress and panic. You can start that laughter by exaggerating your fears to their extreme and most absurd conclusion. Create a parody of your fears by accentuating the negative until you just have to laugh at yourself.
Another technique for moving into happiness when you’re stressed is to ask yourself what thought you could have that would make you feel better. Your thought could be anything – the thought of a loved one, the memory of a sunset, music you love – whatever creates a good feeling for you. If the newly activated thought only makes you feel better for a few moments and you return to feeling stressed, repeat the process as often as needed.
Be a friend to yourself and apply humor and thought-changing to break the grip of your mind and self-talk over your emotions!