Do you talk to yourself?

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Do you talk to yourself and do your thoughts control you? Think before you answer!

We have an average of about 6000(!) thoughts a day, most of which we habitually repeat to ourselves. Some of these thoughts we have learned from our parents and teachers. As a side note, is writing in your journal another version of talking to yourself? ( I think that thought is the basis for another post!)

Anyway, have you ever stepped back and examined your “inner thoughts”? We have the ability to choose how we think about ourselves and how we respond to events around us. Our thoughts automatically trigger emotions.

Emotions have been defined as chemical molecules that act as a command center for our body, more specifically our brain. They organize and shape our beliefs, thoughts and behaviors.  “Feel Good” emotions of joy, happiness, confidence tell you that your inner drives are being met and conversely, the “Feel Bad” emotions of anger, shame, guilt cause stress and in some cases criminal activities.

So, how do we develop awareness of our emotions? Several years ago, on that annual retreat I have told you about, I learned about a technique called mindfulness. Before you scoff, just try some of this advice. I don’t pretend to be a scholar in this arena just someone who is trying to figure out the world and my place in it.

  1. Select a trigger situation to work on. Now in the beginning, you may be tempted to tackle them all and be done with it. I urge caution with this approach. In order to become more aware of what drives us to do the things we do and how we feel about them, takes time and energy. Once you have sorted though the situations (work, family, relationship) imagine yourself in a safe place. Remind yourself that you are not your emotions. During this step, you become an observer of your emotions.

  2. Identify and feel your emotions. Ask yourself how do I feel? Become aware of your body – are you tense or getting a headache??

  3. Accept your feelings. Sometimes saying a phrase, like a mantra, such as “I am ok.” helps.

  4. Identify what you are telling yourself and what is triggering your sensations. Remember, your thoughts don’t control you. You control your thoughts. Now, sometimes these thoughts are painful and we want to turn them off and forget them. They have a way of coming back when we least expect them. One of the Retreat Directors, suggested that you imagine that you are in  a car and the toxic emotions are in your rear view mirror. You are safe in your car and driving forward into a new life.

  5. Once you feel safe and secure and sort though your thoughts, you may find that your assumptions (and trigger situations) were muddled. You misinterpreted the sign posts or got caught in a pot hole but the good news is that the road ahead is full of new possibilities.

  6. As writers, we have a distinct advantage over some people. We write in journals and sort through things. I will admit to re-reading old journals, to see if I ever felt the same way before and how I dealt with the emotion and fall out. What I have found is that as I get older, some of those thoughts and consequent actions are not as earth-shattering as they once were. (They have been replaced!) I sense the tune from an old tv show “Twightlight Show.” Anyway, if you want to pursue this adventure, put mindfulness in your browser and get ready for a ride!

~Sallie

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