Our Thoughts Are Saboteurs
“Self-doubt is the anchor that keeps our ships from sailing.” — Steve Maraboli
What comes to mind when you read the title of this article? Pay close attention to your inner dialogue and notice what it’s telling you. Is it disparaging or one of disbelief? Our immediate response is often right because it is an intuitive impulse. There’s nothing wrong with you other than the need to compare yourself with others. Equally, you can change your inner dialogue even though it has been critical all these years. What makes me so sure? Like you, I entertained negative self-talk for much of my adult life. I attributed it to a father who over-disciplined me when I was young and emphasised nothing I did was good enough.
I wasn’t aware of the critical inner voice then, but noticed it more as an adult. I wanted to silence the inner critic, yet it was futile since it grew stronger. It wasn’t until my early 30s, through mindfulness and meditation practice, that I allowed the thoughts to be there instead of trying to get rid of them. Does this make sense, where the thoughts we have about ourselves aren’t entirely true? They are opinions and mostly inaccurate ones. Here’s why your thoughts about yourself are not true. When negative thoughts arise, you’re aware of your experience of them, right? Similarly, you are able to witness them at the same time? Therefore, there are two minds having the experience of thoughts.
There is the critical mind generating the thoughts and the observing mind witnessing them take place. The key is to disengage from the critical mind and become the observing mind. Many people are convinced there’s something wrong with them because they believe their thoughts, instead of observing them via the witnessing mind. I recently wrote an article how our thoughts are saboteurs that convince us of our unworthiness. It is the mind’s biological role to analyse and look for negativity (negativity bias) in our environment. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean what we think is true and hence why our witnessing mind can observe itself without trouble.
Awaken Your Passions And Purpose
“If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago…” ― Cheri Huber
What if your character is intentionally unique instead of flawed? For example, when I was young, I didn’t enjoy socialising like others my age. I wasn’t antisocial, but preferred time alone pursuing different activities to other people. I was convinced something was wrong with me because socialising depleted my energy. It was not long after, I discovered I was an Empath and preferred being alone. Yet, I was still adamant something was wrong with me, until I turned to the creative arts and realised that my time alone helped me awaken my creative passions.
What I’m saying is: self-acceptance is the answer to many of our troubles. It helps us discover who we really are and awaken our passions and purpose. There’s no use berating or hating ourselves because we’re different. Perhaps we’re different for a purpose? Therefore, avoid using your uniqueness against you, since it is a gift meant to help you stand out from the crowd. By all accounts, Elon Musk thought he was different when he stuttered and preferred reading books at a young age. We can now see how he channelled those qualities to good use, since they have become the key to his success. If we believe something is wrong with us, we are looking through the prism of a distorted lens. We are focusing on an inaccurate perception that isn’t there.
Are you comfortable with the idea that there’s nothing wrong with you other than your thoughts about yourself? We can change our self-talk, despite how disapproving it is. It took me some time to shift my inner dialogue to one of kindness, self-compassion and self-nurturing. At first, it felt foreign because I was unaccustomed to it and my ego wanted to drown it out. There was constant resistance, however, I allowed my witnessing mind to notice the negative inner-talk and gradually, I experienced inner peace. I never forced it, but welcomed the negative thoughts and observed them through the lens of kindness and self-compassion.
Soon enough, my new inner-talk became my default state, and I was no longer beating myself up. It was a pleasant undertaking, and whilst it took a while to arrive here, it was worth it. I learned to accept my thoughts instead of resisting them. This shift also translated into many areas of my life and helped me coach others to develop the same inner dialogue. Knowing this, I’d like you to write a list of critical conversations you have with yourself. What does your inner critic try to convince you of? What are the themes of the negative self-talk? See if you can catch yourself experiencing these thoughts when you’re aware of them. It is once we notice and welcome these thoughts, that healing and transformation can take place.