Yesterday I talked a lot about the things I thought were hard and fast truisms about myself, but I didn’t talk much about what I actually did to get myself to think differently about those things. How I 1. actually realized I had these false “truths” about myself and 2. what I did once I realized I had them to do things differently.
These are things I encourage you to try for yourself so that you can start to see what “false truths” you are holding about yourself.
1. Be aware of what you’re thinking.
Surprise, surprise, I am asking you to be present. It really does matter that you actually stop to listen to the dialogue/monologue whatever it is that is going on inside your head. You may find it to be very derogatory (You’re so stupid! You’re always making mistakes! You’re never on time!) and you may also find it reinforcing ideas about yourself (No need to exercise, you can’t lose weight anyway. Don’t bother putting those books away, the room will just be a mess no matter what. I am too busy to start this project now. I am just a sad person. I have a bad temper. I am a bitch. I like taking care of everybody.).
You may find it useful to journal during this time. Write down the messages that are constantly flowing through your brain. Don’t judge yourself, don’t berate yourself for your thoughts, just write what you hear. Do this over a period of a couple weeks or longer. Give yourself the time to really hear yourself.
2. Stop and challenge
As you start to become more aware of what you are thinking, start to stop yourself to challenge yourself whenever you make an assertion about what you assume yourself to be. If you hear yourself say, “I am too busy to [you fill in the blank].” Stop yourself to really question if you are too busy. Think about your day and what you do. Be honest, be gentle, but be firm. It’s your own life you are looking to improve.
For example, when I kept hearing myself saying (in my head and to others), “I like a little clutter, it makes me feel like my house is lived in.”, I stopped myself to really question what that was about. Did I REALLY like clutter? Or was I making excuses because I would rather surf the web than put things back where they belonged.
3. Test the theory
Using my clutter example from above, when I began to question whether I really did like clutter, I decided to devise a challenge for myself. ? I resolved to declutter a bit.; just the living room and dining room, at first. When I did that, I found that I really liked it when the place was tidy. I felt freer and calmer. In fact, those became the only two rooms I wanted to be in. My mental state even felt more balanced. I knew then than that I been making an excuse for my laziness.
4. Keep it up.
I confess to struggling with the ‘keeping it up’ bit myself. I can say this. I am vastly improved on all the assumptions I have challenged. I would say a solid 65+% improvement. That’s pretty good. I have gotten pretty far on sheer will and discipline, but I am exploring some ways to help make these changes stick. I’ll get to the one I am testing first in a couple days (I mentioned it in part 1 of this post, it comes from Gretchen Rubin’s ‘The Happiness Project”).
I can tell you this, since implementing these changes in my life, even though not perfectly, I am much, much more self-confident. I feel like I can actually resolve to do something and work towards it like an adult. I feel that I am productive and intentional. It’s been great for my self-esteem. I encourage you to give it a try. And tell me how you’re doing.