How mindfulness can make you healthier and happier
Recently a devoutly Christian woman came to me with self-esteem issues. She was extremely bright and able to easily follow my instructions, so the session went well in a surprising way.
When I gently probed her for details, she described how in stressful situations she’d begin to say to herself, “I knew I was going to screw up!”
I’m sure that none of you have ever spoken this unkindly to yourself, have you? The interesting thing is that my client looked up in surprise and said: “It’s as though there’s a devil sitting over this shoulder just like in the cartoons.” Sure enough, she realised that there was an angel sitting over her other shoulder.
This was how she conceptualised it.
The point is, this lady is not alone. We all tell ourselves things constantly. For example, an insomniac tells themselves that they won’t sleep.
People who get distracted during mindfulness are often listening to their inner story. Others, who meditate for a while but don’t continue, have sometimes said to themselves before even starting: “Okay, I’ll try, but I don’t think it’ll work.”
If you have a critical voice which puts you down constantly, first, determine whether it’s making a good point or not. If it’s telling you to stop being a slob and lose weight, you can insist on a more respectful tone and start exercising. Some negotiation may be needed.
Or do this: think of something negative which you tell yourself. Ask yourself what the voice would look like if you could see it. It may resemble you, a parent, spouse, or even a devil!
There’s an old Looney Tunes where the animator gets tired of Bugs Bunny’s sarcasm and erases his mouth. Once you have a representation of your critical voice, imagine yourself erasing its mouth.
It’s that simple. It will work. It will quiet your mind. Is it permanent? No. You’ll have to condition it, repeating the exercise as necessary.
And you’ll have to start speaking nicely to yourself in a supportive and reassuring tone. Just like my client, begin to hear your angels.
I’ll cover these and other tools in an upcoming workshop. Contact me for details.
- Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and sits on the National Board of NLP and Hypnotherapy. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org