If you know what it’s like to feel at the mercy of your mood, you may be pleasantly surprised to realize you have more power than you think. In fact, what you’re thinking is the very thing that can determine whether your mood turns good or bad.
Every day, we have experiences that illicit in us automatic emotional reactions. Sometimes they’re positive, like the way we react to a hug, a compliment, or a chat with a close friend. But sometimes they’re negative, like the way we react to dropping a glass on the kitchen floor, getting cut off on the freeway, or having a conflict with a colleague at work.
Considering that each of these negative examples are common occurrences we all experience now and then, the impact we allow them to have on our day may seem disproportionate. Why? Because these kinds of events trigger negative self-talk that reinforces core beliefs we have about ourselves, other people, and the way the world works:
“I can’t do anything right.”
“People are so inconsiderate.”
“I don’t get along with anyone.”
While you may have no control over thoughts that pop into your head, you do have control over the thoughts you choose to have in response:
“I choose to accept and grow from my mistakes.”
“I choose to forgive the mistakes of others.”
“I choose to accept others for who they are.”
Of course, it doesn’t take any notable event for negative self-talk to play in our brains all day long. For many of us, it’s ingrained. If this sounds familiar, you may want to try an exercise we use in depression therapy at A Place of Hope.
Make a list of all the negative messages you remember hearing throughout your life, and to whom these messages may be attributed. Then, for each negative message on the list, write down a counteracting positive statement.
Note, positive self-talk is not self-deception, as explained in my book, Turning Your Down Into Up: A Realistic Plan For Healing From Depression:
“Positive self-talk is not mentally looking at circumstances with eyes that see only what you want to see. The practice of positive self-talk is often the process that allows you to discover the obscured optimism, hope, and joy in any given situation.
“Positive self-talk is about recognizing the truth, in situations and in yourself. “
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