Changing Thought Patterns
The first step in chipping away at my emotional issues was to admit that they even existed. I’d been in the same body-mind state for as long as I could remember. I thought that was just me, my natural self. But in the depths of pain two months into my illness, I listened to my mind’s chatter and realized that another part of me was listening, too. From deep down within me, a knowing rose to my consciousness—that my thought patterns were not the whole of me. I realized that if those habitual ways of thinking were changed, I would still exist. I would still be me. This awareness that I was more than my spinning mind was the first chink in my armor, and it launched my journey to discover who I was beyond those habitual mindsets that had dominated my being for so long.
The voices of others that resound in our ears as children often become our inner voice and limit us throughout our lives. These internal messages are individual and varied, but often they are controlling and judging. Common phrases for me were: “Don’t be a bother.” “Who do you think you are?” “You’re too ______.” This last one was filled in with many different adjectives, all of which had negative connotations.
Recognizing that this inner voice is separate from your authentic self is the first step in breaking its hold over your heart and mind. The more you hear that inner voice for what it is and challenge the messages it has imprinted on your mind, the quieter it gets.
Without all that negative chatter, you will start to hear another voice from your very essence begin to whisper. This voice is compassionate, accepting, and loving, and it says things like: “You are unique.” “You are valuable.” “You belong.” “You are enough." If you allow it, this little voice will build to a roar and resound throughout your entire being.
Healing with Awareness has activities for each chapter that help readers use the presented concepts. Here is an example that matches the reading above:
1. Spend at least five minutes alone in a quiet, safe place where you will not be disturbed.
a. Tune in to the internal soundtrack that narrates your life. What is on your mind?
b. Consider writing down your thoughts as soon as they come into your mind.
2. Try the following activities to consciously move your focus away from this mental chatter:
• Pull your thoughts into the present by observing the sights and sounds in your environment. When your thoughts wander, gently refocus on the stimulation coming in from your five senses.
• Notice the areas where your body is holding tension and consciously try to relax them.
• Move the body in a repetitive way, such as walking, running, biking, or swimming, and focus on the sensations of the body.
• Perform an activity (like gardening or washing the dishes) and focus on the sights, sounds, and feel of the action.
3. Consider these ideas:
• There is a part of you that can observe your thought patterns.
• You are more than the activity of your analytical mind.