Ideas, rants and raves, with emphasis on Science, Politics, Personal Growth and Finance

Gratitude Really Makes a Difference with Self-Talk

Posted by The Lukester on December 28, 2007

Over at Molly’s Brother on a Budget, a nice financial/personal growth blog, was a recent post titled How to Eliminate Negative Self-Talk. It included the sage points

1. Stop it
2. Label it
3. Flip it
4. Ignore it
5. Exaggerate it

And I added a sixth, “Thank it,” with the following comment:

I’d like to add one that I’ve not seen elsewhere (i.e., I made it up) that works really well for me:

6. Thank it.

If you’re thinking to yourself after the office holiday party, “You made a total ass of yourself you stupid idiot, freak, worthless …”, try countering with an internal and sincere “thank you”. Keep saying “thank you” (while trying to FEEL it), and look for the part you actually ARE thankful for. In the above example I might sense there is a tiny bit of my internal rant that I can appreciate, without knowing what it is. I keep sending a sincere “thank you” until it emerges more fully. For instance, while I don’t like the words I’m saying (idiot, freak, etc), I DO like that there is a part of me that CARES whether I do well or not. I truly AM thankful for that.

Once I identify a part I CAN be thankful for, I focus on that. Eventually that “good” message (’I care whether or not you do well’) replaces the “bad” one (’you idiot’).

It actually can be a quite profound feeling, to feel sincere gratitude for something that five minutes ago I was cringing about.

Some examples might be: I can sometimes be very angry with my spouse, to the point it becomes internally toxic. By thanking my inner rant, I realize that the sheer fact of my anger tells me I’m a living, passionate human being – and I’m thankful for that. Or I get frustrated with my career path and frequent mistakes. By thanking it instead, I realize that my “wandering” behavior validates and important part of myself that I care deeply about.

Note that this process doesn’t change the outer world: my wife doesn’t change her behavior, I still have career issues, my colleagues might snicker at me. But at least my own mind is in a stance of gratitude rather than resentment or embarrassment, and perhaps that greater sense of acceptance gives me a little more room to make real change.

I want to re-iterate: I have no real evidence that changing self-talk from negative to positive results in concrete change in behavior or in the world. I do know first-hand, however, that making that shift feels a lot better! I could spend the next day feeling guilty and angry about how my weekend went, or I could spend that day with a sense of gratitude and even joy. I know which one I would prefer!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: