To Fix Problems, Stop Admiring Them

By Marsha Hudnall
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Today’s post is another from Darla Breckenridge, our psychologist at Green Mountain.  She takes a different look at what we’re doing when we think or speak about our problems in the usual way.

Admiring our problems is a case of unwittingly practicing or rehearsing how we think about them. In the usual course of things, we repeatedly think or talk about the problems we have with problems.  When we let our minds continue in the old neural pathways, thinking self-defeating thoughts, we’re digging our heels in deeper. Letting the fire roar. Tenaciously holding on to the problem.

So we have to ask ourselves, would we rather be practicing healthy self talk or practicing problem self talk?

Listen to this:

  • “A listed side effect of my medication is ‘possible’ weight gain. It’s to be expected.”
  • “I always gain weight when I’m in pain.”
  • “My reaction to rejection is to eat.”
  • “When I eat out, I always eat too much.”
  • “I forget to eat and then when I do sit down to eat, I don’t have good sense.”

This kind of talk is as easy as picking low-hanging fruit. We know how to do it. Requires no effort. And, it’s very believable.

On the other hand, it’s a stretch to pick the more nutritious fruit from the top of the bush or tree. Just as it is a stretch to reach for a more creative form of positive self-talk.

Here’s how it works: The more we talk about a problem and how it’s out of our control, the more we believe what we’re saying. Talking about our problem is an attention grabber and often a way we connect with other people.  Complaining is the lowest social common denominator.

The more we admire, that is, the more we practice or rehearse a problem, the more concrete, the more real, it becomes. Such thoughts are show-stoppers when what we need is a re-write.

At Green Mountain, our focus is on noticing the words we use to talk about ourselves and our lives.   It is through this mindful process of noticing that we can start choosing words that reframe and define our desired outcome. We can’t do anything to change what we are saying in our heads until we are aware of what we are already saying.

For example: By changing the words “I hate my body” to “I appreciate what my body does for me,” we practice healthy self talk and work on creating new neural pathways. Thought stopping is also a powerful tool to interrupt the process of admiring problems.

As we refocus and move away from admiring our problems to choosing words which support our desires and successes, we reframe our self talk.

Be careful what you wish for… or more to the point…notice how you talk to yourself.

In a later blog I’ll cover possible rewrites of self-talk, but why don’t you try it first. I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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