Table of contents:
- When Nita Sweeney decided to run at 49, she told herself, “You're old, fat and slow. You look funny in these unsuitable clothes for sports. People will laugh at you. You are just a poser, making yourself a "runner". What do you think of yourself? "
- Toxic thinking
- In small steps
- Take your thoughts
- Try to meditate
- Find support in failure
Video: If The Mind Constantly Insists That You Are Nothing - Self-development
When Nita Sweeney decided to run at 49, she told herself, “You're old, fat and slow. You look funny in these unsuitable clothes for sports. People will laugh at you. You are just a poser, making yourself a "runner". What do you think of yourself? "
Many of us tell ourselves something like this when we want to do something new and unusual. We know in advance that nothing will work out, that it will be a failure. And since a fiasco is inevitable, it's best not to even try. And often this is exactly what we do: we do nothing.
And sometimes we just can't deal with a recent (or long-standing) failure. For example, you failed an important exam or failed an interview. You were not hired for a class job, and you prepared so seriously! Or your performance was lousy.
Somehow, the failure turns into a feeling of "I'm nothing." It begins to determine how you see what is happening around you. Perhaps you already wake up with negative thoughts: “I'm such an idiot, today everything will be bad, I will never succeed” - and fall asleep under them.
“Thoughts of failure can have a wide variety of origins, but most often the problem can be traced back to negative childhood experiences, including abuse, neglect, trauma and violence,” says Kelly Hendrix, a marriage and family counselor.
People who grew up in these conditions, she says, can grow up with these thoughts: “I mean nothing. Nobody likes me. I cannot do anything normally, I cannot please my family and attract the attention of loved ones; then I am a nonentity."
“Or perhaps you were surrounded by people who thought they were inadequate, talked about it regularly and generally expected the worst out of life,” Hendricks says.
“Or maybe the people around you talked about others like that,” adds Tracy Dalgleish, clinical psychologist and relationship counselor. She does a lot to bring therapy beyond the walls of her office: she conducts online courses, presentations for communities and seminars on healthy living in organizations. “Sometimes our idea of failure can be imposed,” she says.
Dalgleish said, “The constant thought of failure can be caused by certain traits in our character, such as perfectionism and the need for control or approval. While these traits can help us succeed and achieve our goals, they start to create problems when we don't meet our own (or someone else's) standards.
No matter how deeply these thoughts are embedded in your mind, you can learn to deal with them effectively without letting them define your life. Here's how to do it.
In small steps
Start moving. Sweeney, a coach and author of articles, found that when a person starts to move, the negative voice calms down. For example, she said to herself, "Just put on your sneakers" and "Just walk to the front door." Doing simple things helped her, and she titled her memoir Depression Can't Get Into Whoever Moves.
Small business strategy. Sweeney invites readers to do “something so small that it will definitely work. Then repeat this simple action over and over until you feel comfortable. " For example, she followed a training plan that started by running for 60 seconds. She repeated it over and over until she felt so light that she “just laughed at how easy it was. What used to scare me has become absolutely natural."
Likewise, Sweeney dealt with panic attacks while driving by driving onto the highway in a location where she could quickly turn off the highway. She drove a short distance in the right lane and soon turned off it. “I did it over and over again until I felt confident. Only after that did I start staying on the highway for a long time."
Take your thoughts
When we mentally criticize ourselves, we scold ourselves for these thoughts too. "I am such a nonentity" because "I am such an idiot that I think that I am nothing." And naturally, we only feel worse from this.
“It would be much better to just accept the thought as it is - without judging oneself for it. Sometimes that's all our minds need,”says Dalgleish, host of the podcast I'm Not Your Therapist. It is not necessary that you like the thought. It is important to simply acknowledge her presence.
You can say to yourself, “Look, this is happening in my head again. The brain tells me that I am nothing. My mind likes to do it in situations like this. I'll just point out that I have this thought right now. I will note that I feel tension and sadness from her."
Distinguish from your thoughts. “We identify with our thoughts, that is, we think them, trust them, repeat them over and over,” says Dalgleish. To help clients disassociate themselves from their thoughts, she uses a powerful exercise from Self-Activity and Mindfulness Therapy. “We both put a heavy thought on a sticker and stick it on our clothes. It helps to separate the thought, remove it from our consciousness and see that in fact it is just a collection of words."
She also offers the following methods:
- sing a negative thought to the Happy Birthday tune,
- imagine that she is on TV,
- adjust brightness and color on the screen.
Find a new definition of nothingness. We can change the way we think about failure. In the end, failure is not a rigid construction, not an article of Scripture. “If you think of failure as simply moments with unexpected or unwanted results, it’s no longer relevant to your personality,” Hendrix says. “Your core identity will be protected and opportunities and space for growth and development will arise,” she says.
Dalgleish suggests asking yourself the following questions: “Is it possible to look at this situation somehow differently?”, “What does this event look like from a bird's eye view?”, “Has something similar happened to other people? Did they manage?”,“What can I learn from this story?”,“What new opportunities does this event open for me, what does it call me to?”.
Try to meditate
Sweeney, who has been practicing it for many years, is very helpful. Sometimes she quickly scans her body to determine exactly where the feeling of failure is felt. It is usually the belly or throat, she says. “If I stay calm for a while and just allow these sensations to be, they pass. And when bodily sensations disappear, negative thoughts go away with them."
Surround yourself with people who are supportive. “When you forget how talented and competent you are, it's helpful to have people around who can remind you of your ability,” Hendrix says. “In addition, such people are likely to see themselves in a positive light, which will also have a positive effect on your condition,” she adds.
Create a daily mantra for yourself
“Research shows that if we tell ourselves what we want to be, or write it down, we’re more likely to act on those beliefs,” Dalgleish says. She suggests creating a "radical acceptance formula" such as "I am exactly where I need to be," or "I am doing my best," or even just "Let go!"
Find support in failure
Dalgleish quotes Pema Chodron: “Fail again and again. Do it better and better. " Dalgleish says: “It’s impossible not to fail and face challenges. This is a natural situation: to experience difficulties without getting the expected result. " Just go for the test. "You can learn a lot from constant failure."
See a specialist. Whether your intrusive thoughts of failures in a difficult childhood or a combination of personality traits are rooted in you, working with a therapist can help. She will drive change.
Today Sweeney is still struggling with negative thoughts. She says, “This is ridiculous. I have run three marathons, 27 half marathons in 18 states, and over 80 shorter distances. But if I don't run for a few days, my mind starts repeating, “It was great, but it’s over. You have already forgotten how to run, and your stamina is gone."
The only way out, Sweeney says, is to thank your mind for trying to protect her, ask him to shut up for a few minutes. And go for a run again. "My mind just wants to get my attention." Maybe yours too?
- By: Margarita Tartakovski, M. Sc.
- Translation by Kiril Melamud