How often do you take a breath and consider what you are thinking?
One of the most effective ways I have made my life more wonderful is by becoming more and more mindful of the things I tell myself.
I have held on to some pretty sad thoughts and depressing stories about myself, my life, and certain situations over the years. Some are stories that have been told to me. Some I made up based on what I saw happening in life and some may have come with me from prior lifetimes? I don’t know.
I do know that I suffered a great deal pretty often.
Over the years, I learned mindfulness practices, and meditation, yoga, somatics, connecting to my body ~even Network Care and used them as resources and strategies to help me create some distance from my thoughts and stories, so I could take a minute and notice if they were actually true. Super helpful. Yet, not quite enough for me. I couldn’t shake some of them.
I was working with an NVC coach on a phone session. We met at a workshop so she knew a little bit about me. I believe it was our second of three sessions when she asked me: “Are you willing to get your needs met by how you think?”
It was like the bones in my head cracked open to make space for this completely alien thought. In that second, when offering her my reply, “YES”, the quality of my life changed (yet again) forever.
Maybe because I am so, so, so needs driven, it was easy for me to see myself, my thoughts and my stories in the context of NVC. Seeing my stories for what they were and telling myself something much more pleasant became easy. Or at very least possible. The work I did next was basically to run all my thoughts through the OFNR filter. Just as I had with my conflicts with others, I translated my own stories into Observations, Feelings, Needs and Requests.
I discovered that many (most) of my sad stories were not based in any kind of reality (observation) that I could point to. The physical, mental and emotional experience of relief was enormous. All of a sudden (in my case it was pretty instant) I was able to ‘see things’ for what was actually happening, rather than filtered through the miserable stories I was hanging on to.
And guess what?!
My life was actually way better than what I was telling myself.
I changed the quality of my life tenfold (not sure about the math). I had to make zero purchases, no requirement on the part of anyone else to do anything. Very thrifty, frugal application of Nonviolent Communication.
I just changed my mind.
Say This Not That
Next time you are telling yourself something about yourself, especially when the story is familiar, something you have heard yourself say over and over, and even more especially if it isn't pleasant, write it down.
Take a minute to run through the NVC Observation, Feelings, Needs, Requests practice. See if you might be telling yourself something that isn’t actually true. Or helpful.
Maybe the request you will come up with is: What can I tell myself that would make my life more wonderful?