Do the messages you tell yourself instill a positive attitude within?
It’s surprising how strongly entrenched some of our negative self-talk can be and how quickly those devastatingly detrimental messages can take hold, if we allow them.
You do all this work focusing on becoming the best ‘you’, you can be.
You have your hopes and dreams, your wishes and desires.
You write your blessings in your Gratitude Journal.
You have affirmations sprinkled on post-it notes, greeting you throughout your day.
Be Vigilant and Aware
Disapproving and antagonistic thoughts are as harmful to you as any bacteria or virus.
It’s not important how this happens or even that it happens.
What’s important is what you choose to do about it once those dangerous, defeating voices slither back into your head.
My Recent Experience
Case in point, I started taking tai chi classes a few months back. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for over 2 years.
I walk fast.
I talk fast.
I eat way too fast.
I know it’s cliché but I think fast, too.
One of the many life lessons I’ve been consciously teaching myself is to s-l-o-w down.
Plus, I like the graceful, controlled beauty of yoga, tai chi and chi gong movements, along with the sustainability of these Eastern exercises.
The thought of practicing yoga and tai chi when I’m well into my 80’s brings a smile to my face.
I love the thought of making this investment into my long-term wellness.
Bringing balance, strength and flexibility to my body and my mind really connects me with who I am, at my physical and spiritual core.
When the tai chi classes finally synched-up with my evening schedule, I jumped at the opportunity to register.
Driving to the first class I recognized I was a bit nervous about being able to memorize the sequences.
I then recalled feeling that same insecurity before starting my yoga practice 10 years ago. In time, I learned the movements to the yoga asanas.
My nerves were balanced by the fact that I was looking forward to getting to know new people while crossing tai chi lessons off my personal Wish List.
During the first class we received an overview of tai chi and an intro of the instructors. Our tai chi master, Greg, ran us through some basic moves and the first 90 minute class flew by.
Driving home that night, I was already looking forward to the next session.
I was reminded of my niece, Holly’s question, ‘Are you having fun?’ Yeppers, this was going to be a lot of fun!
It’s All Good!
I felt energized and uplifted at the thought of putting myself out there.
I thought to myself, ‘It’s all good!’ and ‘You did it!’
I was surprised how often those thoughts reappeared throughout my week. Each time they ran through my brain they brought a big smile to my face.
My second and third classes went about the same as the first lesson.
I left class on a natural high.
I was pumped and excited, eagerly anticipating the next 90 minute session. I was having fun.
It didn’t matter that I didn’t have the moves memorized or that I was making mistakes. All-in-all the rest of the class was about the same place on the learning curve.
I was learning something new and I was experiencing something long awaited.
The Wheels Fell Off
I headed into the fourth class with happy anticipation. We bowed and began our tai chi sequence.
All was going well.
Until all of the sudden (bum, bum, bummmmm…) it wasn’t.
I couldn’t recall the next move.
My palm was facing in when it should’ve been facing out.
I found myself leading with my right foot when I should’ve been leading with my left.
It was all unraveling before me.
When I scanned the room to check on the other 19 students, I panicked.
Why was I the only one who wasn’t getting it?
Why did it seem like no one else was getting bogged down in the moves?
Why was I the only one whose wheels suddenly fell off their rickshaw?
The Tapes Got Switched
Once my panic set-in, the negative self-talk from my past started to gain momentum.
The uplifting, positive tapes in my brain were suddenly switched.
The ‘old’ messages which took over were critical and condescending.
‘Doh! You’re never going to get this. You might as well quit, now.’
‘Stupid, stupid, stupid. You look like an idiot.’
I trudged through the moves while breaking out in a nervous flop-sweat reminiscent of Albert Brooks in the movie, ‘Broadcast News’
‘You’re an embarrassment. Quit now.’
‘Just leave. Go home. Now!’
This is what I actually heard.
And, yes, for a moment it was horrifying.
Once I heard, and I mean I really identified and recognized the reprehensible and insidious tapes from my past playing inside my head, I began to laugh aloud.
My amusement at the situation caught me completely off guard.
A surprising and incredibly wonderful thing happened, because my laughter caused my brain to interrupt those tired, negative thoughts.
It caused the stylus needle, which was stuck in the groove playing the ‘oldies record’ inside my brain, to jump the track on the vinyl.
Suddenly I heard, ‘Wwrrrapp’ as the needle skidded across the very, old, yet ingrained message from my childhood and starter marriage.
Instead of listening to the old song about how worthless and inadequate I was, I chose to listen to a different track.
And, no, I wasn’t about to listen to a static-y old album, either.
I wanted to hear this message loud and strong and clear, so I knew I’d absorb it on a cellular level within my body, mind and spirit.
Drinking in the Right Words
I chose to listen to my new, empowering communiqué on a crystal-clear Mp-3 player inside my brain.
There was no static to distract me here, baby. It’s like Steely Dan sang, ‘No static at all…’
I made a conscious decision to upgrade the sound bites I was listening to inside my head, so that every ounce of my being would hear it and accept it as my truth.
Instead of listening to defeating self-talk about how ‘stupid I looked or how stupid I was’ because I hadn’t yet nailed the subtle nuances of the 108 tai chi moves I replaced those thoughts with invincible, powerful and commanding phrases to energize me.
Quickly shifting gears, I heard myself say things like:
If you start hearing disparaging messages or old family tapes in your head, change the channel.
Find something new to listen to.
Remind yourself of your powerful traits.
List the many ways you nurture yourself and others.
Repeat your personal truths.
If you need help drowning out the negative energy drains, shout your strengths and truths inside your head.
I know you have wonderful qualities that make you, you.
Can’t think of anything to tell yourself?
Let me get you started…
You are Enough!
Here’s another one…
I’m SO glad you’re here, so our paths could intersect like this.
You can take it from here.
I know you can.
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