Like many of you, I’ve taken years of programs and coaching hours that among other benefits worked to eliminate negative self-talk. I felt that I had healed this issue. Then, I was intrigued by and attended a “Positive Intelligence” program that promised to address the neuroscience of negative self-talk – where in the brain it occurs, and how to upshift to the more resourceful parts of the brain.
I love the brain science approach to psychological issues because it often leads to quick practical results. There’s nothing like taking the bull by the horns!
What I learned is that negative emotions that continue for an extended period of time are caused by subtle negative self-talk that causes a downshift into our survival brain. And as you can imagine, that narrows our field of view and reduces our options. Yet, it’s possible to upshift back into our resourceful brain by practicing simple presencing exercises.
What’s interesting is that when we are fully immersed in the present moment, we are unable stay in our survival brain.
You can use any of your senses as the focus of your attention – for example, vision, hearing or touch. If you choose vision, pick an object of attention that you can explore in great detail. With hearing, close your eyes and distinguish all the sounds in your awareness. And the choice of touch gives you many options such as rubbing your hands together, feeling the movement of your body while breathing, or exploring a surface with your fingers.
Continue your practice for 2 to 5 minutes, or as long as you need in order to feel the upshift. It’s a quick pause you can take in the middle of a busy day, when you feel that unfriendly voice in your head.
As with many practices of this type, the aim is not to remove all negative self-talk but rather to gain skill in coming back to your full resourcefulness more easily. If it feels unsafe to make this shift, bring compassion and loving kindness to yourself and notice whether you are pushing or simply allowing the change to unfold.
Why not give it a try the next time you are down on yourself, and let me know how it goes!