Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast
Voices in Our Heads ( February 2008 )
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Last month, we opened the discussion of dealing with those negative voices in our head implanted by others when we were young that, in our raw openness, rooted and stuck ... and, despite their inherent wrongness, became core beliefs about who we are - and primal forces for how we live our lives.
If you carry a negative self-image ... that you're lazy, weak, incompetent, bad, whatever ... and still hear, or worse, feel these words echoing from your early childhood, you probably know reversing those entrenched messages is difficult - dedicated work often done with a therapist. But here are some thoughts.
Knowing they're untrue, and why, is a good start. Taking the UU "inherent worth and dignity of every human being" from an abstract concept into a personally felt belief about who you really are can help provide the intellectual and spiritual basis to start the work of silencing those crippling voices.
Next, I think, rewrite those words and messages into your mind, turning them into the correct positive statements you know (or want) to be true. This is the essence of affirmations - a very powerful and effective method many use (and therapists recommend) for changing negative belief systems. The practice entails repeating silently(or better, aloud) a short positive statement to override the original negative one. "I manage my life well," supplants the "I am sloppy," imprint. 3-5 minutes a day of this can produce startling results in only a month's time. Adding visualizations - seeing yourself being that way ... recalling past actions or imagining future pictures ... makes it even more effective.
Another tool is being aware of all those times you're actually living your life in contradiction of those original negative messages. If a "You're lazy," message was laid on you, notice and fully validate - as who you actually are - all the times you're energetic and competent.
And - whenever you notice those words and thoughts running through your mind, don't let the voice be yours. Put the real, original person's voice on them. Can you hear their voice? ... it'll help you make it their message - not yours ... and help you separate from it. And give you the opening to start answering back!
Lastly, consider focused meditation - a valued technique used by mediators, in which one uses the deeper meditative state to work on life issues. Similar to dreams, focused mediation creates healing work deep in the subconscious. Bringing the positive words, beliefs, feelings, and images you want into the deeper meditative consciousness, and concentrating on them, pulls the new positive message down into the same core part of the mind that the original words reside. Similar to prayer, strong spiritual healing work can happen here.
Good luck. May we all become masters of our minds.
[This is part 2 of 2. Read Voices in Our Heads, Part 1 (January 2008].]
This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader
of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
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