I learned something new in counseling yesterday that I think is going to be so helpful. So helpful that I need to share it.
You’ve heard me write (and probably speak) about affirmations and I ams. When the negative thoughts come, to replace them with more positive thoughts – I am worthy. I am enough. I am loved. I’ve even written about backing them with God’s scripture to make them more powerful because we know God’s word is truth and there is enormous power in God’s word. If you haven’t, you can read about them here: I ams and here: Fighting Spiritual attacks with God’s Word.
To be honest, I haven’t been doing this enough lately and need to get back into a regular habit.
I re-started counseling over a month ago to deal with some triggers and trauma responses that have been popping up. I decided that enough was enough and it was time to get to the core of what is going on, to face these demons head-on, and engage proactively in the healing process.
Counseling is hard.
Healing is hard.
Whoever says going to counseling is for the weak either hasn’t done it or is too afraid to try it. (I’m 100% for counseling and think everyone could probably benefit from it at certain points of their life!)
Anyway, we were talking about replacing negative self talk with something better and I ams/affirmations are so important.
But. But she also offered a new piece of advice. A new strategy. And I am so in love with it.
She said when you are in the midst of something, try replacing the negative talk with a Reasonable Response. Another term she used was a Logical Response.
Immediately I knew this was going to be good because as emotional as I can get, I have a very logical/mathematical side to myself as well.
When I am getting really frustrated with my daughter, when she is whining and carrying on and the water is boiling on the stove and the phone is ringing… instead of saying/thinking: I can’t do this! I’m freaking out! I can’t handle it!! Use the reasonable response of: I am overstimulated right now.
Omgosh, this is so brilliant. In those moments, it can be hard to use I ams because they don’t feel true. It sometimes feels like the “fake it till you make it.” And that’s only if you can remember to use them! I LOVE I ams and think we should be saying them all the time and using them proactively in our lives. But in a moment of sheer frustration, to instead say, “I am overstimulated right now” is not a fake it till you make it. It’s 100% true! When all those things are hitting at once and you want to lose it, you. are. over-stimulated!
So saying that out loud, or to yourself, is a reasonable response to what is going on and can immediately center you, make you aware of what is going on, and help you to realize that before you lose it, you can go do something to calm your over-stimulated self down! It’s like a siren going “get out, get out, change the circumstances.”
In other words, you’re not a failure as a parent, you’re not going to lose your mind, you just need to self-regulate what is going on in and around you. Escape to the bathroom. Do a meditation. Use some grounding techniques. Get back to your zen.
Maybe you are work and everything is piling on you at once. To do list with too many items. Boss calling you. Co-workers needing help. Deadlines approaching. You may be thinking “I can’t do this, I’m not good enough for this job, I’ll never get caught up, I’m a loser… whatever.”
In reality, you are just overwhelmed. So a reasonable logical response to those thoughts is: I am overwhelmed right now. I can do this, but I’m feeling overwhelmed right now. I’m good at this job but in this moment I am overwhelmed. I will get caught up, but I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m not a loser, I’m just overwhelmed.
Do you see how brilliant this is? Or is it just me?
When you acknowledge the truth – that you are overwhelmed, you can focus on taking steps to reduce that feeling. For me, I know once I organize my desk and have things separated in different piles and know exactly what I need to do first – I am much LESS overwhelmed. So the next time I use this strategy and realize that I am, in fact, not a failure, that I am simply overwhelmed, I may take 10 minutes to reorganize and gather my thoughts.
For you, it may be a coffee break and/or some deep breathing. Maybe it’s a ten-minute yoga session. Maybe it’s a brisk walk or stepping outside to soak in some vitamin D from the sunshine.
I think this strategy is genius because instead of spiraling down a deep pit of negative self-talk, it is just recognizing what is actually physically going on in the moment. Then, once speaking and saying what is truly going on, use whatever works for you to get back to a regulated state of body and emotions.
I’m a teacher. And a mom. I KNOW kids get overstimulated and overwhelmed. I just never thought to apply it to myself. And aren’t we just bigger versions of kids? Same nervous system? Same body responses to stress? Same big emotions? (My counselor said that too, she’s amazing.)
So the next time we are losing it, freaking out, or spiraling down, let’s try to use a reasonable response instead.
So since this is brand new to me, maybe you can help me come up with some other responses that are reasonable and logical? What do you think a reasonable response would be when you are in the midst of big emotions, negative self-talk, and about to lose it?
Share below! Please!
I know this is going to help me and I hope it will help you as well!
Happy Saturday, friends!