We were taught as children to obey our elders and to not “talk back.” Where I grew up, it was called “sassing,” and we got in big trouble for it. This may be a reason why we have such a tough time dealing with our inner demons. Once we give them authority, we don’t talk back and they run (ruin) our lives.
Do you ever get stuck in a negative headspace? More than you’d like, perhaps? Look to see if any of these inner demons sound familiar.
No one cares about me.
No one wants to hear what I have to say.
God must be punishing me.
I am not meant for a promotion (or better job).
Life will always be this way (difficult, less than desirable, lonely, unpleasant).
I’ll never have what I want (a great relationship, a fulfilling job, self-confidence, good friends).
This is too hard. I can’t do it.
I don’t trust (men, women, people, life, God).
People always let me down.
I’m bad (a bad parent, partner, student, person) – or – I’m stupid, I’m an idiot, I’m a failure.
These are some of the many sentences I hear from my clients. I mean that literally – as in a verdict, a prison sentence. Whether it’s done consciously or unconsciously, when we repeat such negative phrases over and over, we reinforce whatever it is to such a degree that we condemn ourselves to its punishment. Especially when accompanied by feelings such as sadness, depression, self-pity, shame, guilt, fear, and anger, our prison term grows and the pain increases. It becomes “the truth,” and then we have to live with it.
We stay stuck in this prison of our own making until something inside says, “Enough!”
If you’re in that place and don’t know how to get out, I have a suggestion. Be sassy! Talk back! One way to do this is by using the “What if” tool.
What if …. whatever you are telling yourself isn’t true? What if …. things could be different?
What if you are lovable and there are people who do or could care about you?
What if you’re not meant to be single, or underpaid, or unhappy at work?
What if life isn’t so hard?
What if there are trustworthy people out there?
Once you stop putting a period at the end of the sentence (or for many, an exclamation point!), and start asking questions like “What If?”, life will turn around. That’s because this kind of thinking engages a different part of your mind and heart. When you put yourself inside the What If, your mind unconsciously starts looking for solutions. Lights come on in the darkness of your prison cell. Answers, people, situations that you would not have encountered before begin to present themselves.
Our negative sentences drain us of hope, zap us of strength, and close doors to new opportunities. What If can provide faith, resilience, and receptivity. We have the choice as to how we define things. If you’ve been defining your life with negativity, you can What If your way to a new definition, and by that, a new future. Then, you can come up with new mantras such as “I can change!” or “Life is good!” that inspire you to walk toward that vibrant new future.
And what if everybody did this? It is clear by the extreme negativity of recent US and world events that a shift in consciousness is urgently required. What if our commitment to creating small individual shifts could add up to one large global movement? What if the world could be a better, more loving place?