Time to spring-clean your mental habits?
I was away from home recently. Many of my usual habits were disrupted. I was in a different place with different people and that meant that a lot of adaptations were called for. I noticed that while some changes came easily, others seemed really difficult. What really struck me was how much was going on in my head as I tried to adjust.
Habits are really powerful things. Without them we simply couldn't navigate life, there would be too much to work out and learn day by day. Habits give us short-cuts that mean we can pay attention to what her really need to, while we let day to day things fade into the background because we just act from habit.
The trouble with this is that not all habits are helpful. I’m sure we’ve all sometime or other attempted to change eating habits or to exercise more, but how much attention do you pay to the habits of your mind?
So often we get into mental habits that do not serve us. It may be as benign as thinking we are clumsy, but thinking habits can be far more pernicious. The sad thing is, whatever thinking pattern we keep repeating really affects how we behave. Believing you are clumsy actually makes you far more likely to drop things, you live down to your own low expectations.
If you find you are lacking in confidence or self-esteem, it can be really useful to tune into the way you talk about yourself in your head, and to listen to what you say. Are you being positive and encouraging? Are you critical and judgmental? So often we are far harsher on ourselves than we would be on any of our friends or acquaintances and we do ourselves a disservice.
Next time you hear self-critical thoughts taking control, why not challenge yourself and ask if this is just an old mental habit that is in need of an update? You'd not leave software that no longer worked on your computer, so why leave mental habits unchallenged in your mind? You might yourself what a more helpful way of thinking about yourself would be, or consider what your best friend would say if you asked them. For help in turning the tide on thinking patterns that resist you challenging them you may want to enlist the help of a counsellor.
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About Fe Robinson
Fe Robinson is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor offering sessions in Durham and Chester-Le-Street on Wednesdays. Her mission is to enable clients to find peace and contentment, whatever their life circumstances. Fe is UKCP Accredited, a BACP member, and holds a Diploma in Supervision. Fe works both in the NHS and in private practice.