Untwisting Your Thoughts © 6/2015 Liisa Gavlick, MA, LMFTA All Rights Reserved
When speaking to yourself, how do you complete this sentence? I am_________.
Were you positive, supportive, helpful, or compassionate and you said, “Amazing, happy, kind, intelligent, confident, or honest etc.?” Were you neutral and you said, “Okay, fine, good, or doing well etc.? Were you negative, critical, hurtful, or unkind and you completed it with, “A loser, fat, worthless, a bum etc.?”
Just as a steady flow of water over rock will wear it down over time, negative, critical, unkind and distorted thoughts will wear an individual down. They become so familiar you may begin to believe them without question. They become core transparent beliefs. What does this mean? Let me break it down and give you a brief example.
A core belief is an internalized thought that is often expressed in consistent behaviors that are likely to support the belief. A self-fulfilling prophecy if you will. The transparent part is just that, it is transparent so you do not realize you view yourself, your life, all events and people through it.
To describe a core transparent belief, I like to use the metaphor of blue tinted glasses. Imagine you are wearing a pair. You cannot see over, under, or around the lenses and everything you see is colored in a blue tint. Over time you no longer notice the blue tint and everything you view looks “normal.” This is the essence of a core transparent belief.
How do you change a core belief? I advise you to seek help from a trained mental health therapist. They are often very slippery and difficult to recognize on your own due to their transparent nature. It is advisable to have a professional help you create a healthy foundation for the new core belief to be built upon as the old one is dismantled.
However, you can take a first step and begin to recognize the types of negative self-critical thoughts you tell yourself and replace them with a positive alternative. I invite you to try this three part thought experiment.
Step One: Monitor your thoughts for the day. See how often your thoughts may be critical, hurtful, or negative. Write down one or two that you have regularly throughout the day.
Step two: Count the frequency. Whenever you have the same or a similar self-critical thought put a check mark by it to keep track of how often you have it during the course of your day.
Step three: Replace with a positive. Each time you find yourself thinking the same or a similar self-critical thought, replace it with a more positive thought. See if any in the photo appeal to you and use them.
Those who try this experiment are often surprised at the number of self-critical thoughts they have in one day, or even in a few hours. Were you?