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One Practical Step toward Finding Peace of Mind

The one thing I tell my clients repeatedly is if they do nothing else, if they be gentler with themselves, they will find more peace.

What does that mean exactly? Many talk about self care, taking a hot bath, going for a walk in the woods, petting a purring cat. While all of those are great, they are also all temporary. What if you could do something that has a more permanent result?

Our critical minds are extremely hard on us. “You’re a failure, you’re not worth it, you’re not important, and no one wants you.” If you really think about who it is that makes this decision, you will see that it’s you. Even if someone has said it to you in the past, it doesn’t mean they are judge and jury of who you are. The reason that it feels so upsetting is because we believe it. We don’t allow ourselves to make even minor mistakes without beating ourselves up.

After seeing hundreds if not thousands of people in therapy groups, there is not one other person who has ever agreed with someone’s own personal assessment of their critical mind. It exists only with us.

For me personally, being in a therapy group with other people led to such huge revelations. I didn’t realize just how much guilt (the driver behind the critical voice) I was carrying until I heard other people share their own stories and I found I could relate to almost everything they said. What I knew was that on the outside I always made sure it looked like I had a great life. On the inside I was so unhappy and I didn’t understand why. I also found I felt lost in my relationships and didn’t know the solution to hanging on to myself. The second someone would get mad at me I would sabotage everything as I wanted just to appease them. Guilt was the driver of the bus of my life, not me.

I had to start to question the thoughts I was having and what I was telling myself. What if you could do the same? What if the idea that you are a failure is just that? An idea rather than a fact. The reason it feels so real is because it has a feeling attached. The feeling is just a feeling and it can be uncomfortable to feel. It doesn’t mean anything about you.

The next time you find yourself feeling “less than”, it’s your opportunity to really take a good look at the situation you are in. Ask yourself if this is just a feeling or is it’s true? Write down the facts of the situation and only the facts. Eg: X happened and then so and so said Y, then Z happened. Then put an equals sign on the page and after the equals sign, write down what you think it means about you. Then ask yourself, does this situation really equal what I make it mean? The only real answer can be no. If you’re not convinced, try putting something different after the equals sign. Anything you put there isn’t going to be real, so it doesn’t matter what you say, you’re just making it up anyway.

Now that you know this, your job is to stop and question yourself every time you find yourself negative talking. You don’t have to do anything else, just stop the pattern. Once you become willing to do that, the rest will just come naturally.

Can this help us find peace of mind? Questioning our critical voice? You bet. What do you think it is that causes our emotional pain? Emotions can be uncomfortable and yet if you can allow them to rise up you can do that you get to the other side in 10 or 15 minutes and that is where a sense of freedom lies. It’s when you make them mean something about you that you suffer for the long term. It’s time to let yourself off the hook.

To your peace of mind,