Reframing – Believe it or not, you can reframe your negative beliefs to turn them into assets. When a belief like “I’m indecisive” rears it’s ugly head, look for the positive gift that is related to that belief. For example, you could say to yourself: “I’m able to see deeply into many sides of an issue. This gives me insight and compassion. When the issue is too complex, I wait to make a decision until the right path is clear to me.” Doesn’t that feel much better than the initial judgment while also allowing room for acceptance and potential action?
Visualization – Imagine blowing your negative thoughts out through the top of your head. Or shake your hands vigorously and imagine the negative energy shaking off like water drops off of a shaking dog. Let the energy return to the earth to get composted and renewed. This technique often works better as a short-term bandage until you can do deeper work on the underlying belief.
Curiosity – Remember that the job of the mind is to create meaning. It is always asking questions and looking for answers that justify its version of reality. In a given situation when you’re having a strong emotion, try to become curious about what is really going on. Ask a question like, “If I knew this moment was in the highest interest of my life and happiness, how would I feel?” You can also notice when you ask a question like, “Why don’t my kids listen to me?” and reframe it into a more positive question such as, “What would help my kids listen to me better?” The key is to remember that your mind will look for and find answers to either question. Which answers would you rather have?
Meditation – Quieting the mind works wonderfully to interrupt the flow a bad day. Take it one step farther, and meditation can become a highly targeted tool for working with a frustrating situation and transforming both your feelings about it and your reactions to it. Targeted meditation works like gardening in your mind - you pull the weeds then plant and nourish the seeds you want to see flower into your life experience.
Nonviolent Communication is also called compassionate communication and is practiced by using the language of feelings and needs. Noticing feelings and needs is a good path for understanding the motivation behind a specific behavior. The motivation is the need that is trying to be met. The behavior is a strategy to meet that need, and some strategies are more constructive or destructive than others. Instead of rewarding or punishing behavior, NVC helps you meet the underlying need in a more successful way.
Journaling – This one is so simple, I almost forgot to add it to the list. But simple as it is, journaling is a powerful tool for getting to know yourself and shifting underlying beliefs. It’s an excellent tool to use in conjunction with the other techniques like parts work and mindfulness. Journaling takes advantage of the fact that it’s exponentially more effective to see your words, feelings, and beliefs written down than to just think them.
Mindfulness – This has become quite a buzz word in recent times, and the hubbub is most likely due to this technique’s simple and yet powerful method. Everything changes. Mindfulness helps slow down the thinking-process so that you can notice what’s happening before it changes. You can practice it by beginning to notice what’s going on inside of you. What sensations do you notice in your body? What emotions are present to be felt? What thoughts are present in your thinking?
What if it doesn’t “work”?
As good as all these techniques are, there is not one thing I have found that can make all doubts and fears go away. A noted personal growth teacher, Ram Das, is known to have said, “With all my years of meditation, drugs, therapy, and working with my guru I still haven’t gotten rid of one neurosis. Not one. The difference is that instead of big monsters which devour me, they have become familiar schmoos which I can welcome in. I say to them ‘Come in. Have tea. How are you?’ instead of running in fear.”
I agree with Ram Das. Our inner schmoos are always with us. They want to protect us. They want to keep us safe and usually do this by preventing us from doing anything risky, big, or new. So, in addition to the techniques above, I challenge you to feel the fear and do it anyway. Notice something you’re a bit nervous to do and do it. You can build courage the same way you build any other muscle – with gentle challenge. Weight lifting and stretching for courage might look like telling someone how you feel, journaling about a challenging situation, or finding other ways to help.
May these tools aid you in creating a life of meaningful success!
Kassandra Brown loves supporting people in self-care, business, relationships, and parenting. You can find her at http://parentcoaching.org and at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage where she lives and works in community.