I struggle with self-talk. I am hard on myself. I want to do a great job, be a good person, and be a good Dad/Husband/Son, etc. but I’m not always. And then I struggle to let myself off the hook. I’ve recently heard this called negative meditation. Focusing on the error instead of moving on, the past instead of the future.
Eric Barker gives an example in a recent blog post: "Problem is, sometimes your brain makes errors when it’s forming its rules….It might observe, “Last time we went outside it was very cold." There are a number of lessons your brain could learn from this. For instance: GOOD LESSON: “I should wear a coat before going outside.” BAD LESSON: “I should never leave the house for any reason whatsoever.” While I don’t regularly jump to that far of a conclusion, I would think, “what an idiot, I forgot my coat again.”
I recently learned a trick to help me get through a bad habit; start talking about it in the past tense. Turn the phrase, “I tend to ramble a lot” to, “I used to be a rambler.” Change, “I tend to eat unhealthy” to “I used to eat unhealthy.” And lastly, “what an idiot I, I forgot my coat again” is now “I used to be unprepared for the cold weather.”
When we reframe how we talk about ourselves and change the tense of how we describe a behavior we’d like to change, we begin to adjust our mindset around the problem. I find it allows me to focus on future activities and goals rather than live in the past where I am not being my best self.