I am always amazed how much I learn from my clients. Many times I feel like I learn more from them than I learned in Graduate School! I am grateful that I work with such insightful people. Recently one of my clients told me something that just really stuck so I wanted to share it with you.
He was in a shame spiral, not knowing whether his Depression was stemming from the shame or the shame was causing the Depression. When I told him that I noticed his “self-talk” seemed really negative, he responded, “Yes it is. It’s like I am mentally and emotionally abusing myself”. Wow! That is exactly what he was doing. If he messed up at work, he called himself an idiot. If dinner was burnt, he was stupid. If he was 5 minutes late for an appointment, he was a failure. If someone in a relationship talked to him like this he would leave the relationship!!
Many of us that struggle with shame talk to ourselves like this all day long. The problem is, we can’t leave our relationship with ourselves. We HAVE to work on it if we want to feel better. I am constantly reminding my clients, when we are working on self-talk, to talk to themselves with the same grace and mercy we give our friends. If you messed up at work, allow yourself to be human. If dinner was burnt, although disappointed, I am sure this doesn’t make you stupid. If you are on time 99% of the time and are late, give yourself some grace- a friend would.
It is difficult to change these “tapes” in our head. Many of us recorded these tapes from how we were raised. So it can be difficult to erase them and start over after many years. That is why it’s important to keep trying until the tapes become a more normal way for you to think or talk to yourself.
So when you start feeling depressed or are feeling down on yourself, ask yourself, ”How is my self-talk?. Try to change your self-talk to a more positive and friendly response. Is that how you would talk to a friend? Would you abuse someone else like that? I don’t think so. Don’t do it to you!
Thanks for listening and have a great week! This may be my last blog for awhile but I will be back after baby….. Or maybe I’ll slip in a surprise blog or two after those middle of the night awakenings!! God bless!
*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.