Have you ever caught yourself thinking badly about yourself — maybe even belittling yourself out loud?
How did it make you feel? Sad? Angry with yourself (or others)? Depressed?
Many people are familiar with an internal voice going on inside as we think and interpret what’s going on around us. It’s what psychologists call ‘self-talk’.
Self-talk can be reasonable —’I’d better prepare for the interview’ or ‘I’m really looking forward to the game’—but it can be negative, unrealistic and self-defeating.
When you experience depression, the negative self-talk can be quite incessant, like a radio program with a limited playlist or a scratched vinyl record stuck in a groove.
For years, I listened to a broken record of negative self-talk that was a warped version of the UK 1970s band Supertramp hit single Dreamer. My version went ‘Loser, you’re nothing but a loser…’ It sure didn’t make my feel good about myself (and it was untrue yet I’d believe it!).
Psychologists recommend changing those negative self-put-downs by testing, challenging and changing the self-talk. That means questioning the statements going around in your head about yourself. Imagine a Q&A episode with the panel made up of Me, Myself and I:
- Reality check—Is this thought fact-based or am I jumping to a conclusion?
- Alternative explanation—What else could this thought mean?
- Perspective—What is the worst and the best thing that could happen, how bad is it really and does it truly matter?
- Goal-directed—Is thinking like this going to help me feel good/better?
It takes time and practice but once you are aware, you’ll be surprised how much self-talk is inaccurate, distorted, exaggerated—just plain bull****.
2 quick easy laughter yoga-based ways to tune out negative self-talk
Through Laughter Yoga, I have found quick alternates to tune out—or reframe—a well-played unhelpful track like Everything I do is wrong. Both use gibberish or nonsense sounds:
- I start talking quietly to myself in gibberish—something like ‘egoodliybeboklalahblehboodeplip’.
- I imagine playing the thought back in reverse, like winding back an audio tape at high speed. The words are undefined and unintelligible.
Either way, a few minutes of nonsensical utterances have me laughing and those unhelpful, unkind thoughts have drifted off…like clouds floating away in the sky…
(c) Heather Joy Campbell 2018
Founder of The Happydemic, Heather Joy Campbell is a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and Laughter Ambassador of Laughter Yoga International. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Heather Joy delivers professional laughter wellbeing workshops, seminars and laughter leader training across Queensland and runs a weekly suburban laughter club as a community give-back.