by JERI XIE
Every one of us has this little voices from within that speaks to us every single day. These voices within us are our mental chatters – or in another word, our thoughts. When we were a young toddler or a kid, before memory and logic developed, we stayed in the present moment where we used only desire and action to express ourselves. Believe it or not, it originally developed to help us feel emotionally safe and happy. It is usually operating under the premise that it is trying to protect us.
Fred is a little boy who loves to draw. He would always pick up a pen or colour pencils he could find to draw on almost anything, even the walls. One day, his mum got so upset cleaning the mess he did to the walls. Her screams frightened him and the pain he got from the smacking gave him an awful experience. Now, whenever Fred picked up a pen to draw, his memory would recollect the awful experiences and his logic would tell him that the act of picking a pen to draw on wall is a “mischief” – because his mum said so. That little voice within him would say “I can’t pick up the pen to draw, mum will beats me”. Most probably, voices like “I should not have drawn on that wall” got stored inside his memory too.
But, what if he interpreted from the incidents as “I am a mischievous boy” or “My mum doesn’t like me to draw”?
Everyday, we are collecting memory and logic from events happening to us or even around us. For some people, the voices within them developed into something that does incessant describing, comparing and judging. These are what we called “self-sabotaging” voices that took away our happiness.
“If only… , I’ll be happy!”
“He is so fortunate! He has such a caring wife. Why can’t my wife be like her?”
“I should have chosen another job instead!“
“I can never be good enough!”
“My boss is just not listening to me!! This shows how much he is not valuing me!”
How can we gain authority over our self-sabotaging voices? We can do it, by practising mindfulness. Here are the 3 simple steps:
- Focus On Your Natural Breathing – Close your eyes. Focus on your natural breathing. You definitely won’t be able to do this in a noisy and distracting environment. So, choose a quiet environment.
- Live in Present Moments – Instead of letting your life pass you by, start observing your body sensation, thoughts and feeling from a distance. Observe for any repeated patterns.
Ask yourself questions without judging them as good or bad:
– “What am I feeling now?”
– “Why do I keep feeling this way?”
– “How do these feelings affect my thought?”
– “Are these thoughts helpful?”
– “What can I learn about myself from these voices?
- Cultivate An Attitude of Gratitude – You’re grateful when you’re aware of what you have rather than what you don’t. Train your mind to see goodness in everything. Having gratitude does not mean denying the existence of a problem or negative feelings and thoughts. When you have an attitude of gratitude, these are the kind of voices you will hear within yourself:
– “This incident is unpleasant but I’m glad it happened anyway. I have now learned more about myself now.”
– “Although I’m feeling upset over it, I’m thankful that ….”
– “I may not have the talent like him, but I’m sure being a hardworking individual, I will…. “
Practicing mindfulness helps us to gain awareness of ourselves – allowing ourselves to see the present clearly. You don’t have to fix anything right away. With daily practice, we can train ourselves to notice our self-sabotaging voices and realise that the voices in our thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us.