Positive Self-Talk in Action

Yesterday I was having a bad day. When I got to work I realised my pain killers hadn’t worked and I felt rubbish. I started worrying about getting through a 4 hour shift when I felt this bad. I felt sorry for myself for having to be at work with this awful headache and this awful nausea. And then I noticed how these thoughts were just contributing to the tension I was experiencing and I decided to counter them with a bit of positive self-talk.

I chose to focus on my breathing and told myself that each breath was bringing me relaxation and healing. I had to repeat this to myself several times focusing on each breath and telling myself  that this breath is bringing me a little more relaxation and healing. I was able to evoke the memory of my relaxation practises and how breathing is tied to letting go of tension during these practises. I breathed into the tension in my neck and my shoulders whilst remembering what it feels like to let go, and whilst telling myself my breath was bringing relaxation. And do you know what? It worked! I started to let go and within a few minutes my tension had eased, my headache wasn’t so intense and my feelings of nausea had calmed too. Soon I was able to distract myself completely from my symptoms and focus all my attention on work. Half an hour later I realised that my headache and nausea had gone altogether (I guess the pain killers finally kicked in!).

This is an example of how we can override our natural pre-programmed thought process with more helpful ones that we have chosen. First it takes awareness that the thoughts you are having are perhaps not the most helpful. Then you have to choose thoughts that will be more helpful. You may have to repeat them over and over because the ones that they are replacing have been repeated over and over in the past and aren’t that easy to replace without a concerted effort. It also helps if you have already trained yourself to relax and can evoke a memory of what that feels like.

When do your thoughts add tension to your body? Can you share any examples of successfully using positive self-talk to reduce this tension? I’d love to hear from you!

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