One of the benefits of mindful self-talk is that it is a very gentle entrance into practicing choosing my thoughts. In sitting-meditation, we learn that thoughts come in and thoughts go out. There’s nothing to do with those thoughts except to notice that we are having them.
By being mindful with self-talk, I don’t have to block out negative thoughts. Through practice, I can learn to notice my thoughts without judgement. In doing so, this allows me to look at my thoughts with some perspective. For example, I can choose the tone I use with myself. Sometimes in frustration, I may get angry and harshly ask myself: What the f*#k were you thinking?!
This tone and attitude rarely produces my desired results of growth and learning. Instead, it can put me on the defensive, where I don’t feel free to be honest with myself and safe enough to look deeply into myself and create positive changes.
What was I Thinking?
The question is valid. So after calming down, I’ll ask myself again. What were you thinking at the time you made the decision? What was happening in my life at that time that led me to make that choice? Is there a pattern I can identify? Is there a pattern I can disrupt?
Do I do this 100% of the time? No. That’s why forgiveness and compassion are so important. I don’t want to beat myself up for not being mindful in every moment. That would make mindfulness oppressive.
I think of anger as emotional swelling. It’s there to protect me temporarily and is a sign that a part of me requires extra care in that moment. If I ask myself questions while I’m angry, I may not get as accurate data as after the anger subsides. Remembering that my anger is impermanent helps me wait for the anger to subside. And that helps me choose mindfulness in this moment.
Farhad is Co-Founder and Mindfulness Facilitator at Beyond Binary Consulting.
He is the author of Orientation: For the Journey of a Lifetime