Have you ever taken a good long, hard look in the mirror before, I mean literally taken a good, long hard look in the mirror and admired what was staring back at you? Yesterday during my therapy group I attend on a weekly basis, (a group that has probably taught me more in the last 6 months than any individual therapist has), asked us to tell one another something that they “love” about their body. Even though the group is filled with women only, and the least judgmental women you could ever meet, I immediately began to feel a panic attack come on. Tears started to well up in my eyes, my heart pounding out of my chest, my arms and legs shaking, and every negative thought imaginable entered my mind. As I tried to focus on what others were saying, I kept looking towards the door, trying to figure out how I was going to escape from the room, without making it too obvious. I could hear through the fog in my head, other women say how much they loved their eyes, their smiles, their bodies, and even their toes! My turn was approaching fast and I had such a numbness throughout my body that there was no way I was going to make it all the way across the room to the door without making a scene, and suddenly my name was called and a sea of eyes were upon me. Holding back my tears, taking a deep breath, and swallowing the lump in my throat, I said “there really isn’t any part of me I like right now!”
Our facilitator was having none of that and began telling me from her own observations what beauty she saw in me, but no matter how many times someone pays me a compliment, all I think about is how inadequate and worthless I feel. My internal voice which is better known as “self-talk” in the world of psychology has become extremely detrimental to my daily life, as I am constantly interpreting, perceiving and making assumptions about every conscious and subconscious situation I find myself in.
Negative “self-talk” is one of my most challenging aspects of living with depression and anxiety. I have been given many tools to learn how to deal with my unrealistic, self-defeating and very hopeless thoughts in my head, but my inner voice seems to really want to win the battle even when trying to challenge them with some more reasonable, non-judgmental ways of thinking.
They say practice makes perfect so I continue daily to debate with my inner voice. I have been taught to consciously make an attempt to simply say “STOP” when the negative “self-talk” enters my mind and try to evaluate my thoughts. Are these thoughts I’m having right at that moment realistic, or even true? What evidence do I have to support these negative thoughts? What do these thoughts really mean? Can I turn these thoughts around and make them positive? Is this situation as catastrophic as I believe it is?
When trying to battle the negative demons in my mind, I desperately ask myself as many questions as possible to try and take control of the already self-destructive situation. By doing so I am attempting to set small goals in the moment as well as it allows me to organize and sort through my thoughts in order to redirect my perception. As with every other challenge I endure, I am continuously trying to learn new skills, update and educate myself and maybe just maybe one day I will even conquer.