post by SHELLEY BRUCAR
In my May 15 post, I explained the concept of REFRAMING. Then in the May 27 post, I listed and explained some typical “irrational” thought patterns that result in negative thinking. Today’s post is an exercise to help you: 1. define what causes YOUR negative thinking, and 2. brainstorm ideas for reframing negative thoughts into positive thoughts in order to reduce stress and behave in a more productive manner.
First an explanation: The thoughts floating around in your head are known as SELF TALK. I’m not implying that your are actually talking to yourself – although some of us do this too! But we all have automatic thoughts going through our heads all day long, which usually do not even enter our awareness. These are often old tapes playing from childhood about how we “should” feel and act. These thoughts may have been useful at one time (or not), but they are probably no longer useful to you, and may be counterproductive in terms of how you “want” to feel and behave. These thoughts are knee-jerk reactions to daily events which influence your behavior, often negatively. The good news is, this is where you can intervene. You can REFRAME your negative self talk into positive self talk, thereby altering your behavior and the consequences of your behavior.
Compare these photos. CHOOSE YOUR FOCUS IN ANY SITUATION. Choose what works for you.
Here is an 8-question exercise to help you identify and change your negative self talk and examples of negative self talk that could occur for a new artist (ask me how I know):
1. TRIGGERS – Identify what specific events result in negative self talk. Example: I did not get juried into a show.
2. FEELINGS – What are the feelings that occur in response to trigger named above? Example: Sadness
3. THOUGHTS/SELF TALK – What are the tapes playing in your head, what are you telling yourself about this event? Example: My art is not good enough; maybe I should give it up.
4. BEHAVIOR – What is your behavior, how do you react to this event? Example: I refuse to enter other shows.
5. CONSEQUENCES – What are the consequences resulting from your behavior? Example: My work is not being exhibited and therefore, is not being seen.
6. NEW SELF TALK – Name some positive ways to think about the same event. Example: Maybe the pieces I submitted were not right or did not fit in for that show.
7. NEW BEHAVIOR – How might your behavior change based on this new “self talk?” Example: I will submit entries to other shows.
8. NEW CONSEQUENCES – What would likely be the consequences of your new behavior? Example: I will be juried into some shows and exhibits, my work will be seen and will sell.
You can go through these 8 steps for any and all events that typically causes a negative and unproductive response for you. Identifying your “self talk” is important because this is where you can intervene and make changes; this is where you have control.
Remember the serenity prayer: TAKE CONTROL where you can and let go when you do not have control. And by the way, here’s another version of the serenity prayer:
“Grant me the Serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the Courage to change the one I can, and the Wisdom to know it’s me!”