Recognize your stories:
As our illnesses stay with us, it is easy to allow our life situation to develop into a bleak storyline. In other words, often several thoughts and feelings combine into a combination of impressions called “stories”, which usually have themes (and come up frequently when triggered). Typically, these are variations of a common story theme of ourselves being “broken” or “a burden”, or “worthless”.
Your mind, or “inner critic” throws these stories at you to bring you down. Examples of some story themes include:
- “I am a fraud/my life is a lie” (I am worthless, I am faking normal, but am a mess on the inside, etc.)
- “ My life totally sucks” (nothing good ever happens, life keeps crapping on me, I can’t deal with this, it’s just one bad thing after another).
- “I am broken” (I can’t stand myself, I am a failure, I have screwed everything up, I can’t do things like I used to, I have illnesses that I can’t do anything to fix, I just can’t keep up , I don’t like who or what I have become).
What are some of your common stories (or themes that are common in your obstacle thoughts) ?
Be aware of your common stories! – “here comes the ‘I am a failure’ story”, “here is the ‘poor me’ story”, etc.
Using observation and awareness we can use a tool to help pull back the mental filter we have (this is not a quick-fix, but just a helpful technique):
The 3 L’s:
1) Look: having awareness and being able to observe as if from a witness/outside observer perceptive.
2) Label: being able to see and label thoughts and thoughts, feelings as feelings, etc.
3) Let it be: which is not getting rid of, but instead, being able to not give these mental events ultimate power over you (also known as not “buying in” to our thoughts and not becoming married to this negative collection of thoughts and feelings). Allow it to come and go, but don’t identify with the thought and feeling as being “you”.
The three “L”’s in action – some examples:
1) Look: “I’m (depressing, craving, getting anxious, feeling manic, isolating,)”
2) Label: “My mind is telling me (I’m worthless, things are horrible, I can’t handle this)”
3) Let it be: “It’s a thought. It is my negativity talking. I don’t have to act on it. There my mind goes again. Thank you, mind, for that thought but..”
Combine this particular technique with the previous lesson in the last blog of doing healthy actions (doing healthy behaviors despite your unhealthy thoughts).
Keep practicing the three “L”s as unhelpful thoughts, feelings, situations and stories occur!