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Rosalind Stone

Shoreditch, London, UK

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Say no to negative self-talk - it’s time for a new mantra

“There’s nearly time to stop and get a coffee. But what if I go to get coffee and then the bus comes?… Knowing my luck, I’ll spill it when I’m running to the bus. And miss the bus. No coffee. Where is the bus? How did I let it get to be ‘five-to’ already?! It was stupid of me not to get coffee. I always make bad decisions. I should’ve got in earlier; I could’ve prepared better for the presentation. I can tell everyone thinks someone other than me should be giving it, and now I’m going to prove them right.”

Sound familiar? When the flavour of your internal monologue is pessimistic, this is called negative self-talk. Negative-self talk is an easy habit to pick up. If you listen to your harsh inner critic, it will start to find a put-down for you in every situation. This may sound like a lot of effort for your brain, but it rapidly becomes automatic.

When our mental playlist is a series of toxic slogans on rotation – “People find me boring,” “I’m going to fail,” “My jokes always fall flat,” – they end up working like mantras, we end up feeling increasingly miserable and the way we live our lives becomes resultantly bleaker. The good news is that, if you’re unhappy and you know it, you’ve already inadvertently put the hours (and, in fact, the days, weeks and months) into becoming highly skilled in mantra work: the main building block of one of the most life-changing, feel-good activities around – mantra meditation.

Incorporating meditation – of any sort – into your current lifestyle may sound like a challenge bordering on the ridiculous. Clearly, there’s no chillout time in a schedule that already involves spilling coffee down the shirt that you didn’t have time to iron as you run for a later bus than the one you needed.

Busy, stressed people with no time for meditation, you’re in luck. In just a few simple steps, you can charm your inner voice to work with you, rather than against you, taking your headspace from one of self-scare to self-care.

1. Recognise your inner critic

If we don’t pause from time to time to note that we are more than the voice inside us, we can end up living our lives according to its dictates. Not a cheering prospect, considering it is capable of an infinite variety of remarks, with a snark for every situation.

The most common different types of negative self-talk are categorised by psychologists. For instance, there’s mind-reading – in which your sneering inner psychic lets you know that everyone in the office does, indeed, think you’re going to mess up the presentation; they’re just too polite to say it to your face. Then there’s fortune-telling – in which your mind’s eye gazes glumly into your (accidentally decaf) tea leaves, forecasting the worst possible outcome as certainty: you will mess up the presentation . And overgeneralisation : you always mess everything up.

Negative self-talk can also take the form of black-and-white thinking – in which our neural bookkeeper chalks everything that happens up to a particular self-belief: your computer died before you could save your work? That’s because this is the sort of thing that would happen to you. Don’t forget the labeling that could be applied here, too: you’re a loser.

2. Stop listening, and start paying attention

When looked at objectively, the toxicity of negative self-talk is immediately apparent. However, it is very common to receive these kinds of statements as though they are self-evident truths.

Left unchecked, the rolling barrage of self-directed admonishments can reach a point at which it tangibly alters how you act on the outside. Eventually, this might cause you to forgo challenges at work which you might have thrived in, or to exhibit such high levels of social insecurity that people do actually begin to avoid you. This can bring about additional problems like depression, or chronic background stress.

One field in which the effects of negative self-talk are often explored is sports science. Multiple studies indicate that the less prone a player is to self-criticism, the better their performance will be. While this can be applied to all areas of life, many people are unaware that their internal monologue - and the content of what it says - is both alterable and optional. By standing back from your self-talk, rather than being immersed in it, you’ll gain the perspective to notice when it doesn’t have your best interests at heart. It’s time to shop for alternatives to that broken record.

3. Select a new mantra

So, it’s about replacing the snarky, sarcastic mantras with feel-good equivalents? Not quite – it’s even simpler. With the Beeja meditation technique ( ), which is based on the oldest form of meditation in the world, you replace all the negative jingles in your head with one single phrase. This will be a mantra passed down from the Vedic lineage, personally chosen for you by a meditation practitioner. Once given to you, it’s for your third eye only: a phrase you’ll keep secret, and use as the basis of your meditation practice.

By silently thinking your mantra, you will discover that the ability to cut through the thorny clutter in your mind already lies within you. As you progress, you’ll relax luxuriantly into levels of calm you’ve never imagined before. This will ripple out into the rest of your thought processes as you move through your day.

Just like the ill-effects of negative self-talk, the benefits of meditation manifest in multiple, tangible ways. These range from the psychological – from improved perception and decision making – to the physical: deeper sleep, lower blood pressure and better digestion. Meditation is scientifically proven to reduce levels of cortisol – the hormone that the body manufactures in response to stress – by an average of 33%.

As the celebrated wellness guru Deepak Chopra says, “meditation makes the entire nervous system go into a field of coherence.” Not a bad outcome for a twenty-minute lunch-break before delivering that important pitch … which, you are surprised to discover, you aren’t dreading. In fact, you’re positively looking forward to it, now that your Voice of Doom seems to have developed a sore throat. Negative inner who?!

Bio: Rosalind Stone is a wordsmith and editrix with a passion for exploring the emotions that can be evoked through wordcraft, and their ripple effects into our collective consciousness. She believes that meditation can empower everybody to unlock new facets of their personal potential, and is proud to help more people access its benefits by increasing awareness of Beeja meditation.

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Wed, 26 June 19 : 15:06 : Rosalind Stone

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    Rosalind Stone

    Shoreditch, London, UK

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