Mantras for the not so positive-a primer for taking the very first step.
I am a therapist. I am also big on working with people in ways that I am willing to work on myself and that have actually worked for me or others rather than giving the textbook answer. In short, I try my best not to be a hypocrite. I also know that people are different than me and some interventions will work for them even though they never worked for me. For example, the extrovert who has issues with sharing the microphone with someone else. Definitely not an issue I have but can still offer solutions none the less…. If you read about change, the list is usually the same-journal, vent, write down triggers, write down alternatives, blame your mother. And these things work. Well blaming your mother actually doesn’t work. But what about when you have it down? What about when you are not actively needing day treatment or twice a week therapy. What then? How do we get by when normal life gets in our way? One of my favorite tricks in the bag are mantras. Is the word mantra trademarked? I googled it. It seems like it isn’t. It could be called anything -just in case I get a cease and desist letter for using it. I am not talking about a religious mantra. I am talking about the primer that gets us to the first step. A client came in today saying that she can’t drive on freeways. Can’t? That sounds so final. I asked her to change I can’t to freeways challenge her. She repeats: freeways are a challenge to me. Feel the difference? I can’t find a guy? Can’t? Like never? Finding a good match has been challenging for me. It is a simple first step. Turning a negative self defeating thought into something possible or may be if you are really feeling ambitious, something neutral. Such as most people end up finding their match sooner or later. I should be able to as well. Neutral is my brain’s elixir. For you, a positive phrase make work best such as-I can speak to any group of people no matter how large all the time. My own brain says eff that. But if I say talking in front of groups is a challenge to me or it is possible that I could figure out how to talk confidently in front of a group. My brain says. Ah, yes, it is possible. Sure. Maybe not today but if I take the first baby step toward it then maybe someday. I am in neutral. I am out of negative. My brain is not dropping the chemicals that say you are done for, there is nothing you can do about it. Give up. It may not be dropping gigantic endorphins either. But the middle is the beginning so to speak. Now I have my feet planted firmly on the ground and I can learn. I can learn about how to speak in front of people or my clients can learn how to go on dates and not sabotage. My other client can learn to get on the freeway with her dad in the back seat of the car as a security blanket. There is a first step to take then.
Imagine the opposite. The super positive. Think about a client who is positive and imagining herself married in a big beach front home with two kids. What the hell is the first step with that goal? It’s too big of a jump. But turn the fancy house and rich guy to simply a maybe. Then it might challenging for her to find a good guy but there may be a match out there for her. Which leaves her to prepare for the first date (and maybe figure out how to buy her own beach house). The first date might be practice for another first date which helps her start weeding out the guys she shouldn’t date until…well until maybe she learns why she was having such a challenge in the first place. Get to possibility. Then to neutral. Then you can find the first step.
Nicole C Weiss LCSW
- Phone: 619-318-5012
- Email: [email protected]
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