I judge myself so often that my therapist has bought a little bell for us to ring each time I express a self-judgement in our sessions. Every time I say anything remotely self-critical, punitive, harsh, invalidating or unhealthily opinionated, *DING* goes the bell to bring my attention back to the negative messages my brain is telling me are true.
In some ways the whole bell-ringing process is agravating, and feels childish and repetitive at times. At the same time I totally see her rationale in wanting to help me increase my self-awareness around these self-judgements: how often I make them; what form they take; how the negative self-talk only perpetuates my core beliefs about myself and hence my suffering; and how ultimately they act only to confine me further within a state of shame and lack of self-regard.
It is certainly helping me to be more mindful of the constant internal dialogue I have, especially as it is one which is so ingrained in me that I often don’t even notice it. For so long these judgements have felt so intrinsic to my very being that I haven’t even questioned them.
The constant and physically tangible *dinging* of the bell certainly doesn’t let them go unnoticed, and through bringing them into my consciousness, my therapist reckons I will be more likely to bring about a lasting change.
My homework this week is therefore to write a list of every self-judgment I can remember throughout my day, and then go through each one with Compassion and a Cheerleading Statement to try and counteract the negativity and reframe the way I think about myself. I doubt I’ll be able to remember all the judgements, as there are so many and as they are so familiar, and of course I’ll still give it a go (wanting to be the perfect client so that my therapist will love me, of course!).
Here are just a few judgements taken from my list today:
- My boss hates me
- My colleagues are annoyed by me
- They think I’m weird
- I’m so bad at driving
- I’ll never pass my driving test
- I’m such a wuss
- I should have passed by now
- I’m a shit friend
- I’m too needy
- And greedy
- “There are so many reasons for you to dislike me” – me to J
And on and on and on.
I suppose through writing down the judgements that I do notice, I can try and Check The Facts around the many cognitive distortions I experience. Hopefully through this I can continue to increase the self-validation and compassion I show toward myself and decrease all the negative self-talk.
Compassion means a lot to me, and I have to remember that this doesn’t just apply toward the people and world around me, but also – and perhaps most importantly – to myself as well.