Every one of us is born with an extraordinary mind.  To an extent, confidence is hardwired into us from the start. But external factors play a huge role in shaping our feelings of self worth.

Therapist, Marisa Peer, tells us we alone are responsible for our own happiness; we can’t give that job to someone else. “It’s never to late to be the parent you wanted to have, to hear the words you wanted to hear. Your mind should be your best friend, your cheerleader, your ally, your P.A., your employee. It should be doing everything for your, but if you don’t dialogue with it properly how can it do that?”

Here are three ways to take back control.

Banish negative thoughts

Humans are hard-wired for danger. This negativity bias served the evolution of humans thousands of years ago, helping us respond to imminent threats, like a dangerous animal. We’re not in that kind of danger anymore, but our mind still operates primally; reacting disproportionately and more than often swerving to the negative.

We all know that when negative thoughts and emotions come up, its like a juggernaut tearing down a highway. You’re not going to stop them with an emergency handbrake maneuver. But we can slow them down and in time eliminate our instinctive negative bias.

Exercise: Jim Kwik, memory expert, teaches clients how to attach words or concepts to a place in your house or even your body for quick recall. He calls negative thoughts ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts). To kill the ANTs, he has a simple technique. Close your eyes and visualize for a moment every time you have a negative thought, ants are crawling out your nose! By attaching a visual picture, it is easy to banish thoughts that aren’t serving you immediately from your mind.

Chose what you make familiar and unfamiliar

Humans embrace the familiar. Think about all the familiar things you do every day: your routines, what you eat, how you travel to work, what you do for relaxation or exercise, the type of people you attract.

Take self-care as an example. If you have been raised in a family where your mother never practiced self-care (read: she was probably task-focused, budgeted for essential items only, and rarely went shopping for clothes or out to dinner—let alone away—with friends). Sound familiar? What your mother may have (inadvertently) imprinted is a belief there is more value in working yourself to the bone and that self-care is for the rich or indulgent or irresponsible. Should you feel guilty to taking time out to take care of yourself? Of course not, but it is an “unfamiliar” feeling.

Charles Duhigg in his bestselling book, The Power of Habit, writes: “All habits—no matter how big or small—have three components, accordingly to neurological studies. There’s a cue—a trigger for a particular behaviour; a routine, which is the behaviour itself; and a reward, which is how your brain decides whether to remember a habit for the future.”

Exercise: Take a moment to think about a behaviour that you or your child may be struggling with. Think of something that has become habitual. Then consider for a moment what the reward is? And don’t rule out negative attention. Children affected by developmental trauma are quite content with this sort of attention as it cements their belief that “I am not enough.” Now you know what to do, remove the reward and see what happens.

Exercise: Pick one thing to make familiar this week for you or your child–you can start small if that’s more comfortable—eating an apple instead of an unhealthy snack. Also pick one thing to make unfamiliar this week—it may be making alcohol unfamiliar simply by leaving it off your shopping list or not responding with anger to your child’s tantrum.

Swap emotion for logic

In her book, I am Enough, Marisa Peer says if the mind must choose between emotion and logic, emotion will always win. Logic is what tells you what you should or should not be doing: “I shouldn’t eat this chocolate cake because I will put on weight.” Emotion tells you: “This cake tastes so good because it reminds me of the comfort I felt as baby.”

How many of you have been to a tall building and have stood on one of those glass plates and looked down and felt scared? Logic tells you are perfectly safe, but emotion makes your stomach churn and you leap off.

Peer recommends that we carefully look at the words we tell ourselves and others (admit it, it’s almost usually emotional). Then then swap the emotion for logic. For example:

  • “I can’t cope” (emotion) with “I have phenomenal coping skills” (logic).
  • “I’m tired” (emotion) with “I prefer to be feeling energic, but I can still get through the day in a manageable fashion” (logic).
  • “I messed up, everything is going wrong” (emotion) to “I can learn from this and find some success in the day” (logic).

Exercise: EFT expert, Nick Ortner, recommends tapping when reframing comments to change the emotion. There are nine key tapping points and you can choose to use all or just one. The “karate chop” point on the hand, “third-eye” position between the eyes, and side of the eye (which is also a “triple warmer meridian” acupoint) are popular. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, then repeat your affirmation while tapping.

Don’t forget: You’re enough!

When you are not enough, you truly believe you deserve what you get. But when you start to say, “I am enough,” then you can more easily say when something is not okay.

(c) Felicia Stewart, 2019