Have you ever had an experience with someone and when they recounted the events your mouth drops to the floor in amazement because their recollection is totally different than yours? This happens all of the time. Not only with others but with ourselves too. Let us already be in a delicate mood and something unpleasant happens….the mental monsters will have a field day feeding us unimaginable stories all slanted towards the negative. And, if we don’t master them, they will have us acting like we think. The consequences can be fatal to our relationships with others.
I had the opportunity to attend a Crucial Conversation and a Crucial Confrontation training at my job. And, the class was really great in that they presented some awesome tools to sift thru the muck and mire and separate facts from the stories we tell ourselves. But this was not my first exposure to this concept. During marital counseling, the therapist at the time introduced me to rational emotive behavior therapy in worksheet form also known as the ABC sheet. With this exercise you are instructed to divide an index card or piece of paper into three columns and label them A,B,C respectively.
In the first column(A), you’re instructed to record what happened (the facts), and in the second column(B) what you thought about it (the story) and in the third column(C) your feelings a result of what you thought. The therapist instructed me to stop and do this exercise to recalibrate before having any type of emotionally charged conversation with my husband at the time or anyone else for that matter. Well, let me tell you this was waaaaaaay easier said than done. It was a more miss than hit process for me.
Years later I took the Crucial Conversation/Confrontation training, still a very hit or miss process for me with more misses than hits. Then while googling on the web a few years later, I came across Byron Katie’s website which again expounded on this concept of separating facts from the stories I tell myself about the facts. Her worksheet took things a step further and you were instructed to explore how you would feel without that thought. Basically, this was the third time this concept was being reinforced. Yet I still could not tame the mental monsters when the stakes were high….they still would get the best of me and I would resort to having a very emotionally charged conversation that resulted in damage to my relationships. And, also left me with overwhelming feelings of regret.
I just didn’t get it. I knew better but yet I still could not master my mental monsters at critical times. I don’t think it really clicked for me until recently, when I started doing research daily in order to blog. I finally found the key to mastering my mental monsters. I have discovered to master them I need to purge them daily. I didn’t recognize I needed to do this before because I had cultivated the habit of listening to their sweet nothings day in and day out, and I didn’t stop to question what they were saying. Now I practice being more aware of my thoughts and catching myself in the act when my mental monsters start with with their campaign of lies.
I have made the commitment to take possession of my mind to direct it, command it, and train it to focus on what I want. Mental monsters have an insatiable appetite for the unwanted. It’s main focus is to feast upon the unwanted. So I noticed anytime I start to dwell on the unwanted the mental monsters would have a field day. Therefore, I discoverd the antidote is to purposely feed my mind the wanted on a continuum throughout the day, day in and day out. If my mind drifts to the unwanted, I refocus it back to the wanted.
Some of the behavioral changes I have noticed include, but are not limited to the following:
- My dialogue has changed and is much more positive
- I feel calmer, happier, and more optimistic
- I am more accepting of behaviors in others that I found totally annoying before
- I’m finding it is easier for me to forgive others and myself
- I’m starting to take more chances and live beyond my comfort zone
- I’m taking better care of my health and surroundings
- My relationships with others are vastly improving
- I feel more confident and capable
- I am cultivating the ability to do what I need to do when I need to do it
- I am more loving and appreciative of others
- I am developing the habit of being more thankful
- It is becoming easier and easier for me to accept what is
- My focus has shifted from getting results to making life long changes
- I’m enjoying being single, focusing on me, and living well while I can
- I’m getting in the habit of looking for the silver lining even in the midst of being emotionally charge
- I’m mastering the art of self-soothing
- I blame others less and less
In essence, mastering mental monsters is just like the effort to maintain good hygiene, we must cleanse our minds daily or there will be funky consequences. And, just like poor personal hygiene repels folks and send them running from us….our mental monsters do the exact same thing. Therefore, we must rule our minds or our minds will rule us.