Letting Go of Suffering- Week Eleven: Stopping the Critical Self Talk

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Suffering is created or enhanced by critical self-talk. An important step in ending suffering is to replace the negative critical messages with positive nurturing and/or structuring messages.

Source: Growing Up Again: Parenting Ourselves, Parenting Our Children.
Source: Growing Up Again: Parenting Ourselves, Parenting Our Children.

Creating nurturing and structuring messages is a skill that takes practice. This lesson will focus on helping you to learn that skill by walking you through a multi-step process. At the end of the lesson you find a worksheet you can copy for future use.

EXAMPLE:

State the problem in one sentence:

I forgot to bring my children’s sack lunches when I drove them to the bus that would take them to summer camp.

What critical messages are you telling yourself?

1) Stupid! There were 300 children there and you were the ONLY parent who forgot her children’s lunches.
2) You are a terrible parent.
3) Why are you making such a big deal out of nothing? They won’t be allowed to go hungry.

Identify nurturing messages you can use to counteract the critical messages (messages that are gentle, caring, supportive, and unconditional).

1) You do care for your children and they know it.
2) You are a good parent even though you make mistakes.
3) It is highly unlikely that you were the only parent who forgot their child’s lunch.
4) It is important for your children to know that you make mistakes. When they see you make a mistake, they learn that it is okay for them to make mistakes.
5) You were feeling very sad because your friend Jean was leaving today and you won’t see her for a very long time. It is understandable that you didn’t remember everything.

Identify structuring messages you can use to counteract the critical messages (messages that set limits, show how and give options. 

1) Talk to the camp counselors. Tell them what happened and ask if they have arrangements for children who come without lunches.
2) Tell your children that you forgot the food and have them help brainstorm solutions.
3) Check and see if there is time for you to go to a convenience store and buy them some lunch.

*****

In completing the practice exercises for this week you will be calling some of your support people to ask for nurturing and structuring messages. If you have been following the whole course you can look at the “People in My Life Who Support My Growth” list you created during Week One. If you haven’t already formulated a list of support people, make one now.

What people in your life do you think might be willing to help you with this week’s assignments?  Write their names and phone numbers in the box below.

25a

*****

Complete the first practice exercise. Refer to the example given in the beginning of this post if you feel stuck.

l45a

Call one or two of your support people and tell them about the assignment you are completing. Then briefly share something about the problem you are working on. Ask them if they would be willing to give you a nurturing message and a structuring message. (You may have to teach them what nurturing and structuring mean!) Write their messages  in the box below.

l48

Read the nurturing and structuring messages you created, and the nurturing and structuring messages your support person created, to yourself. Breathe in the positive energy.

At the first opportunity, ask your support person to say both sets of messages to you.

What was your experience when you read the nurturing and structuring messages to yourself?

25a

What was your experience when your support person read the nurturing and structuring messages to you?

25a

Which way did you prefer to hear the messages, i.e. from yourself or from your support person

*****

Complete the second practice exercise.

l47

Call one or two of your support people and tell them about the assignment you are completing. Then  share something about the problem you are working on. Ask them if they would be willing to give you a nurturing message and a structuring message. (You may have to teach them what nurturing and structuring mean!) Write their messages  in the box below.

l48

Read the nurturing and structuring messages you created, and the nurturing and structuring messages your support person created, to yourself. Breathe in the positive energy.

At the first opportunity, ask your support person to say both sets of messages to you.

What was your experience when you read the nurturing and structuring messages to yourself?

25a

What was your experience when your support person read the nurturing and structuring messages to you?

25a

Which way did you prefer to hear the messages, i.e. from yourself or from your support person?

*****

It may take time for you to feel skilled at writing the nurturing and structuring messages and using them to counter the critical messages. Copy the sheet below and use it whenever you need to stop the critical self-talk.

l49

See you next Monday for the twelfth lesson.

To find the lessons in this series that have already been published click here.

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