Day 11 – Stop, Drop, and Roll – Don’t Allow Negative Thoughts to Spiral Out of Control
You now know that self-criticism can easily become a habit that feeds upon itself. Once you start telling yourself negative things, it’s hard to stop. Fortunately, as I’ve shared in previous posts, there are a number of ways to recognize and counter the mean things you tell yourself. Today, I’d like to teach you another technique that is incredibly effective in managing negative self-talk. It’s called the stop, drop, and roll method. Yes, much like the strategy you learned as a kid to extinguish flames from clothing, this tool works to put out the flame of disruptive thoughts that can threaten to keep you off course. Keep reading to learn how it works.
The first step is to stop. That seems pretty straight forward and obvious. Stopping can be difficult, though, until you learn to be aware of the thoughts that erode your confidence. Hopefully, you’ve had time along our journey to assess your own negative self-talk and to practice turning it around. With this technique, stop and address the mean words that are playing in your head the minute you notice they’ve invaded. Tell yourself that you’re in charge of your thinking and that you’re going to change this unhealthy pattern right now.
Next, you’ll drop that thought. Recognize that it’s unhealthy and isn’t helping you in any way. Understand that you have the power to change your thinking and to frame it in a way that benefits you. If you’re having trouble discarding it, you can try a couple different tactics to refocus yourself. Take a deep breath, inhale slowly, and then let it out. You can even imagine you’re blowing away the awful thought and letting it go. Counting to 10 also works wonders when you need to re-center and get control of your emotions. Once your head is clear, it will be easier to move onto the next step.
Now it’s time to roll with some new, positive, and helpful thinking. Instead of holding onto the old thought that tears you down, drop it and roll on with a new version that has the potential to truly motivate you. Self-criticism isn’t meant to build you up. This “tough love” approach rarely works, with others or with ourselves. So, take the last step of this process and come up with a better thought. This can be hard to do on the run. That’s why you took the time with the drop to breathe and relax. Now that your mind is clear, you can find a more positive take on negative self-talk your inner critic was dishing out.
The stop, drop, and roll method of managing your inner critic is merely a way to force you to slow down so that you don’t keep fanning the flames that are harming you. You’re able to catch your breath and make decisions to stop your own mean voices from taking over and spiraling out of control.