By Steve Moran
Each of us has voices that run constantly through our heads. It is how we are wired. By some estimates, if you could verbalize the words that run through your mind, it would be at a rate of 4,000 words per minute. That is the equivalent of a book’s worth every three days.
There are many ways this running commentary helps us. At the most basic level, it helps us make sense of the world around us. It helps us to process what we see, hear, touch, and smell. It also appears to help us figure out right from wrong. It even helps us make ordinary everyday decisions.
It’s Not All Good
In stressful, difficult times that inner voice often turns into the voice of the devil. Telling us that we are all alone, that we screwed up, that we are in an impossible situation that will never get better. We feel guilty and often stupid, and confused. It is frustrating because often we know what we are feeling is not rational, but we can’t seem to silence or manage those terrible debilitating negative feelings.
There Is A Way – Researched Based
Rather than just ruminating about it, do this. Remind yourself that this thing you are feeling or experiencing is not something no one else has ever experienced. This thing is actually a “normal” part of the human experience. You are not alone in these feelings. Remind yourself with a new kind of self-talk.
But there is one more important trick to making this work for you. You need to do this self-talk in the third person. Like this:
“There were so many residents who got sick or died from COVID. You can make a choice with what to do with this. Blame yourself or recognize that it happened to thousands of people working in senior living in hundreds of communities. You can appreciate that you did your best and that life does go on, and you have to choose what to make of it and how to grow from the experience.”
As opposed to:
“So many of my residents got sick or died from COVID. I don’t know what to do with my self-blame, because I do wonder if there was something I could have done differently. I know this happened to others working in senior living but I keep thinking that we could have done something better. I try to tell myself that I did my best, and even sort of believe it, but I still feel terrible.”
The two ways of looking at it seem almost exactly the same, but it turns out that the first one will help you feel better and move on with your life much better.
A great way to work through this is to write in a journal those third-party focused self-talk conversations.
I would love to hear how it goes.