Self-Talk, 1999 and 2020

* You can find more information on the following holidays at:
Lammas https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Fall Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/
Halloween {personal) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/ (background) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
Thanksgiving https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/
Yule/Winter Solstice https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/
Candlemas https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Spring Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/
Easter: personal. (for background, see Spring Equinox) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/easter-blues/
Walpurgisnacht/May Eve: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/
Beltane: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
Fathers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/
Summer Solstice (corrected text) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/

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It’s interesting how the same themes come up over and over again in my healing. I used to think I could deal with something once, and it would stay dealt with. I wouldn’t be talking about it, thinking about it, fussing about it, year after year. I was wrong, of course, but rather than being discouraged, I’ve realized that I change on a deeper level each time I revisit an issue.

Healing is not like, say, tearing down a house, carting away the debris, and then planting trees. That only has to be done once, and it stays done. You will remember the effort it took to get that young forest going, but every time you visit it, you feel proud of the accomplishment and pleased and in awe of the beauty you created. Nor is it like a broken bone that can heal and be as good as new or a cold that runs its course and leaves the body just as it was before the cold came along.

It’s not like the grind of housework, either. Dust settles every day, dishes and clothes get dirty, and eventually you have to clean them. Your effort makes everything look nice for a day or so if you are lucky. And then you start from the beginning, all over again. Thank goodness! If healing were that way, I don’t think I could start it for more than a couple of months.

I forget who said this, but I once read that healing is not linear, it is a spiral process. You circle around the same cluster of issues, going deeper and deeper each time you visit them. They are the same issues, yes, but you see them with new eyes and notice aspects that you have never thought of. You make new connections and understand your life and yourself better. Your heart grows larger, and your mind grows more peaceful. Now that kind of healing I can live with!

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I found an article that I wrote for the Survivorship Notes in 1999 tucked away in a remote corner of my computer. It’s on how to make self-talk less critical and more kind and gentle.

I still catch myself being harsher than I wish, but I also catch myself being sweet and gentle to myself. That internal mean bitch has developed tact and an ability to praise and even jump up and down with excitement at some accomplishment of mine. It is so nice to see my inner critic becoming an expert in constructive criticism. So much learning and growth in those twenty-one years!

There was something else that surprised me when I read that old article. I didn’t know that I had stumbled upon the technique of labeling thoughts and urges and then turning my attention elsewhere so early on. I thought I remembered inventing it about ten years later. I guess healing tools get used and forgotten and rediscovered just as issues do. They aren’t all lined up in my mind, ready to be used at a moment’s notice. I have to wait until the time is right to use them, just as I have to wait until the time is right to deal with a particular issue.

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So here is my September 1999 article:

Self-Talk

I think that many survivors have a real double standard when it comes to the way they address themselves. I know I say things to myself that I never would say out loud to another human being. Things like idiot, dummy, stupid, “What is the matter with you, anyway????” And those are the more printable things I say to myself. 

I don’t talk to children like that. I don’t speak that way even when I am fighting with somebody. And yet I routinely put myself down in a million different ways. Does wonders for the old self-esteem. Not. 

I used to believe I was just being honest with myself, but I wasn’t. I was being rude and cruel. When I figured out that “I” was the most verbally abusive person in my life, I decided to do something about it. 

When I meditate, I use a mantra, some word that captures my imagination at the moment. Whenever I notice a thought, emotion, or sensation, I just label it and turn my attention back to the mantra. 

Why not try this with my internal dialogue? I decided to try the experiment. Any time I noticed that I was talking to myself with less respect than I deserved, I simply labeled the thought “programming.” Didn’t matter if it was a variation on the ‘I’m no good theme’ or a specific programmed urge to hurt myself, I still called it programming. And then I didn’t get into trying to figure out what had triggered me or what the meaning of the thought was. I just turned my attention back to whatever everyday thing I was doing at the moment. 

For about three days, I drove myself nuts because every second word was “programming.” It began to feel like that awful word had become my mantra! But then I noticed that the undesired thoughts and criticisms started decreasing dramatically, and I was actually treating myself pretty decently. 

This technique works far better for me than affirmations because affirmations tend to arouse my inner cynic. And if I counter a negative thought with a positive one, I am inviting myself to get into an argument with myself. With the labeling method, I don’t get all caught up in an endless loop trying to figure out if a positive statement is really true, or partially true, or sometimes true. The label is the push I need to turn back to the present. 

I don’t know whether this would be helpful to others, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. If you don’t like “programming,” you can use a different label, like, for example, “lies.” It’s a technique where you are in control. It doesn’t seem to shut down memories, it’s something all alters or parts can learn, and it doesn’t cost anything. Worth a try, anyway!

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Upcoming Holidays

August
8/15 Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8/24 St. Bartholomew’s Day
September
9/1 Full moon
9/5 – 9/7 Feast of the Beast/Marriage of the Beast
9/7 Labor Day (United States)
9/22 Fall Equinox
9/29 Michaelmas/Feast of Archangel Michael and of all Angels
October
10/1 Full moon
10/12 Columbus Day (?)
10/13 Backward Halloween
10/31 Full moon (Blue Moon)
10/31 Halloween/start of Celtic New Year/start of the dark half of the year

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
7/30 Tisha B’Av (Day of Mourning)
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)

6 thoughts on “Self-Talk, 1999 and 2020

  1. “I decided to try the experiment. Any time I noticed that I was talking to myself with less respect than I deserved, I simply labeled the thought “programming.”

    I will try this. It is true that i reguary call myself the worst things, and even threatening myself. Especially when i lost something or forgot something.
    /Wrote the name and web page wrong in my last comment./

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  2. “I know I say things to myself that I never would say out loud to another human being. Things like idiot, dummy, stupid, ¨What is the matter with you, anyway????’ And those are the more printable things I say to myself.

    I don’t talk to children like that. I don’t speak that way even when I am fighting with somebody. And yet I routinely put myself down in a million different ways”

    I can very much relate to that. It is certainly the same for me.

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  3. I love your post. The spiral evokes images of healing. I have always loved spirals and I can revisit memories of the past and understand on a deeper level.It.connects with my spirituality and I see them all the time. I have gotten a lot gentler in my self talk but I still have moments of an anger when I berate myself.

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  4. I really like your last post Jean. I have a hard time with self affirmations for the same reasons. I often find I argue with myself in terms I would never use with anyone else. And that inner cynic always takes over. I will use the term “lies”. “Programming” brings up too many unpleasant images. I’m sure “lies ” will become my mantra for a while, but I look forward to positive results. Thank you for your unending sharing of yourself and your wisdom!

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    1. Oh, Doris, I’m so glad you feel that way about my writing. It gives me such a sense of purpose! I hope you find this helpful – let us know how it went, okay?

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