Simon’s Self-Talk Superpower
COVID-19 needs no introduction. It’s the talk of the town all over the world and mentioned daily on every news outlet and social media platform.
This series of articles is not about COVID-19. It’s about you.
Our newsletter Weathering the Storm is a source of curated tips and strategies to help you weather the COVID-19 storm.
This newsletter is inspired by actual clients* and written by experienced psychologists.
*All client names are fictional and presenting issues are composites of client experiences.
Since the onset of COVID-19, Simon’s made it a point to reach out to loved ones more than usual : He calls his parents daily, chats with friends and Facetimes with his nieces and nephews.
Despite them being in good health, Simon – much like his friend Sarah – is overly anxious and can’t stop thinking about worst case scenarios like “What if my loved one(s) gets sick during this pandemic?’’
If you, like Simon, feel this way, rest assured that many methods exist to positively alter how we think about things, to ultimately help dial down the unhelpful emotions.
Today, we’ll look at “The Double Standard Approach”.
The Double Standard Approach is based on the idea that our emotions are shaped by our inner dialogue. Inner dialogue, or self talk, is another word for “our thoughts” — the constant commentary we keep about different situations.
When our self-talk is made up of distressing thoughts, it amplifies our negative emotions related to a specific situation.
Let’s take Simon for example. In light of the recent pandemic, he keeps asking himself “What if a loved one of mine gets ill due to COVID-19?’’. This self-talk amplifies his feelings of worry and stress.
Now what if one of Simon’s friends came to him with the same distressing thought. For example, if a friend told Simon she was worried about her parents getting severely ill due to COVID-19, how would he respond ?
Much like you and I, Simon would quickly offer a compassionate and realistic reply to reassure his friend or loved one. Maybe something like: “Your parents haven’t gotten COVID-19, and even if they did, they have access to health care and the odds are they will be okay”.
Enter the double-standard approach: you would never talk to a dear friend in the distressing way you sometimes talk to yourself!
What if next time Simon caught himself thinking about worst-case scenarios he stopped… Paused …. And thought to himself “What would I tell a friend -or anyone I love – if they were facing this exact same situation?”.
Simply put, we must show ourselves the same empathy, compassion and positivity we offer others and suddenly, self-talk transforms from harmful to helpful — a true superpower!
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