I have a 35 years plus history of bipolar illness and I have never had much luck with self-talk. It used to feel like I was just putting a drop in the proverbial bucket when I would tell myself that my anxiety was destructive and not needed and I could do without.
Then somehow something changed quite recently and I don’t know precisely what that was or is.
Up to a week or so ago, I have decided not to let waking thoughts of anxiety over-influence my day. I have given myself (as a goal) coffee time and coffee time alone as the time when I can feel anxious. After that hour or so, I have told myself and keep telling myself there is no more room for anxiety.
Also during this time I have begun to get a two mile walk in almost every day of the week with my husband and my puppy. The two mile walk is also helping a great deal with the anxiety.
In terms of telling myself there is no room for anxiety in my day I have also had somewhat of a revelation (for me). The more time I feel being anxious the less time I spend enjoying life and the relationships in my life. The more I let anxiety in the less room there is for building relationships and experiencing pleasure and joy in my life. There is only so much I can experience in a day. If I am experiencing anxiety, I am not experiencing love, joy, companionship, well-being or success.
That said, it is easier for me to accept self-talk when I am replacing one behavior or one thought with another. Not sure why? I have never really been able to do away with a negative thought before it occurs (or after it occurs). But I find if I can substitute a new thought for an old thought, my self-talk is that much more effective. Instead of wishing anxiety away, I am trying to replace anxiety with the thought that I am not getting any younger and my days to live in love and joy are limited. If I allow anxiety to be infinite and all-encompassing I am robbing myself of love and of life.
And I am not getting any younger. At fifty-nine I feel like I am coming to terms with my own mortality and am more able to tell myself, this (life full of anxiety) is not how you want to live out the rest of your days. This (life full of anxiety) is not the legacy you wish to leave your child or your family. Even if the change away from anxiety is small, it makes a huge difference in my life and in the lives of others. I don’t need anxiety to rob me of my good days. Not any more.
For whatever reasons, this self-talk appears to be working now and has not really worked that well in the past over the years. I think it does have something to do with confronting my own mortality and realizing the time for feeling anxious is over. It is time to feel love and joy. I also think the two-mile walk most days of the week is helping tremendously. Hoorah for high energy pups needing a walk!
How does self-talk work for you? How does regular exercise work for you? If self-talk hasn’t worked that well in the past, do you feel it might work if you try substituting the old thought or the old behavior with a new one? What might help you to start or keep at an exercise regime?