Self-talk and the importance of learning to forgive and understand yourself

Last week, my girlfriend’s entire week was consumed with babysitting her two year old nephew while her sister in law was in the hospital giving birth. One day that week, she told me how her nephew fell down from trying to climb up something tall and, as is usually the case when you’re busy taking care of someone else’s child, he used his face to break the fall.
Thank god, nothing serious happened aside from a small bruise on his face, but the part that intrigued me was her telling me how she knew something serious had happened because of the way he was crying – Apparently, she can hear the difference between an “I’m unhappy” cry and a “Something is seriously wrong” cry… This still blows my mind!

Either way, this brings me to the point of this article…
It’s amazing how most people with intense phobias have a tape going on in their minds saying something along the lines of “This is SO stupid! I’m a grown man / woman and I can’t even look out of a darned window / be around a dog / sit in an airplane without freaking out … What’s wrong with me!?”
The point is that most people with intense phobias are SO overly-critical of themselves for not being able to get over their fears and are upset with how stupid the fears are in the first place.
And, of course, these critical thoughts even make sense for us to have – We figure that if we could simply manage to rationalize the fear, to let ourselves know how silly and stupid the fear is, how irrational it is, we would get ourselves to stop feeling afraid!

The only problem with this logic is that it’s ignoring “the baby’s cry”
… What do I mean by that?…Like my girlfriend pointed out to me, when a baby has an “I’m unhappy” cry, you can simply redirect the baby’s attention away and he / she will feel better almost instantly. BUT when the baby has a real “Something’s really hurting me” cry, peek-a-boo simply won’t cut it as the preferred method of therapy!
In the same way, rationalizing a fear away can work wonderfully well in a situation where the you might be feeling just a bit afraid or jittery. In those moments, you CAN push yourself through the fear and get yourself to the other side, BUT when your fear is intense (as is often the case with a phobia) all you would accomplish by pushing yourself harder or trying to coax yourself into feeling better, is feeling even more terrible and even more despondent because now you’re stuck with a tape in your head saying “I SHOULD be able to get over this… BUT I CAN’T!!”

My main point in today’s article is to ask you to truly realize that trying to tell yourself not to be afraid when your fear is intense is roughly about as useful and effective as thinking that you can get a baby who has his hand on a hot stove-top to stop crying by tickling his belly.
Even more-so, if you’ve gotten to the point of beating yourself up for having the fear, you’ve now taken away perhaps the most essential part that can allow you to finally heal… Believing in yourself and feeling safe and comfortable in your own skin!

One of, perhaps, the most powerful techniques I’m aware of in helping a person overcome an intense phobia is a technique call Emotional Freedom Techniques (or EFT for short). In EFT, you begin dealing with any problem with what the founder of EFT, Gary Craig, calls the “Set-Up Phrase” which always goes something like this:
Even though I feel so dreadfully afraid of ___, I deeply love and profoundly accept myself anyways!
The whole technique often works like magic (and I highly recommend anyone interested in any form of personal growth to check it out), but what a wonderful way to start things off – Realizing that your fears and phobias ARE NOT your enemy, they are parts inside of you that have been terribly traumatized in the past and are trying to protect you from getting hurt again – Maybe it’s time to realize that your fear is a serious cry of pain and, therefore, maybe it’s time to stop beating yourself up for not being able to get over it!

Simply put, if a baby was crying out of real pain, the last thing that could help that baby truly heal is telling it how stupid, useless and worthless it is for having the pain in the first place… Maybe you and your fears deserve the same level of forgiveness and understanding!

Till next time
~Ori

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