Patrick is a Cognitive-Behavioral Hypnotherapist with HOLISTIC LONDON. For information about his work, visit here.
Every form of life, from the most basic to the most sophisticated, has the same questions:
"Is what is happening good or bad?" "Can I eat it, or does it want to eat me?"
All life forms are constantly making similar judgements.
Human beings, however, make judgements about themselves as well as about situations. Animals don't tend to judge themselves and consequently do not feel guilt or shame. Well, perhaps you have seen dogs featured in youtube videos who look "sheepish" for having eaten the biscuits and who seem to feel guilty, but they learned that from us.
After just one session, a client recently reported a large drop in their stress level, when they shifted the emphasis from judging themselves (ie. what's wrong with them) to seeing their behaviour as a bad habit. When it is identified as a pattern, behaviour becomes much easier to deal with because it suddenly seems less personal.
For example, it is not that you are stupid, but rather that you have never learned the basics of what is required to solve the problem, and therefore, you always repeat the same mistake.
Habits tend to reinforce themselves. That is why they become habits. You do something, come to a conclusion, and look for evidence that will verify your theory about yourself.
"I always do it wrong, I must be stupid."
So what can you do about it?
1 Take an issue and try to differentiate facts from judgments. Write down: what is happening, how it makes you feel, how you respond, how it shapes your way of being for the future.
2 See a pattern developing (ie.: a consistent and recurring characteristic or trait that helps in the identification of a phenomenon or problem). Check how long and how often you are doing it.
3 Identify how the situation is self-sustaining and supporting the continuity of the pattern.
4 Come to the conclusion that it is not so much that there is something wrong with you, but in the way you do things.
5 Notice the difference it makes to think that it is not you but how you do things. It may be all you need to get out of the behaviour or emotional reaction... and change the pattern.