Category Archives: Habit

The Voice In Your Head

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

“What an idiot,” I complained out loud to myself while cooking for my family. “Luckily I am also charming, loving and willing to experiment with a new dish.”

All of this came out of my mouth automatically. I was not interested in having anyone else hear this monologue but me. You see, I have been attempting to change an old habit, an organized behavior. There is a voice in my head that admonishes, criticizes and belittles me when I make a mistake. Too often I listen to this voice that is putting me down and practicing one of the deadly habits that destroys relationships. The plan I’m not trying to cultivate instead has me shifting to my own out loud voice that encourages my efforts, complimenting me no matter the results!

sadwomanDo you know whose voice is in your head? You know the one I mean, the one that tells you “Be careful!” or “How selfish” or “That won’t work out.” This isn’t the voice that might be categorized as a hallucination. No, this is the voice that Eric Berne, founder of Transactional Analysis, described as critical parent. Berne stated that we maintained different ego states, including critical parent. (TA is a type of therapy that has lost favor in the current psychological circles Berne’s work was an updated and more modern version of Freudian theory of ego states.)

The voice and words that you hear in your head are most likely the statements you heard as a child spoken by your parents, older siblings, teachers, coaches and other carers. Your parents may not have said or meant what the voice in your head is saying and meaning. But remember, you absorbed and incorporated these statements as a child, with a child’s comprehension and understanding. And that is what still sticks as the cautionary, criticizing, or admonishing voice in your head.

Yet, these are only thoughts and stories that you tell yourself. This is GREAT NEWS! You have the ability and chance to change these thoughts and stories! You have the power to switch the voice from critical, scolding, or belittling to supportive, encouraging and loving.

Before you can make the switch though, you first need to hear this voice and these statements. You may be attempting to avoid the pain of criticism by pushing the voice down, pretending to yourself that you don’t hear it. However, if this is a strategy you’re using you know you still hear the scolding even though you’re trying very hard to ignore it.

For your Mental Health & Happiness try a different, more effective strategy. As soon as you hear that cautioning or belittling voice say out loud, “I may be clumsy AND I’m beautiful and courageous as I step out into the world.” Obviously this particular statement won’t fit every situation. But take that voice out of your head, say the words out loud, then say other encouraging words that offer love, encouragement and support!

The more you practice, the more successful you will become. Amazingly what you may discover is that the voice in your head speaks less and less frequently. The loving, encouraging, praising voice begins to take over.

You have the ability to eliminate the deadly habits that are interfering with the relationship you have with yourself. Begin consistently practicing the connecting habits improving your self-esteem and self-love.

Driving to Mental Health

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

At his point in my life, I figure I have been a passenger with at least 100 different drivers. Some are happy and entertaining while they maneuver through traffic. Some are conscientious, safe and good drivers. I only have to apply the imaginary brakes on my side of the passenger seat on rare occasions with very few.

canstockphoto0012473What I find the most astounding, however, is the large number of drivers who are outraged by other drivers. Without hesitation some drivers let fury, scorn and abuse fly at the other drivers sharing their road and route. I am amazed at their level of hostility, anger and scathing opinions they have of these other drivers. Most of these folks are family members or dear and close friends. This aspect of their personality only comes out when they are driving. I would wonder, How can this dear person allow other people’s driving to dictate her feelings, mood, and happiness? 

That is until I moved to a new region of the country. I have now become one of those unhappy, impatient, and screaming drivers. The common courtesy and rules of the road that I practiced in New England are not the same in the Rocky Mountains. Too often I find myself arriving at my destination furious and blustering about the other incompetent drivers on the road. “Don’t people know how to drive in this state?” I complain but no one seems to sympathize with me.

I also realized sound just like my brother-in-law did when he moved from New Jersey complaining about all of the incompetent drivers in Rhode Island. At the time I thought he was nuts. Now I’m becoming the same nut! And Jack has since moved to Georgia where he is complaining about how poorly people drive in that state too!

I have been recently reading my niece’s Facebook entries. She lives in South Carolina and has made the conscious choice not to drive a car but to use her bicycle instead. And she is bitterly complaining about the dangers and cavalier attitude of drivers toward bicyclists! This became my final straw.

In order to improve my own Mental Health & Happiness, I’m changing my ways. I know for sure that I cannot change the way other drivers drive, or cyclists ride, or pedestrians walk. I can only control myself. It is time I followed my own advice.

When I look for the other drivers who are driving cooperatively, safely, and considerately I always find them.

I’ve started a new habit. Every time I get behind the wheel, before I start driving, I thank my fellow drivers for driving cooperatively, safely and considerately. I vow to do the same. Let’s work together to arrive at our personal destinations safely and filled with love. 

So far I have been amazed how much more considerately, safely and cooperatively the other drivers have become!

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What’s Your Habit?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

How often do you brush your teeth? If you want to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy hopefully you aim to brush twice a day. How long do you need to maintain that practice? My dentist told me I only need to do that as long as I want to keep my teeth and have a healthy mouth and gums.

How often do you make nutritious food choices? Do you make these kinds of  choices only while you are on your weight reduction program? Perhaps that isn’t the best example since too many people make crazy and unhealthy choices when they are trying to trim down. When following the best advice about developing, improving and maintaining good, strong and healthy bodies, we’re told to choose good, healthy and nourishing foods every time we eat. . . for our lifetime.

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How often do you follow an exercise program? Do you practice yoga once every six weeks and consider that the best practice for your body? Do you go to the gym once a week hoping you can maintain some level of being in good shape with this level of commitment? There are some who are able to develop a routine, habit and practice of physical exercise that they maintain all of their lives. Still others of us get into a good habit, something disrupts and stops us, so we need to start again. The goal, however, is to find and maintain some kind of physical activity we enjoy, that benefits our bodies, and that we can do forever.

How often do you follow a Mental Health & Happiness practice? If you only think about and do something that supports your Mental Health & Happiness occasionally you will get limited results and benefits. Imagine only following an occasional routine for your oral, nutritional, or physical health. This too would result in limited results and benefits.

In order to develop, improve and maintain your Mental Health & Happiness you need to set your intention and develop a daily habit or practice. Doing something once while hoping for positive results is not a good habit or practice. Following a Mental Health & Happiness habit needs to be part of your daily routine and practice in order to get the positive results you want.

Since this habit is something you will do regularly, it is best to find the practice that you enjoy. You are more likely to follow this routine until it becomes an automatic habit if the routine is  pleasurable and enjoyable. After all, eating cod liver oil may be a practice that supports your health. But if you find it unpalatable, you won’t swallow it.

There is no difference when developing a Mental Health & Happiness habit. If your have valiantly tried to keep a journal, but just find the practice tedious and onerous there is no good reason to make that your practice or habit. You won’t do it.

For those of you who have signed up for the Mental Health & Happiness daily challenges, you have been offered many suggested strategies. When you signed up for this website, you also received a list of even more strategies you could try.

Why not make today the day you will set your intention to find the Mental Health & Happiness habit you enjoy and can commit to following daily. If you found one, but as sometimes happens have been slacking off in the follow-through recently, make today the day you pick up that practice again.

After all, developing, improving and maintaining Mental Health & Happiness is something you can choose to practice every day.