Transforming Negative Self-Talk Into Self-Compassion
In this enlightening episode, Meegan Care, an experienced midlife mentor, and psychosynthesis counsellor unlocks the intricate aspects of midlife, specifically for women transitioning through menopause. Gain a deep understanding of your inner journey during this crucial life-stage as Meegan candidly addresses common issues like self-doubt, imposter syndrome, and the swings of emotional overwhelm.
This podcast addresses the often overlooked issue of negative self-talk experienced by many women during their midlife years, and provides practical tips to convert it into self-compassion. Discover insightful discussions on the bodily changes during perimenopause and its implications on a woman’s self-conception, including hormonal fluctuations and changes in brain chemistry which impact their mood and self-view.
I emphasize the importance of evaluating mental health in relation to hormonal states for women above 40. We shed light on the inadequacy of knowledge many practitioners possess about menopause and its impact on mental health. Through this conversation, you will be able to separate your thoughts from your identity and avert the compounding of negative self-beliefs.
As the episode continues, take away valuable strategies to break free from the loop of negative self-talk, particularly during the challenging perimenopause phase.
Learn to establish and manage triggers that catalyse negativity, and find out how journaling can help in detangling the mess of negative thoughts clouding our minds. By fostering a more positive outlook on life and practising the art of self-compassion, face life’s adversities with patience, strength, and a gentle acceptance of yourself, just as you are.
Join me in this enlightening journey of unraveling an important narrative and make a significant step towards your mental health and wellbeing in perimenopause. This podcast aims to inspire listeners to integrate more self-compassion into their lives, a practice that nourishes mental well-being and extends to all life aspects.
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Full Episode Transcript
Hey my friend, welcome to the podcast this week
So I want to let you know that the next round of the Midlife Upgrade course is coming up really soon. When this podcast is released, our next course is due to start on the 15th of February, and we’re all set to go. But if you’re listening to this after that date, there will be another course intake coming up in a few weeks because I’m rolling them out fairly regularly throughout the year.
So never fear if you’ve missed that deadline. But if you haven’t missed that deadline and you want to join a small group course that has been specifically designed for women in midlife, Based in New Zealand and Australia, then join me on the Midlife Upgrade course, just check it out on my website, you can see all the details there, megancare.
co. nz forward slash course it’s a mix of video modules which get to the heart of what’s going on for us psychologically, mentally, emotionally as women in midlife, and live coaching calls, which I have to say, are the absolute highlight of my week. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I go on to group coaching calls, and maybe I don’t know the people on there or just any kind of group zoom call, because I’m not in person, I feel a little more hesitant, a little more nervous.
So I want to really reassure you that I Cultivate this incredible connection and warmth, and actually it’s not just me cultivating it of course, it’s the other women in the course. So we’re generally, it’s a very small group, we get to know each other really quickly, and I tell you what, just understanding that someone around your age is going through a similar thing to you.
It makes such a difference in terms of how we feel and think about ourselves. And the live call portion of the course is It’s totally voluntary. You don’t have to do it. You can do the whole course without jumping on the live zoom calls with me, but I think it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
So anyway, that’s a little bit about the course. Check it out on my website. Let’s dive into the podcast now. So I want to talk specifically about. Negative self talk and how we can transform that into self compassion. So what happens in midlife because of the change of our hormones? The function of our brain and our brain chemicals also change, which then change our baseline mood and can actually lead to a lot of fluctuations in mood.
If you’ve gone or are going through perimenopause, you You may well know exactly what I mean. And so when that’s going on, what can arise, because we’ve got this shift in sex hormones, then we’ve got the change in brain chemicals, then what happens is our inner self talk, our inner narration, the way we feel and think about ourselves, Our general mood all can go through a change, and for some women it’s a drastically rapid change.
And, I have seen, and it was my experience as well, that my mood change was one of the first things that altered on my perimenopausal journey, and actually things changed in my mood. before I even realized I was perimenopausal. So I became more irritable, easier to anger. Actually much like I was when I was a teenager.
My parents, in a very unhelpful way, just used to comment on what a bad temper I had as a teenager, and how quick to fire I was, fire off emotionally. That was true. That was a true reflection of what they were seeing. But what they didn’t realize was that I really needed some help to unpack that and unwind that and understand what was going on in my brain and body.
And of course they didn’t really know what was going on either, right? The same thing happens in perimenopause. And it’s not called a second puberty for no reason. Yeah. We go through these emotional, physical, psychological changes in perimenopause and there may be echoes that connect back to when we were going through puberty and that hormonal shift that’s happening there.
So, back to the negative self talk. So, because we’ve got the change of chemicals that are happening in the body and brain. Negative self talk can really increase and actually our self concept can go through a quite a negative change at that time. So it’s really important to address this because it can become habitual and it can be something that we start to believe about ourselves if it’s not placed in the right context.
So I want to place that negative Self talk that arises, or you might notice it as generally just feeling bad about yourself. So we get really specific and, and are talking about it as negative self talk. But if you just feel more low in confidence, more crap about yourself, not to put too fine a point on it, then that’s the general ballpark of what I’m talking about.
So how we Create some space with that, and that’s a really important concept for us to understand is that we can have these thoughts that arise, ideas about ourself, but we need to understand that that is not the totality of who we are.
As being output from the brain and because the ecosystem of your brain has gone and is going through a change because of perimenopause, then the output, what’s growing from that ecosystem also changes. contextualize it like that because I don’t want us to be layering on self blame. Shame. and guilt if our mood has gone through a more of a negative change or our self talk has become much more negative, right?
So can we separate out and understand, okay, so maybe I’m having more of an experience of negative self talk because my body’s going through a hormonal fluctuation or a change or a lowering of hormones, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, that’s changing. So what’s going on in my brain is also changing as a result of that.
So if we can contextualize it like that, then I think that gives us space from experiencing the negative self talk and layering on shame, guilt, I’m not good enough, there must be something wrong with me because my brain Has this inner narration. There’s a lot of negative self talk. My outlook on life is really negative, right?
So this is a really normal thing that happens in perimenopause and menopause. And if it does get too intense, severe, long lasting, then talk to your medical practitioner, your health practitioner. Please just make sure that they have an up to date understanding of what happens in menopause. How many women have I talked to who have had a shift in their mental health, mental well being, emotional health and well being and they’re around that perimenopausal age, they may be experiencing other symptoms and they go to their doctor and it just It just kind of gets fobbed off as being oh, it must be anxiety, it must be depression, let me give you these SSRIs.
Or whatever the medication is, anti anxiety, anti depressants, right? Not all doctors are like this, but I think once we reach 40, and for some of us even before 40, we have to be looking at our mental health through the lens of what might be going on for us at a hormonal level. And That doesn’t happen very often.
So this is about being able to advocate for ourselves as well. And if you’re not getting the feedback, the information that you need from your doctor, then we need to be seeking out someone else that can help us. So, back to the negative self talk, how we can transform that into self compassion. So we want to understand the context of why this might be happening.
I can tell you, hand on heart, right now, this is not happening because you are a bad person, you are broken, there is something inherently wrong with you. It is a very normal experience that we go through in perimenopause and we want to look at it through that context of the menopausal journey. Because when we can do that, we can create more space with the negative self talk.
So, we’ll get into some practical tips soon, but I wanted to reframe the context because I think it’s just so, so important. And when we understand what’s going on. in our psychology and what the general kind of context of our body mind state is at a different at this stage of life then we can create some more space with it and then we’re more able to help ourselves with it.
So negative self talk that turns into a repetitive pattern, something that we’re doing quite frequently, can have quite a negative impact on our mental health and our well being. So it is really useful to consider, well, you know, what can I do to Interrupt this pattern and contextualizing it correctly, as we’ve just talked about for the last 10 minutes, is the very first and most important foundation.
And then what you might want to go into is some tools that you can use to interrupt the pattern, to take your brain on another pathway that is more helpful and more supportive of your own mental well being. So it’s good to identify what the triggers are. You know, is it, is it when my partner doesn’t agree with me?
Does my negative self talk arise first thing in the morning, last thing at night? What might be going on there? Very common that we can wake up in the morning feeling more Anxiety in our body, that’s a really normal thing through perimenopause, and it’s got to do with those change of hormones again, and then a rise of cortisol in those early morning hours.
So, if we go around trying to, you know, like, fix what’s going on in the early morning for us, and wondering what’s wrong with us, and how did I get here, and maybe my whole life is, you know, a complete disaster because this is going on. What about if we just did some things to really Nourish our body and nurture our body in the morning.
Going for a walk, eating food, drinking fluids that really nourish us. That would actually bring our system into a place of balance much more quickly than trying to figure out mentally, so we get all caught up in our head, what is going on and what is causing the negative self talk. So back to identifying patterns and triggers.
So figure out which When is this most happening? So if you’re still having a menstrual cycle Maybe it’s a week before your period, even if your menstrual cycle, because you’re in perimenopause, is not as regular as what it was. And if you can kind of note these things down, then you can start to see a pattern.
And when you see a pattern, that’s helpful because then when it pops up again, you are much more able to give yourself some compassion during that time. And that is so important because then that frees us from those tracks, those negative self talk, that negative self concept, that just feeling rubbish about ourselves track that our brain can go on.
Yep. So we’re identifying triggers. We might write them down. We might choose to, you might choose to journal when you’ve got a lot of negative self talk going on. And sometimes it’s helpful to write down. what the brain is actually saying. You know, what is that in a narration going on in your brain?
Write it down. That can actually be really helpful. Don’t necessarily believe everything that you’ve written on the page, or in fact anything that you’ve written on the page. It’s actually just a really helpful way to get what’s going on inside our brain, which we can get all tangled up in, out onto a piece of paper, and then Really challenge that.
Like, actually, that is not true. I’m not an entirely bad person all the time. Things don’t go wrong for me all the time. So I can start to bring some reality checking to what I’ve written down, which is much easier than just sort of getting tangled up with it inside our own brain. And self compassion is a very, very helpful counter, or we might say medicine, to Negative self talk, negative self concept, the sort of spiraling into negativity that can go on in our brain.
Self compassion is about wholeheartedly accepting yourself exactly as you are. And it is a practice. It is not something we get. It’s not a destination. It’s not something we get to and then we never have to think about it again because we can always have self compassion. It is actually a moment. So if I’m, as an example, if I’ve got a run of negative self talk about how I’m really not succeeding in my new project and I’m really feeling shit about it and maybe I’ll never get there and maybe I’m just.
Not ever going to make it. Why don’t I give up? You recognize this from your own brain, right? This is what our brains do. Well, if I was going to apply self compassion to that, honestly, I would place one hand on my heart and the other on my solar plexus or my belly. I would take a breath and I would just say something like this to myself.
Hey, it’s okay. You’re okay. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Take a breath, maybe take a break. You’re doing a good job here. And you are going to figure this out. You’re growing and you’re evolving and that can feel hard. And that can feel difficult. And I’m here with you. So you see we take a very different tone and normally what we try and do with negative self talk is shut it out, push it away, push it down and if we just bring in a little more self compassion, that’s going to dissolve The intensity of the negative self talk.
So I think that’s really really helpful and important and you can We can practice self compassion through mindfulness and meditation practice as well. But I also think the little example which I just gave you, where you’re just taking a moment to connect with your body. You’re starting to regulate your nervous system by doing this.
Placing your hands on your body, taking a breath. And being that supportive voice, that supportive parental voice or friend voice, that our brain needs to hear. Something I teach in the meditation course is there’s a real simple intervention for negative self talk and negative thought patterns. And it’s, you say to yourself, it’s okay.
It’s okay. I mean, can you hear that? Can you feel that? When we can receive that inside of us, there is a switch. Something gets switched and we can start to regulate. Slow down and start again.
I have found self compassion to be very powerful for those, for negative self talk, for psychological difficult states of mind. And it’s very different to trying to turn it off, push it away, override it. You’re actually bringing something in that softens the experience and starts to regulate the nervous system.
And when the nervous system starts to regulate, then what goes on in our brain changes. So as an example, I would used to get Clients in the clinic when I saw a lot more people one to one and somebody would come in with a problem like a Real life serious problem, right? And they couldn’t find the answer for it and we could talk about it for a long time And they would still not be figuring out the answer and then if we went and did some craniosacral work or some hands on work, which is all about regulating the nervous system, and during that experience they would go into a meditative state.
When they would complete that, when we would complete the session. Something had shifted in them and the problem was not being seen from that perspective anymore. It’s like they’d broadened out and were more able to see a bird’s eye view, they would have a better understanding that this too would pass, that maybe they didn’t.
couldn’t and didn’t need to solve this problem right now but rather they were going to tend to themselves and offer self compassion, er, for their own experience. And in that The problem was neutralized in that moment because let’s face it There’s some things that we can’t change and control and there’s some Shitty things that happen in life and it’s about how we relate to them That’s important.
And so through that what that person was able to do with my support in the room was to actually regulate within their nervous system. And so then the problem that they came in with was no longer the same. They just weren’t viewing it in the same way. And that’s what we’re doing with self compassion. I think if we were to sprinkle much more self compassion in our daily life and take a self compassion break much more often, we would actually end the day in a much more centered, regulated state.
And I found it so important as I was going through my menopausal journey, and of course now, right, even though I’m out the side, out the other side, and I’m post menopausal, life still happens, things are still difficult at times, I’m still growing, and so I’m out of my comfort zone quite a lot, and self compassion, and That is such an important and helpful friend for me.
I’m right now really encouraging you to bring more self compassion into your life. Alright, my friend, it has been so great to talk with you. I hope that’s been helpful. I hope it’s sort of opened the doorway for you to bring more self compassion into your own life. Love you so much. Go well. Talk to you real soon.