After yesterday’s post on healing from past traumas and breaking unhealthy behavior and thought patterns, I am coming into the present. Today I want to share a technique, called visualization, that you can use when dealing with emotional chaos.
Visualization is to form a mental image of something in your mind. You can use this technique to help deal with external and internal conflicts, among other things.
Internal: What is an internal conflict? An internal conflict is a conflict within yourself. This internal conflict generally manifests as negative self talk. It can be in the form of self-criticism, self-degradation, anxiety, or any other negative things you tell yourself. This negative self-talk is usually derived from past experiences, the media, inaccurate interpretions of someone else’s words or actions, or a direct negative comment from someone, especially a parent or other respected adult.
As an adult, this negative self-talk can tell us we are not good enough, we are not pretty enough, we are not thin enough, we are not smart enough, we will fail if we try, we are failures, we are not loved, or that we don’t deserve any better. These negative thoughts can keep us from trying new things, can keep us from changing jobs, prevent us standing up for ourselves, keep us in unhealthy relationships, and so much more. Also, we can hand down this negative practice to our children without even knowing it.
How can we counteract these harmful internal messages using visualization? Imagine these negative thoughts as words coming from an entity of some sort. I like to visualize a parrot or a little man/leprachaun sitting on my shoulder saying these nasty things. Tell it to “shut up” and lock it up in a soundproof cage where you cannot hear it and it cannot hurt you. The more you do this, the quicker and easier it becomes to counteract and quiet those overly critical thoughts. Eventually, they stop coming. If they do come back, like during stressful times, just send them on their way. You do not have to listen to such negativity anymore.
External: Many times stress and emotional chaos come from our relationship with others. It can be a family incident or situation that wreaks havoc. It an also be a destructive person who creates problems. Sometimes these awful events just need to run their course. Many times there is nothing you can do. You cannot change or control anyone else, you can only change and control yourself and your own (re)actions…I’ve heard that before 🙂
For example, addicts can bring terrible emotional and physical turmoil into a family. Sometimes there is just nothing you can do. The addict has to want to get better and they may have to hit their rock bottom before healing can begin. Addiction can tear a family apart and the stress from dealing with this can wreak havoc on the life and health of everyone involved.
I have found that visualization can help protect one’s emotional and physical health during these tough times? It won’t stop all your stress but it can definitely help. How do you do this? There are 2 scenarios I have found to work:
1. Imagine you are in a boat. You are safe within your boat. The turmoil, the hatred, and the crazy are all around you in the waters. As long as you stay in the boat, the negativity cannot harm you. Do not jump into the waters. Do not allow yourself to get sucked into someone else’s crazy. Stay in your protective boat.
2. Imagine you are standing inside a fence. I like to envision a beautiful white fence lined with flowers and a garden. This fence keeps out any people or events that are not beneficial to you. You do not have to open the fence to anyone or anything. You can talk to them and you can help them, but you do not have to let them into your safe space. The fence creates the protective barrier you need. You will not be harmed.
You can also visualize how you want to live and aim for that in all you do. You can achieve greater peace no matter what’s going on in your life. You just need the tools and the desire.