4 Questions to Help Reduce Self Critical Thoughts
I often talk about The Wizard of Oz with my clients in that the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion had within what they were desperately searching for while on their journey on the yellow brick road.
We all have tools to become more present, mindful and the ability to lessen our anxiety by reducing self-critical thoughts. Bryon Katie has given us a way to access the tools that exist within each of us. In her book, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, Katie refers to “The Work” as asking ourselves four questions to address critical or negative thoughts. They are:
1) Is it true?
2) Can I absolutely know it’s true?
3) How do I react when I think that thought?
4) Who would I be without that thought?
The four questions can be used in every day simple situations when we’re making assumptions about something to the larger questions of life and self-worth such as “I’m unlovable, I’m wrong, or I’m not good enough.” For example, I am working with a client in my office and construction is going on that produces a loud and consistent banging. I am concerned my client is distracted, unable to concentrate and I am not providing a quiet, peaceful place for my clients to feel comfortable. In essence, I am making up a whole story before I even know if it’s true.
Following Byron Katie’s work, I ask myself the four questions. “Is it true?” I answer myself yes the noise is loud and disruptive. Second question is “can I absolutely know its true?” I answer myself I don’t know unless I ask my client. Third question is “how do I react when I think that thought?” I respond I get preoccupied, distracted, and concerned. Fourth question is “who would I be without the thought?” and I answer myself saying I would be calm and focused. Katie adds a “turnaround” for several reasons and one example is to show “how does it apply to you in your own life?” Instead of the client being distracted, I recognize that I am the one who is distracted and unable to concentrate.
We can use these four questions to tackle the more complex life issues such as, “Am I worthy?” Or, “Why doesn’t my husband appreciate me?”
Try it on your own self critical thoughts and the familiar stories or worries you encounter in your daily life. For additional help increasing low self-esteem or reducing self critical thoughts consider working with a therapist in Houston.
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