Beating Defeating Thinking

I came across this article and thought it would be good to share. Too many of us
defeat ourselves because we give up before we even try. It’s very important to
believe in yourself and not have “defeatist” thinking…
Fear Comes Clad In Green Boots-5 Surefire Steps To Beating Defeating Thinking

Fear Comes Clad In Green Boots-5 Surefire Steps To Beating Defeating Thinking

By Rory Sullivan

They call it Green Boots Cave. Very imaginative. They call it that because they can’t be sure of the name of the dead man who still wears them. But they can certainly see the fluorescent green boots, looking brand new, that stick out from a shallow limestone alcove near the summit of Everest, a stark reminder of how quickly and easily death can overtake you in that harsh and unforgiving climate. It is a macabre landmark on the route to peak: “At this point you’ll be stepping over the guy in green boots. The body looks very much alive.”

It is a shocking image, a reminder that a whole world of preparation does not guarantee success. The three Indian climbers had reached the summit in May 1996. They died on the way down. Two are missing, the other is not. It doesn’t count, if you die on the way down.

Setting goals can be a frightening prospect. Like the lure of the highest peak, there is something other-worldly about the attraction. We want to attain something, to beat the odds, somehow to make us feel like better people, like heroes – even if only in our own world. But setting goals can also be a life-changing experience, something we know matters so much because our lives are affected adversely by the way we are right now. So we want to change. But there is the constant spectre of failure. What if I don’t make it? What if I become another unnamed casualty in this unremitting panorama. “Not many make it, you know, perhaps 1 in 50,000. The odds are pretty much stacked.” Hey, thanks for the vote of confidence. Step over me on the way up, why don’t you.

And it is a struggle all the way. There can be hours of preparation; you can put yourself on the rock face; acclimatise; get all the right gear. You can fix your heart on a goal; draw up a plan and lay out the steps; bravely venture forth and put yourself out there – only to find yourself getting cold and confused, slowing down and getting disoriented.

So, how do we make sure that doesn’t happen? How do we make sure not to sit down and give up?

They say that when you are above 8000 metres your brain pretty much freezes. Thoughts become slow and deceptive. Well, we are not at 8000 metres, and we can talk back to the deceptive thinking that we scare ourselves with. Talk back, that’s right. Most of the time we are lying to ourselves, anyway. Why give up and fade away over something that may not even be true? That’s the Green Boots voice, whispering messages of failure. It is the voice sabotaging our best intentions, and we need to be able to talk back to it whatever our goal might be.

Here are 5 Definitive Steps to Talking Back:

1. Listen to what you are saying. Hear the whispering voice. You could even write down what it says, and the responses as you follow through.

2. Identify the distorted thinking pattern. And, yes, this is taken from Feeling Good by Dr David D Burns. Bookmark those DTPs wherever you can find them!

3. Recognise how it makes you feel emotionally.

4. Replace the distorted thinking with accurate and realistic thinking.

5. Immediately feel better. Even if it is just some relief.

These 5 steps work wonders on any self-defeating thinking we may be going through. From major to minor. Let’s take something familiar to illustrate it.

Let’s take embarking on a weblog.

You lay the groundwork. You think about a subject you are passionate about, something you may be able to write about with enthusiasm at least several times a week, if not every day. Parenting? Okay.

And already you begin to hear the voice, the whispering voice:

Green Boots (GB): But there are so many Parenting sites, so many variations, what’s the point?

Great, now I feel nervous and a bit nauseous. So, you have to answer it back. You must.

Me: But that would Disqualifying The Positive. What I say to that is: Exactly! There are so many because they can all coexist. Don’t treat them as competition; they are fellow bloggers. Interact; comment on their posts. Be honest and friendly.

Hey, I don’t feel so queasy anymore!

GB: But what if they don’t like me, what if they don’t respond?

Me: Okay, so now I’m actually scared. But that is called Jumping To Conclusions and it is a drain on your oxygen supply. Maybe they will like you, maybe they won’t, and what difference does it make anyway? People are busy, they don’t have time to write and respond to every message they receive. They have lives to lead and families to look after. There could be umpteen reasons why your comment goes seemingly unheeded. Just concentrate on what you can make a difference to – your own blog. Keep posting, keep writing, keep meeting your realistic target. Write honestly and enthusiastically. Hmmm, the fear is lifting.

GB: No one is reading it? You started it on Monday, you checked it on Tuesday, and you only had 1 person who had subscribed to the feed – and that was you!

Me: Cheers. Now I don’t just feel scared, I feel stupid. Well, that could be All-Or-Nothing Thinking, or Should Statements – yes, a disguised “should” statement – I should have more subscribers than that. Why? It flies in the face of just about every Number One suggestion that you find on the Internet. Be Patient. These things take time to build up. Just concentrate on the important things. Write, write, write. But I don’t write very well? That might be the case. So we can improve, eh? What do you have? Passion? Enthusiasm? A willingness to learn? So learn. Read successful blogs and see what makes them work. Be imaginative, then allow time to improve your technique. Good. I’m feeling calm again, and not so stupid.

GB: Dr Blogstein called you a “Mom”. How lame is that, Loser?

Me: Okay it stung a little, but now you’re just being rude! As well as Labeling and Personalising, that is also Filtering – only letting the negative through. Maybe I didn’t make it clear enough that I was a Dad. And, you know, so what. It is me and Kath. Most of the other entrants were Mums, so it was an easy assumption to make. And, hey, he watched your video three times! And he said some cool things about the Moms – that they were great, and that he loves them. That’s you, man!

So, there it is. It’s called Talking Back. Something that is not very easy at 8000 metres. Not letting the discouraging voice – the Green Boots voice – sap you of strength until you can do nothing but sit down and lie down and stay down. If you talk back with realistic responses you can feel the air clear and the courage return. You have given yourself two years. So give yourself two years. Give yourself more if you have enjoyed it. Look back over the posts – all the ones with Z.E.R.O. comments. Look at the photos, recall the occasions, enjoy the memories. And, above all: Don’t Give Up.

Rory Sullivan writes Hamelife, a website dedicated to helping parents negotiate the unpredictable waters of parent-child communication. With the 30 Ways at its heart, Hamelife encourages parents to avoid exasperating their children by embracing empathy, respect, and patience.

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