Socratic Method: Coping with Negative Self-Talk

Background chatter pervades our thought processes and for many of us, a prominent voice is one of self deprecatory slander. We’re hardwired by our critical environments to regularly shame ourselves. Any pressure, abuse, or bullying will have installed patterns of self perception that warp into shadows of these traumas, continuing to punish you. “You’re not good enough, you don’t have worth, you’ll fail, stupid, pathetic, lazy…”

Imagine a mind-goblin whispering lies in your ear, or if you have an affinity towards goblins, the enemy of your good mind-goblins. This creature taunts you and calls you horrible names you’d never call someone else in the same situation as you. Luckily, there are weapons to fight back with. The mind-goblin feeds off of anxiety, insecurity, and spits it back at you as it knows all your deepest fears but it has many weaknesses.

Since it’s solely sustained upon negative energy and weak haunts of the past, it’s not privy to the powerful truths you hold within. You have access to all the context, nuance and subtlety which the goblin conveniently misses. Always you will have the upper hand if you dare to challenge your insecurity. 

You may have heard of DBT, or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, which is based on a balance of change what you can and accept what you cannot change. With realty checks, mindfulness, and other productive techniques to cope with emotional stress, it has bettered a great many lives in crisis. Mind-goblins always make any given situation feel much worse, more impossible to overcome, but DBT techniques bring the power back to the true wielder of the mind. 

This therapy is derived from something known as the Socratic method. Much of our philosophy comes from Ancient Greco-Roman discourse and Eastern mysticism, but Socrates was considered the father himself. He believed in always analyzing and changing one’s life and devised a method of cross examination which strives towards grounded truth. Challenging questions would be posed and by answering them, one can begin eliminating contradictions. This is where ‘dialectical’ comes from in DBT, the dialect, the conversation. 

Mind-Goblin: You’re lazy and you’ll never get this done on time. 

You: What’s lazy about my behaviour? 

Mind-Goblin: You took a nap and haven’t gotten your work done!

You: If my body needs rest, shouldn’t I sustain it? 

Mind-Goblin: You’re not that tired! 

You: What would you define as ‘tired’? What does it mean to be tired!

Mind-Goblin: Ok, maybe you’re tired, but you’re stupid for not doing work first!

You: Do I have time still to accomplish my task? 

Mind-Goblin: Yes, but not much and you’re always failing and procrastinating. 

You: Is that a true and accurate statement? 

Mind-Goblin: True enough, stupid. 

You: Is ‘true enough’ a worthwhile basis to go from? Would I call someone else stupid and treat them like this? 

Mind-Goblin: You’re not worth the same

You: Why?

You already know the truth deep inside you where your core values lay. By questioning if your internal monologue aligns with your values, you can back the mind-goblin into corners it can’t escape from until it admits it’s just parroting what other crueler people have said to you. Ask yourself, do you want to talk like those people? Realigning yourself to what you want, and how you would treat yourself if you were an adequate caretaker to your soul, is a crucial job.  If we visualize the mind-goblin, remember it’s the mind-child it speaks to. You must treat this child with care and tenderness. This is the insecurity that the negative self talk batters against, the raw wounds on our psyche. 

Reality checks are important. Self abuse is a tremendous expenditure of energy and only drains us further. Truth stills the hand raised to whip us once more.

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