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May 26, 2020

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Here’s the truth about self care…


Spoiler alert: There is a great new resource in the Resource List below, a joint venture between Creating the Future and the Association for Corporate Citizenship Professionals. And it’s FREE!

The truth about self care
Are you tired of hearing about “self care” during this stressful time? From Facebook memes to articles in respected publications, we’re all being encouraged to find a few minutes to soak in a tub or have a quiet moment with a cup of tea and a book.

Here’s the thing about self-care, though…

Self-care begins with the conversation going on in our own minds. And so often, that conversation is the opposite of caring!

Parenting studies repeatedly show the power of caring words for the ultimate success of our children. Those studies also show the effect of judgmental thoughts, carried from childhood into adulthood.

And yet, here are some phrases this pandemic is bringing out in so many of our colleagues and friends…

  • My brain is worthless these days
  • I’m so unproductive / so lazy
  • I’m such a klutz (or idiot, or fill-in-the-blank)

These are all stories we are telling ourselves. Stories about what we should be doing. How our brains should be working. How productive we should be.

But here’s the truth about those stories:

If these words would be devastating to a child, imagine the effect of hearing those words, over and over, in your own brain, day in and day out!

This is not about the power of positive thinking, which is really just telling ourselves a different story. Our power lies in words that help us see reality WITHOUT ANY STORIES AT ALL –seeing what is really happening, just as it is.

Your brain is not worthless; it is actually working harder than ever, just trying to survive in circumstances filled with uncertainty and fear.

You are not being unproductive or lazy; you are resting that precious, overworked brain.

You are not a klutz (or any other pejorative); your brain is occupied with navigating a brand new, scary reality.

This week’s Catalytic Thinking exercise is therefore about reframing those internal conversations, being more realistic about our very human response to the situations we are in.

Try This:
This exercise has the power to change everything, during this pandemic and long after. It is the ultimate self-care!

  1. Every time you hear those critical words in your head – the words you would never say to a friend or to your child – first notice those words. “Wow, listen to what I just said!”

  2. Ask yourself, “Is that really true? Could there be another way to look at this situation?”

  3. From there, “If there are other ways to see this situation, what is the objective reality? What is really happening here?”

  4. Then restate your words, guided by that objective reality.

If it’s helpful to start with, try these examples

  When you hear yourself say… Say this out loud instead:
My brain is worthless today My brain is tired from working so hard today. I am taking care of my brain!
I am being so unproductive! I am resting my brain today. It has been working hard keeping me as sane as possible during this unsettling time. To be at my best, my brain needs rest!
I am such a klutz (or worse). I wasn’t paying attention. With my brain working so hard, I may need to take extra care to focus.

Catalytic Thinking reminds us that our actions are a direct result of our thoughts. The key to self-care, then, will start with being mindful about the words we use when we talk to ourselves. That is why noticing language is such an important part of the practice of Catalytic Thinking!

Resources to Support Your Practice
These resources will help you shift your self-talk to self-care – including a brand new resource!

New Resource
Watch and Listen: Creating the Future teamed up with the Association for Corporate Citizenship Professionals, for a lively conversation about navigating these new waters. Listen here

Read: Some great exercises for moving away from the “should” habit.
• Should: An argument with Reality
• Giving up your “should” habit

Want to learn alongside other people who are also trying out Catalytic Thinking practices? Join our Catalytic Thinking in Action community on Facebook - a welcoming place where you can ask questions and learn from people like you who are experimenting with these practices. We look forward to seeing you there!

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eJournal Archives:
If you’re new to our eJournal, or just want to remind yourself of past practice exercises we’ve shared, check out our eJournal archives here.

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To determine how much more humane the world could be
if the systems that guide our work and our lives 
were rooted in questions that bring out the best in each of us.

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