How Speaking In Catastrophic Language Harms Our Mental Health

 “Today was the worst day EVER!”

Was it really? The absolute worst day you’ve ever experienced in your whole entire life? No day has ever been worse than this one?

“I have the WORST headache!”

The worst? So bad it’s not preventing you from staring at your glaring phone screen and lamenting about it online instead of treating your headache and resting your eyes?

“Life is NEVER going to get better!”

Never ever? For the rest of your life you have seen all of your future days ahead and have resolved to yourself that life will never improve?

“I just CAN’T take another day!”

But you’re here the next day, still saying you won’t be able to take the next day either… or the next… or the next. So really, you actually can take another day.

“My life is OVER!”

Is it? Over? You’re dying because your mate left you or you lost that job or you’re having a high anxiety or pain day? That’s it? Life just ends? You see no possible solution available? Not even the ones being offered to you that you’re finding reasons not to try?

This may not be a popular post. I might piss some folks off. That’s okay.  I get to speak on this subject. Why? I have been on this journey. I’m talking to you from experience. I’m speaking from days, weeks, months and years of crawling through the muck of my catastrophic victimhood into some harsh realizations that changed my life for the better.

Catastrophizing our language is extremely damaging to our mental health. The above statements were often heard leaving my lips as I was writing “Cult Child“. The process was brutal. There were times I really believed I might die from grief.

Yet, here I am. I didn’t die. How might I have made my healing process slightly softer had I known what I am about to share with you?

In order to understand the biology of how our language affects our lives, we should take a brief look at the scientific connection between linguists and neuroscience.

Antonio Benítez-Burraco Ph.D. states:

“This effect of framing or filtering is the main effect we can expect—regarding language—from perception and thought. Languages do not limit our ability to perceive the world or to think about the world, but they focus our perception, attention, and thought on specific aspects of the world. In summary, language functions as a filter of perception, memory, and attention. Whenever we construct or interpret a linguistic statement, we need to focus on specific aspects of the situation that the statement describes. Interestingly, some brain imaging facilities are now allowing us to examine these effects from a neurobiological perspective. For example, in one study, authors prove that language affects the categorical perception of color—and that this effect is stronger in the right visual field than in the left visual field. Discrimination of colors encoded by different words also provokes stronger and faster responses in the left hemisphere language regions than discrimination of colors encoded by the same word. The authors conclude that the left posterior temporoparietal language region may serve as a top-down control source that modulates the activation of the visual cortex.

This is a nice example of current biolinguistics research (in a broader sense) helping to achieve a better and more balanced understanding of classic questions in linguistics—like the relationship between language and thought.”

Are you thinking, “What the hell did I just read?” Alright, let me break it down simply. When you read your favorite author, as they describe a room in detail, can you see that room in your head? If you nodded yes, they have done their job.

They’ve used language to create an image in your mind.

We see this in our mental activity when we create scenarios which have not happened yet, for instance. Have you ever thought of the worst that could happen in a situation, finding yourself falling down a visual rabbit hole where you actually see it happening in your mind? You’ve just created your own visuals with your thoughts. That thumping heart you feel? You’ve just manipulated your own emotional state as you created that mental visual.

We can take this a step further by looking at great speakers and story tellers. They use their skill of language to create a picture in your mind.

Here, David JP Phillips rolls out an excellent TEDx talk in which he explains how media is used to manipulate your emotions to the point you will spend your money excessively or search endlessly for a love which has been unrealistically described to you.

All of the above are examples of how language influences your thoughts, your own words, your behavior, your buying and voting patterns and the simple ways in which you think and see situations and the community around you. More importantly, it influences how you view yourself.

This brings me back to being inside of our own minds, our thoughts and being aware of how we speak in general. Speaking negatively to a child or AROUND a child blocks them from building healthy self-esteem.

Someone I know had a decent childhood. They had everything they wanted. They weren’t abused or neglected. However, the one thing they did deal with was a mother who consistently spoke bad about herself. Because of this, my associate developed body dysphoria, something they fight every day, a lowered self image simply from being exposed to someone else’s lowered self image.

Alternatively, speaking positive to or around a child helps them develop a good sense of self. So then, imagine what you could do for yourself, if you focused in on changing your language.

I used to joke about myself when I was very overweight. I would hurry up and call myself fat, because that’s what I assumed everyone was thinking anyway. Then, I’d feel horrible and eat to soothe myself. When I changed my lifestyle and took pride in being healthy, I stopped speaking so poorly of myself. I have occasional moments I fight self-deprecating thoughts. The difference is that now, I catch myself. “No. Stop that. You are who you are.”

As children, many of us were left ignored and un-cared for as we suffered with pain in silence. This left an imprint on us, an illusion that we needed to inflate the seriousness of our struggles out of fear of being unnoticed.

If my lumbago is having a flare up, I don’t head to social media to lament about it. In fact, I put social media away, purposely keeping my mind in a very clean state. I go into self-care mode. I rest. I do what needs to be done to soothe the flare up. I don’t allow phone calls. I don’t allow stress. I listen to my body’s needs.

If I am in an off emotional mood, maybe having a day where I feel like I may be easily irritated, for instance, I bring my self-awareness higher. I don’t want to lash out or project those emotions toward anyone else or any slight situation. I try and avoid spaces where controversy might trigger me. Occasionally, I fall prey. I have an alpha tone to begin with. Imagine when I’m irritated. I do what’s right for myself. I sit with the emotions and process them.

What if you chose to look beyond the pain? What would your language look like?

If my hips are aching, I thank my legs for still working. I stretch slowly. I say to myself, “Alright, it’s one of those days.” If my heart is sad, I find gratitude in the fact I get to choose self-soothing. I have the freedom to write it out in my private journal.

I could have died as a tortured child. I survived. I triumphed. I fought my way through the rubble of Sam Fife’s sick, sadistic cult. I refuse to fall prey to their misery. So what worked for me? How did I flip my catastrophic language into uplifting ways of speaking to others, about others and most importantly, to and about myself?

I first designed my journal “Becoming Gratitude” in a notebook I used for myself. The sole purpose of taking that journey was to re-program all of my senses away from catastrophic and negative thinking. It absolutely worked.  I decided to share this extremely inexpensive, simple, five-week gratitude course with the world because it worked for me. Consistency with the daily five minute task was absolutely the key for my success. Within as short as a week, I was saying to myself, “Okay, this feels good.  I’m onto something here.”

Becoming Gratitude” even worked for one of my most hard-headed and dearest friends! She left a hilarious and super real review about why she did not think it would work for her, which you can read here

You can choose to exercise gratitude in your life in many differing arenas. The key word here is choice. Ending catastrophic thinking and speaking and beginning forward-moving, solutions-based thinking and speaking takes active self awareness and work until it becomes natural. Your change will happen quickly.

You’re going to get addicted to feeling good inside.

Choose your words in a way which creates a positive image in your own mind. As I am constantly working on growth in regard to my mental and physical health, I visualize myself where I want to be, how I will be living, my environment and joy. As I continue to speak good about myself, the better I feel and the better I become.

You deserve your good. Speak kindly to yourself. Speak highly about yourself. Accept your abilities. Accept compliments. Embrace the positive parts of yourself. It’s okay. You can be a Thriver and still speak about the wounds you have endured. Healing doesn’t erase what happened to you. It just makes living a lot easier.

The journey into the realm of thriving really does begin with a first step. Choose Gratitude.

Five Ways To Maintain Your Critical Thinking During Socially Triggering Times

1. STAY MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU WATCH/READ IN REGARD TO NEWS

I wouldn’t watch the news these days without a pen and a piece of paper in hand. Why? I’d need to take notes as to what is being presented TO ME. There are two phrases that make me shut down immediately toward a journalist who has taken upon themselves the ethical responsibility to investigate and report facts about important situations, doing so SEPARATE from their own personal opinions or thoughts on the subject. “Just the facts, please.”

The two phrases that make me turn it off, turn the page or click that X in the top right hand corner are:

“I think…”
“My opinion is…”

This is not journalism. These are opinion voices.

I don’t care about a journalist’s opinion. Again, “Just the facts, please, along with fact checking to back it up would be nice.” I can form my own conclusions from facts.

Listen very carefully to what is being said by news anchors about what is happening in the world and your country. There is a side of NLP called Dark NLP. It is a neurolinguistic programming used from a negative angle to control your mind, the way you think, react and feel about a subject. NLP existed long before the trend of using it as a “therapy” tool. NLP originated in the 1950’s and soon became a very handy tool of the CIA.

How CIA and Secret Agents Make Use Of NLP

Dark NLP is language purposefully used to skew your mind. It is filled with specific words and body language strategically inserted into information that is being fed to you visually and audibly.

A very simple example of the use of NLP by media is dropping name brands into music. Not only does the name brand pay for the artist to promote their brand, but the listener now feels a deep desire to buy and boast the brand in order to be “cool” like their peers/fans of the artist. That is a win/win for the music industry and the brand. Below is an exploration of the use of mind control techniques in music.

A Look At Music and Mind Control

What is happening to your mind when you are engrossed with a speaker in all ways, from their verbal to non verbal language and the speaker is telling you possible falsehoods as if they are truths? Will you be able to spot signals of things you do not want sinking into your subconscious mind? If not, this video may give you a little kick-start into how you are fed repetitive sequences of information. This video is posted only for the purpose of showing you identical speech patterns through multiple news outlets across the United States.

News and NLP:

In NLP the meaning of any communication is the response that you get.” David Snyder

NLP is not only verbal. It is also visual. Hand motions, facial expressions and body language is a science that is known to influence the average person’s mind even in observatory conversation. Mirroring is taught at sales seminars, where salespeople train to watch their consumer’s behavior and listen to their conversation so the salesperson can behave like them and seal the deal. This results in the sales target becoming comfortable enough to buy. It is rampantly used by politicians, pastors, self-help gurus and corporations around the world.

Peter Bull, from the Department of Psychology at the University of York, studied the use of hand gestures in political speeches. He includes some case studies in this fascinating abstract:

The Use of Hand Gestures In Political Speeches: Some Case Studies

Mega-church pastor, Joel Osteen is one example of someone who uses both verbal and non-verbal NLP.  These are techniques taught in pastoral schools. Learn them and become adept at spotting them. Joel’s most popular non-verbal gestures:

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Joel Osteen using NLP to avoid questions and respond in a form of crazy making conversation in this interview with Larry King.  It is important to listen to vocal tone, when his voice goes soft, such as when he says “they love God”.  These are very subtle ways of creating an ebb and flow in a person’s emotions.

The Forbidden Knowledge Archive is an interesting 49-page thesis which explores the many facets of the uses of NLP.  As with all information I share, I in turn urge you to do your own study, dive in, find and read information for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Lets face it. The news is meant to make you feel like shit. The world is ending. Everyone’s at war. A race war is coming. A civil war is coming. The economy is crashing. The list of fear-based information goes on and on. The commercials inserted between this continual rocking of your minds, not just in news, but in mainstream media in general, is a consistent up and down of humorous commercials meant to pacify you, coupled with brand based pieces geared to make you have buying urges, or fear based programming commercials such as, “if you have [this grave disease] you need this [pill] which will also cause another [grave disease], but there’s a [pill] for that” and so on.

Do you ever ask yourself where the positive mainstream news channels are? Have you ever asked yourself why there isn’t at least one mainstream channel in your community which reports only on the great things which happened in your area during the day? It’s because that won’t leave you in trauma, and that is an ultimate media agenda, to create and blast multiple traumatic scenarios at you every day, resulting in filling you up with fear and anger.

Real-time Murder Shows
Lifetime Murder Movie of the Week
Dramatic Reality Shows
Craziest Police Chases
Cops

The list of shows and news outlets which have increased over the decades is extremely long and disconcerting when it comes to the way media can make a person panic that the world is self-destructing, causing them to turn on one another, have increased social anxieties or severe isolation. Stay very keen if you choose to let yourself be subjected to mainstream media.

If fear is not the media’s agenda, then the public would simply be watching more positive media than fear-based media.

2. WRITE DOWN THE FACTS AND MISSING PIECES AS YOU HEAR THEM AND TAKE THE TIME TO CRITICALLY CHECK THEM

Remember that pen and paper I mentioned before? This is where it comes in handy. When you are watching, listening or reading the news, use mindful thinking. Listen to all versions of the story while writing down what you would consider facts.

How do you equate facts? I look at what would stand up in a court of law. I look for holes in the story, and then I research that hole. I go inside of it. Is there a missing piece? Why? Where is it? What is off with this story?

The key here is to ask questions. Question Everything. In doing so, you will be able to equate the truth.

Is there evidence, even circumstantial, upon which a case could be built? Does the story hold weight? Is it a story built off of someone said something that someone said, or are there experiencers being showcased telling their personal stories? If a news story, for instance, is about certain regions of the world or social constructs, write down your questions.

Then take the time to connect with people in those regions or social constructs, and ask them the questions. They are your counter weight to global news. Citizens in your community are your counter weight to local news. Social media can be used as a very good information source if you actually TALK to people, not just watch one minute videos, believe it to be truth, and then pass it on as truth.

When things began to really get worse between Israel and Palestine over the last few years, I purposely sought out through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, average citizens like myself, who lived in these regions. I let them know I’m an American, and I want to understand their stance on this issue. I found out something very interesting. They all actually didn’t hate one another. They all wanted peace. They did not even express religious views about the conflict.

The patterned feedback I found in my conversations with people inside this conflict was that they all are just trying to live life, and were ALL most concerned about the peace and safety of their families. It convinced me that the issue is a political game and these people are simply collateral damage. This was never reported in American news, and undoubtedly never will. Yet, you could easily understand it by having simple conversations with the intent to listen and understand. You have access to people across the globe. Why aren’t you conversing with them?

I find there to be no excuse for individuals not having conversations that will help them understand the perspective of other individuals who are on the ground in certain situations. If you want to know what it’s like to live in poverty, talk to some poor people instead of watching the news. If you want to know about race relations, talk to people in your community. If you want to know about sexual abuse, talk to some survivors. If you want to know about cults, seek out those who grew up in them. If you want to understand politics, get into your community and see what is happening around you. What change would improve your community as a collective?

It hasn’t been hard for me to connect with people. If you are reading this, you are online. Therefore, it shouldn’t be hard for you either. What you must do, is the work. What you must do, is open your mind to the answers, and accept they may not match what you saw on the news. Accept that what you find may change your reality, and allow that to exist. It’s called growth and evolvement.

“If you heard it on the internet, it’s probably true.” Abraham Lincoln

 3. HAVE THE ABILITY TO HAVE A MULTI-PERSPECTIVE VIEW

The way I separate the “wheat from the chaff“, so to speak, is a combination of listening to my intuition and letting it work in sync with a mind clear of anyone’s influence, including my own. I look at information from all angles. I don’t immediately take sides. I investigate. Once I’ve done that and deducted the truth, then I make a decision if I want to take a stand, walk away or simply observe and hold space.

Take politics for instance. I make a point NOT to follow any one side. Why would I ever immerse myself into situations which are focused on being devise when I can move in an Independent arena, taking no sides, and instead, focusing on politicians working on issues which are important to me? I may support a politician on some things and not others and decide not to vote for them because what I don’t like overshadows what I do like and vice versa.

I’ve watched people shouting about the blue and red, and I realize what I’m observing is America’s re-play of the 90’s Crips and Bloods battles, only the politicians’ drive-by shootings are their disinformation and defaming of one another.

If it’s not okay for the streets, it’s certainly not okay for any institution which is ethically supposed to be committed to having the best interest of the people at heart.

If you can’t have a multi-perspective view, you may be looking at a situation from your own trauma foundation mindset. This can result in you projecting your own traumatic experiences into someone else’s situation. This is very self-deprecating behavior. Please don’t take on other people’s situations as your own. I talk with dozens of people about a myriad of things, from select friends in war torn countries to individuals in my own community who are struggling, to trauma survivors, veterans and more. While I care very much about their well being, I also keep my critical thinking intact and remember that their situations are not my situations. So I am able to listen, observe and not let it turn me into a triggered ball of tears. I do so on my terms and in my own time.

Being able to have a multi-perspective view will also help you see holes in stories, because you are using your critical thinking mind instead of running solely on emotion that is being projected from unresolved personal traumas. Gain the ability to look at a situation objectively over time. With keen eyes and an open mind, you can see the truth for exactly what it is, even if it goes against what you have been told you’re supposed to do/believe/be.

4. DON’T BE A FOLLOWER

One of the worst things a human can do is become a follower and stay complacent in that space. People become followers for many reasons. Some follow an institution or a cause because it makes them feel relevant.

For example, I know of anti-cult “experts” who claim to be know everything about Scientology if that’s what’s trending. Then they’ve moved now to knowing everything about Jehovah’s Witnesses, because that’s what’s trending. They will move on to whatever other new cult subject comes up when that starts trending. But they are NOT experts on these cults. They are people adept at trying to stay in the spotlight. This is not an intention rooted in having anyone’s best interest at heart. That is the behavior of a follower with an ulterior motive disguising themselves as a leader.

Someone with the motive to let truth be known and to help without needing recognition, for instance, would know there are dozens and dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses on social media speaking out and would encourage the media to talk with the experiencers to get the truth. Understand the myriad of people with agendas that serve only them or their latest book. Research the people you are following. Read everything about them and get to know who they truly are. Talk to people who have had experiences with them and listen to their stories. As humans, we have an innate ability to know truth vs lies when we don’t deny that ability within ourselves.

Others follow because they’re terrified to stand alone. Some follow because they love the frenzy of being a part of a big crowd. While I believe in peaceful protest, there are some protests that have held so many people in frenzies, I think about how many individuals they could have helped if they had taken those plane tickets and hotel money and poured it together into a support fund.

The women’s march in Washington DC would be a good example of this. Almost a million women bought plane tickets to the 2017 march. They financially supported the airlines. They financially supported the vagina hat maker. They financially supported the hotels, hostels, motels and/or Air BnB’s they stayed in.  A million women spent almost 1000 dollars or more apiece to gather and protest.

Let’s do that math: 1,000,000 x 1000 = 1 BILLION dollars. Let me repeat that. 1 BILLION dollars.

How can a million women not take a billion dollars and actually create action to help one another, but they can organize to wear vagina hats and vie to be on the news? Why can’t the average American woman look at that with critical eyes and see how counter-productive that was in the larger scope of how those finances were used?

Would those same women have donated that money if that had been an option? I believe some of them would have, but I do not believe the majority of them would because that wasn’t their intention. Their intention was simply just to march and say they were there as if it was a political Woodstock. This is a follower mentality, in that they are not clearly thinking about the best plan of action for their agenda or the best plan of action for the finances they’re willing to invest into their cause.

Do you see the problem with American society here? I do. It’s action vs. attention. Attention, too often, wins.

Americans are used to protesting, but many are not used to doing on-the-ground work to actually help the causes they are so passionate about. Instead, they spend a few days worked into a frenzy and then head back home to continue on with their lives. Be careful of this behavior in yourself. Be willing to donate your money to help someone in your community in regard to causes you are passionate about. Make that money WORK with education and support. That will last someone a lifetime. Action changes lives.

Group think is a dangerous ground to tread on. It is a quicksand which often builds blinders around a human’s eyes so that the person can only see what the group wants them to see.

We must gain the ability to stand on our own two feet and stop following along after other people’s beliefs. We must re-tie the strand that connects us to our individuality and clear thinking. If we all look into our own lives and focus on PERSONAL change, this requires NO following at all. It simply requires work and motivation to be SO incredibly strong that no group nor gust of frenzy can shake you.

5. TAKE A BREAK, DAMMIT!

Turn those damn electronics off. Shut that computer down. Put that phone in the other room. Turn off the news notifications. It is OKAY to take a break. In fact, I beg you to take a break if you cannot clearly see the world outside of yourself with open eyes. If you’ve become one-sided about issues, you may want to ask yourself why? No issue is ever one sided. When in doubt, shut it down.

If you are being pushed into a personal negative mind space as a result of what you are seeing or hearing, give yourself a break.

Get into nature and take a walk. Turn on some music and dance. Bake something. Go play some pool. Go to a movie. Do anything except watch the news, read the news or deal with social networking. Clean up your feed. Un-follow anyone who you feel may be posting triggering opinions. I just went through a major social media cleanse on all of my networks. Now, when I sign in, I’m seeing who and what pertains to my passions. I have to tell you. It felt good.

You are ultimately in control of what you watch and what you take in. You are in control of when you turn it on or off. You are simply in control. The moment you believe you are not in control is most likely a signal that you need to take a break and re-ground yourself into your own reality so you can regain your inner balance.

Your reality is hopefully rooted in your own path; your own healing, your own growth and especially your own personal community. Inside of us is where true change begins; when we continue to promote healing and resist falling prey to fear frenzies, a very easily used mind control tool, given a wide open platform by the internet and media, we realize that beyond the trauma, beyond the social triggers, is a possibility for teaching moments and healing. This starts with the conversations we have with ourselves. our children, friends and family, and dedicating ourselves to a healing path.

So please, please, take a bubble bath (those aren’t just for chicks, by the way). Invite a friend over for dinner and a board or card game. Watch a funny movie alone. Clear your mind. Sit with a sunset, a sunrise or beneath a tree.

Take care of yourself and your mental health. We cannot carry the weight of the planet’s pain within us. Before you dive into anyone else’s trauma, make sure you are grounded into your own healthy reality.