5 ways to develop your mindful self-monitoring skills to help build healthy habits that last

9th February 2021

It’s common to struggle with self-esteem at some point in our lives. However, turning our thoughts around and thinking positively about ourselves has significant benefits.

It is important to remember that if your thoughts are motivating then they are useful thoughts and are helping in keeping you on track with your goals.

More often than not, we find ourselves mixed up in a negative thought spiral that undermines our commitment and effort towards building healthy habits.

In order to learn how to accept our thoughts we must firstly develop our self awareness skills. One way to do this is through mindful self-monitoring.

There are multiple ways in which you can become more aware of your thoughts and thus build your self esteem. Here are five tips from hero’s Behaviour Change Specialist, Dr Heather McKee:

1.   Mindfulness meditation practice

“Developing a mindfulness practice in general will help in terms of recognising negative thoughts and learning not to engage with them. Two techniques that can help with this in particular include, thought labelling and objective focus strategies.

“Thought labelling – this is the practice of sitting with your thoughts, noticing them as they come up and labelling them. For example, say you feel you have overindulged at a BBQ with friends. Instead of immersing yourself in negative self-talk, notice the thoughts that come up and label them. “Oh there is my thought about not planning in advance”, “There is my thought about my appearance”, and “There is my thought about my future happiness”. Labelling your thoughts that pop up can start to help you examine them more objectively, without involving emotions or feelings.

“Objective focus – Next time you find you are giving yourself a hard time about something to do with your healthy habits. Rather than diving into your thoughts and swimming around in them while they eat away at you, like swimming in piranha infested waters. Try to tune in to your body in the present, what can you see, feel, hear? What is the texture of the seat you are on, what background noises both loud and quiet noises can you hear? What can you smell? The key here is to turn your awareness to your body and the sensations it’s experiencing in the present moment rather than allowing your mind to run away with itself instead.”

2.   Letting go

“Think about the negative thoughts or dialogues that normally pop up in response to when you go off track with your healthy habits. Think about the impact of holding on to this particular thought or storyline has had and is going to continue to have on you. Can you identify specific unhelpful self-judgments that you have become fused with? The storylines you tell yourself? For example, not being good enough/thin enough/rich enough/smart enough etc. Can you pay attention to and list these common stories.”

3.   Thought reflection

“Another option is to look at asking yourself a series of reflective questions:

  •     What am I feeling?
  •     What just happened to lead me to feel this way?
  •     What am I saying to myself in this situation?
  •     How would I like to react differently to this?”

4.   The bracelet technique

“In learning to note their negative thought patterns some people find it useful to use something external as a cue to heighten their awareness of these thoughts. You could choose to wear a brightly coloured bracelet on your right wrist. Each time you notice a particular thought, feeling or behaviour that you feel is unhelpful, move the bracelet from your right to your left wrist. Heightening your self-awareness of negative thoughts and helping you tune into a body based action rather than the thought itself.”

5.   Metaphor

“You can use certain metaphors to help you diffuse from negative thoughts. A common metaphor used is the passengers on a bus metaphor. You are the bus driver, whilst all the passengers are your thoughts, noisily chattering away and trying to distract you. However you keep your eyes on the road, focused on where you are trying to get to. Other metaphors and imagery people use are thoughts sailing down a river whilst we stand on the bank watching them go by, letting thoughts float away like a balloon, watching thoughts, like cars, drive past on a road whilst you stand at the side observing but not engaging.”

Why it matters

“There is no denying that self-acceptance is not a skill that comes easily. However, it is vital instead of trying to control our thoughts, by coming to terms with them, taking accountability for our actions, and accepting that we can’t change the past. We can alleviate the unnecessary suffering they cause and focus more on motivating thoughts that are going to get us to our goals faster and keep us there longer.

“Ultimately, when we stop battling with certain thoughts and emotions our actions and behaviours stop being defined by them too.”

Boosting your self-esteem is great for fighting depression and anxiety and is good for your overall mental wellness. 

For more information about how you can support your own wellbeing, the wellbeing of your team or your clients, get in touch below.

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