Happiness is a choice based on our internal representations, says psychotherapist Usha Chudasama, who is hosting two workshops at Wanstead Library this month as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Internal representations are the pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes, smells and self-talk that our brain sifts through when information comes via our five senses. Our brain is bombarded with so much information that it will delete, distort and generalise all that input and form an idea of what it all means – this also creates our belief systems and plays a large part in our perception, self-talk and level of happiness.
Positive self-talk is essential for success and happiness. We judge other people and ourselves by the messages we receive and the perspectives we take on as ours. She’s so “tall/short/fat/skinny” or I’m so “stupid/kind/fat/amazing” etc. These are all labels that become our inner voice – our inner self-talk. What labels do you use for yourself or others?
Have you ever stopped to hear the thoughts in your head? Have you stopped to see the images your mind creates? Most people I work with are either not aware of their pictures or thoughts or they can’t stop that constant chatter in their heads and react in situations rather than giving a thoughtful response and then feel bad about themselves afterwards.
The thing is that the images you create or the words you use to describe yourself and others are constantly shaping your world and the world around you. When I have worked with people in therapy, they have sometimes used incorrect labels which then makes them live lives that keep them in a mental prison based on that label. For example, if they always call themselves “stupid”, then the danger is that they begin to live up to that label. The language you use to speak to yourself is so important and powerful because unconsciously you will act ‘stupid’ and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. That means you will start to believe it because your mind will recall memories or pictures of times when you felt stupid and interpret this event like the ones before.
What makes people happy is directly connected with the words and pictures they consistently use. This is because our brains are designed to find what we look for. What if you called yourself ‘clever’, ‘magnificent’ or ‘smart’? By changing the words and mental images we use to label ourselves, we change the way we think about ourselves.
Also, as our brain thinks in pictures, having positive images of ourselves and the goals we want to reach helps us manifest positivity and happiness in our lives. What you have to remember is that the labels you use and the pictures you make in your mind need to be kind. What makes people happy are realistic labels that empower you. These kinds of labels become your identity.