January 27, 2011

Catching The Nasty Girl in the Act

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:08 am by kellyfdennis

At the end of the last post I talked about figuring out what the nasty girl’s purpose and function is in your own life.  Before you can do that, you need to make sure you can recognize when she’s speaking.  Most of us have believed her for so long that we accept what she’s saying as fact and a part of who we are.  This post focuses on learning how to hear her and then discerning what her purpose is in your life.

There are several ways to catch her in the act.  I think the most effective way is to use a cognitive therapy technique called a thought log. Here’s how you begin to become more aware of her:

                During day 1 of your exploration, pay attention to your mood.  When you notice yourself experiencing a negative mood change, stop and take the time to jot down a few things.  First write briefly about the situation: what’s happening, who is around you, what behaviors you are engaging in. Then write down all the thoughts you can remember thinking (especially ones about yourself) when the negative mood change happened. Next identify the emotions you were/are feeling (angry, sad, scared, disappointed, etc). Don’t go any further with the exercise on Day 1, except for recording situations, thoughts, and emotions.  Do this as many times during the day as you can.

                On Day 2, repeat the exercise from day 1. Repeat this exercise as many times as you need to in order to become familiar with your nasty girl and what she’s saying. You may need to do it for a couple of days, that’s ok.  At the end of the day, review the thoughts on your logs. See if you notice any themes or patterns in your thinking. Some common themes could be high expectations of yourself or others, comparisons, familiar statements from growing up years, perfectionism, fear of rejection, fear of failure, just to name a few.

Ok, so now you can recognize when she’s speaking and what she’s bugging you about.  Now you need to explore her purpose and function in your life; that is, why is she continuing to bug you about these particular themes? This exploration goes back to our discussion about getting our needs met.  Remember, she’s trying to force you to get your needs met and minimize pain while doing it. Go back and look at your themes and figure out which need you are trying to get met.

The “needs” broken down:

-The need to follow the rules and values that your Nasty Girl thinks will keep you on the “right” track.

-The need to feel adequate. She does this through comparisons with others so that you may occasionally come up higher on the social ladder, or setting incredibly high standards so you feel good when you occasionally meet them.

-The need to be accepted by critical parents.  She accomplishes this by making the same critical comments of you that they did when you were growing up.

-The need to achieve. She berates you for not doing better, thereby “pushing” you to try harder.

-The need to minimize painful feelings (fear of failure, fear of rejection, worthlessness). She tells you that “you can’t do it”, so you don’t try and your fear recedes.

 By now you can recognize her voice and you are beginning to learn her purpose and function in your life.

Next time, let’s begin the process of silencing her and finding more productive ways to get your needs met!


  1. freeinhim said,

    I think for me, this was one of the hardest parts of therapy. I just didn’t want to keep thought logs. At first I had a really hard time identifying the emotions. And when I could I didn’t like to admit them and I definitely didn’t want a written record of them. But I did it anyway. This process helped to to identify the nasty voice in my head. That didn’t mean the voice just disappeared, but at least I recognized it.

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