I’ve been observing my own negative self-talk lately, and realized that it’s an expression of something created by the people around me in childhood and culture. It mimics all the messages that said you’re not enough, you’re not good enough, you’ll never be good enough. You have the wrong body. You’re defective. You’re a born sinner. Pride is a sin. Always give to others before you give to yourself. Disappear your self. You’re not welcome.

Naming each of those statements, I feel their source—parents, church, misogyny, human power practices, cruelty. I see the outcome of them all added together and it looks like a giant ball of string. Each one of those sentiments or statements is a string added to the ball, wound around and around its ever-increasing girth. That ball is lodged in my chest and it’s keeping my heart from freely opening.

It’s just a ball of string. I could unwind that ball and it would be a long line of strings tied together. Unwound, it has much less power. Divided into separate small strings, it has even less. That ball is used to be tight and condensed.  It wants to keep remaking itself, it relies on the power it has as a mass. I have given it a lot of my energy over the years.

I designed a small ritual to help me unwind that big ball of negative energy. I went to the local thrift store and bought a big ball of soft yarn. All wound up around itself, it’s larger than a softball. I keep it on my kitchen table with a pair of scissors. When I hear myself using negative self-talk, I stop and reel off a piece of yarn, snip it, and hold the piece in my hands. Instead of layering one more loop around The Big Ball of Negative Energy, I’m taking a loop off. I examine and identify what I’m feeling. I acknowledge that this is something that comes from outside, that it doesn’t belong to me and I can let it go. 

I remind myself that I am a precious human life, that I am challenged just like everyone else, that the voice of ego is not who I want driving the vehicle of my physical existence. I shift my attention and allow myself to center on the seed of my soul, the house of my spirit, the flow of Life Force. I give thanks for the opportunity to once again connect with the cosmos, to be the vibration of Universal Love. When I have embodied that Light and spaciousness, when my heart has opened, I place the string in the wood stove and watch it burn away.

That big ball of negativity comes from a lifetime of behavior. The ball of yarn project is helping me unwind that bit by bit, a reversal of the building process that created it. It’s an opportunity for honest self-reflection with resolution in the moment. After a week of doing this, that ball of yarn doesn’t seem any smaller! I’m looking forward to a lot of practice in opening my heart  : )