You might feel bad and discouraged from applying SRT, for a couple of reasons. Understanding these will help the therapy be more effective.

Self-talk shaming

There are multiple reasons that the practice might be awkward at first, and one of them is self-talk shaming. While it is considered perfectly normal to engage in internal monologue, doing it out loud is condemned in many cultures. It is assumed in such cultures that “it is crazy to talk to oneself out loud”.

There might be many reasons, but the most prominent one is that people with mental illnesses do talk to themselves. People who are going through extremely uncomfortable conditions but otherwise physiologically fine, such as homeless or very lonely people, are also known to speak to themselves in public. This causes loud self-talk to be associated with mental conditions.

But it does not work like that the other way around. A conscious affirmation is not uncontrolled or compulsive behavior. It is quite the opposite—an intentional statement of the most beautiful and admirable thing one can wish for oneself: changing for the better.

If you are experiencing this shame, you can comfort yourself by asking yourself this: “If all the sentences written on this paper are true or can be true, why should I feel shame for reading them out loud?” In terms of feeling, there should be no difference from, say, reading a book, or an article.

Like in any other spiritual practice, the awkwardness subsides with practice, and motivational self-talk becomes second nature. Once you feel the value of that, you also understand how silly this shaming actually is.

Extreme cognitive dissonance

Depending on the belief that is being massaged, the intensity of cognitive dissonance might exist on a scale from mild to extreme. It is absolutely necessary for the individual to receive the therapy in a trusted environment, to feel safe and secure. If the therapy triggers a state of extreme disturbance and causes pain, it should stop!

It is important to understand that all beliefs exist for a reason—even negative ones. If someone holds onto a negative belief despite the harm it brings to their life, the belief is probably linked to a past trauma, which can be a source of great fear. In such cases, the trauma must be treated first, before the belief can change.

Moreover, the human stress response has evolved to ensure survival, even though it could cost the individual their wellbeing in the long term. Individuals that come from difficult backgrounds would find a lot of evidence that chronic negativity, mistrust and stress work in their favor, compelling them to do what is necessary to survive. Not only such cases need to enter a completely safe environment in order to change, they might take a long time to show progress, as the fear that hinders their positivity is the greatest of them all: the fear of death.

SRT is most helpful to those who are consciously willing to change, but do not know how to. It might still be helpful to those who have the potential to change, but are not conscious of it. Finally, it might do harm to those who are not ready to change. As with any psychological intervention, it should never be forced onto someone.

Next: How to know if it is working