I began holding conversations with myself as an exercise to hear back exactly what I needed and wanted to hear. Contrary to popular joke that you're going crazy when you start answering yourself, it was grand to hear unabashed praise, affection and tenderness.
They were the precise words I craved to hear, and they instantly cheered me. It was like never being alone and having a constantly positive companion who adored me.
I noticed that my eyes flicked from side-to-side as the two conversed. The left always initiated the talking and was the upset one. The voice looking right, however, spoke very little but was always positive. More surprisingly, it was only in the present. In huge contrast, the voice looking left worried incessantly about the past and the future.
My eyes flicked naturally from 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock (as if looking at a clock). I tried other combinations but found them too hard to hold. At times when it was not possible to look askance such as when driving, I experimented just thinking 2 o'clock and repeated saying "2 o'clock, 2 o'clock, 2 o'clock" and noticed that it was immediately calming.
Of course, just breaking negative thinking makes one feel better, but this gave a structure, something to actually do, that gave instant relief. Too often, negative thinking spins like a hamster-wheel that won't stop, and if unchecked, can lead to a panic attack.
Having a quick ace to pull out anytime I found myself sinking into a quagmire of negative thoughts was like a buoy of salvation. It brought me back to the surface to deal with the present.
Having one person completely understand you and still like you is like manna from heaven. I began to like myself better, too, for I'd accessed that part of me that wasn't judgmental, caustic, easily offended or fearful. After a month of doing this exercise, just thinking "2 o'clock" makes me smile. It has become my new best friend.