What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to changing your lifestyle, losing weight, getting in shape, or anything, really? Is it the diet itself? Is it something to do with the equipment in your gym? Are the challenges in front of you and the changes you want to make really so impossible that no one would be able to do them?
Or is your biggest challenge when it comes to creating change in your life actually…you?
Often I have found that I am my biggest source of motivation, but I can just as often be my own biggest source of discouragement. All too frequently I hear myself say phrases like “You’ll never get to where you want to be,” “Who are you kidding, you know you’re going to eat that anyway,” or “Let’s be real, Dani, you know you’re not getting up early to workout.” The voice in my head is my constant companion. How miserable is it to have that voice also be a constant stream of discouragement and belittlement? How much more difficult does an already intimidating and overwhelming task like weight loss become when even your own mind thinks you can’t do it?
So how do you change your own thoughts? How do you change the way you talk to your self? How do you become your best supporter instead of your biggest doubter?
I wish I could tell you the answer was simple, but it’s truly not. Often, healing our relationship with ourselves is one of the most difficult things we will ever attempt to do. However, it’s completely and totally possible. Like any seemingly difficult task, the best way to establish a pattern of positive self-talk is one small step at a time.
Try some of these little changes and exercises to start creating more positive self-talk in your life!
- Tape a piece of paper next to the mirror you use most frequently. When you wake up in the morning, write one thing you like about yourself on that paper. Think about that thing all day. “Today, my hair is beautiful” or “The color of my eyes is really amazing,” or maybe “The freckles on my nose really make my face look cute!” Every day, add something else to that list, and think of it when you feel yourself start to talk negatively about yourself.
- Remove yourself from the situation. When you realize that you’re in the middle of a negative thought about yourself, push pause. Imagine that you heard your best friend saying the same thing about himself or herself that you just said to yourself. How would you react? What would it be like for you to hear them talk about themselves that way? My guess is that you would be pretty mortified to hear someone you love speak so negatively about themselves. Why on earth, then, is it OK for you to speak to yourself that way? When you catch yourself speaking negatively to yourself, stop and ask “Would I let someone I love talk to themselves this way?”.
- Pick a word that is meaningful to you. A word that describes a personality trait you love about yourself. A word that represents something powerful and motivating to you personally, and keep that word tucked into the back of your mind. My word, for example, is “Strong.” When I feel those negative voices creep out of the dark corners of my brain to try and bring me down after the scale showed me a higher number than last week, or after a pair of jeans didn’t fit quite right in the dressing room, or when I’ve skipped the gym for a few days, I call on my word. Stop your thought the minute you recognize that it’s negative. Close your eyes and focus entirely on just breathing in and out for 15 seconds. Every time you breathe out, think of your word. This little mental reset is a great way to disrupt the cycle of negative self-talk!
Most of all, just remember to be gentle with yourself. Your challenges are temporary, but your relationship with yourself will be forever. You are more than just the sum of your struggles, and in time, you’ll be able to cheer yourself on even when the task in front of you seems impossible!