How much do you talk down to yourself? I mean about your status, your measuring up to friends, and yes, even your body? Self-talk is part of being human. From the moment we acquire language, we are rarely without our steady inner chatter. However, the quality of our self-talk shapes the quality of our lives. Self-talk and body image are intimately connected. For many women, our inner monologue about our body can be critical, judgmental, and down-right bullying. There are many reasons for this – some of which we explore in our Body Love program (find out more about Body Love at our April 15 Information Session!). For today’s purpose, however, let’s explore three ways to hack the system, rewire our negative self-talk patterns, and come closer to appreciating and deeply caring for our bodies.
The next time you are having a bad day or life throws you a curveball, pause and check in with your self-talk. What you are saying to yourself is likely impacting how you are thinking and feeling about your circumstances and the people around you.
Practice these three skills to eliminate your negative body talk:
Pause and notice.
The act of pausing allows us to touch on what we are saying to ourselves. When we pause, we create some distance between ourselves and our negative self-talk. When distanced, we can become an observer of our inner chatter, and we can assess the degree to which it is supporting us or causing harm. For example, let’s say that I catch myself being overly critical of myself for enjoying a glass of wine while out with friends for a rare socially distanced outing during a week when I promised myself to “be good” about food. This one negative thought can lead to a spiral of sorts that, if allowed, can take me into a deep hole of self-condemnation and shame. Once I catch the thought, I say to myself: “Is this thought empowering or punishing? Does it heal or harm? Would I talk to my sister, daughter, or friend in this way?” The mere act of catching the thought, pausing, and interrogating the thought to assess its value or lack thereof, can be game changing.
If we decide that our self-talk is critical, shaming, punishing, harmful, or negative, we have the power to create a shift – immediately. It is important to own the fact that you do have this power! But, how do we do this? Once you opt to call upon your power to shift, say to yourself, “What is the next best thought I can have about this situation?” Or, “Is there a more elevated way of thinking about this?” Or, “What would I say to my friend if she was condemning herself for enjoying a glass of wine with dear friends?
These are important questions to ask in order to interrupt the negative self-talk loop. Engaging in this sort of mental shifting takes a lot of practice. Once mastered, however, it not only becomes natural, but you are less likely to engage in overly critical body talk.
Improving our self-talk requires awareness, pausing, consciously shifting, and lots of practice. Here are few ways you can practice daily:
- Make a list of awesome things your body does daily. For example, my body lifts my toddler, carries groceries, takes me on long walks, helps me to serve others while volunteering, begins healing itself when I am hurt, makes love, soothes others through touch… Take a few moments each day to review this list. This shouldn’t take very long. Over time, you will create a mindset of deep appreciation for your body.
- A few times each day, place both hands over your heart and take a moment to connect to the fact that it is beating. Bringing the hands over the heart not only creates quick calm, it reminds us of how awe-inspiring our body is.
- For a few moments each day, look into a mirror. Keep your focus on your eyes. Notice every detail of your eyes – the various colors, the size of your pupils, and all other nuances that make your eyes, unlike anyone else’s eyes. Take a moment to connect to the mystery that lies behind your eyes – the “you” that you cannot see. How are your eyes the window to your soul? Over time, this practice takes you beyond the body and connects you to so much more of who you are.
One of the key elements of our Body Love program is becoming aware of negative self-talk, interrupting the pattern, learning how to rewire your self-talk programming, and practicing with us! We hope that you will join us for the incredible experience of Body Love. Until then, we hope that these three steps will help you to improve the quality of your self-talk and that this will result in an improved quality of life and an improved relationship between you and your body!