Dealing with Negative Self-Talk and Body Image
Here’s a hard truth about what happens when we don’t love our bodies: if we’re busy picking ourselves apart, limb from limb, then we deplete our willpower and aren’t available to take care of the rest of our lives.
Think about it: when our brains are filled with negative self-talk, especially self-talk that pins us down by negating the real beauty and strength of the awesome feminine bodies we’re born with, then there’s no room left to take new, positive action or focus on the good stuff; our brains get too distracted, too weighed down to focus on creating a life of passion and joy. Our brains run on the tracks we lay down for them, and if they’re running on negative, self-hating, self-limiting tracks of habit, our brains will run and run and run in a loop that doesn’t promote health, well-being, or joy.
When you’ve given up on your body, it only makes sense that the heart and the mind will follow.
When we define our own body as bad and wrong, we’re most susceptible to the lure of “ forbidden foods”. When we talk harshly about a body part, over and over again, we leave ourselves emotionally vulnerable in unhealthy ways and we become easy marks for food-marketing geniuses, clever gym owners, and whatever forbidden food we’ve got tucked away somewhere. I have client after client come to me, frustrated by how powerless they feel over their cravings, but they’ve never stopped to acknowledge that they’ve already given up on their own bodies, that they have already, in really essential ways, sold themselves out. And when you’ve given up on your body, it only makes sense that the heart and the mind will follow. You simply can’t beat yourself into loving your body. Wherever your body is right now is where it ought to be. It may be fifteen pounds over where you’d like it to be; it may be bloated, tired, sluggish, or in pain. Wherever that body of yours is, now is the time to decide you are going to love it and care for it.
It’s time to enter into a dialogue with your body that is productive and health affirming.
Once you make even a simple mental gesture toward body acceptance, you will begin to release yourself from all of the old mental baggage that has kept you feeling heavy and too tired to transform your habits to this point. It’s time to enter into a dialogue with your body that is productive and health affirming, to gently yet firmly take the wheel and begin to steer yourself onto a new course. It’s the only way.
Why bullying yourself doesn’t work
All of us have an inner critic that just doesn’t know when to shut up, and even worse, this harpy is often hissing at us in such a low whisper that we aren’t even aware that she’s tearing us to shreds (often, ironically, while we’re on a treadmill or yoga mat, virtuously passing on dessert, or otherwise trying to be “good”). It takes vigilance and cognitive awareness to dismantle the negative monologue that runs through my head, to catch those messages that undermine all of my conscious efforts to feel good about my body. But this work must be done; otherwise, all of the brightest possibilities for radiant health stay out of my reach.
Want to find out what your negative brain has to say to you?
Here’s a little test: simply head to the nearest department store, preferably in the off-season, and try on the sexiest bathing suit you can find. Chances are that this will unleash a torrent of negative thinking about your body, and if you listen to the self-talk, or more honestly the self-lashing, that ensues, you may decide that you’ll never go to the beach again. So get naked. And get real about your body. Maybe your belly will never be flat, not since you had children, but so what?
Instead of telling yourself that you’re a loser because you’ve got stretch marks, why not praise that body for producing healthy babies? So what if your build won’t ever be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Who besides you in your real life cares? I’m not trying to be cavalier here, or worse, to offer empty peppy slogans, but the fact is, comparing brings nothing but despairing, no matter what you look like. What matters is that you accept the body you have - the body you are in at this moment - and know that as long as it’s supporting you while you move to create the life of your dreams, then it is nothing less than smoking hot.