Ending Negative Self Talk

August 28, 2010

Now. This is a bit of a healthy living blogger hot topic BUT one that I have never addressed directly, though presumably one could infer by the content of my writing that I am firmly and staunchly against negative self talk.

There are two major reasons for engaging in this type of behavior. Both are insidious and demand our complete and utter attention.

1. Lack of self esteem

When you feel badly about yourself, and are frequently stewing deep in self loathing and shame, negative talk becomes a natural and easy part of your everyday dialogue, both with yourself and with others. You are simply repeating out loud the constant babble of your broken heart and lack of self worth – I’m ugly. I’m fat. No one will ever love me. You should SEE the size of my thighs. I can’t believe I ate that. I don’t deserve the same opportunities as everyone else. I’m worthless.

When this internal monologue is a part of your daily existence, you are likely apologizing for your size/lack of experience/insert reason here from the very moment that you enter a room, quickly moving to “point out the obvious” that of course you assume everyone else must be thinking.

When I was wrapped up in self-doubt and anxiety, I feel as though I had to constantly compensate for my fat body but saying yes when I wanted to say no, making myself small physically and intellectually, and keeping my opinions to a dull roar. I felt like the quieter and smaller I could make myself, the less people around me would be offended by the magnitude of my body and the less they would tease or judge me for it.

I would engage in negative self talk, because I truly believed that I was worthless and I was reaching out for someone to make me better/thinner/smarter/prettier. Or at least for someone to commiserate with.

2. Easy topic of conversation

We are taught to downplay our successes. We are taught that women who are beautiful and less complicated are the ones that boys want to make their girlfriends. We are taught to relate to one another by pointing out our flaws.

How many conversations have you had in your life, where you were casually mentioning successes and strengths?

Perhaps a few.

How many conversations have you had that were based in negative talk? Read: I’m so fat. I simply HAVE to lose twenty pounds. TOMORROW I’m starting a workout routine – have you seen my cellulite?

I am willing to bet my weight in gold that you can recollect a million of these conversations. Or perhaps you cannot even recollect them because they come so easily that they are a part of your ordinary interaction with other women. This is the way that we are taught to communicate with one another. Downplay successes. Focus on flaws. Point out our weaknesses. It is a common ground upon which relationships are formed. Hell – it is common ground upon which many web communities are built.

Why it must end.

When you talk negatively about yourself, your words are powerful. Even if you don’t “really believe” what you are saying and you are just trying to relate to your friends, every time you say something mean about yourself I truly believe it is logged somewhere deep in your heart. The more that you participate in this type of behavior – the sooner you will find yourself believing in your words.

Words are powerful. Thoughts become things.

When you choose to end negative self talk, the reverse it true. Every time you actively deny your instinct to put yourself down, or to say something nice about yourself, you are working to unravel the lifetime of negativity surrounding your self image. When you say nice things, someday you may wake up to find that you are actually BELIEVING all of the sweet and wonderful things that you are saying about yourself. And how wonderful will that be??

Is this a problem for you? How do you keep from engaging in negative self talk? How do you build positive communities that celebrate your strengths and successes?