Pay Attention to Your Words – Empowering Self-Talk

My theme for the month of February has been Self- Love. Today’s blog is about the power of how we talk to ourselves. How do you talk to yourself? Are you talking to yourself in a loving, compassionate way or are you speaking to yourself in a pretty nasty, “judgey” critical way? A lot of the time our inner voice can be pretty nasty. Let me give you an example. When a person has a setback on their weight loss journey, which often happens, how they speak to themselves about this setback can make a big difference to the impact it has on how they feel and the next steps that they take. Are they reinforcing a very negative attitude of failure and beating themselves up because they feel history is repeating itself? Or are they speaking to themselves in a way that demonstrates some self-compassion? When someone has a setback, there’s always a reason why, and that negative self-talk is not going to help them rise above the setback. Negative, critical self-talk is going to keep them stuck in this pattern. 

How to Turn Negative Self-Talk to Positive Empowering Self-Talk
One of the things that can be very helpful, if you have a day where you go off track, listen to your voice, listen to how you’re talking to yourself. What are you saying and become aware of it? Are you making broad generalized sweeping statements about yourself that are very negative such as “oh, here I go again” or “I am never going to get this done” or “I always mess up” or “I have no self-control”.

Is your inner voice making these huge generalizations about ONE setback as opposed to being able to focus just on that one set-back and ask yourself helpful questions so you can learn from the setback. Asking things such as, “what happened”, “why did you feel the need to turn to the food”, “were you just not prepared” “were you upset about something” “was it an old unconscious pattern”. That’s a much more constructive way of speaking to yourself than giving yourself 13 lashes because you messed up.   

The second step once you notice that your self-talk is quite negative, is to imagine you are speaking to somebody you care about who just had the same setback.  If it was your son, daughter, sibling, best friend, spouse how would you speak to them? Would it be in a more compassionate and supportive way than how you are speaking to yourself? It is helpful to actually picture that person in your mind’s eye as you talk to yourself and change how you are talking to yourself by imagining that you were speaking to them. That will have a very dramatic effect your tone and the words you say so that the entire inner conversation will come from a more loving place. 

I know if I was speaking to one of my kids about something they messed up on, my words and tone would come from a place of unconditional love.  Ultimately, I would want to support them and help them so they could work through what happened and be able to learn from it.

Unfortunately, many of my clients who have struggled with weight issues in the past have a history of speaking to themselves critically when they have had a set-back.  One of the first things I do is to get them to change the inner dialogue so they can feel better about themselves and then they are much more open to learning from the setback.

One of the More Toxic Words
Here is another example of one word that I hear often which is definitely quite toxic – CHEAT.  I had a discussion just the other day with the client, regarding self-talk specifically regarding this word. She’s in the early stage of her maintenance phase of her program after having lost her weight. She said, “I had some Cheat’s, with my food”. The first thing I said to her was, “let’s first of all, remove that word from your vocabulary”. The word cheat is a very negative word and is going to trigger negative emotions. When somebody says, “I cheated” there’s going to be guilt, there’s going to be shame. The second thing I said to her was “how about turning this around and reframing your “cheats”?” She’s at the point in her program of working on maintaining her weight and learning how to integrate flexibility into her lifestyle where she can have indulgences occasionally as long as she eats well 80 % of the time.  I call this the 80/20 rule.

She was naming her indulgence a “cheat” which is a very disempowering word versus coming from a place of empowerment and saying she chose to have an indulgence and it was pleasurable. By labelling it a cheat she was making the experience less pleasurable and therefore less fulfilling and left her feeling guilty. 

I wrote a blog two weeks ago about pleasure . It’s OK to have some foods that are considered indulgences as part of a long-term lifestyle but if you going to do that then make the experience pleasurable including how to think about it afterwards. 

A more empowering way to talk to yourself about an indulgence is to say: 

“I’m going to have this indulgence and I am going to thoroughly enjoy it”.

“I’m going to sit down and take my time. I’m going to savour this. I’m going to own this experience because I am coming from a place of choice”. 

“It’s okay for me to have pleasure in life and enjoy pleasurable experiences that include food”

When you create a pleasurable experience around the indulgence, including how you judge it and think about it, it will contribute to a feeling of self-positivity.   You will feel fulfilled and you actually won’t feel the need to over-eat nor will you need to worry about uncontrollable cravings. 

In summary, pay close attention to your self-talk, because when you’re coming from choice and you’re coming from self-love when you mindfully choose to indulge, there won’t be any guilt or shame. If you do have a actual setback and mindlessly eat unplanned food then just be kind to yourself and speak to yourself in a loving and compassionate way, then you will be in a better mindset to learn from the experience so you can prevent it from happening again in the future.

Watch your words and be kind to yourself.  I hope you found this information helpful.If you want to learn more:

  1. You can book a complimentary call, and discuss your challenges, and obstacles, and together we can determine if my program is right for you.
  2. You can also go to my Facebook page, @DrSherBovay, where you can find and join my Private Facebook group, The FastLane Mind Body Reset Mastery Group. Here, I host Facebook lives and frequent posts where you can engage and learn more.