How do you talk to yourself?
Picture this, you are deep into a workout and your heart is starting to work a little faster and your lungs are working a little harder. Discomfort starts creeping in your body and you are suddenly left with a choice. Do you keep going and push past the discomfort? Or do you stop and evade the pain?
Or how about this;
Your Zoom fatigue is at its tipping point and in the midst of juggling your busy life you forget to turn in a work assignment! Do you beat yourself up, telling yourself that you are so unorganized and disappointing? Or do you tell yourself, “ I am doing my best. I made a mistake, I will take responsibility and give myself grace.”
These are two very different inner dialogues.
Whether it’s in the gym or in any facet of our life- how we talk to ourselves is vital to our wellbeing. We were all born with the intention of discovering our unique greatness. For some of us, the only thing that keeps us from fulfilling that greatness, is the voice in our head.
With the rise of technology, our self-talk is highly influenced by external narratives that circulate our channels of communication. How and where we receive information can have a profound effect on how we view ourselves.
But, this does not mean we have lost agency of the development of our self-perception and identity. We receive messages through social media, marketing, and messages of what we SHOULD be. What we SHOULD look like. But that’s just it, these are suggestions and we have the ability to accept those suggestions or to negate them.
“Awareness facilitates choice” is one of the most powerful statements. Recognizing that we have a choice in how we talk to ourselves, was powerful.
Even when it doesn’t feel like it, we always have a choice.
But, there is one major component we have to address before we even begin to take action to change our self-talk. The WILLINGNESS to change. A “ hands up in the air, I have nothing to lose, jumping off the ledge and taking a leap of faith” willingness is what will motivate us to take action and ultimately take control of our own narrative.
So if you are ready to take the leap of having a more positive voice in your head, here are a few tools that could help facilitate that journey.
1. Identify your self-talk.
The first step to creating more positive self-talk is identifying it.
When you are looking at a photo of yourself or catch a glimpse of your body in the mirror, what are your initial thoughts? Do you say, “ Ughhhh… I wish my * insert body part* was bigger/smaller” or do you think, “ I AM the embodiment of the fire emoji. I look and most importantly I FEEL amazing!”
How about when you are in a workout and you start getting to that dark place, note what is going on in your head. What are you telling yourself? Are you trying to convince yourself to stop the workout? Are you telling yourself you can’t? Or maybe you don’t even know what your self-talk sounds like.
Before we can start changing our self-talk, we must recognize it and face it. So the next time you are in the middle of a workout, or you are looking at yourself in the mirror, pay attention to what is going on in your head. No judgment, just simply observe how you are talking to yourself. Then write down what you were telling yourself.
2. Question it
Once we have identified how we talk to ourselves, now it’s time to question it.
If you wrote down the thoughts going on in your head during your workout, do you recognize any themes or patterns? If you told yourself something like, “ I’m too slow. I can’t do this. I’m too big. I’m too small…” Ask yourself, “where did these thoughts come from?” This might take a little digging into your past. Did you first learn the language of doubt as a kid? Did someone tell you that you were not capable? Do you compare yourself to others?
Always question doubt and stay curious and most importantly- we are not our thoughts.
3. Redirect it.
Okay. So you started identifying your self-talk. And you even started questioning it. Now that we have processed this information, it’s time to redirect.
Be your own lawyer.
“Your honor, the defendant is simply too small to lift these weights. She is not capable…”
“OBJECTION! My client IS capable!”
*This is supposed to be your inner dialogue conversing*
As silly as this may sound it actually is helpful. When you start thinking negatively about yourself, after a workout, about your body image or anything in your life think, “OBJECTION!”
I’m too slow.
My thighs are too big.
I’m too old.
With each objection, start reframing your words.
Instead of saying “I’m too slow.” Maybe say, “ I am resilient and I am working hard every day to improve my endurance in workouts”
This takes some creativity and an open mind, but ultimately when we begin to replace our negative thoughts with more compassionate and kind thoughts, they become our natural inner dialogue.
We can use our self-talk to elevate ourselves or deflate ourselves.
The choice is ours.