Tips for Combating Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk is a topic I enjoy exploring with people because it’s one of those things that when changed can make a big difference. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “I am my own worst critic”. There is some truth to that, especially when it comes to food and body image.
Fears of weight gain, worries over overeating, or the anticipation of food or body image comments from others are just a few examples of disruptive stressors individuals may regularly face. When stress is high and anxious emotions are present, negative self-talk tends to creep in.
Why does this happen? Negative self-talk acts as a safety net that’s there for you to fall back on when something isn’t quite going the way you’d like. For example, if you realized you ate more cookies than you anticipated, the safety net of negative self-talk may sound like:
“I cannot believe you ate all those cookies. You have absolutely no self-control. You’re destined to fail.”
Ouch, that’s rough! Ironically, you probably wouldn’t say that to a good friend.
Focus on nourishing your body and soul and give yourself a friendly pep talk with the tips below:
1. Balance negative comments with positive comments.
You may notice that negative self-talk happens automatically; sometimes you don’t even know it’s happening. One way to interrupt the negative self-talk is to balance it with a compliment.
2. Prepare your responses to unwarranted, stressful topics ahead of time.
Consider some of the topics that may trigger negative self-talk – weight loss stories, comments about “good” vs. “bad” foods, and diet talk. Take some time to think through how you might respond beforehand, and how you may handle the comments in a way that doesn’t trigger that negative voice inside your head.
3. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to your closest friend.
If you choose one tip to work towards, choose this one. When you find yourself spiraling into a negative self-talk session ask yourself, “What might I say to a friend in this moment?” If you want to take it a step further make it a journaling exercise and write down all of the positive reminders you would want to tell your friend.
4. Accept your imperfections
Nobody is perfect, yourself included. Perfectionism is a gateway into negative self-talk. Embracing your imperfections and reminding yourself that you’re only human can go a long way.
There’s no need to use yourself as a punching bag when stress from everyday life is taxing as it is. Make the conversations with yourself more respectful and compassionate - you deserve it!