Negative self-talk is a real thing, we all do it, but there is a practice different from believing the lies. A practice you can utilize to quiet those negative saboteurs while allowing you to hear them, recognize them, dismiss their lies and access the part of your brain that has your best interests in mind. This practice is what I call mental fitness, which resonates with many of my listeners because many of you are quite familiar with the required consistent practice of weight lifting to strengthen and grow muscle. Lasting results don’t come from a temporary practice, though beneficial and it will move you forward but stopping the practice only reinforces old muscle memory. You are all probably quite familiar with the phenomena of consistent training bring you slow, permanent results while watching those gains quickly disappear over a short hiatus from your program. Today I’m going to share several tips to help you end your negative body image self-talk but remember, the key is consistent practice and belief that the practice will win you results that set you free from the control you’re giving your brain over your body image sabotage.
One of the best things about mental fitness is that you can do it anywhere, anytime, with no gym membership required. Oh, you didn’t know that was possible in your physical fitness practice as well? I’m here to tell you that it is; all you need is to decide that your practice is part of your day-to-day life, and then you use that powerful brain of yours to show you how. Yes, your brain is what produces all of your results!
Let me share a huge result that I am quite proud of producing for myself. It’s been almost five years since I’ve looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. Now, that doesn’t mean that my brain never offers up some sort of lie about what it sees in the mirror, but it’s much quieter now than it ever was in the past. I don’t squash it down and try harder to look “better” or different; it’s more of a whisper now that I gently notice and then excuse the thought, reminding my brain of who I am and how magnificent I have been created to be.
Most of my life I have done everything I could to change what I thought was unacceptable about myself.
I learned how to eat right.
I read self help books.
I learned the latest and greatest makeup tricks.
You know what? None of it mattered. No matter what I did, that negative self-talk and desire to change was consistent; nothing I did was good enough to satiate the negative body image monster inside my head. I was never good enough; no matter what anyone else told me, I believed them to be liars. So what did I do? I tried harder, searched for a new level that might bring that satisfaction; it was a negative body image treadmill that never brought me to my desired destination.
Then one day, I decided enough was enough and that I would change this lifelong energy drain. I decided to step off the negative body image treadmill. I decided to stop denying God’s perfection of creation while being all-in on my journey to self-love, knowing that it would take some time, I committed myself to it. If you haven’t listened to my very first podcast episode, I highly recommend you go listen after you finish here: How To Start Loving Yourself.
The process of loving yourself includes quieting the negative self-talk. Period. Today we are focusing specifically on our bodies and how we talk about them. I want to invite you to follow the podcast and come back every week because every topic will bring you closer to the self-love needed to break this cycle. This month’s expert interview, which will release the last Tuesday of this month, is with master certified life coach Martha Ayim. Martha helps people end their relationship with binge eating and within the realm of what we talk about in this interview is the subject of body image and negative self-talk.
The first step to ending the negative body image self talk is to just decide to stop.
My intention here is not to make you mad because if you are anything like I was, you have tried this route with very little success. The problem is that you did not implement the other tools of change that I will be offering you today; you didn’t recognize that voice as a saboteur. Instead, you believed it. Believing that voice will only send you into the self reprimand that keeps you stuck and in a forever loop of powerlessness over your own mind and body.
The solution is within you, but you have to be committed to the end result; you have to believe in the truth that you are fully lovable and valuable, and worthy. Again, the ticket is committing and implementing ALL five of the steps I am sharing here today.
You have done a beautiful job over the years protecting yourself for some valid reason or other, you have taught your brain well, but now it’s time to re-teach it. There is no longer a reason to protect yourself; these thoughts are no longer serving you. You are an adult who gets to decide what you want to think, you get to decide to manage your mind, or you can decide to let your mind manage you, your choice. One will help you grow and increase the joy you experience in this life, and the other will continue having you search for something outside of yourself for that joy that keeps escaping you.
The next step is to understand the cognitive dissonance you are experiencing when it comes to what you currently believe about your body image.
To better understand cognitive dissonance, you can read a post I wrote specifically about this topic called What Is Cognitive Dissonance? Cognitive dissonance is the gap between where you are right now and the person you are becoming. In this instance, it would be looking at who you are right now, what you believe, how you feel, and how you behave versus the person you long to be, the person who believes down to their core that they are valuable and whole with certainty while no longer believing the voice inside their head that says they aren’t good enough as they are.
Your brain is very comfortable with your current belief, so comfortable that it has stored it away as an automatic response. It takes work, energy to believe something different, to change that old belief and exchange it for a new one. It’s like a child who loves its binky and will kick and scream when you take it away, until one day the child discovers that life is fine without that binky and maybe even a whole lot better. The child can clear the gap of the binky/no binky dissonance because they haven’t been using their binky for as many years as you have been telling your brain the story about your body.
Recognizing cognitive dissonance allows you to enjoy the journey instead of fighting against it. Understanding cognitive dissonance allows you to have compassion for the process and to trust yourself to know that you will keep doing this work until one day you look back and see how far you’ve come. It’s like looking at the long journey to swimming across the big lake in front of your Airbnb rental, thinking that you will never get to the other side. One stroke at a time, you tell yourself, one more, then another, until suddenly you find yourself on the other side of the lake, giving yourself a high five for persevering and not giving up on yourself.
The third step to ending the negative body image self talk is creating awareness.
This is where my mental fitness program comes into play. My mental fitness program is a simple, easy-to-implement process of noticing, hearing, and then dissipating the saboteur voices that we have partnered with over our lifetime.
Awareness is the first step of change; you being here searching for solutions to your negative self-talk and acknowledges that you are tired of the self-sabotage and ready to do something different. When you become aware of the action you are taking that you don’t want to take without squashing it down, again, unsuccessfully attempting to run away from it, that’s when you allow your brain to start coming up with solutions. See, you’ve already started the awareness problem by listening to this podcast.
As you create awareness and start taking the steps, I recommend you notice that you will continue to fall into old thought loops, but now the difference is that you recognize them and self-correct. The more often you put this pattern into effect, the less your old thought patterns show up.
A warning alert I want to share with you, to re-enforce what I shared earlier when talking about cognitive dissonance, is that your brain likes its old way of being; even if it feels like garbage, it’s a default, you do it on autopilot, it requires no extra thinking or energy consumption. The process will be a bit more difficult once you implement these tools because you have to bring your pre-frontal cortex into the process through deliberate interception. This is the process of any good change, though, eventually, your new thought patterning will become more auto-generated and committed to the primitive brain, something to look forward to!
Awareness includes calling out those old thoughts; I want to suggest you write them down, maybe using your notes app on your phone. Every time you look in the mirror or shop window as you walk by and say something negative, write it down, and then correct your thinking and remind yourself that you are beautiful. Yes, even if you don’t quite believe it. A super useful tool to help graduate into more believable thoughts, if thinking “I am beautiful.” isn’t working, is the thought ladder; you can read about that tool in my post titled How To Get From Here To There. Maybe that ladder thought is something like “I am contemplating the idea that I am beautiful.” There you go, bonus, a sixth tool to help you end your negative self-talk battle around body image.
My fourth tip is to work on creating compassion and empathy around the process.
Compassion and empathy are emotions that will always serve you well and open you up to understanding; they are emotions that open up your mind to its creative process, helping you come up with solutions. As you move through this process, you will start noticing the emotions you are feeling; some emotions open you up, expand you while others close you down, keeping you from changing. To help you with the process of learning how to experience your emotions, actually feel them, let me suggest you go read my post “How To Start Feeling Your Emotions.”
In my AwakenYou coaching program, one of the exercises I teach my clients is how to process emotions. Emotions are our body’s signal, our awareness tool. Learning how to tune into your emotions will help you become aware of what you are thinking and why; it is one of the most powerful tools I teach. The process of feeling your emotions opens you up to what your brain is trying to tell you, what it is trying to do for you and when you’re able to tap into this tool, you start to understand why you are feeling the way you are and see whether it is actually serving you or if it is an old, outdated, deeply engrained response that you can now choose to change.
Compassion, curiosity, and empathy towards yourself will always open you up to learning something new and helping you move past what keeps you stuck in old thought loops.
Finally, my last tip I am sharing today, a tip that will help close the gap even faster, it is the tool I call my self mentor.
This tool has evolved as I have utilized it, just like any other tool you have learned how to use. When you discover any new tool, you’re an amateur, a bit clumsy; you’re not really certain of the power the tool provides, but as you continue to use the tool, the power starts to reveal itself.
The future self mentor is the person you are becoming; you create her. Maybe you gather photos of her, you write about how she shows up for herself, how she holds herself, how she speaks to herself, everything about her you begin to envision. You start asking yourself how that future version of yourself would act right now; what would she say when she looks in the mirror and sees what she sees. Would she smile and wink at herself? Would she pat herself on the back? Would she lift her chest and stand tall?
Start creating your future self model, a vision board for who you are becoming, and watch grow into her.
As you do this work and implement these tools I have shared with you today, you will find yourself having your own back without relying on your husband to tell you how beautiful you are and then not believing him anyway. Of course, you still love it when he does so, but now you wink at him, give him a big hug and say, “Right on, honey, I couldn’t agree more with your thought!”
Remember, friend, this is a journey, and if you want help along the journey, then I’ve got your back; it’s what I do, and I love what I do! If you have any questions about this process or want help implementing these tools and all of the other tools I use to help women change their lives, then let’s chat soon! Let me come alongside your process, sharing some extra accountability and guidance to reach your goal with ease. Book your program inquiry call today and I look forward to hearing from you and helping you create your future self vision!
If you’re interested in learning about my Mental Fitness six-week course, valued at $1495, then get on my mailing list where I will be sharing all about this life changing program. Even better, every week I am giving away one of these programs to one lucky listener who reviews the podcast and sends a screenshot of that review to firstname.lastname@example.org, I will enter you into a weekly drawing that makes you eligible to join. If you don’t win, no worries, I keep everyone in the lottery, only taking out those who have already won. Reviewing is simple, scroll to the bottom of my podcast page and click on the “Write a Review” blue text, take a screenshot of your review and send it to me! I can’t wait to hear from you.
I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true self. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of