I don’t know about you, but my mind likes to narrate what’s happening. If I’m stressed out, it likes to remind me of that, oh, about 1 million times an hour. The phrase “this is stressful” plays on repeat as I try to get way too much done in one day or navigate an anxiety-filled situation. Frankly, this narration isn’t helpful.
It does the same thing if I’m exhausted or busy, and when I’m late it replays “I’m a hot mess” over and over again as I frantically get ready.
Then it hit me y’all: I am the one saying this to myself. Me.
I can control it. I can stop saying it… and say more helpful things.
The Cost of an Uncontrolled Self-Talk
If this is all too familiar, this self-talk isn’t only adding to your stress levels. It’s causing your body to store more fat while consistently releasing stress hormones that are meant to help us run from a bear instead of run 10,000 errands in one day.
This stress-response increases your blood pressure, your cholesterol, your muscle tension, reduces your quality of life, can lead to digestive issues, high blood sugar, memory issues, and makes you get sick more often – to name just a few.
The Reality Check You Need
The reality that will set you free is that stress isn’t necessarily caused by a situation- it’s caused by our response to the situation. And our self-talk is a huge part of that. Your uncontrolled thoughts can be detrimental to your health.
I have been diligently practicing intentional thinking and self-talk for about a year or so now, and it’s freaking life-changing. (If you’re a returning reader, please do not judge my overuse of this term. Trust me on this!)
It’s simple, but not easy.
Worth it, but challenging.
So when was the last time you told yourself you’re doing a good job?
Whether you have high standards for yourself or don’t recognize your own amazingness, your thought life is most likely toxic. If you never measure up, you’re never good enough, you push yourself to get a freakish amount of things accomplished and are never satisfied, or already assume failure and don’t try- it’s time to make a change.
And isn’t it ironic that people on opposite ends of the spectrum would have similar toxic thinking?
If it’s been awhile since you’ve cheered yourself on, or if it feels just plain wrong to say “good job” to yourself, read on, my friend. I’ll share a little of my story and give you some practice phrases to say if this whole encouraging your own bad self thing is new!
Healthier Thoughts to Get You Started
Recently, I encountered one of the most overwhelming situations I’ve ever faced. Honestly, I didn’t even want to try because I thought I was doomed to fail. But it’s one of those things where failure really isn’t an option, so I stepped up my self- talk. I started being my biggest fan, and really paying attention to what my thoughts were saying — and shutting down any that were toxic.
My self-talk started to sound more like this:
- “You’re doing a good job”
- “That task was really important and I’m glad I got it done”
- “You’ve got this”
- “You’re making progress”
- “That was awesome” (after accomplishing a task)
- “You can do this. You’re already doing well”
- “That was worth the time it took”
- “It’s going to be OK”
- “This isn’t a big deal”
I’m not sure I ever knew I could talk to myself this way. Not even that I wasn’t going to be good at it, but that I wasn’t ALLOWED to speak to myself this way. That it would show signs of complacency, low standards, and frankly, it sounds kind of like a middle school assembly speaker.
But my old toxic thoughts were wearing me down, and these new thoughts were breathing life into my lungs.
It’s Okay to Cheer Yourself On
So let me be the friend to tell you that not only are you allowed to encourage yourself – and dare I say tell yourself that you’re a rock star – but your health depends on it. Your quality of life is directly tied to it. Your stress levels and self-perception will benefit greatly from this kind of thinking.
We all need daily reminders that we are human. You will make mistakes. You will wear your shirt inside out on accident or spill food on it. You will forget things, overcommit, misjudge how long something will take or how much money you will spend on what’s in your shopping cart at Target.
It’s all a part of being human.
Take off the perfectionist chains. Get out of the toxic thinking prison.
There is only one of you.
This world needs you.
And we don’t just need you- we need you healthy, able, and on top of your game. The best way of doing that is believing you can do it and reminding yourself of that frequently.
Lose Weight and Stick to Your Diet
Friend, how would this change your life if you applied this type of thinking to your workouts? How much more successful would you be if you didn’t beat yourself up over cheating on your diet? This could be the ticket to your success.
Women especially are extremely hard on themselves and expect perfection with healthy habits. Guess what! Habits are hard to form. It takes courage to try, and like we mentioned before, you’re human and might mess up. So keep that in mind when you’re thinking about exercise and your diet.
Give yourself grace when you mess up, but don’t let yourself live in your mistakes. It’s crucial to find a healthy lifestyle that you can live with – not something you just do for 30 days or quit when you get busy. It’s about persevering long-term, not doing something hard-core you can’t do longer than 21 days.
So to fight the good fight over 365 days, you need some nice things to say to yourself. You can steal any of these:
- “I probably shouldn’t have eaten that, but I’ll just make my next meal healthier”
- “I didn’t have time for much, but I’m proud that I fit in that short workout”
- “I am not losing weight as quickly as I’d like, but I’m going to stick with this”
- “_______ can be frustrating, but I know my health is worth it and it will pay off in the long run”
- “I’m not eating perfectly, but I have really been trying so that’s great improvement”
- “It takes courage to change your life and your health. I am bold, even if I make mistakes”
- “I don’t need that food to make me happy”
- “I can say no. I am strong”
- “I am doing a good job making time for my workouts. This isn’t easy, and I’m doing well”
- “I can stick with this”
- “I can and I will lose this weight”
- “That mistake doesn’t define me. This is a journey, and I’ll keep going.”
How to Change Your Thinking
You get the idea… now you can make your own. Take your negative, self-defeating thoughts and come up with something purposeful to say to yourself instead. Combat those thoughts with encouragement.
Don’t let the “how-to” overwhelm you or stop you from trying. Awareness is crucial, so set reminders, or now that it’s been brought to your attention, stop yourself when you realize your thinking is toxic.
Be intentional. Start your day or any of your tasks with affirmations, or make it a habit on your way to work to tell yourself things like “good job” and “things are going well.” Let the peace come. Be sustained.
Stop running on empty- your own words and thoughts can fill up your tank to get you through your task, your season of life, or whatever it is you’re facing!
And when you feel awkward or like giving up, comfort yourself by remembering there are thousands of other badass people like you slaying the dragon of negative thoughts. They need you to fight your battles, too.
Dr. Caroline Leaf is one of my favorite authors. If you haven’t heard of her, look her up. She’s a cognitive neuroscience who will rock your world. Let me drop some truth bombs via her quotes:
- “75% to 95% of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. What we think about affects us physically and emotionally.” (Source)
- “No matter what you have been told, the test you may have taken, or what you may believe about yourself, you have a unique gift inside if you that can change the world!” (Source)
- “You cannot sit back and wait to be happy and healthy and have a great thought life; you have to make the choice to make this happen. You can be overwhelmed by every small setback in life, or you can be energized by the possibilities they bring.” (Source)
- “Thoughts are real, physical things that occupy mental real estate. Moment by moment, every day, you are changing the structure of your brain through your thinking. When we hope, it is an activity of the mind that changes the structure of our brain in a positive and normal direction.” (Source)
- “Your body is not in control of your mind—your mind is in control of your body, and your mind is stronger than your body. Mind certainly is over matter.” (Source)
- “Our choices—the natural consequences of our thoughts and imagination—get “under the skin” of our DNA and can turn certain genes on and off, changing the structure of the neurons in our brains. So our thoughts, imagination, and choices can change the structure and function of our brains on every level” (Source)
Get the picture yet? I could go on and on. You owe it to yourself and those around you to change your thinking and your self-talk. To make the effort to encourage yourself, speak life to yourself, and be kind to yourself.
You deserve it. We all deserve it. Give yourself permission to try.
You’re Not Alone
You know I love you, and I’m here to support you on your journey towards health. If you need some workouts, help with nutrition, or accountability to stick with whatever healthy habit you’re trying to create, let me know, and check out The Fit Tutor.
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Cheering you on,
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