We all have things we don’t like about ourselves- maybe our legs are too short, hips too wide, too many freckles, can’t stick to a workout plan, can’t say no to mud cake… It might be a little twinge of discontent that we notice when we think about these things, and then we just get on with the rest of the day.
If however, like many of us, it’s more than just a small occasional feeling, and instead is a frequent, and quite nasty voice in our head berating us, it might be time to shift things. Ask yourself these questions:
Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself?
So often we are willing to criticise ourselves, setting such unrealistic standards, and being so cruel to ourselves if we don’t meet these standards. If you take some time today to notice your self talk, take note of whether that voice is understanding- “I don’t like my extra weight, but I’ve lost 10kg this year, so I have a lot to be proud of”- or overly critical and negative – “What’s 10kg when I have 30 to lose, until I get to my goal weight I’m not worthy.”
Notice the same weight loss amount has triggered two vastly different interpretations. What type of self talk have you noticed in yourself? Which version do you think would be more helpful in the long run for reaching your goals? Rule of thumb- if you wouldn’t say it to your bestie, you shouldn’t be saying it to yourself.
Are you fixating?
Fixating is where there is something about yourself that your mind keeps wandering back to, dozens, if not hundreds of times a day. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Fixating on improving your health could mean that you find many opportunities in a day to take little steps or make small choices to be healthier- taking the stairs instead of the elevator, choosing fruit for morning tea, drinking water throughout the day etc. Each of these small parts add up to a whole day where you’ve made great progress in improving your health.
The problem occurs when the fixation is on a negative, like berating yourself for being overweight, every meal is a reminder you are unhappy with your weight, every time you see a person through the day you feel self conscious about your weight, every time you leave your house you notice others who are less overweight than you.
We know from scientific studies that the more you experience negative feelings about yourself, the less likely you are to achieve your goal weight, and that positive focus such as self praise for making healthy choices increases your chance of long term weight loss.
You think what you’re telling yourself is true
It’s incredibly difficult to just force yourself to think happy thoughts when your negative ones are just so convincing! But what you may not understand is that when you have low mood- which can occur through a number of factors, such as having a bad nights sleep, being under stress, being hungry, or on a more long term level even undiagnosed anxiety or depression- what is happening is that there is a physical change in the chemicals in your brain.
Have you ever had a really bad day, thought the world was going to end, and then had something to eat and a good nights sleep and woken up with the realisation that things just aren’t as bad as they seemed yesterday? This is a perfect example of how our physical body can change our thoughts.
Say your negative thought is “I’m can’t lose weight, I have no willpower, and I always fail at dieting.” Is that absolutely 100% true? Was there a time in your life, even if it was just a few days, where you made good choices and you did lose weight? Was there a time when you were tempted by something and didn’t give in? Was there a week in your life you ate healthy foods and didn’t eat unhealthy ones?
If so, then your negative statement has some shades of grey- which is where we want to look. Instead of burying our head in the sand and just stating the absolute opposite of this “I can lose heaps of weight! I have never ending willpower! I will follow this diet perfectly” (which might not be sustainable), let look for the middle ground and add in a touch of kindness.
“I’ve learned a lot about what doesn’t work for me. I can use this knowledge to figure out what will. I’ve faced challenging situations before and gotten through them, so this is no different. I’m going focus on making positive changes, and weight loss will be a happy side effect of this.”
In summary, there’s a difference between noticing things you would like to improve about yourself sometimes and then taking steps towards your goals vs. beating yourself up over and over again for what you imagine are your flaws or weaknesses.
If you can come to understand that nothing is permanent, look for the middle ground where you can acknowledge that something could be improved (without making a personal attack on your own character for it), then make a realistic plan for how to change things, you are going to be in a much better headspace for reaching your goals.
If you need some help working out a plan or shifting your headspace, maybe you could consider one of our retreats? There is a reason we have helped hundreds of people just like you get results, check out our program here and see the difference.