“Why can’t you ever stick with anything?”
“Ugh! Seriously, you’re going to eat a piece of candy?!”
“Oh my gosh, look how your stomach sticks out, look at the cellulite on your thighs, and oh my gosh, are those stretch marks?! You look awful!”
“You’re never going to be good at Pilates or yoga or running or anything fitness related, so why even bother? You should just give up now. You were destined to be fat.”
Oh yeah, I’ve said those things. Multiple times. And every time I’ve said them, it’s been with disgust and judgement. Those mean, hurtful, untrue, nasty things were meant in the moment and wow, was it mean to say them. Especially since I said them all to myself.
Let’s Get Critical
For a long time, I was my harshest critic. I passed judgement on every single action I perceived as being faulty and looked at my body as unattractive and loathsome. Things I would never even imagine saying to anyone else, ever, were fair game to say to myself. And that, my friends, is awful.
I can’t say what the defining moment was when I started to make the conscious choice, and believe me when I say that is a conscious, intentional choice, to change my self-talk from the voice of a critic to that of a cheerleader. All I know is that it’s changed the way I view myself and the amount of grace and love that I bestow upon my actions and efforts in fitness.
Critic or Cheerleader?
Instead of saying, “Why can’t you stick with anything?!”, I might instead change it to, “Hmm, that doesn’t seem to hold my interest for very long. Let’s explore other options that I might be more passionate about.” And instead of chastising myself for my body’s imperfections, I celebrate the small changes that I see that indicate progress. But it’s not easy, because for some weird reason, it’s easier for me to be self-critical and point out my faults than it is to be supportive of my efforts. I know I’m not the only one.
So, I challenge you to take a deep breath and really listen to the voice that you use to speak to yourself. Do you encourage or discourage? Do you recognize failures or successes? Do you downplay triumphs and focus on faults? How are you spending the time and energy you have available to talk with yourself?
Change that negative talk. Instead of beating yourself up, lift yourself up by recognizing your efforts. Life is not about being perfect, it’s about learning from those moments when you’re not. Give yourself a pat on the back for holding a plank for 5 more seconds. Let the virtual high fives fly for exercising on those days when you’ve been making excuses for not doing it all day. Give credit where credit is due and each of those triumphs – whether they’re big or small – is worthy of positive self-talk. You deserve a cheerleader in your life and guess what? You can (and should!) be your biggest one. You are amazing, friend!