Otherwise known as how to combat negative self talk.....
The other week we talked about gratitude & about focusing on the positive in your life so that the negatives start to fade away. And last week I shared a story about negative self talk and about a situation where, if I had’ve listened to my Inner Bully, I never would’ve achieved a pretty cool fitness goal. Today I want to focus a little more on that negative voice we all have, our inner bully or inner troll.
Like I mentioned last week, if you think of this inner bully like a monster that feeds on your negative self-talk you can imagine that the more we feed it the more it grows and the louder it becomes. I was reading an article this week that said
‘negative reactions to our bodies are like a well worn path through a field of really tall grass. It’s easy and automatic to travel the same path over and over but to travel in a new, ultimately healthier direction we have to make a conscious decision to wade out amongst the tall grass and create a new path.’
One of the tools I focused on in another of my Body Bestie Friday sessions was how gratitude can help silence our inner bully. I'd like share a few other tools you can use to help the voice of your inner bully fade away.
Special Note: It's really important to mention here that if you are feeling negative thoughts or emotions that just don’t seem to go away and you’re finding it hard to get through the day or silence that negative monster, I always recommend talking to someone and seeking the help of a qualified professional. Be it your school counsellor, a GP or psychologist. Nothing beats the support of a qualified healthcare professional.
Ok, so we’ve established that negative self-talk is simply that voice in our heads that tell us we’re not good enough, not smart enough not skinny, strong, good looking enough. It can at times seem very rational
Eg: "I’m not good at that so I just won’t try because if I do, I’ll probably hurt myself."
It can seem very logical
Eg: "I only got 40% on that maths test so I must be crap at Maths," or
"I can’t do a pushup on my toes so I mustn’t be strong"
Or it can be downright unreasonable
"I did so rubbish on that Maths test I’m never going to learn this and I won’t get into uni and I’ll end up a homeless hobo living under a bridge" or
"I’m so fat and ugly no one would anyone ever want to be friends with me."
It can even take on the voice of a critical friend or parent form your past.
Whatever form it takes its important to know that negative self talk is utterly toxic and can really affect your self confidence, your ability to believe in yourself and therefore your ability to perform or to succeed.
Ok, now if this sounds like you, don’t stress, it’s not all doom and gloom! There are lots of ways we can begin to silence this inner bully because most of the time, what this negative voice is saying is either just downright wrong, or it comes from a place of fear or hurt or a lack of self confidence. When you dive down a little and really address where is this voice coming from you can start to counteract those feelings, flip it around and start to nurture and feed our inner bestie.
Catch the critic
When you find yourself being critical or negative, make a concerted effort to stop and recognise you are doing it. Sometimes this can be enough to stop the downward spiral into negative-nelly land.
Ask yourself: is this actually happening now, is it likely to happen?
Eg: "I’m hopeless at maths, I’m going to fail this subject, never get into uni and end up a homeless person living under a bridge…."
Is that actually happening or likely to happen? Of course not! By simply asking yourself, is this actually happening or is this likely to happen, you can get a little perspective on the situation.
Give your inner bully a nickname
By giving your inner voice a silly nickname like ‘Sadsack Sam,’ or Debbie Downer it’s easier to see this inner bully as a force outside of yourself. It’s easier to realise that you don’t have to agree with this negative voice and it can seem less threatening. This could potentially help you to see how silly some of these critical thoughts can be.
Change up the language
It can be really easy to get into the habit of negative self talk and using certain language. For example, in my Teen Bootcamp sessions and in my dance classes, the phrase “I can’t” simply isn’t allowed. We replace it with phrases like ‘I find this really challenging’ or ‘I’m struggling with this’ or ‘I’m not there YET’
What would your inner bestie say?
A great way to stop negative self talk in it’s tracks is when a negative thought or statement enters your head, imagine yourself saying it to your best friend. If you know you wouldn’t say it to your bestie, have a think about what your bestie or a close family member might say to you if they were there listening to your inner voice.
Shift your perspective
Before you start the downward spiral into Feeling Down Town, stop and ask yourself; "will this really matter in 5 years time?" Chances are, that maths test or that promotion you were passed over for won't mean a thing to you a few months from now, let alone in 5 years time. A handy exercise is to imagine yourself 5 yers from now, with the uni degree, with the dream job, surrounded by friends. Imagine yourself happy, laughing and looking back at this tiny insignificant moment wondering what on earth you were ever worried about.
Sometime the 'moment' isn't actually the big thing you thought it was. Stepping outside of yourself and looking back can be a great tool to getting a little perspective.
I recall a situation in my early 20's where I was confiding in a girlfriend about how much I hated my body.
"Get a grip!" she said. "You look amazing, you're in the prime fo your life and in all honesty, this is a good as it gets! From here you'll begin to age, your body will change and you're going to look back on these years and wish you had enjoyed it more. You'll wish you had been kinder to yourself."
You know what? 10 years on I really do wish I had been kinder to myself. My body has changed (some changes for the better, some for the worse) and what I've realised is just how much time I WASTED hating on myself! I could've spent that time meditating, dancing, drawing, inventing the bloody cure for the common cold!
My girlfriend? She became a Clinical Psychologist so she really did know her stuff.....
Say it loud
Have a chat with a friend. Sometimes sharing your feelings with a friend will help to shine a light on how ridiculous these thoughts are, perhaps it even leads to the two of you having a good giggle about it. At the very least it can lead to some support.
Again, I want to stress if you are feeling really alone and you genuinely feel like you have no one to speak to. Please seek professional help, speak to a school counsellor or give headspace or lifeline a call and they can point you in the right direction for some professional help.
Replace the bad thought with a positive one eg: I taught myself to change ‘I hate my legs’ to 'I love my legs, they’re strong.' Lyndi Cohen, otherwise known as the Nude Nutritionist, who is an amazing dietitcan, co-wrote the nutrition program we use in the Empower360 Teen Fitness Challenge. Which is, coincidentally called BodyLove. In one of her recent articles Lyndi suggests that if ‘I love my body’ feels a little too much, then it’s totally cool to start with ‘My body is fine the way it is’ she says you don’t need to think you’re amazing from the get go.
She uses a beautiful quote which I just love:
‘Body acceptance can help bridge the gap between body hate and body love’
This article was written by Kate Hickey for Empower360 Fitness. If you'd like more information on our online on teen bootcamp programs, head to our website www.empower360fitness.com.au or contact Kate: firstname.lastname@example.org