When you think about reaching your weight loss goals, what do you hear your inner voice say? Do you hear, “You’ll never succeed” or “You’ll never see my high school (or pre-baby) weight again”? Or, maybe you’re just slightly more positive and find that you say to yourself, “Sure, you can lose the weight, but we both know that you’ll never be able to keep it off.”
In the words of Henry Ford, “If you think you can do it, or you think you can’t do it, you are right.” Put another way, our personal self-talk is a very powerful indicator of whether or not we’ll ever reach our weight loss goals, or any other goals for that matter. So, how do you set yourself up for success when it comes to slimming down and getting into better shape?
Pay Attention To What You Normally Say To Yourself
The first step involves listening to yourself to learn exactly what it is your inner voice is saying in regards to your weight loss or fitness goals. Most of our self-talk happens subconsciously, so we’re not overtly aware of our internal dialogue. It happens “behind the scenes”, so to speak. Thus, we often aren’t consciously aware of when we’re saying and, subsequently, hearing ourselves will help to cut our efforts down.
This can negatively affect our chances of ever seeing our dreams come to reality. It’s the same principle of belittling a child by calling him or her “stupid” or “dumb”. Say it often enough and they’ll start to believe it, regardless of whether or not it’s actually true. The same happens when you belittle yourself for carrying excess body fat or not being as thin as you’d like. This is why it’s so important to pay attention to the words we use when we talk to ourselves.
For instance, when you think about changing a behavior to assist you in your weight loss efforts, such as eating more salads or taking more walks, what do you hear yourself saying internally? Are you positive, encouraging, and optimistic? Or, are you treating yourself the way an abusive parent treats an innocent child or an abusive partner treats his or her mate by being demeaning, discouraging, and negative?
If the latter is what you hear yourself saying, it’s no wonder your goals have eluded you! Don’t worry though because this doesn’t mean that you always have to talk to yourself that way. Read on because there is hope!
Actively and Intentionally Stop The Negative Thoughts
Once you realize that you’re speaking to yourself in a negative manner, your next step is to actively and intentionally stop the thoughts. Ideally, you want to stop them right when they begin, the absolute moment you become aware that you are speaking to yourself in a less-than-supportive manner.
To do this requires that you say “stop” to your inner voice. If you wish, say it out loud to reinforce that you are not going to let your inner self talk to your outer self in a negative manner. As a side note, you want to be aware of your surroundings before you say too much out loud. If you are in the middle of a meeting or a church sermon, for instance, you may choose to keep the “stop” inside your head. Of course, you don’t have to. You can still say it out loud, if you’d like. Just be prepared for all of the funny looks 🙂
And when you say stop, say it like you mean it. Do not give a wimpy, mousy little, “Stop. Please. Go away. Please.” Make sure to give a loud, ear-smashing, peace-breaking, destroy-the-universe-with-your-voice “STOP!”
Remember, your goal in this step is to stand up to yourself for yourself. It is to tell your inner subconscious mind that you are done being abused. You will not take it from anyone else and you certainly are not taking it from yourself! So, use force. Say it like you mean it and mean it when you say it!
Replace The Negative Words with Positive Ones Instead
Once you’ve realized how bad you talk to yourself and told yourself that it’s time to stop because you aren’t going to take it anymore, the final step is to replace the negative thought with a positive one. This is critical if your goal is to effectively change this habit.
Thinking negative thoughts about ourselves from time to time is actually very normal. It’s not at all uncommon to feel self-doubt or to criticize ourselves for not doing as well as we’d like. The good thing about this is that it helps push us to try harder and do better. The bad thing is that, if we believe the bad things we say to ourselves, it can diminish our motivation and make us not even want to try.
Changing this type of habit for good so we’re a more supportive self-coach requires replacing the negative habit with a positive one. It’s kind of like when you’re trying to quit smoking so you chew gum. If you don’t replace the habit, you’ll feel kind of lost. However, if you actively do something then you don’t feel as bad when trying to reach your goal.
Instead of telling yourself that you can’t do it, tell yourself you can. Instead of saying to yourself that you’ll never succeed, tell yourself that you will, and that you’ll do it sooner than you thought because you’re super committed to the process. Essentially, you want to become your own cheerleader.
When telling yourself, do your best to really believe what you say. Yes, you may have failed in the past, but this doesn’t mean that you will fail this time. Besides, if you don’t believe in yourself, why would your inner self believe in you?
Additional Pointers for Goal-Reaching Success
At the same time, it’s also very important that you be honest with yourself when thinking about your goals. You know that reaching a specific weight or building lean muscle is going to take a lot of hard work. So don’t try to tell your inner self that this is going to be easy or a walk in the park because it isn’t. The more realistic you are when you know what you’re up against, the more you’ll be able to work through the struggles you’ll likely face.
Speaking of struggles, it also helps to remind yourself that you will experience pitfalls and hurdles along the way. There will be times when you make not-so-good decisions, which means that you’ll be taking two steps forward and one step back. That’s okay. Just make sure you continue to move forward and you’ll get there in the end.
Also, remind yourself that you have experienced obstacles before and successfully navigated them in the past. Don’t believe me? Think back to a time when you didn’t think you’d get past something but you did. Remember how it felt. What lies before you is not insurmountable. You can get past this too.
In the end, it will undoubtedly take some time for you to change the way you talk to yourself. Chances are that you have been belittling, demeaning and downright mean to yourself for years.
Now is not the time to beat yourself up even more for beating yourself up to begin with. Instead, start treating yourself the way you would treat a family member or a close friend. Give yourself kindness and dignity and respect. Support yourself in your endeavors the way you’d support someone you love. When you start doing that, you’ll soon realize that your goals are within your reach. Believe in yourself. I believe in you too!