How many times have you criticized yourself in the last 24 hours? Stop for a minute and think about it. If you’re having any doubts that you’ve been anything but complimentary, think back to when you got dressed this morning. What exactly did you say to the image in the mirror? “Look at that stomach! Your thighs are enormous! You’ll never fit into those pants you got last month. You look terrible!”
Most of us wouldn’t dream of speaking to another human being like that. But we have no problem routinely addressing ourselves in a disrespectful, even demeaning, way. And if you’re choosing to lose weight, those voices make slimming down, or any kind of change, difficult or even agonizing.
Where do they come from, these critical, demeaning voices? Mostly, they’re the collective, cruel voices of our past — our parents, our siblings, schoolyard bullies, former lovers — that we’ve internalized. Over time, we come to believe them as true. They’re incredibly powerful. And they can set up all kinds of horribly self-sabotaging situations.
Not long ago, I was in an unavoidable situation with a person from my past who was the source of many of my own voices. I had gone into this situation feeling positive, even elated: my career was successful, my friendships were solid, my family life was strong, my health was great. Less than 24 hours after being with her, I felt demoralized, pitiful, small. Nothing in my life had changed, but I was utterly deflated — until I became aware of a cacophony of voices inside my head. There it was: a steady stream of small but painful self-criticisms, like an onslaught of tiny, fierce hornets. The irony is, this woman’s criticisms of me paled in comparison to my own self-talk. I’d done most of the work for her.
How does negative self talk hamper your best efforts to lose weight, boost digestion, increase energy–or, for that matter, get a job, run three miles, begin a new relationship, even move through your day in a peaceful fashion?
Next: 5 Ways Self-Criticism Undermines Your Efforts