What does how we talk to ourselves have to do with how we see ourselves? Pretty much everything!. A basic rule of thumb to be explored is to star to pay attention to how what we say to ourselves is often very different from how we talk to our loved ones. Many of us are unaware of how critical (and sometimes straight up mean!) we can be to ourselves in our own heads. Flashes of words often shoot through our minds without us even giving it a second thought.
Caregiver influence has a lot to do with our self talk. Think back to how your caregiver talked about themselves when looking in the mirror. Did you ever hear phrases like “I look so gross” or “my arms are too fat for this”? If so you aren’t alone! Our caregivers likely didn't mean to implant these values into our heads, just as we don't mean to perpetuate them. Phrases like “I feel so fat” are accepted and focus on how we look instead of how we feel. Talking about temporary states of our bodies, like bloating or gassiness after meals or experiences is much less common but much more actionable! Self talk that we use tends to focus on criticizing ourselves and you may find it more helpful to work at switching this talk to zero in on how we feel (and why!) instead of how we look.
Fear is a common theme when it comes to body image. We fear the judgement of others- we fear being ‘too fat’ and equate this with looking bad. We may tell ourselves that certain outfits have us looking too bad to be seen. Pause here- ask yourself now if you truly believe a human being is undeserving of being seen and living life to the fullest because of it’s body or how that body is dressed. Ask yourself how you developed this idea or value and where you learned that AND whether or not this is helpful to you.
So often we accept our automatic thoughts about ourselves and we are here to encourage you to break down these thoughts and determine if you truly believe these to be values you wish to carry and uphold. Words like ‘indulgent’ or ‘sinful’ are everywhere when it comes to food. We may find ourselves wanting to restrict ourselves during the day in order to indulge in something ‘decadent’ in the evening. We may beat ourselves up about choices or thinking that we need to adopt an entirely new eating or workout routine to feel worthy and that one ‘slip up’ has us labeling ourselves and our bodies as bad or ruined. What if instead we focused on talking to ourselves in ways that boost us up and make us feel good? Think about how it might feel to talk to yourself with the same kindness and encouragement you may use with a friend. If judgement is part of your thoughts when thinking of others- hope is not lost! Those of us engaging in this internal monologue are likely just projecting our own fear on to others. Think about where you learned this and what it means- likely its connected to a fear or rejection and a need for acceptance.
Question yourself. Question that voice. If the negative thoughts come, acknowledge them. Then take an extra moment to question them. You have the power to construct your beliefs and acceptance can start with you!