Healthstyle Blog

Don’t Let Your Thoughts Hold You Hostage

None of us is perfect—and that’s okay. Acknowledging our shortcomings can actually encourage us to improve. Of course, saying, “I need to find more time for exercise,” is very different from stating, “I’m a lazy blob nobody will ever love.” While the first observation may motivate us to work towards our goal, the second is an example of negative self-talk, a habit that does nothing but make us feel worse about ourselves.

As women, we are notorious for excessively criticizing our bodies, intelligence, motivation, achievements, and pretty much everything else—a practice that results in a focus on perceived flaws and failures rather than on opportunities for improvement. If we talk trash about ourselves long enough, studies show we’ll increase our stress levels and risks of developing depression. Fortunately, there are many techniques we can use to quiet that cruel voice inside our heads.

Think “possibly” rather than “positively.” We’ve all heard about the power of positive thinking, but when you’re really feeling down on yourself, trying to be positive may only make you feel worse. If you find that’s the case, try possible thinking instead. Neutral thoughts, and facts rather than feelings, characterize possible thinking. For example, when your inner critic says, “I’m a horrible runner” you can replace that thought with, “I’d like to run a 10-minute mile. And I can learn how to make that happen.”

Look at the true size of your problems. When negative self-talk becomes a habit, every little mistake quickly becomes an epic failure. This feels overwhelming and prevents us from experiencing growth. The next time you are harsh on yourself, try looking at the true size of your transgression instead of giving in to the shame spiral. For example, if you gave in to temptation and had 2 servings of dessert after dinner, don’t tell yourself, “I have no willpower. I’m never going to lose any weight.” Instead, say, “I could have made a better choice. I will do so tomorrow.”

Consider your best friend. When your head is screaming about failure, imagine your best friend, your mother, or someone else you love dearly. What would you say if she decided to stay in bed and nurse a cold rather than completing a five-mile run in sub-zero temperatures? You can bet it wouldn’t be something harsh or cruel. If that inner critic is making statements you wouldn’t make to your best friend, don’t allow her to continue. You wouldn’t call your friend a “lazy cow” for taking a day off when she’s feeling ill.

Negative self-talk is something we all struggle with from time to time, but you don’t have to let it take you hostage. Make a commitment right now to stop holding yourself to ridiculously high standards, consider the possible, look at the true size of your shortcomings, and show yourself the same consideration you would a best friend.

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Have a healthy holiday season

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Comments

  1. devina

    Tanx dats was a nice and inspiring message

    • Kwavi Agbeyegbe

      You are welcome Devina!

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