Our internal dialogue is a driver of our actions. Reconsider the conversation you engage with yourself, and make sure it’s one that’s positive and constructive.
Self-talk is always happening inside our heads. It’s endless and always present, and why channeling energy into making it consistently positive is beneficial for your overall well-being.
The Mayo Clinic defines self-talk as “the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head… [that] can be positive or negative.”
A critical mindset is a very common characteristic among those struggling with any food or body image, and why reframing self-talk clears up mental space for more flexible thinking. That’s how you can feel less stressed about food and body image, and learn how to best support your health in a more positive, beneficial way.
But what exactly does it mean to positively reframe self-talk? It starts with how you frame positive affirmations.
Research has shown that using “you” or your own name is more effective than using ‘I”. For example, “I am learning how to listen to my body and meet my needs” may be more effective if you think or say “[Your name], you are just learning how to listen to your body and meet your needs”.
The theory is that you are distancing yourself from the situation, almost acting like a coach or therapist for yourself. This allows you to practice supporting yourself through difficult situations. Some other ideas include:
- “[Your name], you are more than a body.”
- “[Your name], you can do this. Just focus on this one meal, taking one bite at a time.”
- “I know this is hard, [Your name], but you can do this.”
- “Take a deep breath, everything is going to be OK.”
- “[Your name] you’re doing the best you can and that’s always good enough.”
Note that all these statements are positive and constructive by focusing on what you should do, rather than on critical or negative messages of what you shouldn’t do.
For example, instead of “Don’t binge on those cookies”, try “All foods can fit. Listen for signs that you are full and trust yourself to know when you’ve had enough”.
With that said, self-talk is deeply personal, and what resonates with you may be different for someone else.
The key here is to practice ahead of time.
If you have an event coming up where you anticipate food anxiety may be high (such as a holiday or a family gathering), visualize how you want it to go. Talk yourself through possible scenarios of how you may navigate food and how you may respond to diet talk.
Over time this might become more second-nature and less worrisome. However, if there are lingering fears around food, visualization and practicing self-talk will allow you to decrease anxiety, making the event more enjoyable and making the next time around even easier.
If you are aiming for more variety and flexibility with food and want to challenge yourself by adding foods that you once feared, preparing yourself with positive self-talk will get you through it. Meet yourself where you are with compassionate, positive self-talk to mitigate any anxiety that may otherwise send you back to restriction, which is a natural response to controlling the anxiety.
When we judge ourselves and engage in negative self-talk, we leave no room to learn from the experience.
If we can be less judgmental and more curious about the experience, we leave room for inspiration and creativity for how to best solve our problems. Positive self-talk gives us the opportunity to learn and grow from experiences instead of feeling like we are defined by them.
After all, we can’t get anywhere we want to go without learning how to support ourselves, and positive affirmations teach us how to show up for ourselves and cheer ourselves on.
Let’s change that internal dialogue, it’s a necessity and non-negotiable if we want to be happy and healthy.
Adapted from the original article.
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Emily Fonnesbeck, RD, CD, CLT is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Saint George, Utah. Instead of creating unnecessary restrictions, Emily focuses on helping individuals become confident and in charge of their own well-being through Intuitive Eating and Mindful Living. She is a strong believer and advocate for helping people become capable individuals who are confident in taking care of themselves. Make a visit and read more from Emily.