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How to Stop Negative Self-Talk

by Elise Museles

Louise Hay Quote

There was a time in my life when I didn’t eat chocolate.

I heard the voice loud and clear: Kale good. Chocolate bad. She was always talking to me…I truly believed she was keeping me in line on the path to creating better health and nourishing habits. After all, she gave me a strict plan to follow steeped in rigidity with lots of food rules. I analyzed, counted calories, restricted, and felt bad about myself whenever I deviated from the plan. There she goes again…my inner critical voice making noise. Do you have one of those?

I found her draining. She kept me from feeling and being in my body because I was in a relationship with her… “Yes. No. Don’t. Acceptable. Not part of the program. No carbs. Low carbs. Too much. Too little.” Pure judgment. But when she talked, I tried to listen. And when I didn’t, I beat myself up.

In spite of tirelessly following all the “clean eating” rules, I had fluid retention, moodiness, erratic energy levels and an obsessive relationship with food and my body.

The battle with your body.

Maybe you’re trying to lose weight. Maybe you keep telling yourself over and over that you just don’t have this whole health thing down. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you must just lack the discipline or determination to really follow the “perfect” diet. Maybe you’ve started to believe that you’re too busy, or that it’s just not for you. Or maybe you tell yourself, “I’ll start tomorrow.”

Then, the voice, the all too familiar radio station in your head, starts playing the same old songs: You’re a failure. Why can’t you stick to this plan? You don’t have the time. You lack willpower.

I started to change my inner dialogue once I understood that I wasn’t really nourishing my body no matter how many rules I followed or how much kale, quinoa and green juice I was having. Because I learned that the negative self-talk was creating a physiological stress response in my body.

Stress increases the production of insulin and cortisol, causing a dramatic rise in nutrient excretion and a decline in calorie-burning capacity, which not only impacts the body’s ability to burn fat but can cause all sorts of unwanted symptoms from weight gain to digestive distress. Ouch…all from thinking (and judging) too much.

The truth is most of us spend an excessive amount of time in our heads, analyzing and trying to improve our bodies- and our lives- in a push-push kind of way. It’s not only exhausting but in extreme cases can also be demoralizing.

Here’s what I know:

• Being mean in your head won’t help you lose weight.
• Hating your body isn’t going to get you any closer to looking like a million bucks.
• Setting painfully high standards that are impossible to achieve will lead to disappointment.

Would you agree that it makes sense to quiet the inner critic so that you can start to connect to your true desires?

Ready to change the channel of the radio station in your head?

To start:

•Become aware of the negative self-talk and listen in with curiosity and compassion instead of guilt and shame. (If you label yourself as “good” or “bad”, try to ditch the labeling.)
•When that critical voice dominates, ask yourself how you would talk to a best friend or a child and treat yourself with the same kindness & respect.
•Tap into your own body wisdom instead of harsh criticism.

It’s time to let go of the idea that the only way to look & feel your best means restriction with a side of guilt; you can get there without a helping of self-loathing too!

Making peace with food, eating and your body, doesn’t just help you become a more radiant version of you, but it also creates a pathway into the deeper work of reconnecting with yourself and being freed up to live your life more fully.

Question of the day: Do you have an inner critic who dishes up the guilt? Share your insights on how you try to quiet that voice in the comments below.

8 Responses to How to Stop Negative Self-Talk

  1. Jenny January 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    This is an amazing blog post. I have never heard someone put this in words like you have. I think everyone has a voice in their heads and it is going to be amazing to learn how to talk to her during the course.

    • Elise January 14, 2013 at 6:02 am #

      Jenny,
      I agree that most people have a voice in their head that is not always kind. I am thrilled that you will be participating in SAVOR where we will dive into ways to shift from a negative to a more positive voice.

  2. Alicia Sokol @ Weekly Greens January 12, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    What a wonderful post. Yes, the inner voice is the toughest critic and the hardest to control. Like you, I love food and think there is a place for all of it in a healthy lifestyle. We get so many mixed messages and our examples of what is “fit” or “healthy” are often skewed. This takes work, but I do think taming the inner critic is possible. It’s like a muscle – it has to be flexed daily to become strong. Thanks for this terrific post!!

    • Elise January 14, 2013 at 6:08 am #

      Alicia, I absolutely love your comment about taming the inner critic like a muscle that needs to be flexed daily to become strong. Good one! I am so glad this post resonated with you. I am a huge fan of your work and beautiful website…awesome recipes and gorgeous photos!

  3. Maria Whitman April 8, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    Taming the inner critic is an ongoing and daily practice. But if you work at it you can make positive changes to your life. I found the book “What To Say To When You Talk To Yoursellf” by Shad Helmstetter a great help. It even provides scripts on specific issues such as negative thinking, weight loss etc.

    Great post.

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