Changing Our Internal Dialogue: Self-Talk that Harms
It’s the day after Christmas, one of—if not the—most indulgent holidays of the year. As women living in a country run by a man who grades females’ attractiveness on a scale of 1-10, it’s likely that your post-Christmas/pre-New Year’s tradition has something to do with obsessing about your appearance, including nit-picking your weight, size, skin, and rate of aging. If you aren’t doing any of these things and feel 100% good about yourself, congrats! (please send us your tips and how-tos).
If you found yourself making a list of appearance-related resolutions to start on New Year’s Day, then continue reading for tips on how to transform that ugly self-talk into a conversation that’s kinder and more beneficial for you.
Leading Up To New Year’s Day
I’m not against New Year’s resolutions. I actually think they can be life-enhancing when done right. But for women living in a society with a concept of beauty that’s only attainable for a very few—many of whom must turn to eating disorders and plastic surgery to meet the goal—resolutions easily become unhealthy and slide into self-harming.
But, this isn’t an article about New Year’s resolutions. This is an article about the internal dialogue and harmful self-talk that happens leading up to the making of those resolutions and how it can be changed.
If the following scenario sounds at all familiar to you, then this article is written for you.
Morning After Christmas
You squint against the light streaming in through your bedroom windows and groan into the discomfort caused by the last 24 hours of overindulgence. You instantly begin to check off all of
- A week-long fast beginning January 1st
- Come off the fast and dive straight into (insert latest fad diet)
- Start CrossFit
- Start yoga
- Start running
- Start meditating
- Eat a salad every day
- Save for (insert whatever body altering surgery you are sure will improve your life)
- Get a new haircut, dye job, mani/
pedi, skin-peel-facial-chocolate-wrap-make-you-look-10-years-younger-in-an-instant treatment
- Throw out old wardrobe and clean out your savings for a completely new look
You get the point.
Then you roll out of bed, head to Starbucks for a triple candy cane mocha with whole milk and extra, extra whip, already feeling defeated.
Post-Christmas Self-Talk: It’s All About Punshiment
Re-read the list above. At first glance, each item is disguised as something you can do that’s good for you, but in
Fasts and diets are all about denying yourself foods you enjoy that the diet and fitness world labels as “bad”. And starting a workout routine that gets you moving and active is a great idea, but only if it’s something that you like doing. Participating in a workout that you dread and leaves you sore and exhausted is the equivalent of receiving a physical punishment.
The modern-day fitness scene thrives on creating workouts that serve as punishment for women eager to pay penance for having bodies they see as being “bad.”
Take, for example, these memes that are favored by the workout industry:
The images above are problematic for so many reasons, but
Changing Our Internal Dialogue
A question to quickly ask yourself is, “How is my current post-Christmas self-talk working for me?”
If you are having the same or a similar conversation with yourself year after year, it’s safe to say, it’s not working at all. So, perhaps it’s time to try something different. Are you game?
If so, between now and New Year’s Eve, consider changing the dialogue you have in the following ways.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are some things I’m currently struggling with?
- What am I missing in my life right now?
- What are some things I want more of in my life?
- What have I been doing well?
Notice the compassionate nature of the wording in the above questions? These are questions you might ask a friend in need, right? You wouldn’t say:
- What do you need to do better this year?
- What did you fail at last year?
- What do you deserve less of in 2019?
- What did you suck at this past year?
If you would ask your friends the above questions…well, we will leave that for another article.
Once you’ve written your answers down to the above questions (the first set, preferably), ask yourself the following:
- What can I add to my life that will help me with things that I am struggling with right now?
- What are some things I can do that will help me attain things that I am missing in my life?
- What are some things I deserve to have or do this year?
Write your answers down and save them for when you sit down to write your New Year’s resolutions (we will help you with that soon).
Learning a New Language
Changing the way we ask ourselves these types of questions is a bit like learning a new language. The second set of questions I posed above insists that you be kind to yourself, love yourself, and even flatter yourself. This can be hard for many of us, as we are conditioned to be critical and judgmental of ourselves.
If you are struggling with this exercise, the following are some examples of answers to help you get the ball rolling:
Questions: What can I add to my life that will help me with the things that I am struggling with right now (Ex: health)?
Answer: Start moving more. Or, find a physical activity I enjoy. Or, add healthy foods I like to my daily meals.
Question: What are some things I can do that will help me attain the things that I am missing in my life (Ex: Quality friends)?
Answer: More social activities. Or, a new hobby.
Question: What are some things I deserve to have or do this year?
Answer: I deserve a higher wage, or more vacations days, or more travel experiences.
Take the next day or two to come back to these questions again and again and write anything new that comes to your mind. You might find that the exercise gets easier each time. Tuck your answers away and save them for New Year’s Eve Day when I will help you turn them into resolutions that might just make you look forward to 2019.