Lately, we’ve been talking about what you can do when body positivity feels impossible. Today we feature a guest post from author Rosie Molinary on six ways to leave self-defeat behind and move toward self-belief.
Too many of us do it: berate and belittle ourselves until what’s left is simply defeat. Eradicating negative self-talk (from I’m fat to I’m not loveable, from I’m incompetent to I’m stupid) is some of the most important work we can do because it gets us out of our own way and allows us to move from paralysis to action in our lives.
You might be thinking, “Why does what I say to myself even matter? They are just thoughts.” But thoughts are not that innocuous. The reality is that we manifest what we think. For example, if we think we can never be successful, then we’re not going to become successful, so it is particularly important that we be extra mindful of what we say to ourselves. Criticizing ourselves is really disempowering, so getting a handle on our negative self-talk is the first step to empowering ourselves to realize our full potential. Want to change your thinking? Try these simple steps to move yourself away from self-defeat or toward self-belief.
Recognize it. These negative loops can become so common that we don’t even recognize that they are playing in our head. The negativity just becomes the soundtrack to our life. So, the first thing you have to do is catch yourself in the act. Raise your level of awareness so you are tuned in to the racket in your head. Now, you have choices as to how you can respond.
Name it. By this, I mean, literally give that voice in your head a name. You might call it Sally or Edna or Agnes. And when she pipes up next time, put her in her place. Because here is the deal, very rarely is that voice in our head REALLY our voice. It’s our 3rd grade teacher, an old boyfriend, a snippy classmate. It’s rarely our criticism that is playing in our head. When we say “Stop it, Agnes,” we accomplish three things. We stop the negative talk before it goes too far (although any negative self-talk is too far); we remind ourselves that it is not our voice or values speaking, it is someone else’s judgment that we are giving too much room in our thoughts; and we remind ourselves, “I can take care of myself.”
Consider it. Sometimes, there is some truth in what we are noticing, but our negative self-talk has taken our language entirely too far and to a defeating place. Instead, we need to shape our self-awareness in a way that we can grow from it. So, yes, maybe I was impatient with my child but does that mean that I am the worst mother in the world? No, it means that I need to find a solution that works better for us in those sorts of moments: maybe it means that I need to go to bed earlier or have a bit more personal time or give us a little more time to get out of the house in the morning. The point of self-awareness is to empower us in our growth, not defeat us into stagnation.
Shift it. It’s also important for us to have a bigger perspective. So let’s take that earlier parenting example. Yes, maybe you were impatient in that one moment with your son but you’ve also done some pretty amazing things as a mother and those things deserve to be claimed. So, when you are wallowing in what you think you have done wrong, shift your attention to the things you’ve done right.
Claim it. If only we spent as much time claiming what we like about ourselves as we do lamenting what we do not like. At the end of each day, make a point of claiming at least one thing that you really appreciate about yourself. In fact, take it a step further and write that thing down in a little notebook. Begin to make a case for what is loveable and lovely about you- because there is so much. You just need to begin to notice your loveliness.
Blow past it. We are simply not meant to be perfect; it would defeat the very purpose of life. Every day is a work in progress, and what we are meant to be doing is learning and refining. Rather than revel in the negativity, revel, instead, in your possibility. Treat yourself compassionately as you learn more about yourself and remember that you always get to decide how to begin again and that every single moment is a new beginning.
Tell us in the comments below what you have found helpful in moving beyond self-defeat and toward self-belief for a chance to win a copy of Rosie Molinary’s book Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self Acceptance. One winner will be selected at random.
About Rosie Molinary
Author, speaker, and teacher, Rosie Molinary, MFA, empowers women to embrace their authentic selves so they can live their passion and purpose and give their gifts to the world.
Rosie is the author of Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self Acceptance and Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina.
In addition to writing, she teaches body image at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, offers workshops and retreats for women, and speaks on self-acceptance, body image, media literacy, the Latina experience, and social justice around the country.