The habit you absolutely have to kick

There are just some things I don’t do — some places I don’t let myself go. For example, I’ve never eaten Nutella. I have a bit of an addiction to chocolate. Or maybe it’s better described as a love affair? Anyways. I don’t need more easy-to-spread-on-everything-chocolate in my life, so I’ve just never even cracked open a jar of Nutella. It’s not worth it to me.

Here’s something else I don’t let myself do: speak negatively about my body. I just don’t do it. It’s not worth it to me.

Negative self-talk is a learned behavior.

We learn this toxic behavior of highlighting our flaws from our biggest influencers: mothers, sisters, and friends (and dare I mention — boyfriends).

I’m lucky. My biggest influencers didn’t indulge in negative self-talk. Sure, I heard my mother complain about her inability to get any abs after having 3 kids, but we never made a family affair out of staring at the mirror and obsessing over our worst features. I probably couldn’t have even told you my biggest flaw until I learned I was supposed to have “one thing I would change about myself” in college.

Maybe your story is different. Maybe your mom constantly reminded you of your worst features. I’ve heard that mom in the dressing room (and wanted to climb over the walls and shake her): “oh sweetheart, you don’t have the hips for that dress… you can’t fill out that top… those pants don’t work with that butt you’ve got…”

Maybe every time you look in the mirror you hear the words of that horrible girl from middle school ringing in your head reminding you that your body doesn’t measure up to their standards (who gave them the right to have standards anyways?!?).

If that’s you… girl, I am so sorry.

I wish I could take back those words so horribly spoken over you. I wish I could change your childhood. I wish I could tell you personally just how beautiful you are.

But the truth is — you are the one holding the most power to change the way you think about yourself. Every single day, you have the opportunity to give life to your insecurities or to silence them.

Do you engage in negative self-talk frequently? If so, it’s a bad habit — and it’s one you can and should kick. Actually, I’m begging you to kick it.

This doesn’t mean you have to walk around telling everyone “I have a perfect body and I’m so happy with it…” The best way to start kicking this habit is to stop. Stop complaining about your body, stop talking about your imperfections, stop trying to be someone or something you’re not, and perhaps most importantly, stop letting your friends talk bad about themselves in front of you.

Don’t agree with friends when they engage in negative self-talk, and don’t respond to their negativity with your own. When a friend says “oh my gosh, I hate my nose!” it’s easy (and comfortable and inviting and safe) to respond with “girl, at least you don’t have my ears!” Your conversations with close friends should never turn into a who-has-the-worst-feature-competition. If your friend starts down this path, don’t feed it. Here’s my go-to response:

“Girl, stop. You are beautiful.” That’s it.

But there’s more at stake here than your own self-confidence and identity.

Do you have kids?

“Recent findings show that kids as young as 32 months pick up on fat shaming attitudes of their moms, and a report released by Common Sense Media reveals that half of girls and one third of boys between 6 and 8 think their ideal weight is thinner than their current size.” (source)

If you’re participating in negative self-talk, you’re teaching it to your kids.

Unintentionally, you are raising kids who question themselves, second-guess their dreams, and measure their own self-worth by the things they see in the mirror. I have a feeling that was never on your list of things you planned to teach your little ones.

I know it’s hard to change a habit you’ve had for your whole life. But I can’t think of many efforts more worthwhile.

Put a reminder on your bathroom mirror. Write down words that encourage you and read them before work every morning. Make a pact with your best friends and hold each other accountable. Do whatever it takes.

Negative self-talk is a habit you absolutely have to kick. It helps no one, takes you and your kids captive, and relentlessly pours unnecessary discouragement into your everyday life.

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