When I was young and I’d speak badly about myself, my mother used to tell me, “Your body hears you.” She said it whenever I moaned about how tired I was, whenever I said I wasn’t pretty, whenever I said, “I can’t.” She’d always tell me that the things I say about myself come back to me. That giving voice to these negative things will literally amplify them within me, until I’m more tired than I was before I started complaining, or until I genuinely feel ugly, or until I truly can’t do the thing I said I couldn’t do. Still, though, I thought it was all nonsense until I took psychology classes and realized that self-talk is indeed a real and powerful thing.
How we speak aloud about ourselves carries great weight and power. We, especially as women, have been raised and conditioned to think that self-deprecation is the same as humility, so all too often, we speak badly about ourselves. People compliment us and, instead of saying, “Thank you! I like this outfit too!” or “Wow, thanks! That really made my day!” we say, “Oh this old thing? I just threw it together.” and “Ha, thanks, but you should see my sister—she’s beautiful.” We say things casually in conversation. “If I wasn’t so fat, I could wear that.” “I look old and ugly.” “Just be glad you never had kids, otherwise you’d look like me.”
While having humility is still very important, it needs to be said that being humble is not the same thing as speaking badly of yourself. What we say aloud carries power, and the simple act of speaking something can be enough to set the wheels into motion so that it becomes reality. There is power in words, and immense power in the process of self-talk. In order to speak something aloud, you must first think it. And then it goes through the speech centers of the brain and becomes vocalized. But it doesn’t end there. As soon as it leaves your lips, your ears hear it, take it through the speech comprehension centers in the brain, and then through to the belief and emotional centers, which then will subconsciously alter the way you behave until it is in accordance to this belief that is being reinforced each time you voice it. If you’re speaking good things about yourself, this is an amazing thing! If you’re speaking negative things, then it is a vicious, toxic cycle that can be very hard to break.
Breaking out of negative self-talk is difficult because, if you’re speaking negatively about yourself, you must on some level believe it. And the longer you’ve been speaking negatively about yourself, the more entrenched your become in this belief until you may not even be able to dig yourself out on your own. However, the same principle that got you into the pit of negativity can be employed to get yourself out of it. The exact same psychological feedback loop will help you. It will take a long time, since it takes much longer to un-learn a belief that has been so culturally embedded into us than it does to create it in the first place. But, replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk is an excellent place to start if you find that you’ve slipped into the quicksand grip of negativity.
Start by standing alone in front of the mirror. Clear your head. Look at your reflection and think about whatever you dislike about yourself. And then, verbally tell yourself that you are beautiful.
Verbally tell yourself in the mirror that you are beautiful. That you’re intelligent. That you’re kind. That you’re enough. You’ll feel silly doing this for a while, but commit to doing it every day. Remember that nobody can see you and that you’re all alone. This is between you and yourself. Do this at least once a day to start. You’ll find that, after a while, it grows easier and easier to say aloud. Then you’ll find someday that you’re starting to believe it.
I maintain a belief that, if I verbally say something enough times, I’ll remember it. Then, if I say it enough times beyond that, I will believe it. I use this often when building up my friends and helping them fight their insecurities. I’m always telling them that maybe if they hear this enough times, they might begin to believe it. Like water eroding away a stone. It takes time, but this principle is absolutely true. So, if you’re sick of feeling negative all the time, I challenge you to do the exercise that I just described. Michelle has done it. I have done it. We can both say from personal experience that it works wonders.
You don’t need to stay in such a dark place. Let the power of positive self-talk help you start to climb out into the light again. And, if you need help or moral support, you can always talk to us here at the studio. We are emphatic champions of positivity, and we want you to reach a place of contentment within yourself. We are behind you completely.