There is an old saying that we are what we eat. You know…if you put healthy “fuel” in your body, your body will run like the well-cared for human machine that it is. I think we can all agree with (and the science is there to back it up) that by eating healthy, whole foods in general, we will live healthier lives.
What about the power of our thoughts and our words? The things we tell ourselves, whether said out loud as we look in the mirror, or our private thoughts that insidiously run in our minds, like a bad mix tape that we can’t stop playing. These thoughts have power, my friends. Just as I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking, so do I believe that our negative thoughts interfere with our health and happiness. We are not only what we eat, we are what we think.
I cannot tell you how many times, as a personal trainer, I hear my clients talk badly about themselves. And every time I hear it, it breaks my heart a little. When I look at my clients, I see beautiful, vivacious, kind and exciting people. I see people that do so much for others, yet are crueler to themselves than they would ever be to another individual. I hear comments such as, “I’m so fat.” “I feel like a pig” “I am so slow” “I can’t do it” or, by commenting on all the things they wish they could change about themselves.
Would you say these harsh words or sling these insults at your mother? You sister? Your best friend? What about your daughter? Then why, my dear, do you find it so easy to say these things about yourself? Your co-worker tells you that your hair looks lovely, and you respond by saying that you need to get it done, that it’s a rat’s nest. Your friend tells you that you look fit and healthy, and you answer back with a “yeah, but I feel so fat today.” Your spouse/partner tells you look sexy, and you automatically respond that you aren’t nearly as hot/sexy/pretty as so-and-so. Why is it acceptable to brush off the kind words, compliments and encouragement of others with “Thanks, but I…”? WHY the but?!? Why can’t we just accept the compliments of others for what they are – the truth?
I believe that the people around us see us through a completely different lens than we see ourselves. For most of us, the years of negative self talk, of constantly comparing ourselves to others, has distorted the way we see ourselves. In our mind, we truly have become what we think. And when we brush off a kind word or compliment, we are discarding the gift that this other person has given us. Forget false modesty in the attempt to not look conceited or self-absorbed! When someone gives you a compliment, smile and say thank you! For they are telling you how they (and probably how the world) sees you. Don’t let your distorted view of yourself ruin it!
So, what if we stopped the negative talk? Stopped comparing ourselves to others, stopped looking for a flaw or a reason to berate ourselves. What if we talked to ourselves as we would a treasured friend or loved one? What if we stopped trying to look or be like someone else, and just did a darn good job at being the best version of ourselves that we can be? If we said thank you to compliments and kind words. If we woke up every morning and thought positive thoughts about ourselves. We’d become what we think. We’d likely have more confidence. We’d have a better attitude going about our day. We’d treat ourselves and those around us with greater kindness and joy.
Let’s reset out minds and harness the power of our thoughts. Try going a whole day (I know for some even a whole hour will seem daunting) of no negative self-talk. Of saying “thank you” when someone gives us a compliment, instead of brushing it off. Of praising ourselves when we do something well, or even when we go out on a limb to try anything at all. Imagine how it would feel to be your own most enthusiastic cheerleader instead of your biggest enemy? Pretty awesome, right?
And remember…things happen. We make mistakes, we fall off the wagon, we skip a workout or eat things that are less than the best for us (jelly bean binge, anyone?) But, it’s what we do after that counts. If we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and resolve to start fresh, rather than wallow in our “failure”, well, THIS is when we grow.