Have you ever listened to a song you don’t even like so many times that you involuntarily sing along during certain parts? That’s sort of what negative self talk is like. You hear your negative thoughts about yourself repeated so many times that you just sing along without thinking about it, or challenging whether those sentences are even accurate (“rock the cash box” anybody? extra points if you get the reference).
As I’ve mentioned before, when you are still new to developing love for yourself, it might be easier to think about how you would treat a friend, or even a stranger and just apply that treatment to yourself. One phrase I like to use when I catch myself talking sh*t about myself is “HEY, I don’t like you talking about my friend like that!” It’s important to stop the negative thoughts as soon as possible, because feelings follow thoughts. The more you think something, the more it feels true.
The next step, after shutting down the negative thoughts, is to replace them with healthy, positive thoughts. I was suspicious of the idea of affirmations at first, because I was suspicious of myself. I hated myself so much, that I was uncomfortable repeating affirmations that didn’t feel true, which is a trap, because they won’t ever FEEL true, if you don’t first THINK they might be. This is where Hack #2 comes in handy: take your affirmations from trusted friends, peers or counselors. Believe that what they see is true to them and repeat it, until it doesn’t feel wrong anymore and then repeat it some more, until it feels like it might be true, and then repeat it still more, until it definitely feels true.
I wrote about this last December, when we were getting ready to visit family for the holidays and I was beating myself up for what my body looked like and what people would think about it (reminder: what people think of me is none of my business… see what I did there?). So I shut down the negative thoughts, wrote myself/my body a letter to remind me why I shouldn’t disrespect her, and every time the negative thoughts came up after that I would affirm myself by saying “I love my body and the amazing things it can do.” I try to look at myself as a whole as much as possible, because there are still body things I can get carried away with, but again, I shut down those negative thoughts and say firmly and factually that I love my WHOLE self, humanity and flaws and all.