Blog September 2018 #obsm chat: How You Talk To Yourself Matters -- You’re Always Listening!
Our capacity for independent thought is what makes us human. Our thoughts inform our actions, create our conversations and formulate our to-do lists. Thoughts can also keep us up at night, interfere with healthy behaviors, and contribute to anxiety and depression. The thoughts you have about yourself—your body, your behavior, and your interactions with others, are referred to as self-talk.
Self-talk is the category of thoughts that we may not even recognize we have, yet these are the thoughts that ultimately can impact how we feel and what we actually do (or don’t do). Some self-talk is positive; however, when it is negative (e.g., “I am so lazy,” or “I’m never going to lose weight”) it can be problematic. These negative thoughts can be quite frequent and arise spontaneously, which is why they are sometimes termed negative automatic thoughts. With repetition over time, we may come to accept this self-talk as the truth. Even worse, we can come to believe that negative self-talk is actually helpful! Sometimes people erroneously believe that thoughts like “I am so fat!” will motivate them to change. But that is simply not true. When negative self-talk becomes our way of making sense of our experiences (e.g., "I haven't been to the gym because I'm so lazy”), it is detrimental to mood, behavior change, and overall wellness.
When working on making lifestyle changes, such as changing eating patterns or starting an exercise program, self-talk is one of the best determinants of how likely you are to persist with the effort and motivation needed to make enduring changes. It is simply not true that talking negatively to yourself will help you make the changes you seek. While it may even feel scary to give up the negative self-talk, the great news is, you can master more positive, self-affirming, and realistic self-talk, and use it to your advantage. How? By increasing your awareness of self-talk, learning to recognize the unhelpful thinking habits you are most prone to having, and then learning to challenge the self-talk with real facts and data. These techniques come from cognitive behavioral therapy and can help you make lasting positive changes to your self-talk and behavior. You can learn to talk to yourself in a more realistic, affirming, encouraging, and reinforcing ways and experience the sustained emotional and behavioral changes you’re working toward.
In this month’s chat we will explore the impact of negative self-talk on weight loss and health behavior change.
Where do you think self-talk comes from?
What are some ways to recognize and stop your own negative self-talk?
In what ways does negative self-talk affect your health behaviors?
How can health care providers help patients identify and change negative self-talk?
In what ways is negative self-talk reinforced by the dieting cycle often experienced by people with #obesity?
What can we do to dispel the myth that negative self-talk motivates change?