A few years ago my friend Sarah was running herself down in front of her boyfriend. This aspect of her body wasn’t correct…that one was awful…etc.
Her boyfriend’s response?
“Don’t talk about my girlfriend that way.”
Why so powerful?
Because when we are inside our loops of dissatisfaction, self-criticism, negative feedback, we forget how unkind we can be.
Most of us would not talk to a friend the way we talk to ourselves—about ourselves.
And even if we’re not saying it out loud—if it’s ‘only in our head’—our body hears it.
As Bruce Lee said so eloquently, we are casting a spell.
Still more toxic, according to an article in this week’s New York Times is when we praise ourselves one minute and denigrate ourselves the next.
As the author notes,
“With a clear enemy, you put up a shield when you cross paths. With a frenemy, you never know whether Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde is going to show up. Ambivalence short-circuits the parasympathetic nervous system and activates a fight-or-flight response. It’s unnerving to hope for a hug while bracing yourself for a brawl.”
And, in this case, neither fighting nor fleeing is possible; your parasympathetic nervous system never gets a break….because it’s happening inside you.
Luckily, as Mr. Lee notes, we can choose—and we can change.
So the next time you hear friends running themselves down—or you catch yourself being unkind to yourself—here is your magic spell,
“Speak kindly to my friend.”
Need a tool for flipping the switch on negative self-talk? Take a look at “Tired of Negative Self Talk? Make This: A Priority”