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I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of cleaning up your diet, or the term “clean eating” — as it refers to whole, unprocessed, nourishing foods without preservatives and added junk. But what about clean self-talk?
It can be really easy — and, for many of us, our default mode — to beat ourselves up during difficult seasons, like most of 2020. But I’m going to be real with you: The way you’re talking to yourself might actually be the only thing holding you back from reaching your fitness, health and life goals.
It’s about time that we show up as our own biggest cheerleader instead of the world’s biggest critic. Here’s how.
5 Tools for Implementing Clean Self-Talk
Own Up to It
Cleaning up your self-talk requires ownership of what you’ve been telling yourself. According to the work of Joe Dispenza, D.C., author of Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and Becoming Supernatural, we have between 60,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day and 90 percent of them are the same as yesterday. How can we expect change in our lives if we are not doing the work to intentionally think about what we are thinking about? It doesn’t happen overnight; it happens thought by thought.
When self-shaming thoughts come to mind, first acknowledge them, then dismiss them — out loud. Say, “You’re not welcome here!”
The more we catch our thoughts, reframe the thinking process and stop our inner judge, we condition ourselves for clean self-talk. Just like neurons fire and wire in our bodies to do a squat, neurons in our brain can learn to fire and wire to change our thought patterns.
Start One Phrase at a Time
Take a moment and think about a phrase that you continuously say, perhaps even without realizing it. Now it might be hard to think of something right off the top of your head, so let me help you a bit.
- I am too tired to work out.
- Eating healthy is too expensive.
- Meal prepping takes too much time.
- I am so busy with work. I don’t have any time for myself.
The thoughts we continually have are actually what’s holding us back from getting where we want to be in life.
A couple of years ago, I decided to eliminate the word “busy” from my vocabulary. I was always “so busy,” and I let this excuse run my life. I eventually decided to replace “busy” with “full” or “abundant” when talking to myself or others. I felt so much better after a “full and abundant day” versus a “busy day.” Busy feels scattered and out of control; full and abundant feels intentional.
Start looking at failure as a teacher instead of a problem you wish to avoid. We cannot avoid failure in life, but we can choose how we perceive it.
I know this can be challenging because oftentimes when we fail at something, we automatically default to being a failure. But that’s not true. Instead of labeling yourself, shift your thinking to, I have learned that this way does not work for me, or I am thankful for the opportunity to learn that there is another way.
Put Love Notes to Yourself on Your Mirror
On a piece of paper or sticky note, jot down specific things you love about yourself. When done, place the notes as reminders on your mirror — whether it’s in your bedroom, bathroom or car. Next time you find yourself looking in the mirror to criticize, read them.
Here’s some examples of what mine say:
- I love that my thighs touch. … I’m closer to becoming a mermaid.
- I love my big Portuguese nose. I got it from my dad.
- I love my feet that have allowed me to walk all over!
Make these personal love notes part of your morning routine to supercharge your day or your bedtime routine to wind down. I recommend doing both — it only takes a couple of minutes.
Practice Clean Self-Talk Until You Believe It
It may feel weird and unfamiliar to talk nice to yourself if you’re used to beating yourself, and it may feel weird to look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I love you. You are beautiful!” But you have to do the work. If you believe the things you are telling yourself now, why can’t you believe something different if you practice? You can.
I have to remind you again, it doesn’t happen overnight. But, day by day, if you choose cheerleader over critic, you will always win.