Does this sound like you when you’re talking about your fitness? "I’m so out of shape." "I’m fat." "I could never do that." "I’m so slow/weak/unfit."
I’d guess you don’t realize how often you’re saying these kinds of negative things about yourself. Whether you’re just listening to an internal critic or voicing your criticism aloud, it’s a huge detriment to your confidence and hinders your work out progress. Negative self-talk can become self-fulfilling prophecy -- if you tell yourself you're likely to fail, you probably will. With a positive attitude, you're less likely to give up on a workout and you're more likely to give it your all.
If you want to get more out of hitting the gym, it's time to kill the negative self-talk. Don't know how? Here are 8 ways to kick negativity out of the way so it doesn't kill your workout.
1. When someone pays you a compliment, fight the urge to tell them they're wrong or, even worse, explain all the reasons the compliment doesn't apply. It's not making you seem humble to reject a compliment. Instead, you're actually telling them their opinion is worthless or wrong. Whether you believe the compliment or not, just smile and thank the person. It’s hard to do at first, but sooner or later, it will become a habit.
2. Get rid of the scale. I promise, you will feel immediately better when it’s gone. I know what you’re saying, "But how will I know what I weigh?" You won’t. Isn’t that awesome? It’s not like you ever share your weight with anyone else anyway, so you’re just using that number to judge yourself. If you’re trying to lose weight and you want to track your progress, consider using your clothes as your guide. How your clothes fit and how you feel are much kinder ways of marking your weight loss progress.
3. Talk to yourself as if you were talking to your best friend. Would you really tell her you think her butt is too big? No, right? Then why would you say that to yourself? Even just attempting to follow this advice means you’ll have to stop and think for a moment before your negative comment is voiced; sometimes that may be enough time for you to realize you’re being unnecessarily harsh on yourself.
4. Think about the way your words about yourself impacts others. Negative energy has a way of making everyone in its vicinity feel awful. Nobody enjoys being around those who seem negative or down on themselves. Think about the people in your life whose company you enjoy -- are they Debbie Downers, always putting themselves down, or pointing out their failings? Or are they upbeat, cheerful people who seem confident and happy? Start making an effort to act like a person with whom you would want to spend time.
5. Keep a fitness journal. This is helpful not only for getting the most out of your workouts, it can also be something you read and reflect upon whenever you’re about to start with the negative self-talk. If you’re telling yourself you’re not fit, looking back over the progress you’ve made with your workouts can be a great way to counter your own negativity.
6. Remember a time you felt strong or a time you accomplished something you’re proud of. Don’t beat yourself up if you couldn’t make it all the way through a boot camp. Take a deep breath and think back to when you tried an exercise and nailed it. Just starting out getting fit? Use a memory of a positive experience in your professional or personal life to remind yourself of what you’re able to achieve.
7. Don’t be hard on yourself when you realize you’re being negative. Whenever you feel the urge to say or think something derogatory about yourself, just realize it, recognize that’s not how you want to treat yourself, and move on. No need to beat yourself up -- changing an ingrained mindset can be a long process.
8. Since it’s a given that negative thoughts and feelings will come up (we are all human, after all!), try working on a practical way to counteract that way of thinking. Try this exercise -- for every negative thought you have, try to come up with three counter arguments. For example, if you say to yourself, "I suck at running, I can't even make it a quarter of a mile without stopping to walk," then your three arguments against that thought might be, "Walk breaks make me ready to tackle each quarter of a mile of my workout. Every time I go out for a run, I make it a little bit further before I need to walk. Whether I'm walking or running, I'm proud of myself for going out and exercising."
The goal here is to be kind to yourself, to recognize your achievements, and to develop confidence by bringing more positivity into your life and into the gym.
Got some of your own tips for stopping the negative self-talk? What do you do when you feel down about yourself?
Image via amyselleck/Flickr