How you talk to yourself about your body and how you believe others see you directly affect how confident you are concerning your body and your looks. Here are two people who use negative self-talk and are extremely unhappy because of it.

Riana's Negative Thinking

Riana can only think negative thoughts about her body. When she gets ready for work, she looks at herself in the mirror and says, “Why can’t I lose weight? If I could get rid of this stomach, I’d be able to finally be happy. I should start exercising today – or tomorrow.”

On her way from the parking lot to her office, she passes a business and can see her reflection in the window. “Oh, my goodness! I sure look horrible today!” is the first thing that comes to her mind.

When she goes out to eat during her lunch hour, Riana notices the temperature is beginning to get hotter, and she thinks, “I should start dieting again. Summer is coming up, and I want to wear a bikini.”

At night, she reads a good book. Before she sits down, she grabs three ice cream bars and absentmindedly eats them one after the other. Afterwards, she thinks, “I ate all those ice cream bars tonight – again. How I hate myself! I’ll never be slender and look good enough to wear a bikini. I’m so kidding myself - I’m such a failure!” as she shakes her head with great disappointment in herself.

Jason's Negative Self-Talk

Jason lives next door to Riana. When he gets ready for work, he notices again that his head barely shows in the mirror, and he thinks, “I’m going to buy those shoes that make me 2” taller. Then maybe women will like me.” After he gets off the bus and is walking to work, he too sees himself in the window of the business, and his inner critic says, “Look at your hair! It’s a mess!”

When one of his female co-workers doesn’t say anything to him when she walks past him in the lunchroom, Jason thinks, “I’m sure she doesn’t like me because I’m too fat and too short. What a loser I am!” Later that day, he gets a Facebook post about how to get “6 Pack Abs,” and he says out loud, “Yeah, sure! That’s me! What a joke!”

Your Inner Critic May Be Working Overtime

This is the kind of negative self-talk that many people have about their body image. This isn’t something they think once in a while. It’s something that enters their thoughts almost every day and, for some people, many times a day.

It can happen at any time:
• when you get up in the morning and weigh yourself
• when you look in the mirror to get ready for work
• when you see someone who looks better than you
• when someone else is whistled at and you realize it’s not you

This is your inner critic at work, whispering in your ear and ruling your actions about your body image. It can lead you to eat less food and almost starve yourself, exercise until you’re exhausted, and step on the scale at least three times a day.

Positive Thoughts are Better

Of course, you can have positive thoughts too, such as “Wow! I sure look great today! I love this outfit, and I’m looking good!” or “I love my body! It’s so healthy, and truly appreciate how I look.”

However, if you only think negative thoughts about your body, you’ll constantly be trying to fix your “flaws,” you’ll always be striving for the ideal body, and you’ll have no self-confidence as far as your body is concerned.

Exercise

Step 1: For one week, keep track of your thoughts about your body image. Be sure to write them all down – positive thoughts or negative thoughts. Don’t try to change any of them. Just observe what you’re thinking and write them down in a small notebook or type them into your phone or on your computer.

Step 2: Note the date and time. Also note what you’re doing. Here are some examples: Thursday, June 3, 7:00 am, right after weighing myself, feeling so fat and that I need to lose weight; 12:00 pm, ate a big salad with cheese and turkey for lunch, proud of myself; 2:30 pm, ate a candy bar to get some energy, disgusted with myself that I didn’t eat an apple; 7:30 pm, watching TV and munching on cheese and crackers, looking at commercials with slender women and knowing I’ll never look like that.

Step 3: At the end of the week, review what you’ve written.

Step 4: Write on a sheet of paper or use your computer to create a chart, with columns for your positive and negative thoughts about your body. Evaluate whether most of your thoughts are positive or negative. What do your positive thoughts focus on? What do your negative thoughts focus on?

Step 5: Think about when you have negative thoughts about your body. Is it at a particular time every day, such as when you weigh yourself in the morning or when you’re snacking while watching television at night? Do you have more negative thoughts while looking at a magazine or after you’ve had a fight with your spouse?

Step 6: Look at how often your inner critic tells you to do certain things in response to your negative thoughts about your body, such as eating less, eating more, exercising more, and wearing baggier clothes.

Author's Bio: 

Vivian Harte is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies in the Dummies series. She has helped over 12,000 people learn and use assertiveness skills during the last 14 years. She teaches online classes on assertiveness, self-confidence, and teamwork. She has a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Public Administration. She taught college classes for many years in Tucson, Arizona. She has two grown children who are both successful. She lives in Tucson with her husband, three dogs and two cats.

She offers kits with articles, guided visualizations, and songs as well as online courses, group coaching and 1-on-1 coaching, and you can find out more about these at her website, self-esteem-for-me.com. Discover how to change your thoughts into positive and uplifting self-talk in her free kit Change Your Inner Critic into Your Best Friend.