How we talk to ourselves is an extraordinary thing. I say that from personal experience and reflection, on many occasions. One of my favourite quotes is ‘Talk To Yourself Like Someone You Love‘ and I think it’s something we don’t do enough. This post is a little bit different to my usual Friday Focus on a specific health topic – but actually, self-talk, mindset and mental health as a related concept are something I don’t think we talk about enough. And self-talk is a huge part of what often holds us back in making sustainable, healthy lifestyle changes. So setting a spotlight on it, and sharing my experience, and reflections with you guys will, I hope, resonate with you all, and maybe motivate you to address your inner voice. Recently, I picked up a foot niggle after getting back into running (SIGH), and to be honest, I let my self-talk run headfirst into negativity, catastrophe, anger and frustration. I pictured myself unable to run, workout, walk, do yoga, have fun on a trip to London I had coming up – basically, fell straight into a worst case scenario way of thinking. All before even getting my foot checked out, examined, and figuring out what was going on, and what I could do to help it heal. Typical right?
I’m telling you this, and writing about it, because I think this is something we are all guilty of doing, and can learn from my journey with. They say ‘doctors make the worst patients’ and in my case, it’s definitely true. In particular, I’m not fab, to put it lightly, at injuries. I get mad at myself, I fill up with regret, I want to rewind the previous week to change what I did – all pointless thoughts and exercises. The simplicity of the mindful aspect of exercise is something I love making time for everyday in some shape or form, so when I ‘can’t’, I struggle. Hindsight truly is 20:20 vision, but that doesn’t change the situations we find ourselves in. We can only learn from them, and grow with that knowledge. And I’m only using this niggle to open the topic – of course, self-talk is relevant to any and every aspect of your life, right down to your first thoughts when you wake up in the morning. My reflections on the power of self-talk have been building all summer really, and this year in general since starting daily mindfulness and meditation. As many of you know, I’m a big advocate for the power of mindfulness for improvements in mental well-being, and I think that ties in 100% here. I’m also a big believer that the energy and vibes you put out into the world directly affect those you receive in return. I’m not talking about karma, but something else. I don’t have a name for it yet, but I know it to be true.
So when my foot thing popped up, I gave myself a verbal tap around the head, told myself to cop on, and got it checked out. I was coming home from doing just that when I realised my self-talk was shouting negative vibes at me at the thoughts of having to rest to heal, and take a short break from running to do that. Worse still, I was letting all sorts of thoughts about unrelated aspects of my life creep into that spiral, and that was where I placed a full stop. I decided there and then that nope, I didn’t and don’t need those grey clouds over me. I sat down as I waited for the train home, and wrote a list titled ‘I CAN.’ Big capital letters, you betcha! Here is what my list said (this was 2 weeks ago):
- Share – knowledge, learning, good vibes, positivity
- Train my Upper Body (hellooo pull ups!)
- Mat-based Pilates (something I didn’t do much of before this!) for Lower Body
- Read – Fiction, Non-fiction, Research for a wellness talk I was doing that week
- Recipe create
- Spend time with family and friends outside of exercise
- Progress training again as my foot healed
- Set the scene for a comeback twice the size of my setback
And in the meantime, just to share a nice ‘good vibes breed good vibes’ thought, I’ve gotten the foot niggle sorted – not perfect, but with a plan in place for strengthening it up and doing proper preparation for progressing running again, and in the meantime I can do the strength training, yoga, and walks that I love. Positive mindset is powerful guys.
As I said above, this applies to every aspect of your life. Your work. Your family and friends. Your own well-being, and maybe healthy habits you want to adopt but have had on the ‘to do’ list since January. Personal issues that crop up – fights, break-ups, workplace challenges. It’s about focusing your mindset towards one that switches to what I like to call ‘solution-mode‘ in the face of a challenge instead of saying ‘I can’t.’
We have the power to change how we talk to ourselves. And actually, a responsibility to. It isn’t easy, that’s for sure. And I won’t pretend that I’m perfect at it – far from it, as you can see from this post. But the point is that I make the effort and am conscious of my inner voice, every single day. I wouldn’t tell a best friend with an injury or illness or a lack of confidence ‘It’s your own fault’ or ‘Now you can’t do…’ – so why inflict that negativity on me? Nope. Not happening. ‘Chin up princess, or the crown slips’ – another favourite quote of mine!
Ramble over. I hope this short little post made sense, or at least resonated with you, whether that’s from a previous injury, illness (physical or mental), issue at work or at home, a lifestyle change you need motivation to make, recent bad news or just a crappy day you needed to pick yourself up from. Remember, WE control how we talk to ourselves. So get that self-love voice of yours out, and shout from the rooftops. You got this.
Ciara 🙂 x