"I might as well face it, I'll always be fat." When Franco Beneduce hears a client say something like this, he knows he has his work cut out for him.
Beneduce is a certified life coach and group facilitator in San Francisco. As he coaches people on weight loss, body image, and successful life strategies, he sees how their self-talk -- the conversations people have in their heads -- either supports or undermines their progress toward their goals.
If you are a negative self-talker, you may not even be aware of it. Thinking the worst can be second nature after years of doing it. But it can be influencing how you live life and keeping you from getting the best out of it. Here's how to cut back on negative self-talk.
It's Not All in Your Head
Self-talk isn't just mindless chatter. It has a way of creating its own reality. Telling yourself you can do something can help it happen. Telling yourself you can't do something can make that come true. Tell yourself you'll never lose weight and it can be like eating a whole bag of chips. Tell yourself it's too hard to find another job and you’ll likely watch TV instead of updating your resume.
"Self-talk dictates how you relate to yourself and how you show up for other people," says Beneduce. Let's say you think you have nothing interesting to say. If you keep telling yourself that, other people are going to see you that way, too.
In fact, people who think negatively tend to be less outgoing and have weaker social networks than positive thinkers. Multiple studies link positive emotions with more satisfying relationships, more romance, and lower rates of divorce.
Avoid a Downward Spiral
Negative self-talk can be a runaway train. Your mind goes around in circles replaying a negative event or your own shortcomings. "People who ruminate dwell on negative feelings," says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California in Riverside. You may think that you're getting in touch with your true feelings, but bad feelings have a way of getting worse the more attention you give them.
The more you focus on negative events or shortcomings, the harder it is to put them behind you. Research shows that happy people do put bad days behind them. In a survey of 231 college students, those with a positive outlook were more likely to look back on negative events and report how much better things are for them now.