Form an alliance-me, myself, and I

There’s a big media world out there and most of it wants you to feel bad about yourself. Hollywood and the fashion, cosmetics and diet industries net billions of dollars a year by making us believe that our bodies are unacceptable and need constant improvement. Print ads are airbrushed and touched up to show bodies that set impossible ideals. TV shows cast women with bodies not often found in nature to play the roles of fun-loving characters. In our media saturated world, how do you protect yourself from media messages and becoming your own worst critic?

Self-talk–those little conversations you have with yourself either in your head or out loud–is very influential. These dialogues are often negative and self-critical. In her book, Feeding the Hungry Heart, Geneen Roth says, “No one responds (well) to rejection-not a child, not your body. You have been filled with loathing at the sight of your arms, neck, face for years-and it hasn’t given you a different body. Rejection and loathing do not lead to change.”

“Chatter” is the term Karen Koenig uses to describe negative self-talk in her book, The Rules of Normal Eating. To turn off the chatter, Koenig suggests writing down the things you hear yourself say that run counter to normal eating and body acceptance. “Remember that chatter is nothing more than your irrational beliefs on speakerphone,” she said. Koenig advises, “Take each line of chatter and replace it with a rational thought or belief. Proclaim the new belief loudly and proudly.”

Here are some examples:

  • Irrational chatter: If I eat what I like, I’ll never stop eating. Reframed positive self-talk: I can stop eating and I will-when I’m satisfied and no longer hungry.
  • Irrational chatter: I’m too fat-just look at those hips! Reframed positive self-talk: I am a woman with natural curves. My accomplishments have nothing to do with the size of my hips.
  • Irrational chatter: No one will find me attractive if I’m fat.  Reframed positive self-talk: I am attractive because of who I am.

As contradictory as it seems, acceptance actually helps move you toward the transformations in lifestyle that you want to make. In the words of Carl Rogers, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I change.”

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