I recently came across a video from one of Dove’s beauty campaigns.
In this video, women wrote down their negative self-talk in a journal, which was then given to actors to learn (unbeknownst to the women who wrote them). The Dove representative then took the women out to lunch, where the actors were sitting at the next table lunching with a friend.
The actors would say the things written in the journal to the woman they were “out to lunch with.” As you can probably imagine, the original women were horrified that someone would have the audacity to say those kinds of things to another woman.
Yet, we don’t hesitate to say absolutely horrible things to ourselves on a regular basis. If we wouldn’t say these things to someone else, what makes it okay to say it to ourselves?
For two weeks I decided to keep a journal of my negative self-talk. I decided that I wouldn’t stop the negative thoughts that came into my head, nor would I turn them into positive thoughts. I thought I had enough self-love inside of me to get through anything.
What I learned in the past two weeks about the power of words is a lesson I will never forget.
You can’t run 12 kilometers. You’re not fit enough to just go out and run it, regardless of how much you’ve been training.
You’re way too slow, look at all these people passing you. Maybe if you lost some weight your body wouldn’t be so heavy to carry around.
You’re an idiot, everyone else is writing about important, worldly topics and you’re writing about bullsh*t and fluff.
Why would anyone want to be friends with you? You have nothing to offer anyone.
Who do you think you are getting a tattoo this big? There’s no way you can pull it off. People are going to laugh at you.
You aren’t good enough to run with these people. Who do you think you are even trying? You were foolish to think you could.
Maybe if you lost a bit of weight you’d be able to keep up.
You should probably put some makeup on before you scare someone.
Yuck, you should probably do something with your face.
Please don’t notice my fat rolls, please don’t notice my fat rolls.
He’s going to be totally disgusted if he notices them…
Well that chocolate sure is coming back to haunt you today…fat piece of lard.
You probably shouldn’t wear tights all day; you don’t have the body to pull it off. You’re not skinny enough.
And that’s where I had to stop.
I honestly couldn’t handle the effect it was having on my body and mind anymore. Even now as I write it I feel sick and embarrassed. It dragged me down to a depth of sorrow I never thought was possible.
In just a week, I broke my own heart and shattered my own spirit.
I had started believing the words in my head (again). I shut myself off to my friends and retreated into isolation. And worst of all, I almost quit. I almost quit long-time friendships and hobbies. Worst of all, I almost quit a relationship with an amazing man without a word, because I was afraid for him to see my ugly inner truth.
But it’s not my truth, not anymore. So why am I sharing this so publicly?
We have a tendency to think that we’re the only ones who speak to ourselves the way we do. We look at the people around us whom we love and admire, and we can’t imagine them being insecure or thinking these things about themselves. And yet, disrespecting ourselves with negative self-talk has become the norm in our society.
I’ve learned over years of telling my story, being open and vulnerable, that people don’t expect it from me. They see me as a woman who has her sh*t together. People are stunned to find out I’ve seen hypnotherapists and life coaches to help me build my confidence and self-worth.
But we are all in this together, and we need to come together if we’re ever going to change the epidemic of not loving ourselves!
Here are three fundamental truths I’ve discovered about the journey to self-love:
1. Words have energy. Negative words will cause the body to rot from the inside out, while positive words will build it up. Choose carefully.
2. The mind will believe what it hears. Tell it, every day, something loving, something productive. It’s not self-centered or cocky. It’s courageous and self-loving.
3. Never miss a chance to offer someone else a kind word. We have no idea what they’re saying to themselves. The people who look like they have it all together may be the ones who need to hear it the most.
It’s time for a change. We can’t expect to see a change in the world around us if we cannot first change and love ourselves. Be an example to everyone around you. Love yourself.
Author: Tiffany Toombs
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Toby Israel