It’s true. My inner voice – the one I hear in my head nearly every waking minute of my day? She can be a total jerk . . . and sometimes she sounds a lot like Joan Jett. Or a lot like what I would sound like singing Joan Jett.
See, somewhere along my forever-long journey of gaining and losing and fighting and hating weight, I came up with a catchy little tune to sing when I realize I’m losing the battle. It’s sung to the tune of “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and it goes like this:
I hate myself for loving food.
Can’t break free from the things that I do.
I wanna walk, but I run back to you.
That’s why I hate myself for loving food.
I know, you’re stunned by songwriting skills, right?
No, that’s not an original little ditty, but even worse, it’s incredibly cruel. And I do it to myself.
I don’t hear that song every day, and I truly don’t hear it nearly as often as I used to. I’ve been intentional about my self talk for the past few years, and I’m getting better at recognizing when I’m beating myself up verbally – and stopping. [Dear close friends and family, I said I'm getting better not that I'm completely cured of the habit.]
Anytime I’ve heard a sermon or presentation about self-talk, the point is always made that some of us talk to ourselves worse and uglier than we would ever dare talk to another person. Some of the things I’ve said to or about myself I might not even say about my cats!
I really have been working on it for a while, though. And overall, I think I do a pretty good job of refraining from cutting myself down out loud or internally. After going through the Bible study, Me, Myself & Lies, I learned to change a pattern I’d had for years. Anytime I’d mess up, whether making a simple mistake or committing a grievous sin, I’d say to myself, in my head, “Ahhh! You’re so stupid!”
That’s not true. I’m not stupid. And since going through that Bible study, that’s exactly what I say, often out loud, when that thought slips back in. “No, I’m not stupid. I’m a smart person who made a mistake.”
Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m just one self help book away from turning into an SNL sketch. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”
Picturing myself giving that little pep talk to the me in the mirror is ridiculous – but I’m not [too] embarrassed to share this with you. Couldn’t we all use a few more encouraging words and a little less criticism?
Despite my progress in much of my self-talk habits, I still struggle with this in regard to my weight. Thanks to enough psychology classes for a college minor, I know that part of my struggle stems from my high internal locus of control. In the deepest, truest part of me, I believe that my life is within my control, that my life is the result of my choices. So if something in my life is going wrong (aka, my clothes don’t fit), I’m the one to blame.
Cue the Joan Jett impression.
No, wait! Don’t cue anyone unless it’s goofy old Stuart Smalley. Because I’m ready to give up on this inner voice of mine. She’s rude, and I don’t like her anymore. So I’m going to replace the ugly, critical words with ones that are encouraging and actually create change.
I’m intentionally changing my inner dialogue, and I’m saying these things to myself instead:
Great job choosing a healthy snack!
You chose the right hard today.
That’s okay. Start over right now.
Half an hour on the treadmill is better than nothing.
That was a good start!
It won’t be long before you can do the whole video.
Nobody is perfect. Just try it again tomorrow.
It’s not as catchy as a Joan Jett song, but I’m working on it. Maybe, “I love myself for eating fruit! It’s healthy like veggies but easier to chew . . .”
No? Fine. I’ll keep working on it.
Until then, I would love to hear about your inner voice. Is she kind, forgiving? Or harsh and critical? Does she sound like an 80s rocker or perhaps your mother or your seventh-grade English teacher? Do you need to rewrite her script and add in a little Stuart Smalley?
Who does your inner voice sound like?