How to Handle the Negative Voice – Part 2

A few weeks ago, I started this series on the negative voice and explained the importance of catching that negative voice and stopping it or talking back to it, or even journaling out a rebuttal.

When left unchecked, those negative thoughts gain too much power and we begin to accept them as truth.

Negative thoughts can attack us in all parts of life- job uncertainty, parenting, running a race or any form of self-doubt but I’m talking primarily about body image.

Women in particular tend to narrow our self worth to physical appearance (the power of that silly scale, or how we think we look in the mirror.)

So step two is to take steps to broaden your self image to include the full picture of who you are.  It sounds obvious in some ways.  We know we are much more than what we look like, but we give that realm a whole lot more say in how good we can feel about ourselves than we do our other achievements and character traits.


I sometimes assign my clients these simple exercises:

Exercise #1:

Find 3-5 friends or family members and ask them to name the top 5 things they love about you.

What do you think they would say? Do you they think they would add your pant size to the list?

Exercise #2:

Think about a woman in your life who you find beautiful.  What is it that you like about her? Start naming a few things… yes, she may have a beautiful smile but would you find it as beautiful if she didn’t have the beautiful inner qualities to back it up?

Exercise #3:

After gathering what other people have said about you, list all of your own best qualities and character traits as well as some of your favorite physical characteristics.  I’m amazed sometimes by how much some people struggle with this, but these are the things we should really be proud of!

Consider things like compassion, sincerity, generosity, sense of humor, love of learning, kindness or integrity.  Which of these come most naturally to you?

I know I would much rather have a friend (or life partner) with the above qualities than one whose only concern is whether or not she can squeeze into her skinny jeans.

Of course there is nothing wrong with the pursuit of weight loss or wanting to look and feel our best.  It’s important to feel and look our best and model good health to our families and communities. BUT- to be sustainable and healthy, it must also include a positive, balanced self-image.

By focusing on the many amazing things about you, you can broaden your definition of self so that you can take away some of the power of your physical appearance over your mood or view of yourself.

Brag a little… what would you say are your top 3 character strengths?

What do you love about your body?



31 thoughts on “How to Handle the Negative Voice – Part 2

  1. For me, sense of humor, hard working, and giving. Also at this point there isn’t much I don’t like regarding my body, it’s taken me through a lot and I have to give it respect for that! Funny how it feels strange to say the positive, but you’re right, it helps!
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma recently posted..WIAW – Inhaling My FoodMy Profile

  2. After having my little health scare, I can say that I just love my body. I demand a lot from it and it gives me so, so much!! I love everything about this and, I have a friend struggling with this right now, so I’m going to send it to her with a list of all the things I love about her and her friendship…that have zero to do with her waist.
    Allie recently posted..My Place In the Pace – The NewbieMy Profile

  3. Laura I love this post. There are still those brief moments but all in all I love my body more than ever! Those brief moments are becoming more brief and fewer and farther between.

  4. Love this advice and hope that people take it to heart. It is sad how many women are really down and hard on themselves. Going through an exercise like this–especially the part about IDing the things you like in others–is really eye opening, I think.
    misszippy recently posted..I’ve got a race calendar!My Profile

  5. Oh goodness, I could really write out a whole therapy session here, lol! But here’s the thing — when we see ourselves as women of value, we treat ourselves better, and all kinds of good things come from that. 🙂

    And to answer your question: Optimism, gratitude, and ability to handle things in a crisis. My body is amazingly functional, humming along without terrible illness, despite all that it has endured, and inviting me to make it stronger.

  6. Laura,
    I love this series. It is something we could all benefit from. I would love if you were a guest author on my site– this is type of article really is in line with what my blog is all about. No pressure, just throwing it out there. In the mean time, I’m pulling out my journal and doing these exercises right now.

  7. Laura, I love this post! The three exercises are so honest, affirming, and great. We are always way harder on ourselves that we are on our friends – I don’t have any idea what dress size my best friend wears but I love her for her compassion, loyalty, humor, and work ethic. Definitely sharing this post!
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted..Adding Stuff to Your Long RunsMy Profile

  8. This is such a great post and honestly something that I am going to work on later today, because I have been feeling way too many negative voices lately. Thanks for this great exercise and I’l report back later with how it went. Have a great day friend!
    She Rocks Fitness recently posted..Half Marathon Training WorkoutMy Profile

  9. Good stuff Laura – I do your exercise #1 with my clients too. My strengths are that I love to learn, I am always taking initiative and I have good self-management skills. My body seems to be able to take a licking and keep on ticking. Lots of issues right now but I am still kicking around 🙂
    Tara Newman recently posted..From Uninspired to Awesome: A Case StudyMy Profile

  10. “broaden your self image to include the full picture of who you are. It sounds obvious in some ways”. –> YES YES! you nailed it. I need to remember this myself. Gah… thank YOU

  11. Great post! I actually had the negative voice in my head when my sports injury chiropractor asked me to bring shorts for our next session so he can get higher up my quad (he’s been working on my knee). I didn’t want him to see my jiggly thighs. He is helping me so I can get back to running marathons. So I don’t think he would be thinking that. If anything he might be noticing how strong my quads are. So I’m now going to tell you three things I love about myself. I love that I am empathetic and sensitive. I’m a great motivator and listener to my friends and i have a wonderful smile.
    Sally @ Sweat Out The Small Stuff recently posted..NYC Half 2015 recap: I took a leap of faithMy Profile

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