How to handle the negative voice

Do you know the voice I’m talking about?

The one that tells you that those pants make your stomach stick out, and it can’t believe you just finished off the last 3 brownies, and, by the way, when will you ever get some self-discipline?

The one that is frustrated that you skipped your workout again and tells you to throw in the towel on this healthy living thing because you’re never going to get there anyway.

Listening to that voice is dangerous.

Don’t let it dictate your “truth” – your mind will happily believe whatever your subconscious is saying.  It doesn’t differentiate between truth or self-loathing.  And the more you believe it, the more you will act out on it in a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecy, self-sabotage and more self-loathing.

I actually think that getting a grip on this voice is more important and more powerful than adding greens to your diet and kicking sugar to the curb.  Because you can’t get anywhere if you’re battling yourself.  Right?

Practice Self Love

So where do you start?

There are many exercises that I use in health coaching to learn how to talk back to this voice, but let’s start here.

Notice the negative thoughts.  Write them down in the moment or at the end of the day.  Read them back to yourself.  Ask yourself, is that TRUE?

And then write (or talk) back to that thought.

For example, you’re getting dressed and think, “Ugh! Nothing fits me! I can’t stand my ( fill in the blank).” The underlying message is, I’m unhappy with my appearance.  I’ll never get those last xx pounds off. I’ll never look like so-and-so.

What is true in that statement?

Acknowledge that maybe that one pair of pants doesn’t fit you and you’re frustrated.  But those thoughts will not help you on your healthy living journey.

They will spiral you downward as you try to squash your frustration by finishing off the gallon of ice cream at midnight.

Instead, formulate a response.

“Okay, those pants don’t make me feel good about myself.  I should put them away for awhile.  BUT what IS true is…  My strong legs carried me through miles of walking today… My stomach birthed these beautiful children… I am on my healthy living journey….  I am getting stronger…. I am at a much better place than I was x weeks/months/years ago….  I can continue to honor and love my body with good food and my body will love me back.”

Make sure that you have the final word and make that final word positive!

With practice, you’ll be able to catch that thought in the moment (rather than after the fact.) With more practice, you’ll be able to stop it mid-sentence before it finishes it’s nasty commentary.

PS- You shouldn’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend.  Would you tell her friend she looked awful in those same pants? Why be so mean to yourself?

Remind yourself of what is TRUE for you.  What do you love about your body? What can you thank it for? It’s powerful.

The next steps? Widen your self-image to incorporate more than physical appearance (I’ll save this for part two).  Discover where the voice is originating from and re-work your definition of beauty (part three.)

Do you catch this voice of doubt, comparison, discontentment creeping into your thoughts?

How do you handle the negative thoughts?


39 thoughts on “How to handle the negative voice

  1. I completely agree that getting a grip on that negative voice is one of the most important things you can do. Sometimes I think we don’t even realize (myself included) just how many nasty and negative things we say to ourselves though out the day. I love the idea of actually writing it down and calling yourself on it.
    I’m going to focus on this for the next week and see how it changes. Thank you Laura!
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown: DecisionsMy Profile

  2. Oy. This has truly been a struggle for me lately. Why? I have no clue. But my self image seems to be spiraling the further into marathon training I get. Which makes zero since. I’ve been working very hard but I’m not happy with my image. Thank you for posting and I really look forward to part two and three. 🙂
    Jess@ Flying Feet in Faith recently posted..Green Valley Road Race ReviewMy Profile

  3. Laura, this is SO powerful, and so helpful. Everyone goes through this, I dont care who says they dont, but everyone has that little voice, and it angers me that our culture has turned the volume up in our heads so loud. I often get those thoughts when I look at people I race against who look so ripped, but when I am feeling strong, I write a blog post, one of those where you just GO and dont stop typing till its over. So I never thought of it that way, but i guess I do write it down like you suggested. Thanks for these, we all need that reminder.
    Tina Muir recently posted..Meatless Monday- Vegetable Pad ThaiMy Profile

  4. AMEN! this is so true – our bodies are amazing – mine carried me through a healthy pregnancy and delivered a healthy baby boy and has been letting me feed him through my body for the past 10+ months! amazing
    Linz @ Itz Linz recently posted..My ValentinesMy Profile

  5. I love this post. I think we all have that negative voice. Mine has been harassing me since my last surgery. But You can let it dictate who you are and what you are capable of!
    Krysten recently posted..So What’s Next?My Profile

  6. Similar to other posted comments, I doubt I know anyone who hasn’t been up against that voice, for an hour, for a day, or even years. For awhile now though, there’s another voice that gets in my way: The one that says I’m just fine & fantastic the way I am, so I don’t need to chase that goal. So the work to make my body more fit & functional is optional– and therefor abandonable. (Ok, that’s not a word, but y’know…) “Forgive yourself and regroup tomorrow” leaves me too much room to bail repeatedly. So on most days I work on the middle path.

  7. This is soo appropriately timed! I shared a picture of myself doing yoga on instagram for the prAna challenge and I felt oddly self conscious about it. But when I read your post and looked at it again, I thought: Dang, my legs look strong! Great post!
    Pragati // Simple Medicine recently posted..Top RamenMy Profile

  8. I actually had some negative thoughts this morning when I woke up…We are so hard on ourselves, especially as women and it is exhausting when these negative thoughts creep in. I really like these tips, especially about ending each sentence with a positive note. Great idea and I’m so going to work on this! XOXO
    She Rocks Fitness recently posted..Kiqplan App ReviewMy Profile

  9. I used to spend so much time listening to that negative voice and being obsessed by it. Age has helped a lot and now now I can squash that voice a lot more often:)
    Kim recently posted..My MotivationMy Profile

  10. I’m so glad that I found this post! I have been fighting against that negative voice for so long that it’s like an old friend (or enemy), making it even harder to shake. I love that you pointed out how important it is to acknowledge the positive things, like being on a life-changing journey – I definitely need to work on that more. Really great read! 🙂
    Shannon recently posted..Monday MotivationMy Profile

  11. Thanks for this, Laura. I think this is the voice I battle every day as I beat myself up for going “too slow” or not getting out in the cold for long enough, or eating a third cookie when I know better. I’m going to try to ask myself more often if I’d ever tell a friend the things I tell myself in the mirror. Hope all is well!

  12. I love this approach and I think I need to utilize it. I haven’t noticed many lately but I have been actively working on staying positive. I will say just after the holidays I had many of these swirling but I seem to have it under control at the moment. I know they come back though so now I’ll be ready. 🙂
    Rosi recently posted..Ragnar Mental MantrasMy Profile

  13. Great post and great timing!!!! I’ve been feeling that way right now as I come down from the January goals and recharge mentality. Thanks your blog is awesome and I look forward to reading it everyday. Keep up all your running your an inspiration to me and many others I’m sure.

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  15. Great, great post. This is an ongoing challenge for me. I continue to work on mental toughness. Right now I’m struggling with the biggest challenge I’ve ever had in my life…my oldest son, 17, who is making some really bad, unhealthy choices. Trying to help him, trying to stay patient, trying to stay firm…marathon training’s got nothing on this. Thanks for the post. I needed this pep talk.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted..Just like peanut butter and jellyMy Profile

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