It’s spring! Woo hoo! We made it through snowstorms and unbearably cold temperatures, high winds, freezing rain, ice and slush. It’s time to strip off several layers of clothing and spend more time outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. Soon the buds will be sprouting on the tree branches and birds will be chirping. Walkers, runners and cyclists rejoice!
If you’ve been inactive or less active than usual in recent months, now’s a good time to kick start your spring fitness program. If you’re already active, why not kick it up a notch? Set some new goals. Challenge yourself.
What you accomplish in the coming months may be determined more than anything by your inner dialogue. Most obstacles can be overcome with the right attitude and appropriate strategies. But, if you focus on negative thoughts much of the time, your internal dialogue becomes self-defeating.
You may not even be cognizant of the silent conversations you’re having with yourself. One way to address your internal dialogue is to practise improving it. First, you need to become more self-aware. What kinds of messages are you telling yourself throughout the day? What kinds of messages are you receiving from others? Associating with Negative Nellies can have a detrimental impact on your inner dialogue. What kind of messages are you sharing with others? When the thoughts in your head are negative, you need to stop them on the spot – perhaps with the snap of an elastic band on your wrist – and rephrase them.
Psychological processes and the factors that contribute to them are complex. I’ve put together some questions to help you begin to identify the pattern of your inner dialogue.
Do you feel ashamed of your body shape or size, sagging parts, varicose veins, stretch marks or scars? Or do you accept that the “perfect body” is an unachievable ideal and that life experiences – perhaps some of your own choosing and others beyond your control – have left you with indelible marks worthy of a proud warrior? Do you engage in self-criticism when you look in the mirror? Or do you model body gratitude for your children by smiling sincerely at your reflection?
Whenever someone asks you how you are, do you launch into a soliloquy about how you feel tired, constipated, bloated or headachy? Do you constantly feel anxious or tell others about ailments you previously had, currently have, or fear having? Or do you typically feel positive and share with others a sense of gratitude because you can get out of bed, eat, walk, talk, go to the bathroom and breath independently, knowing well there are many people for whom such basic functions are not possible?
Do you make excuses or justifications to yourself for sitting at a desk or lazing on the couch for much of the day – day-in and day-out? Or do you remind yourself to regularly move, challenge and strengthen your body in an effort to keep it working as best as possible for as long as possible, even if you have to convince yourself to get up and get going?
Do you dwell on regrets, could haves, should haves and missed opportunities? Or do you focus on what you can do now to improve your quality of life today and improve your chances for a healthier, happier future?
Do you mostly tell yourself “I can’t, I’m unwilling to try, I’m too fearful” or “I can, I’m willing to try, I am fearless”?
As you think about these questions, you may uncover some painful truths about your inner dialogue. This is just a starting point. Change takes effort and work. If your inner dialogue has patterns of negativity, it may take longer to modify it.
Perhaps you’ll discover that you have a positive attitude about your body and a sense of gratitude regardless of your current health status, and that you already take ownership of, and do your best to maximize your fitness and wellness.
When it comes to internal dialogue, there’s always room for improvement. Peel back the layers and reflect on your choices, attitude and issues from your past that may be holding you back from achieving your goals. Stop and correct yourself when you catch yourself engaged in negative self-talk or negative talk with others. Whether you want to become more fit, lose weight or feel better, change will only begin to happen when you accept that the solution is not outside of you but within.