Changing Habits in Changing Rooms
“Ewwww… you’re disgusting.”
“Geez, loser! You have NO self-discipline!”
“Hey, fatty-fat-pants, how’s it hangin’?”
“Why’d you even come here? Only people who aren’t eye-sores are allowed in! “
“Do you even remember what you looked like before kids?!”
It’s ironic, really. If someone actually uttered these things to us, we’d… we’d… well, it’s pretty safe to say… we’d find our hackles raised. Our sleeves tugged up. Our inner deva posturing for a fight she wouldn’t want to lose. So… what do we do when the person who dares to speak such unthinkables is…
It’s natural. We talk to ourselves almost constantly. It’s called “self-talk” and psychologist Ben Martin informs us, “It includes our conscious thoughts as well as our unconscious assumptions or beliefs.” Martin says that much of our self-talk is reasonable – like, for example, don’t forget to set the chicken out to thaw or I can’t wait for happy hour with the girls! However, Martin points out, much of our self-talk (maybe not so surprising if we were to evaluate our inner monologues while getting dressed or shopping for clothes), is negative or self-defeating.
Admit it. Even for those of you who are generally confident, some of your snarkiest commentary takes place in the dressing room, behind closed curtains, and is wrought with scornful judgment against… yourself.
So what of it? Why do our own, very private thoughts matter, anyway? Dr. Martin tells us they matter because “When you feel anxious, depressed or stressed-out, your self-talk is likely to become extreme, you’ll be more likely to expect the worst and focus on the most negative aspects of your situation.” So, if we tend to mumble more negative self-talk when we’re already down, and negative self-talk leads to feeling even more down, it doesn’t take an Ivy-leaguer to tell us: the vicious cycle has us poised for a good, long road of feeling crummy!
The good news is, we can change a lot of lousy habits - including frequent, negative self-talk. The way to do it, advises Martin, is to catch yourself on a conscious level when you are most prone to the deprecating discourse (I’m sure my own inner-alert will sound in the Old Navy dressing room). He offers a few tactics that will have us dancing like a diva instead of singing the inner blues:
1. Reality Testing (i.e., Is it just me saying these things, or do others agree?)
2. Put things in perspective (i.e., Is this really as bad as I think it is? Such-n-such could always
3. Use goal-directed thinking (i.e., Is thinking this way helping me move forward in any way?)
Go ahead. Try it. Next time you’re dawning the dressing-room-twirl (you know the one) to check out your derriere in that fabulous dress…
Replace: “Ugh. Why did you even think you’d look great in this?”
With: “Girl, you’ve got it. You should definitely flaunt it!”