How do you quit, no, how do you shut down, that little nagging voice telling you that you can’t achieve your goals, that you’ll never figure out your diabetes, that you will never drop those 10 lbs., that you’re not good enough, that you don’t deserve the life you dream of?
Do you ever just doubt your abilities or feel anxious about making a tough decision? I know I do. I think it’s a part of being human. We may try to be superheroes, and might even convince the world that we are, but in the end, even the strongest of us will sometimes face situations and emotions that seem overwhelming.
So, instead of breaking down, throwing in the towel, or simply ignoring the hard times, how about we tackle those challenges head-on and emerge even stronger on the other side? I believe that empowerment comes from a strong mind and a strong body. Just like proper exercise will strengthen your body, the right tools will strengthen your mind.
One such tool is Positive Inner Talk. Positive Inner Talk offers a way to put your insecurities into perspective and address them in an objective way, rather than addressing them with fear. Research has shown that by utilizing this method, we have the potential to be more successful in reaching our goals, minimizing social anxiety, and worrying less (Psychology Today, May/June 2015 issue).
OK, so what is Positive Inner Talk?
Positive Inner Talk is an inner dialog that can help you set yourself up for success. It’s a way of looking at your struggles from a distance, taking the emotion out of the situation.
By putting words to the challenges you face, and getting some distance from the sometimes overwhelming emotions, you gain the ability to handle the challenges you face in a rational and productive way.
It’s a powerful tool for people dealing with stress, eating disorders or anxiety, but it’s also very useful if you are just trying to stick to a tough meal plan or workout routine, or dealing with your diabetes on a day to day basis.
(There is also a self-hypnosis program called Inner Talk. That is NOT what I’m talking about here.)
How Positive Inner Talk works
There are three main steps to successfully using Positive Inner Talk:
- Address yourself by your first name in order to separate your feelings from the task at hand. Don’t say “I” since that is emotionally binding and won’t separate you from the stress you are feeling
- Articulate what you would like to happen. It can be as simple as “Christel, get on the treadmill and walk for 20 min. It doesn’t have to be fast, just one foot in front of the other”
- Finish off with self-affirmation, to give yourself a confidence boost
Let me give you a few complete examples, so you’ll find it easier to apply yourself:
When it comes to A1c, we can often get really stressed out and anxious about reaching whatever goal we or our medical team might have set for us. We get so hung up on the number that every blood sugar measure can become nerve wrecking, and, in the worst-case scenario, we’ll stop testing.
Here’s an example of how I would address this issue with Positive Inner Talk:
“Christel, why are you so stressed out about this one BG reading? You have a plan for reaching your A1C goal, you’re counting your carbs and taking your insulin. Relax! One or two readings outside your target range won’t sabotage your progress. You’re doing great; just continue down your path.”
Another example is when we place our family or friends’ needs before our own, thereby forgetting ourselves. We sometimes feel guilty if we focus on ourselves rather than those around us.
Here’s how I’d deal with that using Positive Inner Talk:
“Christel, your stress levels are extremely high right now. Allow yourself to meditate, go for a walk or get a massage. It’s ok to spend time focusing on yourself. It will do both you and your family good. You are a strong woman who has lots of balls in the air right now and you need “me” time. You’re doing a great job for everybody. Now go do something nice for yourself.”
Then, there are situations where your willpower is tested. Like when you are trying to stick to a meal plan and somebody brings doughnuts to the office. Here’s how I’d tackle that:
“Christel, why do you keep obsessing about that doughnut? You really don’t want to eat it, so let’s drink a glass of water or go for a walk and concentrate on getting some work done. You know that you choose what you eat, and you have been successful in doing so. Good job, just keep going.”
I’ve even used Positive Inner Talk successfully when I got harsh personal criticism and wasn’t able to rid myself of that sick feeling or knot in my stomach. It’s about acknowledging that you are in an uncomfortable situation, analyzing it (should I do something about this? Is there something I can learn here?), and finally accepting it (letting it go).
Do it deliberately. Talk it out in front of the mirror. Look yourself in the eyes and have an honest conversation. Yes, it will feel completely nuts at first, but I guarantee that you will feel better afterwards.
Suggested next post: Are You Living ‘For’ Diabetes or ‘With’ Diabetes?