I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking, but what about positive self-talk?
NPR reporter Laura Starecheski took this theory of self-affirmation to leading eating disorder psychologist, David Sarwer, to see if there is any scientific backing.
He says that, in fact, a mirror is one of the first tools he uses with some new patients. He stands them in front of a mirror and coaches them to use gentler, more neutral language as they evaluate their bodies.
It seems that your image of yourself has almost nothing to do with your actual physical being. It's all in your head. For example, in a 2013 study, watched women with anorexia walk through doorways in a lab. The women, they noticed, turned their shoulders and squeezed sideways, even when they had plenty of room.
Our brain need to have an internal sense of our bodies so that we aren't constantly walking into walls or knocking over coffee cups, but how is it that some of us get such a warped image of ourselves?
The article goes on to explain how it is much easier to be hard on yourself than on others, so another study was conducted:
Volunteers were asked to give a speech — with only five minutes of mental preparation. As they prepped, some were told to talk to themselves as "I." Others were asked to either call themselves "you," or to use their own names as they readied their speeches.
Researchers found that people who used "I" had a mental monologue that sounded something like, " 'Oh, my god, how am I going do this? I can't prepare a speech in five minutes without notes. It takes days for me to prepare a speech!' "
People who used their own names, on the other hand, were more likely to give themselves support and advice, saying things like, "Ethan, you can do this. You've given a ton of speeches before." These people sounded more rational, and less emotional — perhaps because they were able to get some distance from themselves.
Next time you're feeling down in the dumps, try this approach. Be it when you're getting dressed in the morning or preparing for a stressful day, with some distance, it's a lot easier to be kinder to that other person.