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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

I talk to myself….

I do. I talk to myself all the time. For those who know me well, this is probably not a shocking revelation. So yeah. It’s a thing. I talk to myself in different ways. I’ll talk to myself when I’m planning out my day and making lists. I’ll even argue with myself as I’m putting something on my list that really should be delegated. And then I’ll talk myself into actually delegating. In the shower I talk to myself. This one is usually where I rehearse a conversation that I know I’m going to have to have later in the day and get out all of the things I will want to say but shouldn’t. Kinda like writing an email you never should send. I’ll talk to myself when I’m drawing on my eyebrows, and when they’re not even… well let’s just say that those words shouldn’t be repeated. But there are two places where I talk to myself the most… when I’m on a run or look in the mirror.

So, when I’m on my run, I usually talk to myself about three main topics. And mind you, I’m talking to myself in my head because there’s no way I can talk and run and have any breath left. I’m just not that kinda runner. First topic usually sounds something like a math word problem where I’m trying to figure out how much distance I’ll cover in the 20 or 30 minutes I plan to run that morning. God forbid it’s a long run and I’m questioning my sanity on top of the word problem. Lots of calculations happening. The second topic is the list of things that I need to get done that day or the week. You would think that this would be annoying, but it clears my head. I don’t set out to run and think about my day to untangle the spiderweb of tasks to get done, but it’s my version of zoning out. I don’t think about the run, but instead I think about what I must get done after the run. The third thing is the self-talk about the run. This one bobs and weaves in between the other two topics. Some days I’m in absolute awe that I get to run. This is just as much of a victory as the numbers on the scale for me. It may be one of the main reasons that I do run. Because it’s an outward example of the work I’ve done on the inside. The other side of the coin though is when I start comparing myself to other runners. I’m not as thin, I’m not as fast, and then I have to convince myself that it’s ok. This is probably the one that gets repeated in the mirror most too…. But I’m getting to that one. But the loudest message is that this hurts and it’s hard, but I can do hard things. The hurt starts to build up a little and I start bargaining… if I can get to the end of this street, I can walk for a little bit… and then I never walk. Lots of bargaining, but in the end, I still keep going, because I can do hard things.

After my run yesterday, I felt the need to stop and journal because I just had so much on my mind and when I opened my journal to jot down a few things there was a quote. “Talk to yourself like a trusted friend and refuse to believe your unrealistic, negative inner monologue.” Amy Morin. And so, I did. I started talking to myself like I would talk to my BFF. Realistic, but kind and supportive. Not critical. And then I did the thing I always NEED to do after a run. I showered. But I stopped and looked in the mirror. And that’s where the other talk comes in.

You would think, that after all the personal development, journaling, and meditation that the self-talk in the mirror would be full of affirmations. Some of it is, but not all. And that’s ok. I think that’s human. Over the last 5 years I’ve seen my body change size and shape in significant ways. What I think about how I look has definitely changed. It was probably two years ago, when I stood in front of the mirror in the best shape of my life and for a few minutes I focused on one area that I struggled with. My saggy arms. The skin sag! OH GOOD LORD! After about 30 seconds of feeling disgusted, I flipped the script and realized, that had I not lost 90 lbs. that sag wouldn’t even be there. That the sag was proof that I’d finally done the thing I’d been working on for a long time. And it didn’t stop there. Over the years I’ve looked at different parts of me and start at the negative but realize the reason why it’s there. There’s the belly pooch earned from 45 years of life and experiencing my body change in so many ways. The stretch marks and tiger stripes from carrying my son during pregnancy. The dimples in my thighs and booty because I’m a human being and only 20-yr-olds and genetically blessed people are without cellulite. There’s my poor flat feet and weird ankles that carry me miles and miles while I’m running. And the scar on my ankle that ended my roller derby career, but oh how many amazing memories are tied to that scar. There’s the weird bump in my collarbone from where Nick Weismantel broke it right after I graduated high school. All these memories and experiences are marks on my body. I would never give any of those experiences back. And while I may not look like the physique models and body builders that I really truly admire; I love all that my body is. I am so grateful for all that it lets me do. All the experiences and memories I get to create.

But that’s the struggle though… It took me a long time to get here. My body was something that I always hated. I was blaming so much on my weight and shape. I couldn’t see it then, but I can now. My body wasn’t the issue. My body was the result of my habits and priorities. And that can be taken further than just my body. My physical shape, mental shape, and the shape of my surroundings was all a result of my habits. And I walked around daily, not realizing that all I had to do was change my actions and how I operated on a daily basis and everything else around me would change too. I remember arguing that “this is just me, take it or leave it” and “it’s the way I was raised” or even “I can’t change who I am.” But the truth is, we can change, but we must choose to change. But I just didn’t know.

I had heard a lot about affirmations and I even worked making a habit of doing them. I tried really hard. I remember writing down three things I wanted to tell myself every day.

1. You are beautiful

2. You are good at what

you do

3. People respect you

It was something I’d written down at a conference and put on a sticky note on my computer. And wow it just changed my life…. Actually no it didn’t. Who am I kidding. The affirmations actually when something like this if I’m being perfectly honest.

1. You are beautiful… when you have a cute outfit on and good makeup so put in the effort

2. You are good at what you do… so good that you have too much on your plate, but don’t let anything drop or they’re going to say you’re an idiot.

3. People respect you… because they’re afraid of having to do the work that you do because you do so much.

It was like I thought I had to earn the affirmation. Y’all, the inner dialogue was rough. But over time, I kept revisiting the affirmations. I also kept wor

king on what they mean little by little. I remember reading that if I wanted to be successful, I had to start acting like I already was. And that was a weird thought. How can I act successful unless I am successful? And then it clicked after reading one concept over and over and over until it hit me. Lead from the future, act in the now. I had to truly understand what it is that I wanted. When I wrote down, “you are beautiful” what did that mean. To me it meant that I was in a healthy shape and was happy. I had no idea how to really get there, but I challenged myself to start acting like I was already there. At 220 lbs I started to do things like drink more water and less soda. I started to read more about how to be happy and change my character. I gravitated toward people that I wanted to be like. And nine years later I’m still not there, but I’m closer than I ever was. And I’ll always be working on it.

I think the affirmation I’ve struggled with most is

the one, “People respect you”. When I say that it just sounds ridiculous to me. I question why they would ever respect me considering all of the ways that I’ve failed over and over and over. If they knew how insecure I felt on the inside they would never respect that. For the longest time it made me so incredibly nervous to take over a project or a team. Especially a team. I didn’t want to look like a fool and not be able to earn respect. I started to be a “fake it til ya make it girl.” But something clicked when someone that I respected spoke into me the confidence I needed. I’d been asked to take over something at work and step in as his proxy with a group of leaders. And he said, “I trust you.” I don’t know what it was about hearing it from him that shook me. But the fact that he took the time to reassure me that I had what it took to be a respected person in that room was a core memory. All of a sudden, I could see myself as someone to be respected. Not because I was loud or had a status. Because I was a person that could be trusted. And that’s carried over. The point I wanted to make here, is that sometimes we can self-affirm ourselves to death and not get anywhere. At times it takes people to speak into us what it is that we need to move to the next step. So, while talking to yourself is all good… talking to another human being can be pretty beneficial too.

The challenge is to never stop talking to yourself, but instead change the message… or at least audit it often. Do you self-affirm? Do you allow others to affirm you as well? If you don’t, today is a good day to start. Affirming doesn’t stop with yourself, but it can start there. Flip it, and affirm someone else. You never know what they need in that moment. The woman at the grocery store that felt frumpy that day and was feeling down on herself just may need the compliment on her snazzy pair of shoes. Or the co-worker might need to hear that you liked his presentation or how he handled a challenge at work. Or your significant other or child may just need to hear a thank you for taking out the trash. If each one of us worked on talking to ourselves in a better way and shutting down the negative inner monologue imagine what the world around us would look like. I’d like to think that it would be pretty cool.

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