Negative self talk is a constant in today’s society. But with little eyes constantly watching us, we need to keep in mind the potential negative effects.
I vividly remember being maybe 6 or 7 and asking my mom if I looked fat. I was modeling the way she looks in the mirror herself before she would ask my dad the same question – front, side, side, shirt up, repeat. My mom was on the phone and told me to stop, then said to whoever was on the phone, “Oh, Morgan’s just learning about vanity.” My first act in vanity, in wondering about how I looked, about how my body was or how I was presenting myself to other was to ask if I looked fat.
We live in a world where, as women, we’re bombarded with media that is constantly telling us to lose 5 more pounds, slim this, tighten that. We’re presented with unrealistic images of “perfect” bodies over and over and expected to emulate them. No wonder we’re a bunch of self-conscious and vain people. It’s who we’ve been molded to be.
Stop the Negative Self Talk
When I became a mom, I knew I wanted to lose the “baby weight” (okay, and the puppy weight, AKA the weight I gain right before getting pregnant when we first got Cooper) and I wanted to lose is quick – show me a new mom who spent 9 months in stretchy pants and stuffing her face who doesn’t want that. I quickly learned that a. my body was not physically ready for that and b. that I just wasn’t interested in working out like I thought I would be. I was tired. And learning to be a mom and trying to adjust and nursing all.night.long. Of course losing weight wasn’t my first (or second or third) priority.
That’s not to say that I didn’t spend my fair share of calling myself fat, chubs, a pig whatever when by 6 weeks postpartum I wasn’t back to my slim self. I would tell anyone who would listen, from my husband to my newborn baby chillin’ in his bouncer that I wasn’t up to par. If someone complimented my post baby body, I would scoff and immediately rattle off one of a million reasons they were wrong.
And then I heard someone else doing the same thing – another mother tearing herself down in front of her children and all I could think was, “Oh, what are you teaching them? Why aren’t you letting them hear you praise yourself – you are an amazing person, an amazing mother, and all you can do is talk about how you don’t look good!” What effect would that cause on her children? In a few years, would they be twisting and turning in a mirror asking if they looked fat? Would they be scouring magazines to find a perfect nose? Would they join that terrible teenage game of proclaiming something that sucks about themselves in an effort to one-up a friend? Would they have an eating disorder? Would they hate their bodies – the body that you lovingly created for nine months, fed and nurtured and took care of for 18 years, the body that to you is undeniably perfect?
In that moment, I decided to attempt to stop. Stop the negative self talk in front of my kids. Hell, stop it all together if I can. But mostly, in front of my children, because I have no idea what I’m setting them up for by doing so. I don’t want another generation of children dissecting their bodies in disgust, of negative self-talk and obsessing over imperfections.
So here is my request: please, please, please stop the negative self-talk in front of your children. They know. They learn. They are taking cues from you. The vast majority of the way they learn to interact with respect themselves and their bodies comes from you. You want to call yourself fat, or talk about your big nose, or how you need to lose a few more pounds? Do it to your husband or your girlfriends or your therapist or your dog. But please don’t do it in front of the impressionable minds that see you as a hero.
Thank you, Amanda, for letting me think out loud!
So tell me: did you ever hear your parents negative self-talk? Did it affect you at all? Leave it in the comments!
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Susie @ SuzLyfe says
LOVE. and CONGRATS ON THE BEHBEH!! I can’t wait for details! I think not only do we need to stop with negative self talk, but also the behaviors that betray that we are having those feelings: I can’t eat that, or I can only have this much a day. Because kids and others pick up on that, too.
Julie @ Running in a Skirt says
Congratulations on Owen!!! I”m so happy for you!!!!
I could not agree more with this post. Actions speak louder than words and fat talking is such a terrible way to beat yourself down. I do it too though– so I know how hard it is to STOP!
Heather @ Polyglot Jot says
love this! I also think it applies to negative self-talk in groups. I feel women get together and talk badly on their own body image together. Why cant we just be positive!!? its soooo hard!! I do it all of the time! Great post! Cant wait to see more pictures of Owen!
alexandra @ my urban family says
I love this post 🙂 Women really should be bringing each other up and certainly not bring ourselves down!
Amanda @ .running with spoons. says
I love this so much, Morgan. I’m so, SO thankful that my mom never struggled with any body image issues that she made known to me. I never once heard her beat herself up over how she looked, and she’s always had a pretty normal relationship with food… and that’s something I’m hoping I can pass on to my own kids as well. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel good, but we should be doing that because we love ourselves… not because we hate ourselves.
Kristy @ Southern In Law says
This post is SO so important – and it’s not just parents that need to be careful, it’s anyone in a child’s life! I heard my youth group girls talking about how someone had complimented one of the girls as being “so beautifully slim” (or something along those lines) and how the others felt like they were too chubby to be called that. I then realised that it’s also compliments that have the power to change how kids (and adults) think about themselves.
Too often we say things like you’re so fit/smart/healthy/strong etc and when you say that to a kid, they get caught up on that end word and think that’s all that matters!
Congrats on your child.
I think it’s so important to take a step back and realize how important having positive self talk is. Everyone is guilty of negative self talk at some point. The power of positivity really does change people.
Congrats on your new baby! What a fun, albeit exhausting time. Also, I love your words on the topic of self-talk. I have an amazing mother who I don’t remember ever hearing talk negatively about herself (although she hated being in pictures), and I remember her one time telling me not to worry about weight, but to worry about health. I’m so grateful to her for the perspective she gave me!
Congratulations on your baby! Very exciting. I don’t think my mom did it on purpose, but she did not set a great example for healthy eating. She always cooked for us but often times didn’t sit down and eat with us at the table. She would snack during the day and eat standing up. I think its so important for children to spend time with their families sitting at a the table eating together. That is something I always try to do with my daughter.
This is so important. I suffered eating disorders in high school, so I know how damaging they can be to your self esteem. Not only that, but they can ruin relationships. Thank you for this reminder. Sharing on twitter, pinterest and stumbleupon.
Heather Leigh @ arrows and warriors says
Congrats on Owens birth girl!!!! and yes, the negative talk has to stop!!;)
Welcome to the world little Owen you have a wonderful Mum – thank you for sharing this post with Pin Worthy Wednesday Morgan
Heather (@GoodlciousFood) says
Yes, my mom used negative self-talk all the time! And, in high school I was a dancer, 5′ 7″ and 118 lbs. I constantly thought I was fat! If only I could go back to that body! She also taught me through her actions that having a bad man around was better than no man. It took me a long time to un-learn that lesson too! Thanks for sharing this great message at Turn It Up Tuesday!
Debbie Rodrigues says
I love it!
I’m not a parent myself, but after being a teacher for many years, I dealt every day with the impact of this negativity on the little ones.
We are incredible beings. Every single one of us has unique qualities and they should be stimulated.
Parents that live by this rule, raise their kids with the same mentality.
If we don’t love ourselves, it’s impossible to truly love someone else…