Want To Be​ Healthy? Then Get Rid Of Negative Self-Talk

Updated: Oct 22, 2018

“Always make your future bigger than your past.” — Dan Sullivan

New clients always come with baggage. Most of this baggage is negative.

When I first ask why they want to improve their health they first tell me what they don’t like about their health and what they want to change.

We are told in the fitness industry that you need to ask people their goals, which leads to more of what they don’t want, than more of what they do want.

For example;

“Why do you want to improve your health?”

“I am not happy with my weight and how I look”

“What weight do you want to achieve and what look do you want?”

“ I want to lose 2 stone and not have a big belly”

Did you notice the negative self-talk? Our language dictates our actions more than we realise.

Negative self-talk keeps us thinking of the past and not the future.

Where positive self-talk helps us focus on the success we can achieve in the future. For example;

“ Why do you want to improve your health?”

“I want to be a person who looks good and feels good?”

Focusing on a future self has been proven to be more motivational then focusing on what you want to change about your present self.

As the saying goes ‘What you focus on is what you get”

As a health coach I always try and use positive self-talk and likewise for my clients. As soon as I hear negative self-talk I get the client to rephrase it to positive self-talk.

Instead of “I need to lose weight’ (focusing on what you currently have), change it to “I want to become healthier through losing weight”. Same goal but the focus is on moving forward, not moving away from something.

Our self-talk, either negative or positive, is down to the thoughts we have. 95% of the thoughts you have today are the same thoughts you had yesterday. Just because a thought enters your mind doesn’t make it true. Yet, we tend to believe our own thoughts because they are inside of us.

Your beliefs are not passive, beliefs need consent. You allow your beliefs to take hold. So any negative beliefs are down to you accepting them.

Negative beliefs come about due to uncertainty about whether you can achieve your health goals or not.

To purse any goal requires uncertainty about success and what it will take to achieve it.

This uncertainty about achieving your goal allows your subconscious to create negative and limiting beliefs.

‘I have tried before to lose weight, but I just end up putting it all back on’

‘What if I don’t enjoy the food I need to eat to lose weight?’

‘What if everyone at the gym looks fit and healthy and I look out of shape and unfit?’

Your most negative thoughts will relate to what you have tried to do in the past. You can’t go back and change the past, you can only focus on what the future you will become as a result of the actions you perform today.

Positive self-talk requires you to make a commitment to change who you are today to become your future self. At this moment in time you are not sure what it will take to become your future self. So how do you commit to something you are not sure how to do.

According to Strategic Coach founder, Dan Sullivan, commitment is not doing something because you know the plan. Rather, commitment is not knowing the plan and having the courage to deal with uncertainty.

Don’t Believe Your Limiting Thoughts

Your limiting thoughts and negative self-talk wants certainty and predictability. They want to convince you that changing who you are is a risk not worth taking. Changing who you are is challenging and uncomfortable.

To change who you are, you need to keep growing and learning new things. Neuroscientists call this ‘Prediction Errors’. A prediction error is when you step out of your comfort zone and encounter feedback (positive or negative).

Prediction Error meaning;

One of the most fundamental goals of any human or animal is to make accurate predictions of future event in order to be prepared when this expected future arrives and to adapt behaviour efficiently.

At a very general level learning can be defined as the process of improving these predictions of the future. As the predictions are often not quite accurate, an error in the predictions occurs. These prediction errors are one of the most basic teaching signal that can be used to improve prediction accuracy.

As such, the ultimate goal of learning is to make accurate prediction, thus eliminating the prediction error.

If you are not experiencing prediction errors, you are not actually learning. To bring this back to your health, if you are not learning you are not growing and changing. To improve your health you need to change what you are currently doing, so you can grow and move forward.

So to improve your health you must experience the discomfort of uncertainty of change.

Embrace The Unknown

Not knowing what you will experience when you start to change your eating habits, commit more to exercise, or start to change the people you socialise with, can be difficult and uncomfortable.

This discomfort comes from your belief in the past. Your past is knowledge, stability and certainty. The future is the unknown and unpredictable.

Changing who you are, is creating a new unknown you. What if that new person isn’t what you want to become?

In the book, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, Paul Arden said:

“Knowledge comes from the past, so it’s safe. It is also out of date. It’s the opposite of originality. Experience is built from solutions to old situations and problems. This is lazy. Experience is the opposite of being creative. If you can prove you’re right you’re set in concrete. You cannot move with the times or with other people. Your mind is closed. You are not open to new ideas.”

I have heard so many times from clients why they can’t change certain things (negative self-talk), so I keep asking them what they can change (positive self-talk). Only when they start to focus on what they can do, will they start learning and growing