Self care is a little like the title of Homecoming Queen. Everyone secretly wanted it, but so few of us thought we deserved it. Unlike that coveted crown-and-sash award, self care isn’t all glitz and glam. And the only person you need to convince that you deserve it is yourself. But honestly, that might be a bigger hurdle than convincing your high school peers. But you’re up for the challenge and you do deserve to feel and function at your best. So if you’re the kind of person that makes them, try selecting this very basic (but, warning, sort of hard self care idea) as your 2019 New Year’s resolution.
What could possibly be so difficult about self care? Well, most of us skimp on it already. Sure, it’s a CBD massage and wine in a bubble bath, but it’s also brushing your teeth and getting to bed at a reasonable hour. And if you pass on taking off your makeup at night in favor of another episode of Nailed It on Netflix, you’re guilty of this, too. But the most basic of self-care tips might just be the hardest to achieve, which is why I’m challenging you to tackle it. What if you just didn’t insult yourself this year?
You might not even be aware that you do it. That negative inner voice can range from all-out bitch (“You’re so fat and ugly, of course no one likes you.”) to sneaky confidence saboteur (the subtle “ew” when you spot your cellulite in the mirror). And many of us are so accustomed to the toxic inner monologue that we don’t even notice when it’s speaking, let alone how many times a day it chimes in.
But what if you made that your 2019 New Year’s resolution? What if you paid attention to when this voice spoke up, noticed the patterns, and truly addressed them? How would your life be different if, in the next year, you managed to shut the voice down completely? Judgement from others would probably sting less if it wasn’t chorused by your inner voice. You’d probably walk around a little lighter, take more risks, and even ask for that raise at work. Maybe you’d have more days in which you knew how pretty you truly are, inside and out. Wouldn’t that be revolutionary? And all you have to do is adopt one little self care idea.
How to tackle this self care idea as your 2019 New Year’s resolution
So how do you go about ending something you don’t even know is happening? It’s going to take some work, of course. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done or that major progress can’t be made in the span of only one year. There are manageable steps you can take to banish that toxic inner talk once and for all. Sold on adopting this self care idea? Here’s how to tackle this 2019 New Year’s resolution in easy steps so it will actually stick:
1. Watch for your patterns
Take a couple months and dial in on your inner monologue. How often is it negative? Are there any patterns to the behavior? Try to simply watch and note your behavior for a while without judging yourself or trying to change it. After a while you’ll start to see patterns emerge that reveal your unique triggers for negative self talk.
2. End outward negative self talk
Stop letting insults about yourself slip. Gentle self-deprecating jokes are one thing. They can lighten the mood at dinner parties or with your friends, but they don’t have malice at the core of their message. Identify when you’re actually insulting or diminishing yourself out loud and cut the habit. Even better, stop your friends when they do the same about themselves. Trying to end this habit will also bring more attention to your thoughts before they slip out, which will make identifying those patterns even easier.
3. Distract the inner critic
Basically, use the grey rock method, which can help you stop toxic people from bringing you their problems, on yourself. If you catch yourself thinking something negative, change the subject. Avoid the triggers you identified when you were looking for patterns. If you wake up feeling badly about your body, use small mirrors to apply makeup so you’re not seeing your entire reflection. Eliminate any fodder your inner critic might use.
4. Balance out the toxic monologue
Some days are just hard. We wake up on the wrong side of the bed or our self esteem is low because we’re in a funk. Those are not the days to deal with the inner critic. Go back to step #3 and just don’t give it anything to work with. But if you’re in a better place mentally, move onto the next step. Every time that toxic inner voice chimes in, consciously think something that balances out its point. After all, the goal isn’t to be conceited, just confident. If it says you’re terrible at work, retort with the last project that you excelled at. You might have to do it 50 times one day and only 2 the next, but it’s worth the effort in the end.
This is a great place to be, so be proud when you get here. Your negative self talk has probably been going on for years, so simply balancing out its message is a win. Neutral and content is better than negative and upset. Keep the faith. Consistently balancing out an insult that comes from your inner critic with a compliment will slowly silence it. But it does take time.
5. Reprogram the messaging
Negative self talk mostly falls into two groups: in-the-moment insults and overarching value messaging. Telling yourself you’re stupid if you stumble over your words in a meeting is an of-the-moment message. Counteracting this with a compliment is enough. The more insidious message, and the self care idea I really want you to work on, is what you’re telling yourself to value over time. Those are the “ew” reactions when you see your cellulite in a picture or mirror. You’ll need to reprogram these, but it can be done.
The approach is the same as the insult-compliment. And that’s why even though this is a daunting task, this self care idea is simple. When that voice chimes in with a value judgement, you step in and contradict it. If that voice says “ew” at your cellulite, you remind yourself “this is natural.” Eventually your mind will react with “this is natural” when you’re trying on swimsuits in that horrendous dressing room lighting. It takes work, and it takes time, but 2019 can be the year you tackle this one once and for all.