Years ago when I was a kid, I remember a TV ad for a diet breakfast cereal that had the slogan “If you can pinch more than in inch….” The implication being that if you could pinch more than in inch, then you needed to eat this cereal and lose weight. Even as a kid I could pinch more than an inch and I wasn’t over weight then. But still, that advert stayed in my memory years, and I’m starting to wonder if this was the start of my body confidence issues, and the way I mentally compare myself to others.

 

Everyone can pinch an inch! Can’t they? 

Looking at it now I can see that it’s ridiculous. It’s no kind of reliable measure at all, it’s just a slogan designed to sell breakfast cereal. But that’s the point. I remember that ad vividly some 30 years later. Or rather I remember how that advert made me feel. I remember being upset that I could pinch more than an inch, and wondering if other girls could. That was probably around the same time I started worrying about my weight. Now I’m not blaming a breakfast cereal for my poor body image and life of yo-yo dieting. That’s just one example, and we’re all bombarded with hundreds of them every day. But it illustrates something I’m really struggling with at the moment; how I mentally compare myself to other people and always come up short.

youhavefat

 

I bet she can’t pinch an inch

That constant coming up short then spirals into a world of negative self talk’.  So something that starts off as simply as “Look at that lovely top she is wearing, she looks really nice” quickly progresses to “I’d never look that good in anything I own” and then “That’s because I’m so fat and ugly”. Written down it sounds ridiculous but it’s exactly what I do, and I bet I’m not the only one. The problem is, I’ve been doing it so long now that it’s second nature, and it’s a really hard habit to break.

I’ve been aware I’m doing it for a while. The obvious solution is simply “be more positive” or try and counteract a negative thought with a positive one. So that “Because I’m fat and ugly” gets changed to “You’re not fat and ugly, you’re beautiful”. Sounds great, eh? Only problem is that the inner me is a bit more wily than that, and it triggers the inbuilt lie detector. So I can tell myself these things, but I never really BELIEVE it, which means all I’ve really done is reinforce the negative one. And how do I make myself feel better after that? Well you can probably guess that it involves chocolate….

doris

Doris can pinch my inch

So how do I break the habit? To be honest I’ve no idea but I’ve got a few new strategies to try.

1. One of Jennie’s tricks is to give the negative voice a name, that way you can disassociate it from the real you and give it a good talking to. I’ve named mine Doris. I’m practicing mentally saying “Shut up Doris, you silly mare” (hint: I’ve found people look at you a bit weird if you say it out loud so stick to saying it in your head!)

2. Forget Positive Thinking, try Possible Thinking – so I know positive thinking doesn’t work for me so maybe this will. Next time the “fat and uglies” strike I’m mentally changing it to “OK, you’re not fat, you HAVE fat and you’re doing stuff to lose some of it, so stop beating yourself up about it”

3. What would my best friend say? I would never DREAM of talking to anyone (even someone I hate) the way I talk to myself. But I know that, and it doesn’t stop me doing it. So I am going to try and think, what would someone who loves me say? My best friend would never say I’m fat and ugly, she’d tell me I look fab in that top I’m wearing, that I’ve got amazing sexy curves and gorgeous green eyes and that I always make her laugh. So from now on I’m running everything through a What-would-my-best-friend-say-filter.

We’ll see how it goes but I’m feeling enthusiastic about trying something different!

Maria x

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Read Marias story here, and catch up on last months update.

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