“Who cheated you and told you you had a nice singing voice?”
I laughed. I was wandering around my mom’s house, singing Christmas carols.
“Why, you didn’t like my beautiful version of Jingle Bells?” I responded.
“No, it’s awful.”
We both laughed then.
“Hey mom, how come you never give me any compliments?” I asked.
She paused for a second, and thought about it.
“Because you always do it first,” she replied. “You compliment yourself before anyone has the chance to do it.”
She had a point.
When I Talk To Myself
Every morning, the first thing I do upon waking is head to the bathroom. I usually catch a glimpse of myself in my underwear, at which point I stop for a moment.
I look at my reflection, admire my body, and rub my tattoo. Then I suck in my gut, flex, and convince myself I am damn handsome.
“Yea, that’s pretty hot. I’m ripped.”
Then I smile and go about my day. To the uninitiated, this may seem like a random narcissistic moment. The truth is much more fun.
It was good self-talk. And it’s designed to help my confidence.
I didn’t always say such nice things about myself. For years, my self-talk was positively wretched.
“I’m too thin. I’m ugly. I’m boring. I’m not funny. Women don’t find me attractive. I’m going to die alone.”
These are things I used to tell myself all the time, and it’s pretty scary when I look back at it. How is a geek supposed to function, if he only says bad things about himself?
I’ve written multiple posts about how no one was interested in me when I was at university, and about how I got turned down by 60 women, and how it shattered me. But let’s take a step back from that narrative for a moment.
What if I was wrong? What if someone really was into me, and I didn’t notice?
My good friend Emilie recently pointed out that we all feel unloved and unattractive at some point.
In the comments section of this old post, she had this to say:
“I bet there were girls who would have dated you, only you didn’t even consider them options because you just assumed they were out of your league or discounted them for some other reason.”
She’s probably right. Looking back with this new perspective, I realize I may have missed out on many opportunities.
In fact, one night at university, our whole class went out to dinner. I was seated opposite a really cute, sweet girl, and we hit it off. After food and drinks, we grabbed the metro home together, and she walked almost all the way to my house with me.
Wow this girl is fun, I thought. Too bad we’re just hanging out as friends. If only she were into me.
So I gave her a hug and I went home alone. Years later, I look back and can’t believe I did that. She basically walked herself to my apartment, waited for me to invite her up, and I didn’t see it.
Why? Bad self-talk.
I was so used to not liking myself, and telling myself that no one else liked me, that I inadvertently made it so.
Body Image and Self-Talk
I’ve had body issues my entire life. I don’t talk about it much, so I guess I’ll let the cat out of the bag now: I’ve never loved my body.
We’ve been constantly at war over the years. When I was younger, I felt too skinny, especially when I looked like this:
Now that I’m older, and have put on weight, I feel like I have too much belly fat, and not enough chest and arm muscle.
The main difference between how I used to feel about myself vs how I currently feel, is how I address it.
When I was young, I would think “I’m so skinny, it’s hideous.”
Now I think “You’re eating too much junk food Rami. Tighten up that diet, and hit the gym, you’ll be looking sexy in no time!”
Can you spot the difference?
In the first example, I used to actively make myself feel bad about the way I looked.
Now I tend to go for a more balanced, realistic approach. I recognize the parts of myself that I’d like to change, and give myself some much-needed encouragement to get there.
It’s still not perfect, but it’s a damn sight better than what it used to be.
Also, notice how I speak to myself in the third person? When I self-talk, I don’t use the word “I”. Instead, I talk to myself as if I were speaking to another person. I thought this was a fluke, but turns out it’s scientifically proven that speaking to yourself in the third person is really beneficial.
It makes you more likely to be supportive, and give yourself a break. It also gives you a bit of distance, so you can talk to yourself about what you’d like to potentially change, without being harsh and judgmental.
Practice Good Self-Talk Regularly
Some of you geeks want to get in shape. Good for you!
Some of you geeks want to meet girls. Good for you!
Some of you geeks want to win more videogames tournaments. Good for you!
In order to hit your goals, I recommend a strict regimen of Good Self-Talk.
The powerful thing about self-talk is it’s tied very closely to identity. The more bad things you tell yourself about yourself, the worse you’ll feel about yourself. As we saw with my university example, it’ll also subconsciously affect your decisions, and make it so that you miss out on opportunities because you don’t feel worthy.
Conversely, the more good things you say to yourself about yourself, the better you’ll start to feel.
It’ll also give you the boost you need to accomplish things that you otherwise might not have been able to.
So stick to good self-talk. There’s enough negativity out in the world, and enough people putting you down, that you don’t need to add any fuel to the fire.
If you wanna feel bad about yourself, just watch the news.
The Good Self-Talk Challenge
I like feeling good about myself. I like using Good Self-Talk. Occasionally though, I stray, and make myself feel bad. I’m not perfect, after all.
To help stay on track, I’m challenging myself, and you too, to one week of good self-talk.
The challenge is simple:
-every time you catch yourself giving bad self-talk, you have to give someone a dollar.
-you must immediately rephrase it as good self-talk, in the third person, and encourage yourself.
Believe me, it’s not easy.
I started doing this yesterday, and to my surprise, I already gave away three bucks. I guess my self-talk wasn’t quite as positive as I thought it was, despite writing an entire blog post about it.
The question is, what’s your self-talk like?