I felt like the magazine was yelling at me. As I read the borrowed copy of “Runner’s World,” article after article made me feel like I was not running enough. I identify myself as a runner, but page after page of the magazine made me doubt this identity. Race pace, tempos, fartleks, I don’t do any of that kind of training. I just run. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn’t. Reading the magazine, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. That I was a lesser runner. Obviously though, it wasn’t the magazine that was yelling at me, I was yelling at myself.
As I was on my run the other day, I realized that I yell at myself a lot. My internal struggles lead to mental yelling. I identify my days as good or bad depending upon what I eat and how much I exercise. A day where I am “good” means that I ate as little as I could and exercised hard. A day where I am “bad” means that I gave in to eating too much and my exercise was only moderate. On a good day, I congratulate myself and feel as if I am beating something. On a day when I am bad, I give myself a negative talking to, feel guilty, and decide that I need to do better the next day.
When did I start doing this? Why do I do this? This makes no sense.
Obviously, a lot of my internal yelling is provoked by American culture. Thinness and beauty are revered. An imperfect body or overeating is a sign that you are somehow a lesser person. Almost any American can make the argument that it is society that makes them crazy about their weight and appearance. It is unfortunate, but it is what it is.
For me, I can also blame my job. I work in a business where many people strive for perfect bodies. My body is fit and thin, but it is far from perfect. Like many women, I want smaller thighs and a tighter butt. I have the same issues everyone else does. Most women, however, are not in the type of business I am. It’s an unwritten rule that you need to be thin at my job.
When I started my job, I was determined to not let my work lead to a warped body image. I held out for a long time, but lately I have been succumbing. My healthy BMI of 23 no longer feels like enough. I want to be thinner. I want to shrink my problem areas. I associate food and guilt. I am starting to lose my sensibility on these matters.
The good thing is that I recognize that I am starting to lose it. I am trying to take steps to stop my body image insanity from getting worse. My first step with this was to talk to people I am close with who have suffered heavily from this issue. One person told that I look fit. That my body seems to have “nothing extra” on it. This made me feel good, but I decided that I needed to delve deeper into this issue. Someone else I discussed this problem with told me to focus on the good and do the best I can. To not let the negative talk get the best of me. This seems logical, so I try to keep this person in my head when my inner yelling starts. A third person told me that I did not need to lose any weight and that what I would have to put myself through to lose five pounds would make me miserable, so it just was not worth it. All good input, but the yelling has not magically gone away.
I suppose the problem is that there is no great answer to anyone’s inner yelling. All I can do is try to keep things in perspective and not let it get the better of me.
Last night I ate a fast food burrito for dinner. It was delicious and I enjoyed it. While this was not the best food choice in the world, it also could have been much worse. Instead of beating myself up over it, I reminded myself that I had worked out that day and the world was not going to end because I ate a burrito. Logic overcame the inner yelling. Now I have to work to keep things going in this direction and remember that berating myself in my head has no positive purpose.
Goldstein, S. (2009). Unhealthy Self-Talk: Yelling at Myself. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 11, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/unhealthy-self-talk-yelling-at-myself/0002419
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
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