Video: On Self-Talk and Kindness

I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at WordCamp US last month, which is always one of my favorite WordPress events of the year. As much as it’s a gathering of the best and brightest minds in the community coming together to learn and teach, it also feels like a big family reunion. I look forward to being able to see my community friends and exchange stories, updates, and hugs/high fives/first bumps with the people I often only see a few times a year.

However, as I was spending time socializing with everyone, I noticed a distressing pattern in our conversations. Almost everyone I talked to was engaging in negative self-talk, often without even noticing. You might recognize some of these phrases that sneak into your own dialogue:

“Oh, I was so bad… I was so stupid… I’m such an idiot…”

This becomes even more prevalent when we’re talking about matters of health and wellness. Somewhere along the way of trying to eat healthy foods, move our bodies in a way that gives us strength and stamina, and otherwise nourish our physical selves, we’ve started to moralize our actions and behaviors. Missing exercise or choosing to eat something indulgent becomes more than a choice, it becomes something that is wrong or bad. And, by extension, we judge ourselves as wrong or bad for engaging in those choices.

This is a huge problem for our mental health. Why do we talk about ourselves in such a negative, toxic way? I’ll admit that I’m extremely guilty of this habit, both vocalized out loud and spoken inside my head. But I believe it’s time to take a stand and change this now, and it starts with our interactions with our friends, family, and colleagues.

Let’s make a promise to ourselves that we will challenge each other on this behavior. If someone engages in negative self-talk in a conversation with you, call them out on it, and encourage them to do the same for you. Remind them that the actions they choose do not make them bad or stupid people. We can choose to be our own worst enemies, or our strongest advocates.

I know which one I’d rather have in my corner.

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