Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed., is a psychotherapist, international, award-winning author of 8 books, and popular blogger. She has 30-plus years of experience in the field of eating psychology teaching chronic dieters and emotional, binge, and over-eaters to become “normal” eaters through using a non-diet, non-weight focus on eating intuitively and creating joyous, meaningful lives. Her eighth book, Words to Eat By: Using the Power of Self-talk to Transform Your Relationship with Food and Your Body (Turner), is due out January 26, 2021. She lives and practices in Sarasota, Florida. Her website is http://www.karenrkoenig.com.
It is January 2021, a time when many people are chiding themselves for their holiday food intake and psyching themselves up to change their eating, exercise, and self-care habits. But more often than not, our standard self-talk is so judgmental, punitive, and bullying that it fails to generate sustainable positive change and leaves us frustrated and hopeless before the first quarter of the new year has gone by.
To turn this pattern around, it’s crucial to understand that self-talk is not simply mindless mental chatter but instead a major way we humans have evolved to get our brains to take action. Whether conscious or unconscious, self-talk is what governs our emotions and behavior. That is, the brain interprets whatever we say as a directive to feel or behave in a certain way. It awaits our instructions and then executes them.