Having a “fat day,” not finding something flattering to wear or outright hating our bodies has made us miss out on many things. We’ve missed out on good times with friends and making friends. We’ve missed out on dating and dances. Trying out for a sport. Trying on clothes that we like. Kicking butt on a job assignment. Being good to ourselves.

I’ve listed a few suggestions below on quieting our harshest critic (ourselves, of course!) and not missing out.

1. Explore why. When you say no to dating or getting out of the house, what’s the reason? Is it because you don’t look your best or because you still need to lose ten pounds? Is it because you’re really anxious about meeting new people, being rejected? Is it because you don’t think you’re good enough in general? Why not? Finding a quiet place and thinking about the reasons can help you better understand where you’re coming from and how you can move on from this unhealthy place. Consider making a list with your reasons. 

2. Consider what you’re missing (and have already missed). When you’re feeling good and can be somewhat objective, consider what you’re missing out on and write it down. (I’m a huge fan of lists; I think they – or any kind of writing – help you make sense of your thoughts in a concrete, tangible way, so you can take action). Your list can be as simple as “missing out on seeing old friends, job promotion, dating, laughing, being happy, enjoying my own company.” Also, think about how missing those things makes you feel. And write that down. Feel free to take out the list when your inner critical voice starts yapping.

3. Will it matter five years from now? When I was younger, I cared a lot (probably too much) about what others thought of me. Does my outfit look good enough? Will someone think I’m not thin enough to wear it? Am I pretty to others? I’ve read this advice in various places (here’s one), and it’s a nice way of looking at life and guiding decisions. For instance, feelings of not looking perfect, of not being at your “ideal” weight, of being less than in general really won’t matter five years from now. But not fostering new friendships, missing times with loved ones may. Sure, you may remember feeling crappy but you can confidently say that those negative thoughts didn’t stop you from seeking opportunities, making new friends and being kinder to yourself. 

4. Become your friend. I loved this comment on my first post from Kathy, and it makes for some fantastic advice:

Someone asked me something once…

Would you be your own friend? HUH?

If your friend talked to you the way you talk to yourself, would you be her friend. HECK NO!

Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend.

Best piece of advice I have ever gotten!!

5. Be mindful. Our Bodies Ourselves suggests noticing “how much time you spend worrying about your looks instead of being aware of what is going on inside of you or around you” and practicing mindfulness. About.com has a good, straightforward step-by-step guide to mindful meditation. Check out more body-boosting tips from Our Bodies Ourselves here.

6. Just go for it. I’m the type of person who has to think through everything. I may analyze plans A, B and C before I do anything. And while that can sometimes be good (if plans A and B don’t work out), realistically, this can be very limiting. Ruminating isn’t helpful. Think about it this way (but do it quickly 🙂 ): If you looked and felt the way you wanted to, would you go? Would you pursue whatever it is? If you would, then do it!

I’d love to hear how you overcome negative self-talk and shut up your inner critic. What things have you done because you just went for it?