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The Power of Negative Self Talk.

I was watching a programme last night focusing on people who had lost lots of weight and featured in magazines some years ago. The programme was a catch up on where they were now and had the weight stayed off.

The main reason for watching is because I find people fascinating, how we work, what motivates us and I also have an interest in nutrition and fitness.

I didn't watch all of the programme so am not sure if anyone had kept the weight off; the three people I saw had all put the weight back on and some extra on top of what they originally lost.

This isn't a post about how and why this happens, it's about the self talk of one of the gentlemen involved.

This man is 45, he has 3 kids, a wife he loves and is back on his weight watchers diet, attending meetings every week. He is over 30 stone, he has diabetes, he trains 4 times a week, he has been told to make a change or be dead in 10 years. Very motivational reasons to change. He appears to want to change. 

All of what I am going to say next is my own opinion. I don't know this man and I can only base what I feel on the snippets shown on TV.

For me initally his motivators seem to be his family. I base this on the words he used, " I love my kids, I want to be around for them in years to come. I love my wife, We have a great relationship". "I know I am making myself ill and I don't want to die".

Then, as the programme develops, he talks about the future and dieting and trying to lose weight - his words. He says words like, "I am going to try again, I hope it works, I am trying to make this work. Hopefully I can change." The tone in which he says these sentences are flat, no enthusiasm, to be honest I don't feel any sincerity.

You see sometimes we think it should be about being around for the family, these are our own personal drivers and our values. You will often hear people say to people who are suicidal, ""think about the kids, they care about you", and this is probably true. When you are in crisis or deliberately sabotaging yourself and someone says this to you and there is no response or a negative response like, "they will be better off without me", or you use it to motivate yourself but it's not working, it's probably because this is not the motivator. 

Listen to the words and the tone,do they match? If someone is saying the words and then not making change recognise this. Help them by reflecting it back, "You say you want to change to be around longer for the kids and then you eat more food, the two don't seem to match." The caveat to this is of course timing and might not be the best thing to say to someone you have just met.

I am not saying I am right in this case, just my observations on what we were shown in the programme.

Sometimes what we want to believe is true and our driver, isn't necessarily what is true. Listen for the words and the tone, be the reflective window and help others to find what their path is and what is at the heart of what they are doing

The Communication Coach

Riseley, Bedford MK44, UK

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