Deborah Smith is a positive psychologist specialising in the science of happiness and mindfulness.
She has more than 25 years’ experience as a psychotherapist and is here to help, so email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
I simply have no willpower. If I come across unhealthy food, I always eat too much of it. I even eat my kids’ leftovers! How can I gain more self-control? Kath Graham, Margate
First, are you sure a lack of self-control is the problem. I’d start by paying more attention to how you talk to yourself. We all have an internal voice in our heads, and it can be a helpful or harmful one. Are you being kind to yourself, or overly critical? You say you have ‘no’ willpower and you ‘always’ overindulge. There are strong, inflexible terms, so maybe it’s time to start being a little kinder to yourself.
Willpower is something you can build. Flex that muscle, like any other, and it will get stronger over time. Start by focusing on the positives – times when you made healthy choices or resisted eating too much. Be proud of these successes.
Next time you’re faced with an unhealthy food you struggle to turn down, think of a time when you did resist and how good it felt. Focus on that feeling and allow it to help you walk away with a satisfied smile!
HOW TO PUT A POSITIVE SPIN ON NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
‘I’M USELESS, I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO…’
Instead say: ‘I might not have managed to do it this time, but I’ll do better next time.’
‘I HATE MY BODY’
Instead say: ‘I like my…’ (think of one feature you like or are proud of improving), and build it up from there.
‘I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH’
Instead say: ‘I recognise and appreciate my…’
then list five of your personal strengths.
Mantra: You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind
IT’S NOT EASY TO CHANGE HABITUAL NEGATIVE THOUGHTS, BUT BECOMING AWARE OF THEM IS THE FIRST STEP TO MAKING POSITIVE CHANGES.