We’ve often talked about how our attitude affects our lives. Positivity breeds positivity. And, of course, negativity only leads to a self-fulfilled feeling of woe. Well, as it turns out, it even gets more specific that that. Indeed, according to new research, the specific words you speak not only reflect but may impact how you feel about yourself.
For instance, if you describe yourself as “old,” it can make you feel worse about your body, according to new research published in the Journal of Eating Disorders. That attitude can lead to myriad mental and physical health issues, such as anorexia, binge eating and overall stress.
Researchers from Trinity University and University of the West of England surveyed almost 1000 women, ranging from 18 to 87. Not surprisingly, younger women spoke more about being “fat,” while talk of being “old” increased significantly with age. And those who used the words most to describe themselves had the lowest body image.
“Until now, most research has focused on the negative effects of the thin-ideal and speech, such as ‘fat talk’, in younger women,” said Dr. Carolyn Black Becker, who led the study. “But we need to remember that the thin-ideal is also a young-ideal which, as our results show, becomes increasingly important to negative body image as women age.”
While this study, focused primarily on women, the impact of their language on men is likely just as pronounced. We all know men who whine about their age, then physically manifest the results of that attitude: They carry around a pot belly, complain about their knees and say they’ll go to the doctor next week.
One major difference is that many guys still think they’ve “got it,” that they’re as attractive and healthy as they were in their 20s. Delusional, they are. Even worse, they’re contributing to their own demise, to the statistics of men being disproportionately affected by debilitating impact of obesity and stress.
Bottom line: You are what you say you are – old, fat, whatever. Or you will be soon.
This morning in the gym, one of the trainers asked me how I was doing. “Not bad for an old guy,” I said.