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Mindful Self Talk with Emily Tyson

Say nice things to yourself—you’re always listening and it really matters

Emily Tyson, owner of Sculpt by Emily, and MaryAnn Jones don’t just walk the walk, they, literally, talk the talk. Find out how two wellness warriors discovered the impact of their own thoughts and words, and how, it has fueled their success, health and happiness.

Below we give you the rundown on the basics. It is important to know why it is vital to train your brain to empower your actions. Then, we give you an inside view of what is going on inside our heads.

What are the consequences of negative self talk?

  • Negativity bias, our culture puts less weight on the positive (think about your evening news or social media feed)
  • It creates self-sabotage and doubt
  • Feeling stuck and defeated

“To doubt is to be faithless, to be without hope or belief. When we doubt, our self-talk sounds like this: ‘I don’t think I can. I don’t think I will.’… To doubt is to have faith in the worst possible outcome.”   – Blaine Lee Pardoe

How does negative self talk hold us back?

  • Limits our possibilities to our “story”
  • Keeps you stuck in the past
  • Fosters judgment of yourself and others

“If you want to reach a state of Bliss – make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved and the need to judge.”   – Deepak Chopra

What are the rewards of changing the way you talk to, and about yourself?

  • Promotes curiosity vs. judgment
  • Invites the world to see you differently
  • It inspires us to help others and literally rewires the brain

“Brain wave tests prove that when we use positive words, our “feel good” hormones flow. Positive self-talk releases endorphins and serotonin in our brain, which then flow throughout our body, making us feel good. These neurotransmitters stop flowing when we use negative words.”   – Ruth Fishel

How does positive and honest self talk empower your goals and dreams?

  • Creates acceptance of your circumstances without judgment
  • Keeps you grounded in the NOW and focused on the future
  • Allows for curiosity and possibility

“The way you choose to think and speak about yourself (and others), IS A CHOICE! You may have spent your whole life talking about yourself in a negative way, but that doesn’t mean you have to continue that path.”   – Miya Yamanouch

Now, Emily and MaryAnn exchange their views on mindful self talk.

Emily, what were you doing before you created Sculpt?

Before SCULPT I was (am) a school teacher. I went to Hawaii right after college in 2004 to work in a public school on the island of Kauai. I was fortunate enough to find a woman who had 3 reformers in her garage and was teaching Pilates out of her home. It was in Hawaii where I fell in love with the Pilates method and decided to move back to Long Island to pursue a certification in it. The entire certification took over a year since it required hundreds of hours of apprenticing along with intensive weekends. Lesa Salvani was kind enough to take me on as her apprentice and she taught me so much; about the body, cuing, and professionalism. Her studio in Sag Harbor became my second home and I taught Pilates while also working at Pierson high school also in Sag Harbor.

In 2015 I became a mom and that was the catalyst to me starting SCULPT.

MaryAnn, what were you doing before you created Thrive Naturally?

Before starting my own wellness practice I was working as an art director in magazine publishing. I was basically on deadline for 20 years! Magazines began folding and I knew it was time to reinvent myself. My interest in wellness was sparked after my daughter Cat was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. A friend told me about health coaching and I was hooked. My journey and evolution personally and professionally has brought harmony to my life. My work is me, I am my work.

What inspired you to change the way you speak to yourself?

Emily: Well this entire method that I have created has totally grown from an organic place. It wasn’t that one day I decided, “I’m going to speak nicely to myself!” It truly has been a process that has evolved over time. Obviously confidence builds self worth and self worth correlates to having a more positive attitude. Honestly getting up in front of a class full of people I deeply respect and admire has helped tremendously in that regard. I can’t tell others to have confidence in themselves if I don’t have it in myself. I really have to practice what I preach, and it can’t be faked. Over time I have become much more aware of how my thoughts affect my life, and now that I am living my truth and doing something I am totally dedicated to and passionate about it really helps to just being happy and balanced. The positive self talk just comes naturally now because I have proven to myself that my fears were just my own limiting beliefs. Thank God I didn’t give in to them!

MaryAnn: I agree with Emily, for me it was not a conscious decision but rather building awareness. When I work with clients we discover their obstacles to accomplishing their health and wellness goals. Very often what is standing in their way is…..wait for it…. Themselves!!! So in finding ways to inspire clients to get out of their own way I have come to examine how my thoughts and words about myself trip me up. Also, having 2 daughters has made me hyper aware of self talk. When we hear someone we love put themselves down it can have a profound way of bubbling up to the top of your priority list.

How does mindfulness around self talk influence your decisions?

Emily: Well for a long time I would dream of having my own studio space or I would take another person’s fitness class and think, I could do that 20 times better. I would always have these dreams but I was too afraid to actually do anything about them. I was comfortable with my steady teaching job and my life was good, but deep down inside I knew I had this inside me wanting to come out. So I think because I finally just went for it and I am finding so much value in what I am doing, the positive self talk just naturally followed. For me, creating and teaching this method has given me the most confidence I have ever had in my life and with it a real sense of purpose.
Also becoming a mom, I want to set an example for my children. I want them to know that they are valued and loved and mistakes are ok.

MaryAnn: When we change the way we talk about ourselves it changes everything. It is mind-blowing the power our words have. But, it makes sense. You know who is always listening, you are. This conversation with ourselves forms our thoughts, our story our habits our actions. By changing my self talk I say YES to so much more and this has brought people like Emily into my life.

What is your favorite quote or mantra about self talk?

Emily: My favorite mantra is “fuck it” I mean it’s simple, to the point, and really encapsulates all the great mantras into one for me! I’m just so over worrying about what other people think about me. I know that I am doing my best, I know that I am giving and caring and honest and loyal. I know that at my core I am a good person, so who cares if someone doesn’t like an opinion I have or thinks an outfit I am wearing is ridiculous. It’s like, let’s just be ourselves, and real and honest and stop worrying so much about being the right kind of this or that. Just be you and I’ll just be me. And I promise people will love the flawed, raw, real you much more than the polished and “perfect” version. This is something I am always working on. Sometimes I will leave a social event and think, “why did I talk so loud?” or “I hope I didn’t offend her when I said that thing.” But I am so much better about that stuff now! With age comes the confidence to just be me in my own skin.

MaryAnn: I love when you curse Emily! It always gets our attention and feels empowering in a “I am a badass” kind of way. My favorite quote is a bit more G-rated—Practice makes better, not perfect. Perfect is boring, it is subjective, it is constipating. When we let go of perfection and embrace that our consistent action is what actually propels our success then we come to talk about ourselves with much more kindness.

Were you always aware of how your self talk influence your decisions and outcomes?

Emily: No. I wasn’t aware. I spent my twenties making poor decisions, forming really toxic relationships with people who were unavailable and I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster a lot of the time. Positive self talk has only come from my experiences with age and finding true balance in my life. I was really aware of positive affirmations when I got pregnant with my daughter. I took the Hypnobirthing course and I learned how to hypnotize myself through specific breathing techniques and repeating certain positive affirmations to myself. It was the first time I was actually aware of how important those words were. They held so much power, and I was so determined to have a birth free of fear. So I spent months really focusing on that and it was the first time in my life where I really practiced positive self talk.

MaryAnn: I think you only become aware of your negative self talk when you realize that there is another way to actually talk to yourself. An AHA moment around self talk came when I was talking to a trainer about his passion for running. I said something like, “I am not a runner” he called me out on it. Because of that one conversation I began training and running 5Ks eventually running a half marathon on my 50th birthday, one of the highlights of my life.

Emily: I love that! Imagine if you held on to that limiting belief of “not being a runner.” You would have missed the opportunity to challenge yourself and run 13.1 miles! That’s incredible.

How do you incorporate self talk into your classes/sessions?

Emily: I like to start the class with a little message to motivate the people in the class. And it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, sometimes I just say “good morning, I am so happy to see you” with a giant smile on my face and I mean every word. When class is in motion is when the good gritty self love comes pouring out of me. I don’t plan what I am going to say, I feel it and then I say it. No matter how weird it sounds, I just say it. When you are moving your body in a hot room with weights up your legs, things can start to feel daunting and scary, and that is when I am called to say something like, “someone somewhere told you you can’t, don’t believe them.” I honestly don’t know where some of my mantras come from, they just appear!! I feel like it’s important for me to share them with the class. And my method is more about achieving mental and emotional freedom than fitting into a pair of pants, so the focus is never on skinniness or “do it for the doughnut” it’s like, “do this to prove to yourself that you are a badass motherfucker!!”

MaryAnn: Emily, you are so good at freeing yourself and inspiring others to be vulnerable. And, somehow, when we are all vulnerable together it feels much more like wearing a superhero cape than experiencing the fear we sometimes feel when we expose ourselves like that.
Positive self talk sounds simple, clear and forward focused. Our brains are primal and always listening!
A few examples:
Instead of: I’m trying to __________, you say I am ____________
Speak in the positive, for example, Instead of: I am not tired, try I feel energized

Emily: Yes and learn how to take a compliment! I get upset sometimes when I say something nice to someone, and truly mean it, and their response is “haha yeah right” or something just as boring. It’s like, no I mean it, I said it, say thank you god damn it! People have such a hard time believing that they are amazing and that actually hurts me. I want people to value themselves, the world would be so much happier!

How have you found positive self talk effective in forwarding success and joy?

Emily: For me success comes when a person who has taken my class tells me it has changed their life. There is simply no other way to measure success then those positive testimonials. I get so much out of watching other people step into their power and if some small thing I said or did helped them get there then what is better than that?

MaryAnn: What a great example Emily. Accepting feedback from others is a vital part of the self talk equation. Think about how often you brush aside someone when they offer you validation. Accept and internalize and be grateful that others are recognizing something in you that you may not recognize yet. I am often told that I offer a very calm space for my clients. I don’t really think of myself as calm, I always thought of myself as anxious and nervous. But, I am allowed to change and evolve and I now accept that this is a strength that forwards my success as a health coach (and human).

How does mindful self talk enhance your ability to motivate your client toward transformation?

Emily: I think because I focus on the communal aspect; that fitness can be social and fun and not just about weight loss. In fact, you won’t really hear me talk about weight or calories at all. It’s more about feeling good in your body through specific movement. I want people to feel a transformation from within first, not just lose weight. I want people to have a place to feel free, to move to really great music, to unravel their bodies and gain strength and flexibility; to laugh. The physical transformation just follows because they first find a deeper connection to themselves.

MaryAnn: How can we transform if we don’t feel good about ourselves, if we don’t believe we are worthy of the change. I ask my clients what their strengths are, what has propelled their success in other areas of their life, how can they rely on those strengths to move them forward toward the transformation they are looking for now. Positive self talk moves us away from thinking we are flawed and need to be fixed.

Can you give us an example of how positive self talk has helped propel a client’s success?

Emily: I get a lot of feedback from clients who tell me that since taking my classes, they would much rather workout with me than go out for drinks. I think that’s a huge success. Clients are replacing their social drinking hours with sweat sessions. I always text a new client after they take my class and make sure to reach out to them with something positive. I always let them know they can come to me with questions or comments. I am super involved in many of their lives and I think the fact that I genuinely care about them helps them feel successful. I won’t ever give up on anyone who wants that motivation. I promise them I will be as dedicated and loyal to them as they are to themselves. Show up and do the work and I have your back.

MaryAnn: I have been on the receiving end of Emily’s messages and they have propelled my confidence and success. Thank you! Overall asking questions is the most powerful way to elicit positive self talk with my clients. How different would it be if I asked a client, what is the problem? Why haven’t you been able to solve it in the past? OR What is your vision of wellness? How will you feel when you accomplish your goal?

What is one simple thing we can do each day to improve our positive self talk skills?

Emily: Do something that forces you to step out of your comfort zone. When you see you can accomplish that, you will gain the confidence to just let the positive self talk naturally be a part of your life.

MaryAnn: Replace judgement with curiosity. What if… instead of Not ready…

Resources to inspire mindful self talk:

  • Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander
  • Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
  • You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay “I monitor my self-talk, making sure that it is uplifting and supportive of myself and others.” ~ LH –

MaryAnn & Emily
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