The Words We Say to Ourselves Have Power

Feb 18, 2020


Today I want to talk to you about a topic that’s very near and dear to my heart. As a portrait photographer, I specialize in photographing women and we, women are so incredibly hard on ourselves. We say lots of negative things to ourselves. And being a portrait photographer who specializes in photographing women is not always the easiest thing.

Over the past couple of weeks, this topic has popped up so much that that’s why I wanted to talk about it today. I had back to back clients last week and every single one of them walked in, the first thing they said to me was, I hate having my photographs taken. I hate being in pictures. I don’t want to be here. It’s really hard when I’m about to photograph them and they’re telling me that they don’t want to be there. It’s my job to make them feel comfortable and it always happens, but it goes back to that whole loop that we play in our heads about. I hate to be in pictures. I hate to have my photograph taken. I hate how I look in pictures. And it’s those negative words that I want to address today.

There was a study done by Rebecca Yip. What she did is she took two plant s(flowers). Two that were like almost the same height, same types of flowers, all that kind of stuff. And what she did is she put the words I love you on one and the words I hate you on the other one and for six weeks every day she whispered to the one that says, I love you on it. I love you. I love you. I love you. To the other one: I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. She whispered those words to it every day. Want to know what happened to those plants? The one that she loves said I love you too, it grew and it thrived. It was huge. It was blooming. It was beautiful. Do you know what happened to the other plant? that she said, I hate you too. It shriveled and it withered and it died. You guys, that’s the exact same thing that’s happening to us. When we say negative words to ourselves or when we say positive words to ourselves, when we say positive words, uplifting words, you know, whether it’s like looking in the mirror or just saying, Hey, good job on something or whatever it is. Whenever we’re pouring uplifting words into ourselves, we bloom and  we grow. We see it when we do it to like our children. If we are giving them words of encouragement, they’re so proud of themselves and they work harder and they just bloom and they grow. But when we talk to our children and give them words of negativity, it makes them turn inward. It makes them shrink up and not live to their highest potential.

And it’s the exact same thing with ourselves, whether or not we’re saying words verbally to ourselves or just in our heads. So if you’re walking by a mirror every single time you see it and you look at your arms or your legs or your belly and you say, I’m fat, I’m old, I’m ugly, I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough. All those things are just, they’re just killing you. They’re making you shrink. They’re making you shrivel up. They’re making you die inside.

I’m not very good with science 🙂 so don’t like quote me on this exact words that I’m using, but we share a cellular level with plants. So that’s the same thing that happened in that experiment that I just talked about. How she said I love you to a plant over and over for six weeks and it bloomed and it grew. Or she said, I hate you to that plant and it shriveled up and died. The exact same thing happens to humans. So when we say I hate myself in pictures, I hate how I love and pictures, all that does is put us into a negative space. It makes us shrivel up. It makes us dive a little bit inside. It makes us not be able to step into our full potential of a human.

I know it’s hard. I know that as a society, we’ve been conditioned to think that we’re supposed to think things about ourselves. We’re not supposed to like how we look in pictures. We’re supposed to think that we look fat. It’s been fed to us by marketers who want to sell products to us. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can look at a picture of ourselves and we can like it. We can look at a picture of ourselves and we can love it. And you guys, I am proof of that. I went through a time in my lifetime where I thought that I was too fat to ever be in pictures. So for like 10 years, I didn’t exist in any photos at all. And then I had my photograph taken. And many of you might know this story already, but I had my photograph taken by my amazing mentor, Sue Bryce. And when I saw those pictures back of myself, I saw myself in a different way. I went into that photo-shoot still thinking I don’t like pictures of myself.
I hate how I look in pictures. But when I saw that picture and like I saw the real Kari on the inside looking back at me, not the outer Kari, but I saw the Kari on the inside. I saw the Kari who I wanted to become. That helped shape things. Sure there are times when I think, oh my double chin is too big in pictures, but you know what? It doesn’t stop me from being in pictures and I don’t ever think to myself, I hate that picture of me. I don’t think that that way anymore and I want you to think about this for a second.

Every time you know we have these negative thoughts about ourselves, right? Some people spend a lot of time in their head saying negative things about themselves. I want you to think about it for a second. Think if you grabbed all those negative thoughts that you say about yourself into a ball and you just tossed them out. Think about all of the space that would free up in your mind to think of other things. Write that book that you’ve always wanted to, or whatever your dreams and goals are, but you’re taking out those negative thoughts that are bringing you down and making you shrivel up and die. You’re just taking that out of your brain. You’re freeing up all this brain space to think about positive things and think about where you want to go in your life and what you want to do and what your goals are. It just helps to open up that mind. It’s space for positivity.

Again, I know that it’s hard, guys. Trust me, I’ve been there, but we have to change this. We just have to change the way that we’re using these words. We have to change the way that we’re looking at ourselves. I know it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time, but I encourage you to just start off by noticing. Notice those words that you’re saying to yourselves, and at least at first when you notice them say, stop. All you have to do is start. Just say, stop. Make that negativity stop. And what you do is you start replacing it. So if you walked by the mirror this morning and you said, Oh God, I look so fat today. You know, next time you walk by that mirror, I want you to just stop and say, good morning, gorgeous. That’s all you have to say. You don’t even have to be like, I love my body today.

It doesn’t have to start there. It can start smaller. All you have to say, it’s even just good morning with a smile on your face. That’s all that it takes to just start down that path of changing those negative things that we’re saying to ourselves into positive things. Just a simple smile at yourself. Just a simple good morning with a smile at yourself is all it takes. And then what that will do is it will help you take the next step, help you take the next step, help you take the next step until one day, there will be a day when you look in that mirror and you’re like, hello, gorgeous. I love you. You are wonderful. You look beautiful today or I promise you there’s going to be that day when you look at that photograph of yourself and you’re like, yes, that’s me. I love this photo of myself.

And if you’re watching this and those things seem really hard, like, “sure Kari, that’s never gonna happen to me.” I promise you it can. I’ve gone through that exact same transformation. And if you want to talk about it more with me about how to make a plan to do that, I can definitely help you with that. But I just want you to know that if you are tired of hearing these negative words and it’s making you shrivel up and die, I want you to start working on these positive words so you can grow and bloom and step into the very highest version of yourself.