“You’re not good enough.”
“Who do you think you are?”
“What will people think?”
Any of these thoughts sound familiar? Yep it’s that nasty little voice inside that I call the inner critic. Just when you start feeling good about the healthy eating and exercise program you are on, one comment from the inner critic sends you running for the nearest cupcake before you can even say WTF?? Next thing you know you have given up on the whole idea of being healthy and resign yourself to being a big fat failure, once again.
So what just happened here? Most people aren’t consciously aware of our inner critic – it’s so melded with our sense of self that we don’t even realize what it’s saying to us. We only know that we felt fine 5 minutes ago and now we feel so fat and disgusting that we don’t even want to leave the house – we’d rather just stay home and binge on whatever we can get our hands on.
Our inner voice is formed by the time we are about 4 years old. It is an amalgamation of the authority figures we had in our life (and often not the best parts of them). We needed this inner guiding voice as a child so that we knew not to run into traffic and how to behave in public. It kept us small, safe and subservient, and not likely to push boundaries. Carrying this around with us as adults, makes it really hard to make lasting changes to our lives – the inner critic wants us to stay securely in our comfort zone to keep us feeling ‘safe’. It was necessary as a child, but as adults we no longer need our parents telling us what to do.
Despite what our culture tells us (so that billions can be made off of our feelings of inadequacy) we cannot create lasting change by hating or shaming ourselves to get there – it only comes from kindness, acceptance and love. And the first step is to ditch the inner critic who constantly tells us we don’t measure up and that we are repulsive slobs. This is very counter-intuitive I know, but has hating yourself thin worked for you in the long run? Probably not.
There are several ways to go about this, but the easiest way to take the power away from the inner critic is to simply disengage from it. When you go from feeling fine to feeling powerless, hopeless or even just ‘feeling fat’, that’s the work of the inner critic. So the next time you recognize this is happening simply tell that voice to STOP! GO AWAY! I DON’T NEED YOU ANYMORE! And repeat, repeat, repeat every single time it says something to you. This will take some self awareness and some practice but I promise it will change your life. Your joy and happiness will increase immensely as you get better at it. And you know what? Happy people are way less likely to eat emotionally, and if they happen to do it once it doesn’t derail them for the next 3 months because they aren’t beating themselves up over it.
I see the handiwork of the inner critic in all my clients (the severity varies but the effect is the same), and have experienced myself how crushing it is listening to that voice, so this is something that I almost always address with my clients very early on in their program. This is the one thing that is most likely to get in the way of successfully making lasting changes in your life, if you don’t deal with it. Most clients who have done the work report feeling a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders, and they can finally quit spending all their time and energy obsessing and hating themselves and their bodies and move on with their lives instead.
So I want to know what do you think you would do differently without the harsh judgements of your inner critic?