Who is your inner critic?
In our effort to pursue health, we can often push ourselves to eat certain foods or control our eating in a particular way.
We give out to ourselves when we don’t stick to our eating rules. We give out to ourselves when we see the scales go up. We give out to ourselves when we ‘fall off the wagon. That’s the inner critic.
The inner critic is that negative, self-doubting and criticising voice telling you that you are not good enough, you can’t do it, you have always failed…and so on.
But ladies, having negative thoughts about yourself is completely normal.
We’re hard on ourselves. About what we say. About what we do. About how our bodies look.
The inner critic is a voice that is built over time—absorbed by critical teachers, friends, siblings, peers, colleagues – our experiences.
We’re especially hard on ourselves when it comes to what we eat.
We look at ourselves in the mirror and point out our ‘flaws’. That’s the inner critic talking.
Have you ever caught yourself doing those things?
And the funny thing is that we think it’s only us until we look around and chat with others and see that actually, we are all living with these same insecurities and the inner critical voice.
Why do we do this? Why can’t we just give ourselves a break?
Our human brain tells us that enforcing rules is the way to maintain control.
However, for the vast majority of people I have spoken with, this has not worked.
When we focus on what our mind thinks we should eat, what we are really doing is perpetuating feelings of anxiety and inadequacy by constantly obsessing over food and questioning ourselves and our self-worth.
There are many theories and approaches about how to combat or silence your inner critic.
However, there are still many who struggle with this mean girl inside who’s out to create multiple dramas in your mind that do nothing to build you up and encourage you.
My wish for you is to use this blog to start the process of accepting your inner critic and work on making peace with that part of you that you actually don’t need to get rid of. Instead, you can work on how you respond to the thoughts – that is more beneficial to you and to your health.
Start with Awareness.
Simply be aware that the inner critic exists and start to hear that voice for what it is.
Sounds simple, but I really think that becoming aware is a challenging activity.
Stopping to watch and hear what that nagging voice is saying triggers our nervous system.
Every part of our being, mind, body and soul, resists leaning into these feelings. After all, who wants to feel those feelings about oneself…disappointment, anger, frustration?
My top tip for practising awareness around eating.
Pretend you are in your mind’s court of law and YOU are both defender and prosecutor.
My brain loves pictures, you see.
The fact is that when you truly become aware.. you will learn that you don’t suddenly stop feeling anger…
You still go bananas at the kids on a random day for a shoe left out of place, you still shy away from seeing that thing that you know is keeping you stuck…for instance – confidence…
Because you know that once you SEE it, you can’t un-see it.
So therefore, you will have to DO something about what’s causing you that conflict.
In order to create a way of being that feels easier, you’ve got to SEE it.
Be the watcher.
Back to your courtroom brain, my suggestion is that you see the event or circumstance with your defender’s brain switched on, knowing and trusting that somewhere along the line you learned that this behaviour, these comments from the inner critic – to keep you safe and survive.
When you understand that you were doing the best with what you knew, then you cease to defend the actions you’ve taken, you stop feeling the guilt and shame.
Instead you reach a transformed state where you get curious, you begin to wonder about that response. You will notice you don’t feel so bad you lost the plot.
The prosecutor in my picture is not a hard guy, it’s a much more friendly compassionate voice that then asks you to take neutral opinion on your behaviour so that you can spend QUALITY time noticing what’s happening within you and what the result of your actions are.
This is the art of self reflection.
Have with it, dress up the defender and prosecutor, give them a name.
The more you notice yourself the LESS you feel the bad thoughts and you connect that you are not your thoughts.
When you become a witness to your actions without action.
You can spot the flaws in your thoughts. The inner critic.
You open your mind up to more productive thoughts, which means your actions are much more productive.
You hear the mean girl far less, however, when she does come up with something nasty, your inclination is to get curious as to why.
How to begin practising awareness?
Like any practice, it takes time to build the “muscle” of listening to your body’s intuition, especially if it’s new to you.
When working with clients, this is a key part of transforming their relationship both with themselves and with food.
Starting to become aware of the inner critic in many aspects of their lives, not just with the food.
From the busy Mammy who has that inner critic telling her she is not good enough or needs to be a ‘better Mammy’, to the stressed-out corporate woman whose inner critic says she doesn’t deserve this role, not qualified enough…
We all have that inner critic. The first key is being aware.
Practice and you will see the benefits.
Over to you? What does your inner critic have to say? What gets in the way of a Confident relationship with food?
I’d love to hear from you! Drop a comment below or message me on my socials.
P.S Next month, we will build on this by exploring how self-compassion is the next best tool in your toolkit when making peace with the inner critic, and improving your ability to care for yourself, which in turn improves your health.