There’s a voice inside each of us that constantly wants to point out what we’re doing wrong. Have you heard it lately? If you’re like most humans on the planet, you certainly have. If you’re like those of us who’ve struggled with food, body weight or body image, you’ve probably heard it several times a DAY.
The Inner Critic
I like to call this voice the Inner Critic. It lives inside each one of us and THINKS it’s helping. If it can remind you of how you aren’t good enough, surely you’ll want to do better, right? While noticing what we want to change and how we want to improve ourselves is helpful, the Inner Critic I’m referring to is not.
It becomes the mean high school coach who thinks berating the kids will motivate them.
You look in the mirror while getting dressed and it flatly announces, “You’re becoming a fat cow. Did you see that cellulite?? You need to DO something about this.”
We listen and think it’s true.
“Well… yeah, I see what you mean. I AM a fat cow! ”
Then we begin looking for all the evidence that it’s true:
“I can’t fit into my jeans. I look terrible in a swimsuit. This part jiggles, that part is lumpy. My stomach is ridiculous.”
We compare ourselves to how we think we “should” be and continue listening day after day:
“You’re lazy. You’re fat. You can’t stick to anything. You’ve let yourself go.”
Sometimes the voice is loud and judgemental. Sometimes it’s quiet and seems like a logical “friend”…just pointing out our weaknesses in case we’ve forgotten:
“This probably won’t work out. You’ve never been able to do this before. This will be too hard for you. You’re not really smart enough to understand this. You can’t do it.”
Sometimes the voice yells at us. Sometimes it’s a whisper. But always…it feels like crap.
And the sneakiest part, is we think because we’re thinking it, it must be true. We think these are just our own thoughts pointing out the facts. But these aren’t facts. The FACTS are the number on the scale, decisions we’ve made and the specific actions we did or didn’t take. Everything on top of that is our thoughts. Thoughts about the number on the scale and what we decide to make that mean. Thoughts about the decisions we’ve made and thoughts about the specific actions we’ve taken or not taken.
Thoughts Can Hurt or Heal
The thoughts we decide to think and the story we decide to believe can be helpful or hurtful.
Critical thoughts CAN work to motivate us for a little while. These thoughts can drive us to restrict our eating and get on the treadmill or march down and sign up for the gym.
But it’s temporary. Lasting change NEVER comes from these kinds of thoughts because it doesn’t feel good.
This kind of negative talk is like taking a mean drill Sergeant with you wherever you go. Standing behind condemning you, pointing out your flaws and weaknesses, reminding you of how you suck or aren’t good enough.
It may work for basic training but you aren’t in basic training. You’re in LIFE! And in life what truly drives us, what draws us in and keeps us going is what feels GOOD.
Beating yourself into taking care of yourself is a giant contradiction because emotionally tearing yourself down in order to build yourself up physically, ISN’T taking care of yourself.
It’s the opposite.
It may work for a little while, but eventually you’ll quit because it just feels like poo.
When we feel beat down and disappointed and not good enough, we don’t feel like doing good things for ourselves. We feel like eating Girl Scout cookies and turning on Netflix to numb it out.
And here’s a revelation to consider. The voice that’s telling you you’re not good enough isn’t going to stop when you’ve lost weight or changed the way you eat. It will just shift and start looking for what else is wrong with you and begin pointing THAT out.
“Yeah you’ve lost some weight but it’s not enough.”
“Your legs still jiggle.”
“Look at that flabby skin”
“Look how your butt hangs.”
And on and on. As long as you give this voice audience, it will continue to talk.
Even though we might think listening to these thoughts works…in the long run it doesn’t. The temporary feeling of motivation will turn into a deep feeling of disappointment…no matter what you accomplish.
Your Inner Love
If this voice sounds all too familiar, let me assure you there’s some really great news. Besides the Inner Critic that lives inside each one of us…there is also an Inner Love.
The part of you that sees your beauty no matter what the scale says or what size of pants you wear.
The part that loves and fights for you fiercely.
The part that believes in you…even when you’re struggling to believe in yourself.
The part that is proud of you. Who notices what you’re doing well and praises you for it.
The part that remembers your worth and all that you are.
This is your Inner Love. Your Inner Guide. I think of her as my Spirit.
You Hold The Remote
If you’re thinking “I don’t HAVE Inner Love inside of me!” Let me assure you, she’s there.
You just can’t hear her because she’s been drowned out by your Inner Critic’s megaphone. She has something to say. You just haven’t been listening.
Like the tale of the two wolves fighting inside you, the one that wins is the one you feed. We feed our Inner Critic by listening. By believing what it says. The more we listen, the bigger it grows and the louder it gets.
But here’s the thing…we can also stop feeding the critic. We can choose to stop listening. We can choose to start feeding and listening to our Inner Love at any time. Whoever you choose to listen to will expand inside of you.
If you’re sick of hearing the critic, change the channel and start listening for your love. You hold the remote my friend! You really do.
You CREATE that voice of love inside of you by choosing to shift your thoughts.
Every time the mean girl voice pops up and you become AWARE you’re in her…tell yourself to “STOP”. Say it out loud!
“I’m done listening to you. I’ve given you enough air time. I get that you think you’re trying to help me, but you aren’t. And I’m done giving you voice.”
Once you’ve said NO and intentionally interrupted the station, decide what you want to listen to instead! Turn on the Inner Love station.
Tell yourself ONE good thing about you.
One thing you’re doing well or doing better at.
One thing you’re proud of.
One thing that’s beautiful about you.
Show yourself compassion and give yourself some grace.
Which Parent Do You Want To Be?
Instead of being the parent who shames and criticizes their child into change, become the parent who encourages and builds and loves the child no matter what.
Which child is more likely to keep going? Which child is more likely to WANT to be her best?
You can be that parent to your kids and to yourSELF. The parent who believes in you. The friend that always looks for the good in you and points it out. You can become the cheerleader for yourself.
And because it feels good….you’ll want to keep going. Instead of motivating yourself from shame, you’ll learn how to motivate yourself from love. You have the power to do that. And love is what lasts.