Do you find yourself always beating up on yourself? Putting yourself down after every goof? Can’t seem to stop? That’s your internal critic’s voice and you can get control of it. Let me tell you how to tame your inner critic and turn it into a loving coach.
You’re probably thinking that because you’re not perfect, haven’t accomplished everything you set out to do, or haven’t gotten down to your ideal weight, that something is wrong with you. That’s not true. That’s just the silly little inner critic voice that’s stuck in your head.
Why Change Your Internal Voice?
When you speak to yourself in a loving and respectful tone of voice, you’ll be more relaxed, at ease and feel good. Those are the happy chemicals floating throughout your body creating that feel-good state.
But when you yell at yourself and draw attention to your imperfections and flaws, that makes you feel badly. Anything that upsets you and makes you feel threatened, triggers your brain to activate your body’s stress response. Different strokes for different folks. For some people, food is their body’s quickest way of trying to reset itself and feel good again. For others it’s smoking, drinking, drugs, TV, internet, sex or spending. Whatever is quickest and has worked at least 3 times in the past, will most likely be the behavior you’ll gravitate towards without thinking. Don’t waste your time blaming or shaming yourself. That’s just going to hurt you more and keep you stuck in the same patterns. The key to getting yourself out of the muck and mire is to break the cycle of anxiety by recognizing that you are a person worthy of being treated with respect and dignity. That’s all any of us really wants anyway.
Whose Voice Is In Your Head?
Give it some thought. Whose voice are you walking around with each day? When you’re standing naked in front of the mirror, after overdoing it the night before, whose voice comes to mind? When you goof at work and say or do the wrong thing, whose voice automatically pipes up and what does it say? When someone gives you a disapproving stare or you hear ‘that’ tone in their voice, what are you saying to yourself and how are you saying it? Is it a loving, gentle, soft voice or is it angry, grating, hateful and hurtful? Most of us can relate to having an inner drill sargeant just itchin’ to beat us up and lay us out to dry for the slightest mistake. Let me give you some insight into where that voice came from.
Where Did It Come From?
The things we tell ourselves and the way that we speak to ourselves in our most private moments in our head is a result of what we have learned from the past. If you’ve been criticized and put down and reminded of all your flaws, and raised by people who were perfectionists, it’s a good chance that you’ve adopted that way of speaking to yourself without even giving it a second thought. In many ways we unconsciously become our parents. You may even be repeating things that you’ve heard in the past verbatim, or you may have just picked up their tone or style of speaking and made it your own.
Now You Have a Choice
Unfortunately kids don’t come with instructions, so many parents have to first screw things up in order to get it right. They probably had their own problems. You may have been the kid who was the experiment and the siblings that followed may have derived the benefit of the better and more refined parenting skills. Some people never get it right. I know it may not seem like it, but we’re all doing the best we can with what we know. When you know better, you do better. That’s not said to justify any bad or hurtful behavior, but for you to realize that holding onto the past will really only hurt you so it’s in your best interests to let go of all the stuff that hurts and choose what feels good to you.
Any memory you have that is charged with strong emotions will have a powerful influence on your behavior. Maybe you grew up around people who weren’t very tactful and gracious in their communication skills. Maybe they spoke to you unkindly or you heard them speaking to others that way. Maybe they justified their harsh tones by saying this was a way of ‘motivating’ you or others. It probably just scared you and made you feel badly. But you don’t have to keep on acting out that same parent/child dynamic in your head anymore. Now you’re the one in charge and you can guide yourself to do the things you want in a loving way.
How to Turn Your Tame Your Inner Critic
You’re no longer a child. If something doesn’t work for you, you have the power to change it. As a kid, you were a victim of the voices, and couldn’t speak out against your elders or express yourself because that may have been considered inappropriate, but the good thing is that you now have a choice and you can fire that inner critic and turn them into a loving coach. You may not even be aware that you’re doing it.
The first step to making a change is becoming aware of old un-useful patterns. Pay more attention to what you hear yourself saying in your head. Many times we are not even aware of what we are thinking, until we actually pay attention. Once you let go of the emotional baggage that keeps you tied to feeling the need to punish yourself, it will no longer feel right to be spoken to in the same way, by yourself or others.
Think about someone who embodies a special loving quality and compassion whose voice you would like to have as your guide. That’s right. I’m asking you to quiet down that old inner critic and substitute that whiny voice for a lovely pleasant voice that will inspire you to be your best self.
Imagine talking to yourself lovingly and gently. I used to walk around with my father’s critical voice in my head and now I’ve chosen to substitute his voice with my Nana’s. Whose voice would you choose? Your mother’s, best friend’s, an old beloved teacher or mentor? It doesn’t matter whose voice you choose as long as it makes you feel warm and loved. By doing this little exercise and making this small change, you’ll be amazed to notice how much resistance just melts away.
It’s a chance for you to reinvent yourself at the deepest level and change the way you think about yourself, your life and your body. It’s not easy and it takes some practice. I know. But you’ll feel so good when you start talking to yourself in a more loving and gentle tone.
Andrea Amador is The Juicy Woman. Equal parts sweet and oh so sassy, Andrea’s a curvy and confident plus size body image coach/bestselling author who shows mid-life women how to transform their blues and body shame into self-compassion and kindness so they can build their confidence from the inside-out. Join her new Facebook Group: 30 Days to Lovin’ the Skin You’re In
Ready to stop all the pain of body shaming. Whether your challenges are with the size of your thighs, or the wrinkles ’round your eyes, you can reclaim your power from the mirror and your nasty inner critic. It’s time to take a stand and realize that the problem is not your body. The problem is hating your body. Get the free ecourse, “Get the Fat out of Your Head.”