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5 ways to silence your inner critic
by Harriet Frew on July 6th, 2016

As you wake in the morning, what are your first thoughts? Are you feeling energetic and enthused about your day ahead? Is your inner voice backing and encouraging you forward?
 
Unfortunately, the inner dialogue of many people is largely negative. ‘You messed that up; you’re too fat; that person doesn’t like me; I’m not good enough.’
 
No wonder that you might feel anxious, guilty, upset, angry and despairing at times.
 
No wonder you might use food to block this out – either overeating or restricting. You might not even realise that food has become a coping strategy, being such a well worn habit woven into the structure of daily life. The feelings may not even get a look in, as the preoccupation with your body and what you are eating has become all consuming.
 
You might feel that your thoughts are deserved and true.  You have thought this way for so long, it would feel strange and wrong to think differently.
 
You are not born chastising and berating yourself. As a small child, you would have been curious, open, and had a sense of wonder at the universe. You would have embraced learning new things. You would have fallen down and got up again many times, then keen to try all over again.
 
As a child, you were like a little sponge absorbing the messages around you and forming ideas and beliefs about the world. Some of have greater sensitivity to our environment, so potentially may be more vulnerable to exposure to external factors. Hopefully, many of these messages would have been encouraging and kind. Some, may have not have been though, or far from this. Our parents and early authority figures (close family, teachers and group leaders) have significant influence on how we see the world and how we feel about ourselves. It is not about blaming others but rather understanding how and why we view things in a certain way.
 
So if you received a lot of repetitive criticism....
 
  • ‘That’s not good enough’‘
  • 'You didn’t do that right’‘
  • 'Why are you never as good as your brother?'
  • ’'People don’t like you and you don’t fit in.’ 

Understandably, you are going to feel judged and criticised. You might start to think there is something wrong with you. You will start to believe these thoughts and internalise them. This becomes your prevailing inner voice.
 
If people were not there for you when you needed them emotionally, you might have learned to cope on your own and to shoulder responsibility. You might have lost trust in being able to lean on others or ask for help. Depending on others might feel risky and unsafe – can you rely on them?
 
  • ‘I have to do it on my own.’
  • ‘Others tend to let me down.’
  • ‘I feel burdened with the responsibility of having to do it all, but have no other choice.’ 
 
The encouraging news is that you can change the way you think and feel every single day.  You can dilute the intensity of your thoughts to a considerable degree. You can develop an internal voice that is kind and supportive. This is not a quick fix solution though and takes time, energy and commitment to doing this.
 
5 ways to silence the inner critic
 
1. Look back to your childhood and early life experiences. Who impacted you most profoundly during this time? How has this affected the person you are today? This builds understanding.
 
2. Begin to question the opinions and beliefs that were instilled in you from an early age. Which ones are useful to hold onto? Which ones are outdated and not true for you? We often unconsciously parent ourselves, as we were parented. This is helpful if you experienced kindness, love and encouragement. If you didn’t then, you don’t have to hold on to the critic anymore. 

3. Develop awareness. Begin to notice and monitor your thoughts. How are you talking to yourself? If you find this tricky to identify, notice how you are feeling. If you are feeling negative, there is a likely an unhelpful thought behind this.  Write things down if this works for you. 
 
4. Begin to treat yourself kindly. This can be partly through your actions and looking after yourself. More profoundly, it is the way you talk to yourself.  For example, if you overeat, rather than chastise and berate yourself, be compassionate and understanding. What has happened to trigger this? What needs are not getting met for you right now? 

5. If you struggle to make changes yourself, counselling can be a valuable tool to enable you to develop a kinder and compassionate voice. You can begin to put the past behind you and learn new ways of coping, so becoming a true supporter of yourself. With this, comes a greater level of peace, joy and contentment :)

Harriet x
 
 


Posted in Being mindful, Change, Confidence, Counselling, Emotions, Habit, Happiness, Motivation and change, Overeating, Recovery, Roots of behaviour, Self-care, Self-esteem, self-help, Therapy, Thoughts    Tagged with judgement, criticism, unkind to self, 5 ways to silence inner critic, parenting, early experiences, challenging negative thoughts, developing awareness, overeating, undereating, binge eating, anorexia, bulimia


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Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.