I recently listened to Yoga Girl’s (Rachel Brathen) podcast From The Heart and the episode about our inner critic. In the two part episode, Rachel sits down with her 52 yoga teacher trainees and asks them what the voice of their inner critic says, and what their inner best friend says to counter that critical voice inside. Inspired by the podcast, I wanted to share with you what my inner critic says.
Eating Disorders and The Inner Critic
When I shared my eating disorder story, I introduced you to some of the thoughts that circle in my mind. Battling an eating disorder includes having a very mean and very loud voice going at you non-stop. I can tell you first hand that there is never a time when the voice of the inner critic is so strong and loud as when you’re wrapped up in an eating disorder.
Working on my relationship to myself and my recovery from my eating disorder has helped me handle that inner critic in a completely different way than before. For the first time in my life, I am able to tap into the voice of the inner best friend, which helps tone down the impact of the critical voice.
What my inner critic says
Imagine your inner critic as an actual person. Give her a name if you want to. Now imagine if you let her roam free, no restrictions, put her on a stage and let her belt it out. What would she say? Here’s some of the things my inner critic says:
- You aren’t doing enough. You should be more ambitious, you aren’t working hard enough. Do more for the world and the people around you! Be better at your job! You should have achieved more by now.
- You are socially awkward and people don’t like you. You are boring, in social contexts you are awkward and people think you’re weird, uninteresting, and you don’t fit in. You say no to social events as a solution, but you’re just making people think you’re even more weird.
- You can’t do it. Whatever it is you’re trying to do, you can’t. You’re not talented, creative or good enough. You’re not worthy of it. Other people are better than you. You shouldn’t even attempt it, because you’re never going to be able to do it as good as someone else. People are going to think you’re fake, they’ll see right through you and laugh at you.
- You’re not thin enough. You eat too much and don’t work out enough. You should go to the gym more. You are so lazy and unmotivated. You should do more cardio. You should be stricter with how you eat. Nobody eats as much as you do, nobody would eat that much. You aren’t trying hard enough, you’re lazy and are never going to achieve a fit body.
- Nothing you do is good enough. That thing you did, yeah, not good enough. Look at how much better someone else did it. Look at how effortless they make it look, how much faster they finished it, how much better their result is.
- Why are you resting? You should be doing something right now. You don’t deserve to rest and relax, you haven’t done enough. You are being lazy when you have so much work to do. How do you think you’re ever going to achieve anything if you’re splayed out on the couch watching Netflix or reading a book. Work harder!
- You are not smart. You don’t know enough. Everyone else knows so much more than you. You can’t participate in conversations because you aren’t smart enough to have anything worthwhile or new to contribute to the dialogue.
- It’s your fault. Whatever the issue or bad situation – it’s your fault, you did something wrong or you didn’t do enough. You messed up and everyone else thinks it’s your fault too.
Yikes. My inner critic clearly has a lot to say.
This inner critical voice goes on in my head on a daily basis, depending on the day, the voice is either louder or more like background noise. Either way, it’s just there and has been for so many years. I think having struggled with eating disorders for so many years of my life, my inner critic grew very loud and strong. For a long time, it was the only voice in my head, but through a lot of hard work, I’ve found the voice of an inner best friend too, and if I listen very carefully, I can hear her.
What my inner best friend says
All those things your inner critic said when you let her belt it out, they’re probably things you would never dream of saying to your best friend. If you hear your best friend talking about herself like your inner critic talks to you, you’d probably feel sad and angry that anyone dare say such things about your beautiful, talented, lovable, and accomplished best friend. So, if you let your inner best friend take the mic for a second, what would she say? Here’s what I think my inner best friend would say to me:
- You are doing so well! Look at how you’re thriving. Look at how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished. You fought for so long and won over your eating disorder. You didn’t give up.
- You are so strong. Look at how well you handle setbacks now compared to a couple of years ago. You get up and brush yourself off and you don’t let that inner critic get you down!
- You are okay just the way you are. You don’t have to be any thinner, fitter or more social than you are. You’re fine just the way you are. You are social when you need to be and when you are silent it is because you are contemplating and imagining such great things for the world and the people around you.
- You are kind. Look at you trying to turn the bad guy into someone good by “killing them with kindness”. You fight with love and kindness because you see that there is already too much hate in the world and you know that hate is not the solution. Love is. Love will always win. That’s why you have to love yourself too.