Monday, March 14, 2011

Inner Critic

I am reading a book by Geneen Roth called Women, Food and God. It is a very interesting read. In part of her book she talks about something she calls The Voice. I think we often call it our inner critic or other such things. Basically it is the voice in your head that keeps you down. You know, that little voice in your head that tells you you're too fat, too ugly, too stupid, a worthless waste of space?

For me, learning to combat this critic has been essential to my progression toward self love. For many of us (dare I say nearly all of us), this little critic is a powerful force that keeps us from trying new things. It keeps us from loving ourselves. This voice is responsible for our self hatred.

The Voice is developed from an early age. It starts out as a way to keep us from doing things that are socially unacceptable (like burping loudly in public). Our experiences help shape this voice. Then over time it evolves into the critic that convinces us we aren't good enough. We don't question this voice. We just accept that what it says is true. We convince ourselves that this critic is just trying to keep us safe and is speaking in our self intrest.

So what do we do about this? I think the first thing we need to do is take a step back and question this voice. Would you allow anyone else to talk to you that way? Would you speak to anyone else that way? When the voice tells you that you are as large as a rhinocerous take a minute to think. A rhinocerous? Really? Have you ever seen a rhinocerous? Obviously your voice is exaggerating. Maybe it's not as credible as you've always thought.

The next step for me has been to argue back. I know, it sounds a little odd, but it is really working for me. When I look in the mirror and the critic starts to tell me that my eyebrows just aren't good enough it helps for me to remind myself that there isn't a whole lot I can do to change the shape of my eyebrows. They are good just like they are. I am thankful I have eyebrows.

Taking a step back to remember that we are enough just as we are is important to keeping the voice at bay. Continue to talk nice to yourself. Internal dialogue is incredibly powerful. I love this comment that I got from a reader. Dani wrote:

I think it is important to understand that sometimes we have to say something to believe it. "sometimes we don't know we know something until we say it". We weren't born to think we are "fat, ugly, or an outcast. We learn it, whether it be from peers or family somebody taught us that we are those things.

So keep talking nicely to yourself, even if you aren't completely convinced. Over time the inner critic quiets down. My inner critic isn't gone yet, I doubt it will ever totally disappear. But I am getting really good at shutting her up when she starts to be critical. Life is too short to miss out on things because of a false belief that we just aren't good enough.

Learning to love yourself as you are is a lot of work, but it is probably the most worthwhile thing you can do.


The Martha Complex said...


Hubs & I have had this conversation may times. I am my own worst enemy, that voice in my head loves to critique me everytime I look in the mirror. I am trying to get better about it though.

Jenarcissist @ the closet narcissist said...

(Waving to "Martha" above, heehee!)

Beautifully written, Melanee. The subconscious loves to lie to us. It's up to us to question it and then tell it who's boss!

the narcissists' diary / the closet narcissist

kendra said...

I just found your blog and really like it! I am an Eating Disorder and body image advocate who just started a #StopSelfHate initiative on Twitter & thought this would be something you are interested in!