Do you often catch yourself looking in the mirror, critically ripping your body to shreds, with hurtful putdowns and sarcasm? Have you ever noticed how that kind of stinkin' thinking makes you feel? Horrible. Like you can't do anything right. Doesn't it?
I want to encourage you to talk to yourself more lovingly and treat your body with more kindness.
In a study of people who were recently separated who had been married an average of 13 years, those who gave themselves an emotional break, recovered faster than those who listened to their harsh critical inner voice.
Researchers say that since we can't change qualities like optimism, personality doesn't drive our reactions. According to lead author of the study, David Sbarra, Ph.D, of the University of Arizona--what determines our ability to bounce back from a broken heart or tough situations like being laid off or grieving a loss is our willingness to show compassion for ourselves.
It's during these emotionally trying times, when you have to remind yourself that nobody's perfect. We all make mistakes.
A big part of the reason why is because we tend to think that our inner thoughts are true statements, when in fact they are really not.
That's because the things that you tell yourself are received as commands from your body and if you're constantly looking for reasons to think of yourself as not okay, you'll keep finding evidence for yourself proving that something is wrong with you. But don't believe it, because it's a lie. Nothing is wrong with you.
How I Transformed My Mean and Nasty Inner Critic Into a Gentle Loving Guide
Have you been beating up on yourself for being overweight?
For many years, I did everything I could to work to change my body, to make myself more lovable, more acceptable and more beautiful. No matter what size I was, I was never okay with myself. I swore the problem was my thighs, and I was certain that if only I would have thinner thighs, I would then be okay.
I was so wrong. I've since learned that what I was searching for all along was within me. I actually had to make the choice to be okay with all of me right now in order to reign in my inner critic so that I could be at peace with myself at any size.
The reason behind my constant criticism of myself was because somewhere along the way I had become my own worst critic. I finally realized one day that the eyes through which I had been looking at myself were not my own. I had developed a negative perception of my body and my abilities as an individual based on years of being criticized and put down by my father.
As adults, we grow up and take on many of the characteristics of people who have made an indelible impression upon us. These become our parts. All these parts combined make up our unique personalities. Depending upon the people who raised you and their character traits, you've adopted their thoughts and beliefs as your own. You may have acquired your mother's sense of humor, and your father's stubbornness. But if like me, you also find yourself always fighting a tendency to criticize yourself and put yourself down, that is another part of you that begs for further exploration. It's up to you to find out where that came from and reclaim your ability to take back control and stand in your power. Nobody has the right to make you feel badly about yourself. Because what people say doesn't really matter. What really matters is what you tell yourself. What stories are you telling yourself, about food, about your body, about your life?
Whose Opinion Has Been Influencing Your Private Thoughts?
As a child, and throughout much of my adulthood, my father influenced me the most. His good opinion of me meant the world to me. But as I got older, I realized that he was a very angry man who expressed his power over people by hurting them. One day I finally came to grips with myself and knew that it was his eyes through which I had come to view my body.
I finally understood that this was why I was so deeply critical of myself and my body, because I wanted desperately to be approved of by him. because I felt the unconscious need to identify with him, I had taken on his attitudes and adopted his way of thinking and made it my own.
It was his voice that had become my inner critic, judging my every move and every decision. In my mind's eye, I felt frozen in time, unable to move beyond seeing myself as that shaky scared pre-teen age girl I once was when I was 11 years old. No matter what I went on to achieve, or do, I always saw myself as that lesser image of me from my father's eyes.
One day after finally realizing what I had done to myself by accepting his beliefs and making them my own over a period of more than 33 years, I knew that I had to find my way back to self love; a new way of thinking about myself that was more forgiving and accepting. I could use my coaching tools to change that critical voice inside of me, so its whispers would inspire me to reach for my best. Today the wisdom that guides me from within comes in the form of my Nana's loving and gentle voice.
By making that choice to change my internal voice, that has completely transformed my life. I am free. Now each day I'm led by a softer, more loving inner guidance. This simple change has given me greater compassion, love and patience for myself than I ever dreamt possible. This is one of the gifts I want to share with you.
The good news is that self-compassion is a skill that can be learned.
Sbarra recommends starting to practice showing yourself some love by consciously making the choice to slow your thoughts down by beginning a practice of mindfulness meditation. The next time your inner critic starts to hack away at your self-esteem, just take a moment and ask yourself, "Is this really true?" Most likely you'll find that it's just someone's negative opinion of you that has gotten way out of hand.
How about you? Whose voice is guiding your every step? Is that a loving and gentle voice or an angry, critical, mocking tone that keeps a running count of everything you do wrong? Let me hear from you.
And if you're looking for more inspiration and ideas on how you can be more gentle toward yourself and your body, click the image below to join me in my new FB group, 30 Days to Lovin' the Skin You're In