How to Tame Your Inner Critic & Build Self Compassion
Building self-compassion against that negative voice inside
Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to feel proud of yourself or to feel just okay as you are?
Self-compassion is a difficult skill. Even though we are often so incredibly compassionate towards others, we can have a hard time giving ourselves that same non-judgemental support.
When it comes to food and our body, so many of us have grown up mistakenly learning that we are supposed to feel bad for not eating a certain way or when we eat certain foods. Many of us learn to be self-critical if we are not exercising all the time or working to make sure our body looks a particular way.
In my practice, sometimes people want to shift this but feel scared about what might happen if they didn’t hate on themselves. A common misconception that I see is that clients feel they will never be happy and healthy in their own skin if they start to be okay with taking a day off the gym or allowing themselves to have soulful foods when they really want it.
And yet, what I know to be true, is the opposite!
When clients start taking care of themselves in a way that makes them feel proud, when they stop punishing themselves for just being them, they actually feel better! They don’t “let themselves go” and “only eat soulful foods” or “never workout again.” Instead, they start practicing trust and listening to their own bodies. This is key to building self compassion when it comes to your relationship with food and your body.
So, how do you build self compassion and tame your inner critic?
Start with this three-step simple self compassion exercise below:
First, we need to start noticing how often this critic is showing up. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- When do you notice this voice?
- What are the things it is usually commenting on? (body size, food choices, parenting, intelligence, exercise habits, etc.)
- Is it saying the same things all the time?
2. Explore why it is there
- The odd part about the critic is that it is often there to protect us in some way. The critic is there to serve a purpose, so our job is to start figuring out why. Curiosity is essential.
- Remember, shame and torture are not good motivators. True motivators are things that make us feel better or feel good in our skin.
- For example, a good motivator for going to the gym might be to catch up with your friend at the end of a tough work day.
3. Decide what to do with your inner critic
- Do you want to prove it wrong? Some people find it helpful to fact-check the things that the inner critic is saying. For example, it is NOT true that you will “lose all your fitness and have to start over” if you don’t go to the gym today when you don’t feel like being there.
- Do you want to become a rebel? You can act in an opposing manner to what the inner critic is saying. For example, if it is saying you “shouldn’t eat dessert” even though you are not full and the dessert looks really tasty, then eat the dessert is exactly what you can do to.
- Do you want to just let it pass? Now that you have an awareness of the inner critic and the things it says, you may find it easier to simply notice the thought and then let it go. This might look like thinking, “oh, that is just my inner critic again. I don’t need to pay attention to that”.
Building self-compassion and challenging your inner critic may be a simple exercise or it may feel much tougher. If you start some of these self compassion exercises and you feel your inner critic is just not budging, it might be helpful to reach out for some counselling or even to a registered dietitian who can help you prove your inner critic wrong. We would be happy to share our nutrition knowledge with you and some of our compassion as well! Compassion is one of our key core values here at Health Stand Nutrition.
Need help proving your inner critic wrong and want to get personalized support to improve your relationship with food and your body?
At Health Stand Nutrition, we nourish self-love. Eating well isn’t always easy, and since you are not a robot, we’ll never expect perfection. Our kind dietitians will remind you that the best recipe for success is non-judgment and kind compassion.
Our Registered Dietitian team specialize in intuitive eating, nutrition for children, weight concerns, mental health, meal planning, emotional eating, eating disorders, digestive health and more.
Find out more about our Dietitian Nutrition Counseling Programs here.
Self Compassion Resource
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Fitness enthusiast and lover of all things food, Jana is passionate about helping her clients improve their relationship with food and their body. She is a strong, motivational leader. Jana also offers the balance of a warm, supportive coaching style to nudge her clients from their comfort zone while feeling safe and supported. She specializes in mental health, eating disorders, body image and sports nutrition.