Updated: Mar 5
Inner Critic and Forgiveness
THE INNER CRITIC
If you find yourself needing to “get back on track” after a stint of less-than-proactive behavior, recognize what you did – no excuses, own it! – and then forgive yourself. Treat yourself with the same compassion you would a dear friend or loved one. You are not a failure, a freak, or a hopeless screw-up. Due to biology, society, and your past habits and behaviors, you have become an addict and you need help. It takes time and practice to undo all that past learning. Cut yourself some slack, and get back to the business of making smart decisions!
Important Note: There’s a big difference between admitting a mistake and judging yourself. Scolding yourself only worsens your self-negativity, and triggers the emotional insecurities that drive the desire for comfort food in the first place. Own your actions, but don’t beat yourself up over them!
We all have emotional hot-buttons, but a loud, abusive inner critic is often the trademark of the substance abuser. For many addicts, medicating with sugar, alcohol, or drugs temporarily quiets the inner critic. If you are like most who struggle with sugar addiction, you probably have a well-developed inner critic. You know that voice, the one continually jabbering away at you, looking for something — anything — to find fault with. The Inner Critic magnifies small failings into giant ones, chastises you over and over for things long past, ignores any context, and doesn’t credit you for any of your successes. Sound familiar?
The most important part of dealing with the Inner Critic is to understand what it wants. The Inner Critic wants to be right. It wants to find evidence to support the same old stories it keeps telling you. Imagine your inner critic as an obnoxious person at the office who sits around and does nothing except accusingly point at people and say, “See? See, I told you ______!”
Do not pay any attention to this crazy person. He or she has nothing positive to offer you, and has no clue to the facts or details of the situation. They is just desperately trying to be right, because that’s their only job description.
If they can’t prove their right, they get fired. That’s right, you get to fire your inner critic! All you have to do is listen objectively to the story or the “evidence”, and determine if it’s really true. Here’s an example of questioning the inner critic’s “evidence”:
After a bad food choice, your inner critic shouts, “See? I told you how stupid you are; now you’ve ruined everything!”
Is this true? Are you stupid because you made a bad decision? Have you really “ruined everything?” Certainly not! Beating sugar addiction is a series of ongoing decisions, and you blew one of them. Big deal. You’ll get it right next time; you don’t have to “start all over” like this nutcase is telling you.
After a few times that the inner critic comes to you with evidence that you determine isn’t true, you can fire him or her easily and deservedly. It feels good :)
Because healthy eating is an ongoing series of small decisions, when you make a bad decision it is important to be able to get back to making better ones right away. Follow these three easy steps and you’ll be right back in control!
State what you did without judging, exaggerating, or catastrophizing. Just the facts here! Examples might be “I ate a sweet roll for a snack,” or “I ate a bag of M&Ms.”
State why you did it. This one is hard, because you have to look past any story that you told yourself and reveal the truth. Your story might be “I didn’t have time to eat something healthy.” The real truth is “I was hungry, and I didn’t bring any good food with me, and I decided I would rather eat the sweet roll than stay hungry.” Find the facts, not your excuses or stories!
State what you intend to do next time. “Tomorrow I will bring a healthy snack to work with me.”