I had a really important conversation with a coaching client recently. She shared how growing up, she constantly heard messages from her mom and sister about how unhappy they were with their bodies. The comments went a little something like:
Why did I eat that?
Look at this chub (while pinching their stomach)
I'm going to gain weight if I keep eating like this
I better go to the gym and burn this off (as they eat a piece of pizza)
I hate the way my nose looks
And the list goes on.
My heart broke a little as she shared this with me because I know we all know someone in our lives who says these very types of comments. If you're like me, that someone may have been, or might be yourself.
In my late teens, I was surrounded by women who nagged at their bodies, complained about their weight, and even at times, commented on my own. Later, in my early twenties, these kind of behaviors quickly became a part of how I perceived and interacted with my own body.
Self-care was not something I practiced, nor even knew about. I rode the wave of my life in unaware motions and the relationship I had with my body was a very unhealthy one. The comments above were part of a very mean, inner-dialogue that truthfully, I had no idea even existed.
It was not until I started practicing mindfulness. (I have written quite a bit about mindfulness and living with intention- click on each to learn more!) Learning tools to create more self-awareness allowed me to start observing what was being said in my mind- and it was not very nice.
We have enough going on around us in our lives, and when we adopt an inner dialogue that is mean and negative, we become our worst critic. I knew I would never in a million years talk to a friend the way I was talking to myself. Let's play out the comments from above for a minute as if they were said to a friend.
Why did you eat that?
Look at your chub
You're going to gain weight if you keep eating like that
You better go to the gym and burn off that pizza
I hate the way your nose looks
Just typing these in reverse makes me mad! I cannot imagine ever saying these kinds of things to anyone. For that reason, when I hear other women I am with critiquing the way their bodies look, or ridiculing themselves for eating (for eating!!!), or judging another woman's body shape, I challenge myself to say something. I do not want to be somebody who quietly observes these situations and sits back and watches. It is not genuine or authentic bonding and camaraderie.
If you are finding yourself in a situation where you hear comments like these from the people you are with, or are realizing that your inner dialogue is quite similar, you can do something to change it. While you cannot change another person’s beliefs, you can speak up and offer up your own views as another perspective. Give them something kinder to think about.
Ready to BFF your inner-critic? Try these two activities below now.
Journal exercise: Go back to the negative comments list and write out what you would say for each comment if a friend said them to you.
Bonus: Actually say them out loud next time you hear them in real-time; whether to someone else, or kindly back to yourself.