How to get rid of your inner bitch voice?
Ooph, we can be mean to ourselves can’t we?! It almost always breaks my heart when I have the first session with my clients to hear the things they say about themselves.
We speak to ourselves in ways we would never, ever speak to anyone else.
An important, (in fact pivotal!) point in the body acceptance journey is being able to soften the inner dialogue but in order to start doing that we have to become familiar of the words we’re using against ourselves. This might take time, don’t worry. It may be that – like many of us — your self-critical voice is so common for you that you don’t even notice when it is present.
If you think about how long we’ve been saying these things to ourselves - it’s no wonder it’s going to take a bit of time to change them!
But our brains are malleable - we can learn to change our neural pathways and create new, kinder thought patterns. Great news babe!
You don’t have to walk around with your inner voice beating you up all the time.
Here’s a super, practical exercise on catching and beginning to get rid of the inner bitch:
1. In a moment of feeling bad, see if you can notice what you’ve just said to yourself. Try to be as accurate as possible, noting your inner dialogue. What words do you actually use when you’re talking to yourself? Are there key phrases that come up over and over again? What is the tone of your voice – harsh, cold, angry? Does the voice remind you of any one in your past or present e.g. it is your Mum? We want to get to know this voice, even if it’s uncomfortable. Really try to get a clear sense of how you talk to yourself. It’s by getting clear that we can learn to soften.
2. Make an active change in softening the voice and using kinder words. Make - this is where we can start to use compassion rather than judgement. Try and reframe the observations made by your inner critic in a friendly, positive way. You can try and speak directly to the harsh voice e.g. ‘I know you’re worried about me and feel unsafe, but you are causing me unnecessary pain and I’d like you to stop’
3. If this is hard, don’t worry! If you’re having trouble thinking of what words to use, imagine what your BFF would say to you in this situation. It might help to use a term of endearment (e.g. it’s ok babe) that strengthens expressed feelings of warmth and care (but only if it feels natural rather than fake.) For example, you could say something like “babe, I know you ate that whole packet of biscuit because you’re feeling really sad right now and you thought it would cheer you up. But you feel even worse and are not feeling good in your body. I know you want to feel happy, so why don’t you take a walk to feel better or call a friend?’
4. Tap into the physical sensation of touch. It might help to give yourself a hug or even just stroke your arm or face (even if it feels weird, this stuff works to help us feel safe and loved) These touches can tap into the caregiving system (as mammals we all have this innate want to care for our young and we can use this to our advantage when relearning to care of ourselves). Even if you’re having trouble calling up emotions of kindness at first, releasing oxytocin (the love hormone) that will help change your bio-chemistry. (Magic!) If you lead the way with your words and your actions, the brain will eventually catch up and true feelings of warmth and care will follow, even if they aren’t there to begin with.
Self-compassion can feel out of reach if we’ve been hating on ourselves for so long - but it can build the bridge towards the ‘ever-banged-on-about’ self-love - which for many people feels totally, totally alien.
How does it feel to begin to believe you can get rid of the inner bully? Try this softening practice for a week and see if there’s any difference.
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Love Harri x
This exercise was taken from selfcompassion.org and the queen of self-compassion Kristen Neff’s work on self-compassion.