- by Jared
Why do you beat you up more than anyone else?
Have you ever had a train of thought disrupted by a self hatred thought?
You’re just going about your day running errands or sending out emails and all of the sudden you’re mentally beating the crap out of yourself because your body isn’t an Instagram model?
These negative thoughts are the reasons why we are our own worst critics. This post explores:
- Why we are our own worst critics
- Two skills to be nicer to yourself
- 2 techniques to make your brain shut up
First let’s understand why we are our own worst critics.
It all begins innocently. Perhaps your parents would always weigh themselves each day and make an off-hand remark to you about whether they gained weight.
Even simple visits to the doctor’s office where you are weighed can lead you to place much of your self-esteem on a proper weight and body image.
Of course there are many people who have verbally abusive parents, whose parents teased them about their weight.
My experience tells me that the majority of people had pretty good parents, good enough parents but their parents came from an older generation that was ignorant in terms of dieting.
Nowadays we know that dieting doesn’t work.
In fact we know the opposite is true – that dieting is actually harmful and causes weight gain.
Yeah the previous generation didn’t know this. They grew up in a generation that didn’t even know smoking cigarettes was bad for you. So they were raised with much different beliefs and would much less sensitive about weight.
So for all these reasons you may have a developed an inner critic simply because your environment growing up was hostile to weight.
Okay so now we know why we are our own worst critics, now what?
The old generation was all about willpower.
If you are overweight, go to the gym. If you weigh too much, eat less. Simple as that.
Obesity was because you were lazy.
And even worse, if you were obese, then teasing you and shaming you was considered proper behavior. I’ve talked to people who believe that shaming people who are obese is the proper way to treat of these people and it just saddens me.
But nowadays thankfully, we know better. We know that willpower and controlling our thoughts and our appetites simply doesn’t work.
It’s like trying to build a house to live in with Legos. Legos make things nice and simple but when you actually tried to do it in real life, it doesn’t work out. The same is with willpower.
So instead of willpower we use two primary skills.
The first skill is skillful effort to redirect and refrain your thoughts.
The primary way we do this is to examine the truthfulness of our thoughts.
There’s a big misunderstanding that we do need to clarify before going on. We do not get upset at ourselves for having these automatic thoughts. We must remember that these automatic thoughts we grew up with as children and these thoughts were embedded into us through our childhood.
So this right here is really important. We expect these automatic thoughts. Because we expect them we don’t get mad when they arrive.
So for example, if you suddenly think to yourself “God I’m fat and ugly and hopeless” we realize this is an automatic thought and don’t get mad at ourselves for having it.
Now there are more advanced techniques, and other ways of looking at this problem. There’s techniques, for example, for specific thoughts about food. I made another post here specifically looking at stopping food thoughts.
Instead, we seek to examine the truthfulness of these thoughts.
How do you examine the truthfulness of a thought?
You turn the thought into a question.
So for the “God I’m fat and ugly and hopeless” thought, you could reframe as a question by asking if you were really hopeless. Is it really true that you are hopeless?
The answer is no. You are not entirely hopeless. Therefore, the thought needs to be modified.
How do you modify a thought?
You try to come up with a more realistic thought that actually reflects reality.
You can say instead of being hopeless, that you feel hopeless, but are actually successful in different areas of life.
So that’s it for this video. Let me know – what’s your preferred technique on stopping negative thoughts, mindfulness or effort?