Have you ever noticed the chorus in your mind that tells you negative things in life, and what’s wrong with you?
“You’re so fat”
“You’re such a fool”
“It’s all your fault”
“Your body is disgusting”
“You’re never going to be able to lose weight”
If this or a variant of these thoughts sound familiar, you’re not alone. It’s sometimes referred to as your inner critic, inner mean girl or my favourite term ‘the shitty committee’.
Many of us have experienced these thoughts for so long it seems like a normal and natural part of our day. That it is the reality. That you aren’t good enough, you’re an imposter or you’ll always be fat just like these voices say. I’m here to share with you today that although it’s normal and natural to have all of these negative thoughts, they aren’t true and you can start to outwit them when they appear.
Studies into the average brain have shown that humans have between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts a day, and of these about 80% of them are negative. Nothing has gone wrong when we think this way.
Some studies have suggested that this type of thinking is part of our survival instinct which served our ancestors so well. With the negative bias our mind has successfully helped us to navigate dangers for a millenia now. However, with our modern day world and some of the things that we experience, it doesn’t always help us.
Others suggest that this type of thinking may also represent programmed phrases we heard over the course of our life time and possibly from childhood. If you were repeatedly told you were fat, no good and would never amount to anything then you may simply be repeating a belief that was programmed at an early age.
They aren’t real
The thing I see women struggle the most with is the belief that all the things your shitty commitee says to you is the truth. I sometimes have women speaking to me as if they are simply reading the news when they speak about how they aren’t good enough. It creates a huge amount of pain and struggle which is why I wanted to share this with you today.
One coach I’ve worked with teaches the concept that the mind has something similar to the ticker tape going across the screen on the news channels – you know the bar at the bottom that tells you the breaking news? Well imagine if all of your thoughts were like that. A flurry of information presented to you by your brain. Your very normal human brain that has up to 60,000 thoughts a day. You don’t necessarily even notice and act on the vast majority of this information.
But, every now and then, one thought will come down and we’ll act on it. If it’s one of these negative thoughts like “you’re going to fail” you’re likely to ruminate on that and find all the reasons why this is true. But if we challenge this from the the start and exercise critical thinking we can start to outwit our shitty committte.
What if you were to reframe this? We can see it for what it is: a sentence. A string of words offered by your mind. Writing these down is SO powerful. When we see it on paper sometimes this can be the a really sobering experience – to see that this is actually going through your mind.
Are they helpful?
Some of your thoughts may actually be true. They may be an observation. So the first challenge of reframing your thought to a sentence can help, but it may still be a truthful statement like “You are 20kg heavier than you used to be”.
A better way to look at this is: is it helfpul?
Does it help me to do something effective in my life when I think this way?
What do I get for buying into this thought?
If the answer is very little, it’s a great candidate for questioning and reframing.
They seem like reality…
When we have thought these thoughts for so long they seem so real.
This can make it seem like your inner critic is running the show.
Now that we know they may just be sentences in your mind, we can start to challenge and question them. We can start to put some distance between you and this sentence.
This is how we start to see that they are not in fact reality.
How to defuse the shitty committee
Now visualise this. The members of your shitty committee are throwing these thoughts like grenades over the fence at you. You can use these two techniques to defuse the grenade.
1) Give the story a name
Consider the collection of thoughts that might be telling you a story. For instance you might hear your brain telling you “there’s no point in trying”, “it will never work”, “you can’t do this” or “you’re no good at this”. Maybe this could be call the I’m a failure story.
The aim is to notice whenever you find your mind telling you this story and catch it in the moment. You can say to yourself something like “oh look, here’s the I’m a failure story again, thanks brain”.
By giving it a story name you’re putting just a little more distance between yourself and this thought, and you’re consciously marking it as a story – full of words and sentences in your brain. And, as we know – stories can be rewritten over time!
2) Notice the thoughts consciously
When you notice you’re thinking these thoughts like “it’s not going to work for me” you can also note that to yourself by noticing you’re thinking it. So it may go something like this:
– “It’s not going to work for me”
– “I’m thinking it’s not going to work for me”
– “I notice I’m thinking it’s not going to work for me”
Just like the story technique, you’re putting yet more distance between you and the thought. And, you’re bringing consciousness to the fact that these are just thoughts – not the truth.
What do you think?
Do you have any other techniques for defusing your inner critic’s comments? Let me know in the comments below!
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