Is Your Inner Critic Causing Your Emotional Eating?

Is Your Inner Critic Causing Your Emotional Eating?

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

You’re getting dressed and putting on makeup for yet another blind date. All the while, the same old thoughts loop repeatedly in your head: “Why are you bothering? He’s not going to be interested. You’re just going to look stupid.” You meet your date, and he doesn’t seem that into you. You cut the date short, go home, and pull a container of ice cream out of the freezer as the voice gets louder. “It’s Friday night at 9 pm, and once again you’re home alone. Wow, this is just pathetic.”

You’re at a holiday party with your friends. They all look so slim and beautiful. You’ve just had to buy a new dress because you don’t fit into any of your old ones. The voice starts up: “see, they’ve all got more self control. They’ve all got their lives together. When are you going to start controlling yourself? You’re disgusting.” You can’t take it any more, so you reach for the nearest pastry. “There you go again,” says the voice. You chew it, swallow it, and reach for another. At least you feel better when you’re eating.

You’re sitting in a meeting at work. It ends around lunchtime, and you usually go out with your coworkers. But as everyone’s standing up and shuffling their papers to leave, you see them all darting out the door together, leaving you behind. “See, they don’t really like you,” you hear. “What did you do this time to mess up your friendships?” Instantly, you mentally switch your lunch plans to include one of those giant chocolate chip cookies and a large mochaccino.

Do you dislike yourself? Do you tend to criticize yourself, beat yourself up, and compare yourself unfavorably to others? You’ve got what’s called an inner critic.

The inner critic is the part of you that never has anything nice to say. She’s never satisfied. Or, if she is, it’s temporary. She’s quick to point out what you did wrong, are currently doing wrong, or will, no doubt, do wrong in the near future. Maybe she quiets down at times, but inevitably she flares up again with a vengeance. She likes to say things such as:

“You should have done better.”

“You’re wrong.”

“What’s wrong with you?

“Why aren’t you more like (your smarter sibling, your wealthier friend, your skinnier co-worker, etc)?”

“You’re so (ugly, fat, pathetic, annoying, ridiculous, etc).”

You may have been vaguely aware that you’re not very kind to yourself, but did you know that you have an actual inner critic? If you didn’t, this post might come as a relief! Yes, many of us have a part that likes to tear us down. It’s not weird, and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. (I recently talked with a client for the first time about her inner critic, and she got quiet and looked upset until I pointed out that it’s pretty normal to have one – then she realized that she had been criticizing herself for having an inner critic!)

Those of us who have a strong inner critic are the ones who are repelled by platitudes like “just love yourself!”. Or perhaps we make an attempt to “love ourselves”, but since we don’t actually understand what that means, within a short amount of time we are back to self-criticism. Well, now that you understand that the inner critic is a part of you, you realize that no amount of repeating “I am a perfect and divine creation” is going to quiet this harpy. She’ll just cackle and mimic you.

If you struggle with emotional eating or food addiction, I can almost guarantee you that you’ve got a helluva inner critic. How do I know?

Well, first off, you have to realize that what the inner critic is doing is abuse. Pure and simple. I mean, imagine you knew someone, as in a real human being, who followed you around all day saying things like “you suck” and “what’s your problem?” and “you’re so stupid”.

How would you feel?

Do words like humiliated, ashamed, upset, angry, and afraid come to mind?

So how do you imagine that you might act in that scenario?

How do you imagine you might act if you put yourself in a situation that’s a little (or a lot) scary for you – and maybe you don’t get a positive outcome – and then the inner critic starts her litany?

Yep – it’s pretty likely that, if you DON’T realize what’s actually happening – and don’t know how to work effectively with the inner critic and your emotions – that you’ll medicate with food.

However – that means that if you DO become aware of the inner critic and DO learn how to handle her, you have a great chance of cutting way down on your emotional eating – or even ending it for good. (Of course there are many other things that can cause emotional eating aside from her, but she’s one of the really key and lesser known causes.)

What to Do When You Want to Give Up On Yourself

What to Do When You Want to Give Up On Yourself

Giving up on yourself is part of the process.

No one in the world is 100% committed to health, 100% of the time. So sometimes, you have to find a way to muscle through and stay on the path. But sometimes, you have to let yourself give up, and experience what that’s like. REALLY do it. Deeply indulge in your moping, throw your tantrum, eat a piece of that gross cake you bought at Safeway. And then…three hours later, or a day later, or a week later, remember you’ve got only one life, and you’re its ultimate author. Are you going to spend it stuck in ‘victim state’, or are you going to get back up, take control, and create the health, beauty, and joy that is absolutely within your grasp?

Oooh boy….do I know this one well.

I believe we are all, to some degree, resistant to doing what’s good for us. I believe that that’s part of our deal as humans – to learn how to work effectively with that struggle, and by doing so, heal our wounds and really, become the heroes of our own lives. How amazing is it to be able to look back on how we were a year ago, or five years ago, and to be able to see and really feel how far we’ve come! To be able to honor and acknowledge the changes we’ve made, and how our lives have improved because of it!

That said…every so often, I, like most other human beings, am susceptible to getting sucked into this whiny, “what’s the point”, super-downtrodden state. I call it my inner victim. It’s that “poor me”, self-pitying mode, in which I deny responsibility for my own life and for taking care of my own needs. YUCK! You’d think no rational and sane person would want to go there, yet I absolutely have a little (and at times, big) victim inside that occasionally takes over and runs the show.

Fortunately, I’m learning what to do with this inner victim.

Sometimes I need to hear her out, because the reality is, she’s actually upset or angry or afraid about something, and it turns out I can help. Sometimes I need to take the reins and be the wise adult, like I’d do with a tantruming toddler. I need to let her know she’s not in control – I am. But some days, I need to totally give in to her, and let her express herself through me.

What does this look like? Pretty much just what it sounds like. If you’ve been trapped in the victim fog, try bringing yourself into a bedroom, or into a secluded place in nature, and making yourself comfortable. Then try giving voice to this part of you. Try saying the things she really wants to say, moving in a way that expresses her frustration and irritation, and even vocalizing the whining!

This may sound silly or odd, but the reality is, you can’t talk your way out of how you feel. It just doesn’t work. So sometimes, we need to simply give in and explore it. If you spend a good chunk of time doing this practice, it can actually create relief. You may even be able to laugh at yourself and how you were acting just minutes ago. And that’s when you’ll know you’re in a different space, emotionally – and ready to move on, take charge, and create the life you want.

Binge Eating and the Hole in Your Soul

Binge Eating and the Hole in Your Soul

Do you have a hole in your soul?

It’s that dark, empty, ravenous feeling that has nothing to do with actual hunger.

It saddens you on sunny days and drives you to your bed on rainy ones.

It makes you lash out at your loved ones, or retreat into isolation.

It tells you that it would go away if you only you managed to shrink your waist/tighten your booty/get rid of those wrinkles/snap up those awesome boots/snag that ideal job/land that hot, successful mate.

It’s insatiable.

It lies.

Here’s how I know:

You manage to slim down, or buy those great jeans, or jet off on that expensive vacation. Or you become emotionally healthy enough to find, and keep, a healthy relationship. Temporarily, the hole feels like it’s filled. You have a couple of minutes of satisfaction, or even a couple of months.

But then it comes back. That feeling of STARVING.

Why?

Because all of those other things are band-aids. They’re not what you really need.

Here’s why overeating and the hole in your soul go hand-in-hand. If you are emotionally starving, insatiable, feeling like nothing is ever enough, your feeling of lack will translate directly to binging.

For some people, it’s binging on drugs, or shopping, or sex. And for others – we know who we are – it’s food.

Have you ever felt that feeling of hunger that you know isn’t about physical hunger? You keep opening your refrigerator door, hoping you’ll see something there that will satisfy it. You don’t. You eat a handful of this and that, trying to assuage the feeling – a couple of almonds, a few spoonfuls of yogurt, some peanut butter, half a bag of chips. On bad days you find yourself driving to the store to load up on foods that will get you high.

That’s when you’re trying to fill the hole in your soul.

And filling it with food just doesn’t work.

What does it need instead?

How do you deal with the hole in your soul?