Tami asked Geneen to talk about working with the self-critical voice in our head. Here are the main points she made.
Step One: It’s really important to normalize it. You’re not alone. Everyone has that inner voice. Some people’s inner voice is just a lot more vicious than others.
Step Two: Disengage or dis-identify with the critical voice. Say, “Oh, there it is again.”
Action: Write out a list of 10 criticisms that you’ve said to yourself in the past half hour. Then say these out loud in the tone of voice that you hear them in your mind. And say it starting with “You.” Such as “You are so stupid.” Or “You are so fat.” People are shocked when they hear it said that way. This helps you to step back and disengage.
The first step is awareness, because only with awareness can you take action.
1. The action can be asking your self, “Is this true?” (Is it true what the voice is saying?)
2. The action can be agreeing with the voice with some type of humor. Example: “You think I ate a lot for lunch. Just wait until you see what I’m going to eat for dinner.” (It’s a way of disengaging.)
3. This next idea works for some people but not others: You tell the voice to shut the hell up!
Tami pointed out that some of the other presenters have suggested that the inner critic has some function (such as self-protection) and asked Geneen to comment. Geneen said the problem is the moral judgment that so often goes along with the inner voice. When you say, “Hmm. You gained 5 pounds. I wonder what that is about” is a whole a lot different than, “You’re such a failure. You gained 5 pounds.”
The moral judgment that is often tied up in the inner voice blocks you from having any type of clarity or curiosity; it just makes you feel diminished, small and like you want to hide.
People are somehow hypnotized with this belief that if we somehow shame ourselves enough we will end up to be happy, loving, self-accepting people. I ask them, “How does that work for you?”
If you shame and deprive yourself into losing weight you will end up as a shamed and deprived person who may have thin hips for about 10 minutes. But the shame and deprivation will lead you to overeat and you’ll gain it back.
Does shame and punishment and fear and guilt work at any level for any kind of long-lasting change? (No.)
The bottom line: Kindness is the name of the game.