Do the voices in your head (by which I mean the inner critics–the perfectionist voice, the body image voice, the disordered eating voice, etc.) ever contradict themselves? If so, it’s a good sign that they don’t know what they’re talking about!
This morning I went looking for blog inspiration in a journal I kept in early 2006. One entry starts like this:
Tonight I can feel Ed [my name for my eating disorder voice] lurking in the shadows of my apartment. He’s whispering (not yet yelling, although that would come later if I let him) things like, “Let’s eat some more.” “You’ve been good lately. Just one more snack while you watch a movie.” “You already ate a cookie at work and a piece of crumb cake–both of which will make you fat, so just keep eating and start over tomorrow.” (Yes, he contradicts himself!)…
This entry is a good example of the flip-flop nature of those inner voices that we think have our best interests at heart. Somewhere along the way, though, we gathered false information from society and others about what beauty is, about what life should look like, and about the things we should and shouldn’t eat. As a consequence, we have all these mixed messages swimming around inside our heads, popping up at our most vulnerable moments.
When I’m feeling tired or emotionally sapped, I may hear one of my inner voices tell me, “You’ll feel better if you eat cake.” If I obey that voice instead of tuning into my Wise Mind (the only part of me that really has my best interests at heart), then I may hear the voice say, “How could you?! You just ruined your diet, your figure, and your life. You’re such a failure. You can’t do anything right.” How can these contradictions exist?? I’m convinced it’s only because of the mixed messages we get from society: skinny models in the media, yet girls walking down the streets with “muffin tops”; Commercials that say “beauty is more than skin deep” yet still advertise their product as the best way to make us prettier or younger looking. The messages are out there to be absorbed and swirled around in our heads, leading to contradictory advice from our inner critics.
I’m still struggling to disengage from these critical voices. I do know, however, that my Wise Mind has not yet steered me wrong. It’s just a matter of being slow and deliberate about it when the inner critics are “lurking in the shadows”.
Peace, joy, and health.