Almost everyone has a conscience to guide them, that little internal voice that questions our actions or thoughts which helps to steer us in the right direction.
A bit like Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio, providing that moral compass on what is wrong or right or good or bad, healthy or unhealthy etc. Our conscience generally runs in the background of our sub conscious and is something that each of us hears and sometimes relies on, to help with those internal discussions or battles that everyone has but may not share.
Like, should I do that? Wear that? Attend that? Eat that? Say that? Etc. Everyday questions, queries and dilemmas that are usually quite harmless and not particularly life changing.
However at times this inner moral compass can become more of an inner critic, like the worst judge on a TV reality show. Like the Simon Cowal or Craig Revel Horwood types, this voice focuses in on and tells you about all the very worst parts or things about you and can quite quickly shake your confidence and self-esteem.
Why did you wear that? You look fat in that. You shouldn’t have done that, said that, ate that. You’re never going to succeed. Everyone thinks you’re going to fail again. Why are you even bothering, you know you can’t do it!
This voice focuses in on our inner fears and worries and in what we ‘perceive’ to be truths and can quite often drown out the positive voice altogether.
This is what happened to me in the past and sometimes it still does, then my husband picks me up on it and I have to squash that voice again!
Over many years of ‘failed’ attempts, my inner critic grew and grew until it was the only thing I could actually hear. My thoughts grew to be continually negative and like a magnet honed in on any mistakes or imperfections.
It got to a stage where I couldn’t see past whatever minor mistake or poor choice I had made and with the help of my ‘inner little friend’, these ‘incidents’ would be magnified in to huge issues that just seemed too big to overcome. Which would generally lead to a course of action, or over reaction, which would cause far more longer term ‘damage’ than the original slip up had.
For example, I regularly recall being ‘derailed’ by eating something that wasn’t part of my then diet and now eating plan. Even just one or two things, like having a take away curry and taking some nann bread for a change. Or deciding to have fish and chips as a ‘treat’ instead of having a baked potato, or deciding to have a couple of biscuits or a slice of cake with that coffee, would result in a torrent of inner negative thoughts. I basically beat myself up about ‘what I had done’.
This would not only take away any particular ‘treat’ and nice element from what I had eaten, it would overshadow anything I had achieved up to that point! I would believe all was lost and I had ruined everything. And essentially convince myself that I should throw in the towel in and give up. It was just too hard and I’d messed it up, I couldn’t take it back and my perfect (unrealistic) ‘plan’ was ruined.
Of course looking back at these thoughts and actions with a rational mind, I can see that they made no sense. Realistically how could eating a bit of nann bread or a slice of cake ruin your life or the real progress you had made so far?
The rational answer is it generally wouldn’t, unless you were having them all the time’, which thanks to my inner voice, I usually reverted too! A minor trip would usually ‘trigger’ an onslaught of binging and reverting back to my old unhealthy eating habits. Which would quickly undo all my hard work and land me back to square one, or further.
I played this perpetual game of snakes and ladders for many years, in fact I’ve been on some sort of a diet or eating program since the age of 14 and started at a weight not too far away from where I actually am now. I’ve literally seen myself see saw all the way up to being 14 & 1/2 stone heavier. And whilst really looking at my habits this time around realised if I were to achieve any kind of success, I would need to address that negativity, fire the inner critic and learn to be kinder to myself.
I started to address that inner negativity by focusing on a number of smaller achievable goals and celebrating them. Sounds simple but we quite often don’t recognise the good things that we do and we rarely celebrate them!
Initially these were weight related, but after a while they became more physical or personal achievements. Like undertaking a 20 mile cycle challenge, it had been over 20 years since being on a bicycle so this was a big achievement for me.
Also buying a new outfit in a smaller size, or having a clear out of all the clothes that now are hanging off you. I love doing this, I have literally gotten rid of dozens of bags of clothes over the last few years and still have to every so often and it feels great!
Trying to look for the positive aspects of situations and using wee slips or mistakes as opportunities to learn how to avoid them in the future. For example, I know if I meet my friends for a coffee there will probably be biscuits or cakes involved, so I take along what I want to eat that is on my plan, so I can join in and it doesn’t knock my progress or confidence.
Conversely if I have had a bigger slip and have really deviated from my plan in a big way on one day, I draw a line under it and start again. I went to school for many years but it’s only just sunk in that there are actually seven days in a week and one bad day doesn’t mean a bad week!
People quite often say don’t look back but in this instance do! Look back at what you’ve achieved and how at any accomplishments you have gained along the way. The slimming club I attend give you awards when you achieve a mile stone, which I put up on my kitchen cupboard as reminders of where I am. I’ve also made a chart mapping my weight loss, with all my personal goals upon it. I made it a few months ago as I had hit a plateau for few weeks where I didn’t have any losses, which started to make me feel a bit anxious. Reflecting back on my achievements and having this to hand to see was quite powerful and gave me the boost I needed to stick at it and keep me on track. Since then I’ve lost another stone and am pretty close to my target weight.
In a similar vein I also have that awful photo of me on my phone which I occasionally look at if I’m unhappy with a result one week and feel a bit down. It’s amazing how quick I start to feel better after seeing that! I also have nice pictures me at events or evenings out, when I’m maybe wearing a new dress or I’ve worn something pretty that I’ve liked to give me a boost. I also carry a laminated photo of me riding in my handbag to remind me of my journey and what I now have, should I start to waver. These small things really help to keep me buoyant when times get tough. I put on 2lbs this week which was unexpected, but it didn’t even phase me as I know next week it won’t be there and I now have faith that I’m still on track and everything is fine.
Acknowledge the nice things that people say about you, quite often in the past complements or nice comments made me feel uncomfortable and I would refute them or counter them with a negative comment. I think that this was because I didn’t feel like I deserved them or that I had such a negative image about myself I didn’t believe them. For example I remember in the past, someone commenting on a dress I wore to my husband’s 40th birthday party. The person complemented my dress saying it was a lovely style and colour and instead of enjoying the complement, I quickly replied with a negative comment about it clinging to my tummy which ruined the sentiment and made them feel awkward and me self-conscious. Where as at my recent birthday celebration a few people complemented my lovely new dress that I had recently bought. This time I took their comments at face value and even basked a little in them. Why not, it’s not against the law to feel good! I even replied that I really liked this dress when I saw it and I actually got it in the sale.
By regularly behaving in this way, these small adjustments to my perspective really started to turn things around for me in other areas of my life too. Instead of being upset or depressed about an unexpected challenge, for example at home with a repair or something with the kids, I feel I am now able to deal with the situation far more rationally and look at it from a different perspective. Usually by trying to find a solution rather than focusing in on who caused the problem or the problem itself.
I believe refilling my glass to the at least the half full line as made a big impact on us all and continues to do so, helping me and my family lead a better quality of life by focusing on the positive.
I hope you found this post interesting, until the next time good luck