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August 1, 2020

How to Shut Up our Inner Mean Girl: 3 Steps.

 

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My therapist told me a few years ago that I needed to be nicer to myself.

My internal dialogue response?

“Yeah, Victoria, god—you need to be f*cking nicer to yourself. For f*ck’s sake, do better.”

Now you might note that this response to someone suggesting you practice more self-compassion is a bit of an oxymoron.

I thought that by telling myself that I was not good enough and that I needed to change, it was going to be the driving force behind taking action.

We often convince ourselves that if we were to accept how we are right now, it would mean that we stop trying to strive for a better version of ourselves. This means that we try to motivate ourselves to change through harsh words, punishment, and shaming.

How many times have we looked in the mirror and told ourselves that we need to lose weight, tone up our arms, eat better, hit the gym harder, or whatever it is that our “inner mean girl” is telling us?

Here’s the thing, self-compassion doesn’t mean that we’re giving up; it means that we’re leveling up.

Let us consider something that maybe we haven’t considered before.

When we let our inner mean girl run the show, what we’re actually doing is driving ourselves away from the goal that we are trying to achieve.

I’ll explain through an example.

I ate way too much at dinner and I’m feeling slightly uncomfortable in my body.

As I’m putting the dishes away, I’m telling myself: I can’t believe I did that; I have no willpower; I hate the way I look; why am I always failing; I need to do better.

We think that these phrases are igniting the fire to go to the gym, to eat that salad, to become the best version of ourselves that we want to be. And yes, in the short term, the “inner mean girl” might get us to the gym—but in the long term, it will get us to the couch with chips and chocolate and a bottle of wine.*

It is driving us to seek out comfort, the opposite effect of what we were trying to achieve.

*Note: It’s okay to have chips and chocolate and wine, but doing it because we want to, not because we have shamed ourselves into it.

So why do we seek that comfort?

Well, the human species has evolved through its survival technique of avoiding pain at all costs.

Stress is the anticipation of the pain, and thousands of years ago when death was around every corner, our body had to be on high alert and hypervigilant of any possible threats.

Now fast forward to today, our brain doesn’t necessarily know that the pain self-inflicted from our inner mean girl isn’t a threat to our survival. It simply takes it as stress, and it doesn’t like stress since stress meant death.

What does our brain do when it feels stressed? Yup, it reaches for comfort—eating less nutritious foods, smoking, drugs, drinking, gambling, etc. The same inner mean girl we thought was motivating us was actually the one who was holding us back and keeping us stuck in our bad habits.

Here’s where the self-compassion piece comes back into play. And of course, if you know my style, let’s do some action steps:

Step 1.

Write a list of all the things our inner mean girl tends to say to us.

We need to have awareness of what she’s saying in order for us to be able to change it. Notice that these are often the same phrases over and over again. Open a new note on your phone and throughout the day, write down those thoughts.

Examples:

You’re such an idiot.

I can’t believe you messed that up.

Step 2.

For each of those statements, write a counter-statement directly underneath it.

This is a simple phrase that responds to your initial statement with a statement reframed to one of self-compassion.

Example:

You’re such an idiot.

I’m actually highly intelligent; I excel in the workplace because of how I approach complex problems.

I can’t believe you messed that up.

I’m human and this happens; through this mess up I learned that this approach won’t work but another one will.

Step 3.

Each time we have an inner mean girl thought pop up, immediately strike it down with a counter-statement.

That’s it!

Know that this change takes time as we’ve been living with our inner mean girl for a long time now, but slowly, as we continue to use this technique, the phrases of self-compassion will take root.

Just remember that the way to up-level our life and become the best version of ourselves is not through shame, guilt, words of punishment, or harassment.

It is hard to be happy with someone always being mean to us.

It is through meeting ourselves with the love, acceptance, and tenderness of a friend who will inspire us to nurture ourselves instead of driving us to seek comfort as our inner mean girl will.

Be sure to comment below with your thoughts and send this article to a friend if you found it useful and are excited to take on the world through the power of self-compassion.

~

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