Love yourself

Are You Controlling or Loving Yourself?

How often do you hear a parental voice in your head telling you, “You have to lose weight,” “You should get up earlier every morning and exercise,” “Today I should catch up on the bills,” or “I’ve got to get rid of this clutter?” Let’s look at what happens when this voice is heard.

How often do you hear a parental voice in your head telling you, “You have to lose weight,” “You should get up earlier every morning and exercise,” “Today I should catch up on the bills,” or “I’ve got to get rid of this clutter?” Let’s look at what happens when this voice is heard.

The judgmental part of us feels that by evaluating, criticising, and “shoulding” ourselves, we will inspire ourselves to take action and therefore insulate ourselves from failure or rejection. We may have been judging ourselves since we were children in order to keep ourselves in line and do things “right.” And we’re going to keep doing it because we know it works.

Let’s consider the case of Anubha, a middle-aged executive at a huge refinery. Anubha has been suffering from a severe migraine and is advised to keep a close eye on her diet. She did well avoiding sugar, fats, and overeating following her migraine attack, but after six months or so, she began to feel worse.

She was having trouble sticking to his diet. During our counselling session, Anubha expressed her dissatisfaction with herself for eating a large dessert and a large supper the night before. I requested Anubha to imagine herself back in the situation and relive her emotions.

“Well, I was out to dinner with one of our most important clients,” she explained. He asked me a question, and I couldn’t answer since I couldn’t recall the details. That voice came into my head as soon as this happened, telling me that I’m stupid, that I should have remembered it, and, “What’s the matter with me anyway?” ’”

“How did you feel when you first assessed yourself?

” I inquired.

“Well, thinking back, I guess I was feeling that gloomy, dark, empty hollow feeling I get from time to time within. 

And guess what? That’s when I started eating a lot of bread with a lot of butter and ordering dessert! 

I had no idea it was in response to the empty feeling I despise!”

“So when you evaluate yourself, you get that sad empty feeling. 

Because judging yourself is an act of inner abandonment, your Inner Child feels alone, unhappy, and empty as a result. 

You are instilling in your child the belief that he is unworthy. 

I know you don’t do that with your actual children, but don’t you do it with yourself all the time?”

“Yeah, I believe it happens all the time. 

After I judged myself for not knowing the answer, I judged myself again for eating too much and having dessert. 

I felt even worse after that.”

“So, what did you hope to achieve by judging yourself?”

I guess I hoped to be able to control my eating while also motivating myself to work harder so I wouldn’t forget things.”

“It doesn’t appear to be working.”

“No, it just makes me feel bad.” 

In fact, I can see how judging myself for not knowing the answer made me feel so bad that I craved more food. 

Instead of giving me more power, it took it away!”

“So you’re attempting to exert control over yourself through self-judgment, but what actually happens is that you feel terrible and engage in addictive behaviours to avoid the pain. 

I believe that part of you also reacts negatively to being judged and told what to do, so you end up doing the opposite of what you tell yourself you should do.”

“Right. 

I really want to eat when I tell myself not to eat so much and judge myself for eating. 

So I’m eating to avoid feeling controlled, and also because judging myself means abandoning myself, which makes me sad and empty, and I’ve always used food to fill that emptiness. 

Whew! 

“How do I break this cycle?”

“You can’t stop it until you’re aware of it. 

You have no control over it as long as you are doing it unconsciously – on autopilot. 

So the first thing you can do is simply observe it rather than try to change it. 

You will be able to change this pattern as you become more aware of it. 

When you become aware of what you are doing, you will have the choice to be loving and caring toward yourself rather than judgmental. 

You can begin by noticing whenever you have that empty sad feeling and then investigating what you were telling yourself that caused the painful feeling.”

Anubha began to notice and, with time, was able to stop judging herself. 

Not only did she no longer have that sad, empty feeling that she had had so often in her life, but she was also able to stick to her medical nutrition plan for her migraine. 

She didn’t need to eat to relieve her Inner Child’s pain when she felt loved rather than judged.

-End-

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