You know that voice, the annoying one inside your head that’s always saying things like, “you should workout more,” or “you shouldn’t have eaten so much,” or “you should be skinnier…” or sometimes even worse things like, “you’re a fat pig,” or “you’re stupid,” or “you’re dumb,” or “people hate you…” or “people will think that there’s something wrong with you…” do you know that voice?
If these voices sound familiar, you are intimately acquainted with your inner critic. In simplest terms, your critic is the super-ego run amok. Your super ego is the part of your psyche that is set up to keep you from acting on the drives of your id. Freud described it as “retaining the character of the father.” So, basically, your super-ego is the internalized voice of the disciplinarian. Your super-ego keeps you from acting out on your dangerous urges.
In those of us with eating disorders, the super-ego is overdeveloped and becomes out of control. It becomes not a way for us to maintain healthy boundaries, but a structure set up to emotionally abuse us if we step outside of the rigid framework that we’ve created for ourselves.
Why does the critic develop this way? There could be several reasons, or no reason at all. Some people have highly critical parents who only loved you when you did something right and punished you when you did something wrong. Some people might have parents who were very loving toward them but not very loving for themselves. It’s difficult to learn self love when it’s not modeled for you.
The critic tells you that there’s something wrong with you, when there’s probably nothing wrong with you. The critic tells you that other people are thinking that there’s something wrong with you, which might or might not be true, either way there’s nothing you can do about it, you can only really change your view of yourself.
As you begin to learn how to love yourself and to challenge the critic, you will find yourself feeling more comfortable with yourself and feeling more joyous…
In the next entry, I’ll be discussing some ways to work with the critic.