Apr 16, 2014
It's only when you believe that you're still a child that your inner critic has any control over you. As an adult, believing that you're still a child shows itself in the way you respond when self-doubt arises. Here's a quick checklist of those self-defeating behaviors:
When self-doubt arises, you...
. Become intimidated and cave, or hold back your opinion.
. Assume other people are right and you are wrong.
. Become afraid to express your true feelings.
. Feel guilty, as though you've done something wrong.
. Forget your basic rights as a person and feel you're not entitled to anything.
. Become afraid to show your true potential, competency or talent.
All of these self-defeating behaviors are based on one simple premise: you're not a fully enfranchised adult with a voice who deserves whatever luck or hard work or opportunity can offer. In other words: Accusation #4 You're a pretend adult, and don't deserve the full rights of adulthood.
Every time you act (or react) this way, you're simply reinforcing Harriet's power by agreeing with her that you're an undeserving person. The misinterpretation you're making here is that Harriet's view of the world is correct. Which, of course, is simply false.
The key to silencing Harriet's accusation here is not through an inner dialogue with her, but through action. In fact, doing the exact opposite of the above-listed behaviors is the course of action required.
That can be boiled down to actions as simple as...
. Instead of becoming afraid to express your true feelings, find the courage to do so.
. Instead of becoming intimidated or holding back your opinion, find your true voice and make it heard.
. Instead of automatically assuming others are right and you must be wrong, take a chance on your own intelligence and experience.
We can call these actions "Harriet-defeating" behaviors. And these behaviors are based on the simple truth that you are an adult who has these basic rights. Furthermore, it's only you who can ever deny yourself of them. You are in charge.
Each time you take positive action and contradict a self-defeating behavior, you strike another damaging blow to your inner critic and strengthen your own confidence and self-worth. And, unlike insecurity and self-loathing, confidence and self-worth tend to keep your mind out of the junk food drawer and on the genuine life you were meant to live.
Accusation #5: You know the good stuff about you isn't real
Like the winner who believes the judges would never have awarded her first-place had they known the "ugly truth" about her, so, too, do emotional eaters carry a feeling of being undeserving of the good things in life. This is one of Harriet's most devious accusations. Devious because it doesn't require any words at all from her—just a feeling.
You can't accurately state why you feel undeserving; you just know that you feel it deep inside. And chances are the feeling's been with you long enough that you hardly ever give any thought to your redeeming qualities.
The first way to counter this may sound over-simplistic and even corny—it nevertheless is true: Remember the times you were proud of yourself and the circumstances surrounding that. A quick go-to list of these is based on fact and the real world, not some murky feeling that Harriet tries to sell you.
Still, if Harriet manages to shoot you down, and your undeserving feeling persists, there is a very effective way in which to speak directly to her. Let's use an example to show how.
A patient of mine who we'll call Lauren, said, "When things happen at my school where I'm a teacher, or with my friends, I immediately think the worst, no matter what is actually going on. My co-teacher might say something nice, my students might hug me and tell me how great they think I am, and yet I am so far into my own thoughts and paranoia that I make myself feel completely worthless. No amount of validation on anybody's part makes a dent in how I feel about myself."
Here's what Lauren could've told Harriet each time Harriet tried to discount her accomplishments:
Harriet: You know the good stuff about you isn't real, Lauren. You aren't really a good teacher.
Lauren: You're right, I have doubts about my teaching. But I'm convinced by the responses that I'm getting, the feedback from my co-teacher, and the hugs from my students, that my doubts aren't necessarily true.
Harriet: They're just trying to make you feel good.
Lauren: No, there are too many people telling me the same thing. And I know when someone's just trying to make me feel good, and that's not what's happening. They really mean it, and I've done a lot of good work at my school that I'm proud of. I am a good teacher, but I'm not the best teacher. I'm getting better, so don't try to discount the progress I've made.
Maintaining self-defeating behaviors as well as a feeling of not deserving the good things in life is very common to emotional eaters. They're two more of Harriet's weapons of personal destruction that we negate in the ShrinkYourself Program, and two weapons she'll keep aiming at you as long as you allow her to.
Apart from the obvious health and weight benefits that come from silencing your inner-critic, there's another benefit that perhaps outweighs them all: The end of seeing the world through Harriet's eyes, and the beginning of seeing it through your own.
Join me next week as I tackle the last of Harriet's accusations: #6 Everyone knows what you're hiding.