Would you Say it to a Friend?
Reframing, responding to and reasoning through, our inner critical voice.
If this body wasn't mine
If this body wasn’t mine and it instead belonged to another
Would I despise it in the same way?
If I saw the stretch marks that I have on the skin of a friend
Would I cringe or would my eyes water, the same way they react to mine?
How about my stomach and the way it’s never close to flat or toned
When I see the same on another, do I despite it, as I do with my own?
Whether it’s the pimple on my chin or the blackheads by my nose
Whether it's size of my thighs or the way I wear my clothes
If I saw it all on someone else would my reaction be the same?
And if not then why do I look so different in the mirror than I do to my loved ones?
I suppose maybe my flaws aren’t that big a deal. And my shortcomings nothing but silly thoughts that I convince myself of at midnight.
Our thoughts are bullies. Our shortcomings are more than silly thoughts that we convince ourselves of at midnight. If only they were silly thoughts, then we could dismiss them easily. Our thoughts tell us that we are ugly/lazy/disorganised/an imposter/unlovable - take your pick from whichever cruel thought for the day rings true for you there are so many more where those came from.
We all have doubts, insecurities and an incredibly harsh inner critic. Zion Rain Easterbrook asks “If I saw it all on someone else would my reaction be the same?” She has a point. Her stretch marks on a friend would not make her cringe or her eyes water because we are kind to our friends, we have perspective and we see their whole bodies and their whole selves and we love them whether they have stretch marks or not.
The first thing that we could do the next time our inner critic tells us that we are not good enough is to reframe the criticism. “You are fat and ugly” will need to become something that you’d honestly but kindly say to a close friend. Perhaps it would become “your stomach is very round, you have stretch marks”
Then we have a right of reply. We need to respond to our critical voice as if they are a friend. If the voice was a friend we would listen to their harsh criticism and if it was incredibly unhelpful right now and not needed. If it will only serve to decrease our self esteem or increase our stress (funny how our harshest critic always pops up when life is at its most stressful). You could use the line the children say at my son’s Montessori school “I am working now, please don’t interrupt me, I’ll talk to you later.” If the comment comes at a time that is convenient, or if you feel like processing this criticism at a later date then: does your critic have a point? You need to be honest with yourself - is your stomach round? Do you have stretch marks? Well yes - is this not the case for every mother, if not every woman over the age of 30? Is it fair to be criticised for having body fat when we need fat to help us regulate our heat, hormones and energy levels? We don’t need to place blame on anything or anyone. We can listen, respond and stick up for ourselves and then move on. We can admit that we are not perfect at what we do and think and how we look and move on. We can’t let our “friend’s” comments stop us from living our lives and doing brave things.
Lastly check in with yourself. What is the source of the criticism? Are you having critical thoughts because you are in a bad mood? Have you had a difficult day? Are you jealous? Insecure? Is it linked to hormones? Is there family drama? Or is it simply a desire to be better at what you do?
Once we recognise why our voice is bullying us it makes it easier to respond and deal with the negative thought. It is easier to accept that we are not perfect, to acknowledge the reason for our mistake/state of dress/ pimples, and move on.
Zion Rain Easterbrook knows that “if this body wasn’t mine” her reaction to it wouldn't be the same. Our shortcomings and how we speak to ourselves about them are what paralyse our progress in life. All of us are flawed, we know this and yet our inner voice doesn’t allow for perspective, it is mean. Through reframing, responding to and reasoning through the source of the criticism we can move bravely through life.