Bumpy Ride Who’s Really Driving Your Choices?
Imagine for a moment you’re a bus driver. But, oh boy, this isn’t just any bus. This bus is your life, and you’re on a scenic but challenging road that’s life’s journey. The ride would be relatively smooth if not for your pesky passengers: a bunch of eccentric personalities, bickering, jostling, each trying to wrestle control of the steering wheel. These passengers are your inner voices, and they’ve got plenty to say, especially about your relationship with food.
Now picture this: The Internal Perfectionist is sitting right behind you, his nose practically poking into your ear. He whispers insistently, “You really shouldn’t have had that extra slice of pizza at lunch.” Then, just as you’re getting a handle on this guy, the Internal Motivator starts a pep rally in the back, screaming, “Let’s burn off those extra calories! Ten more reps! You can sleep when you’re dead!” Amidst this cacophony, the Internal Cynic is lounging in the corner seat, casting a skeptical glance over his newspaper, smirking, “Remember when you tried that vegan diet? Yeah, that lasted all of two days.”
You see, life is a never-ending road trip with these characters. And while they can be somewhat annoying, they can’t be thrown off the bus, no matter how much we’d sometimes love to. So, we need to find a way to live and travel together without turning every meal into a boxing match.
You know how sometimes our relationship with food can get a bit, well, complicated? Like one minute you’re all about eating your greens and the next, you’re neck deep in a tub of ice cream. And then, the guilt, the envy, the frustration hits you like a speeding kale smoothie. All because we’re playing mental tug of war with what we should eat versus what we want to eat.
But hey, stay cool! Our brain is pretty much like a jam-packed, noisy bus ride home after work. We’ve got all these thoughts and emotions trying to grab the steering wheel. Some want to go straight to the gym, others want to take a detour to the doughnut shop. It’s like a bizarre episode of “Who’s driving the bus?”.
The trick to not ending up lost or stuck in a drive-thru? Take the wheel, my friend. Meditation can be your GPS – helping you understand these voices in your head and sort out the good advice from the bad.
Meet Your Passengers 🙋♀️ – Breaking Down Your Inner Voices
As we engage in this inner dialogue, we often identify a recurring cast of characters. Three of the most prominent roles are played by the Internal Perfectionist, the Internal Motivator, and the Internal Cynic, each contributing to our internal drama around food and eating.
Let’s delve a bit deeper into our trio of pesky passengers.
First up, our Internal Perfectionist, aka the Annoying Perfectionist, who has an unhealthy obsession with a flawless diet. The internal perfectionist creates a rigid and unrealistic standard for our eating habits, often leading to feelings of failure when those standards aren’t met.
But perfection doesn’t really exist, does it? It’s like hunting for a unicorn in a forest full of horses. Let’s face it, we’re humans, not programmed robots, and the occasional pizza binge won’t send us spiraling into nutritional oblivion. Recognize the perfectionist for what he is – an overzealous advisor. Nod, smile, and thank him for his concern, then hand him a piece of pizza and tell him to relax.
Then we have our Internal Motivator, or the Eternal Energizer Bunny, pushing us towards the horizon of our limits. The internal motivator pushes us relentlessly, fostering a “never good enough” mentality that can cause us to overexert ourselves, often at the expense of our well-being.
A little push is good, sure, but being driven like a mule isn’t. We all remember the story of the hare and the tortoise. The hare raced ahead but still lost because he didn’t pace himself. Let’s not be the hare. Thank the Energizer Bunny for the motivation, but remind him that sometimes, it’s okay to stop and smell the roses…or the freshly baked bread.
Finally, there’s our Internal Cynic – the Grumpy Old Man, always ready to rain on our parade with his critical remarks. The internal cynic tends to be judgmental, constantly criticizing us and our actions, leading to a cycle of self-doubt and diminished self-esteem.
A little skepticism is healthy, but constant negativity? That’s like going to a party and spending all night worrying about the hangover. So, the next time the Grumpy Old Man scoffs at your new dietary plan, chuckle, pat him on the back, and say, “At least it lasted longer than your belief in Bigfoot.”
Addressing these voices involves acknowledging their presence and understanding their intentions. While they may seem disruptive, these voices often stem from a place of wanting to protect and improve ourselves. Understanding this can help us approach them with compassion, quiet their dominance, and rebalance their influence.
Surprisingly enough, these nosey passengers on our mental bus ride are not entirely malicious. You see, each one of them thinks they’re helping out. The Internal Perfectionist, in his own uptight way, inspires us to look up to role models and strive for improvement. Without the Internal Motivator, we might just morph into couch potatoes, not achieving much. The Internal Cynic, despite his constant smirks and jibes, helps us pinpoint our missteps and areas for growth. These voices do carry some handy advice, but when they get too pushy, dramatic, or just downright nasty, their ability to mess up our journey exceeds their usefulness.
It’s like: you’re midway through your mindful eating practice when the Internal Cynic starts grumbling. Hearing it isn’t the problem – that’s part of being aware, and awareness is the star player in mindfulness. The issue arises when we start believing every sarcastic comment the Cynic tosses our way.
The trick to mastering mindfulness is learning to look beyond these voices, to not get tricked or tangled up in their incessant chatter. Driven by fear, these voices often fail to provide a clear and truthful account of things. They’re not handing us hard facts, but rather cloudy interpretations steeped in insecurities.
When you start practicing mindfulness, you’ll realize that your mind is like a radio that’s stuck on the chatter station. And this is the case for everyone, even those Zen-like meditators. The difference is, seasoned practitioners know how to quickly tune out this mental static. The mind, after all, is a thought factory, constantly churning out new ideas. But here’s the clincher: we don’t have to believe everything our minds produce, just as we don’t have to eat every doughnut in the bakery. The mind is our tool, not our boss. With mindfulness, we learn to steer the bus, not get hijacked by the passengers.
Quiet Please 🤫 – Balancing the Internal Voices With Meditation
You see, when our connection with food and nutrition becomes distorted, negative emotions can readily swarm our thoughts. This misalignment can ignite a cascade of damaging feelings – from self-disgust reflected in the mirror, to envy towards those seemingly able to eat without restrictions, and even self-directed anger for our continuous struggle with eating behaviors. To neutralize these harmful emotions, it’s necessary to understand and address the internal narrative driving them.
Establishing a regular meditation routine can provide a framework for managing this mental cacophony. By calming the mind and creating a buffer around the internal voices, we’re better able to differentiate them and interpret their messages. Meditation fosters a tranquil space where we can examine our thoughts without becoming entangled in their narratives.
Meditation is like a friendly, invisible bus conductor. It doesn’t evict the passengers, but it certainly helps keep them in check. Regular practice allows you to decipher what each of these voices is trying to tell you, giving them less power to dominate the journey. And science backs this up. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that mindfulness meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.(1) Keep in mind, every journey is more enjoyable with a serene and focused driver.
Cruise Control for Your Mind 🧠 – Practical Tips for a Smoother Journey
Further strategies include maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise, as these can directly impact our mood and cognitive function. Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods and keeping physically active can help to stabilize our energy levels and manage our mood, thus reducing the potential power of the negative inner voices.
A balanced diet and regular exercise are fundamental. They’re like the oil and gas for our bus – essential for a smooth journey. Studies have shown that a varied diet and regular physical activity can impact not only our physical health but also our mood and cognitive function.(2,3) And if our mind and body are in tune, the noisy passengers will be too busy enjoying the ride to start a ruckus.
Positive self-talk also goes a long way in keeping these voices in check. Remember the story of the little engine that could? He climbed the mountain by repeating, “I think I can.” This is the same principle. Challenge and reshape your internal narrative, turning it into your biggest ally. Remember, a kind word can turn away wrath, even when it’s self-directed.
In the end, the key is not to silence or fight these voices, but to work with them, turn them into allies rather than foes. Because, remember, it’s not about the destination but the journey itself. So, let’s enjoy this road trip called life, one bite and one laugh at a time. Bon voyage, and bon appétit!
Tuning in to the Inner Critic’s Podcast
Be attentive to the frequency of the Inner Critic on your mental radio. Listen to its commentary on your food choices, eating habits, weight, and appearance. The Critic’s messages aren’t just confined to your mind, but echo in the words of others around you. Become aware of the Critic’s tones in TV shows or radio broadcasts. Comedians frequently poke fun at themselves—spot the echo of the Inner Critic in their self-deprecating humor.
If you’re practicing mindfulness in a group, encourage your fellow practitioners to call you out if they catch the Inner Critic hijacking your speech about yourself. An instance of this could be, “I’m just no good at these exercises.” By being mindful of when and how the Inner Critic speaks, you can better learn to distinguish its voice from your own authentic voice and moderate its influence on your journey.
Loving Kindness Meditation
Observing the Inner Critic and Redirecting Attention
Picture yourself attending a lively debate, but one participant is particularly harsh and unhelpful. You, as the debate moderator, take control, gently silencing them with, “I appreciate your fervor, but the negativity isn’t contributing constructively. It’s becoming a hindrance rather than a help in understanding and improving the situation. Right now, encouragement and support are what’s needed, not criticism. Thanks for participating, but it’s time to move on.”
This same principle can be used to moderate your Inner Critic. When a critical voice concerning your diet or self-image arises, internally respond with this understanding moderation. Acknowledge the voice’s concern, but assert that its negativity isn’t aiding in the path to progress. Affirm the need for kindness over criticism, thank it for its input, and gently disengage.
Now, shift your focus to the experience of the present moment.
Feel your breath as it flows in and out. Listen to the ambient sounds surrounding you. Become aware of the multitude of sensations caressing your skin. Always remember that the Inner Critic is rendered silent when you’re truly immersed in the present. The Critic is a creature of the past and future, thriving on comparisons and what-ifs to fuel its critical nature. By anchoring yourself in the present, you diminish the power of the Inner Critic and create space for self-compassion and growth.
Dissolving the Inner Critic
This seemingly simple mindfulness practice can be a game-changer. It’s like a personal off-switch for that nagging voice in your head that loves to critique.
Reframing the Inner Critic
This practice is designed to help you develop a mindful eating practice that incorporates techniques to reframe and manage your inner critic:
Be Alive 🌱
Love ❤️, Julia
Mindful Eating 🥢
Mindful Eating Meditation
GUIDED MEDITATIONS 💗
DISCLAIMER: The materials and the information contained on the Positive Pranic website are provided for general and educational purposes only and do not constitute any legal, medical, or other professional advice on any subject matter. None of the information on our videos is a substitute for a diagnosis and treatment by your health professional. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.