If you had to guess, how many times a day do you listen to that little voice inside tell you, “Eh . . . you shouldn’t do that”?
If you have a voice like that . . . welcome to being a human! You’re not weird, broken, freaky, or messed up. Everyone has a little inner critic that loves to make you feel like all you do is bad and wrong.
For me, that little voice used to make me doubt my ideas, my body, and second-guess everything I did. It was exhausting trying to satisfy it, hoping I would be able to minimize the risk, but I just ended up never feeling like I was being true to myself.
The main problem with the voice isn’t that it’s there, it’s that we believe it’s right. We think it’s got some superior knowledge about the universe or about how other people see us—that's why we never question it. People don’t realize their inner critic might be very wrong and don’t know the whole story. Like those trolls online spewing hate, your inner critic is like that.
But it’s also trying to help too.
My voice was telling me nasty things to help me, not hurt me, because deep down, I didn’t want to risk embarrassment of rejection. I was scared of trying new things and failing. In my mind, I let the inner troll take the blame, not my own self. See, it’s also a defense tool.
To stop letting your inner troll control your life, you have to control the root of what it’s trying to protect.
Shame. Guilt. Sadness. Pain. Loneliness.
Most of my work on body image comes from helping women figure out ways to quiet their inner troll so their authentic voice can be heard up. And while it’s not an easy endeavor, it’s certainly possible and definitely life-changing.
Confident people have inner trolls, but they know how to manage them. My inner troll is still alive and kicking, but I’m hip to its jive (this might be the best sentence I’ve ever written). My troll’s existence makes me work smarter because I know what the risks are if I listen to it: I don’t put myself out there. I don’t open up. I let life slip by, thinking I’m not allowed to have fun.
I pay attention to my troll because it keeps me real with what I do want in life: To be happy. To love my body. To do well for myself and my family.
What is your troll trying to protect?