Mental Health Monday 7/18/19: Our internal critic

July 18, 2016 in Recovery

Hi guys and happy Monday! Hope you all enjoyed your weekends. Going to be linking up with Julia today for another Mental Health Monday!

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Our internal critic. You know, that voice in our head that tells us we aren’t good enough. That voice that screams mean things about ourselves. The voice that tells us our body isn’t thin enough and we aren’t as pretty as so and so. It is incredibly mean. It is critical– of everything.

We talked about our internal critics on my yoga retreat. How we all have them and how some are louder than others. How they were so loud during the times when we were trapped in our eating disorder, and how they really never go away- we just learn to quiet them down and we learn to turn them off. But they are always there, and it is normal to have them there throughout our lives.

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And yesterday morning I was reminded that our internal critic is always there, and sometimes it just flat out sucks. Because being bombarded with negative thoughts is never fun, we all know that. On Saturday, I spent the day with my friends from college at the beach. I never have worries or anxieties going to the beach anymore and what I looked like really never crossed my mind that day. I was happy and smiling and laughing, and life just felt so good. But after we took pictures, I felt the internal critic come out at full-force. And it just went a mile a minute. I know that every girl out there regardless of if they struggled with an eating disorder gets self-conscious and critical of their body. Unfortunately with our society and the thin body type being idolized it is inevitable for someone (girl or boy) to have struggled with these thoughts at one point or another. But yesterday after looking through these pictures, I fell victim of the comparison game, and I fell victim of talking poorly about my body. I tell you these things and am completely open about my little battles to show you that I am NOT perfect. I am human. I have ups and downs, and I had a little down in regards to the mental aspect of things yesterday.

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From left to right: Tim, me, Jillian, Jimmy, Meg, Katie, Jen, Danny 

It’s kinda funny how our internal critics can be so loud and mean sometimes. The things they tell us are awful. But we would never, ever say those things to our close friends and family. Yet we say them to ourselves. “My stomach looks so big. I look bigger than the other girls in this picture. Was I thinner last summer? I am no longer the skinniest girl. Well what about my legs. I don’t know how I feel about those either.” You see, we would never make these comments about someone else’s body. Yet we make them about our own. That’s just how our internal critic works- it works to tear us down and make us feel weak. It makes us feel insignificant and powerless.

I had an amazing time this weekend. My best friend Jillian visited from college and we started our day Saturday with bagels and almond milk lattes before a day at the beach in Rhode Island. Reuniting with my friends was amazing. Eating grapes and gold fish on the beach without a worry in the world felt pretty dang good. I look back to this time last year, and I would have definitely had a bit more anxiety surrounding these types of situations. The progress I have made is incredible. I swam and laughed with my friends, tanned and played beach games, and really felt present in the moment. I had delicious food prepped by my friend’s dad for dinner and even taught my friends some yoga. On Sunday, Jillian and I got acai bowls for breakfast (bc those are our faveeee) and I talked to her about what I was feeling. Because she’s been there. She has had her own struggles, and she totally gets it. She’s an amazing and one of a kind gal, and I am so thankful to have her in my life. One thing we talked about is how much happier I am now. My friend Meg said this too, that I just seem happier. And isn’t that an amazing thing? Sure, my stomach my not be flat, but my smile is a whole lot brighter. Another thing Jillian and I talked about is how we both are not going to give up days with bagels and goldfish and chips by the beach with some pretty fantastic people just to be skinnier. We both tried that. It wasn’t worth it- at ALL. And it brought us nothing but misery.

One huge shift I have noticed as I do consider myself recovered from my eating disorder is that it doesn’t even cross my mind to restrict my intake or exercise more to compensate for what I’m feeling. I just reach out to others and let myself get sad over it. And then I know that I will beat the internal critic, I know that I will get over it. It’s just temporary, NOT permanent how it used to be.

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Yesterday I had to work, and I was kinda wishin’ prior to it that I just had the day off. You know that “ughhh I gotta go to work feeling. We’ve all been there. But later on in my shift, something happened that I feel like God wanted to happen. A guy and his mother came in and I helped them find some vitamin chews. After, they both left but a few minutes after the guy came back in. He said I was really pretty and asked for my number ( lol I know, one of these stories). He didn’t have his phone on him so he wrote it down for me. I probably won’t end up texting him (sorry dude) but it was like that scenario was meant to happen that day. In NO way shape or form am I saying that we need other people’s validation to quiet down our internal critic or to feel better about ourselves or our bodies, I am using this as an example because I really did feel like that was supposed to happen for some sort of reason. I had no makeup on, a pink and slightly sunburned face, all black clothes, and my hair up in a pony-tail. That was it. And it was like God was telling me- “Lyss! Turn off that internal critic. You are so much stronger than that. See this guy? He thinks your beautiful with no makeup on. You are beautiful just the way I created you!” So after that I took a deep breath. I reevaluated the whole situation, and I totally knew what set off the bad body image, I accepted what happened instead of being frustrated for myself for having bad body image thoughts and reminded myself that I am only human, and I ended my day reminding myself that God made me fearlessly authentic, beautiful, and unique. Life is too short to let our internal critic rule our minds. WE have the power to turn them off.

No questions for today, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this! 

Have a lovely Monday friends! Thank you for reading as always <3

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40 Comments

  • Reply Stephanie July 18, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Alyssa thanks for being brave enough to share those thoughts, at one time, they would have stayed inside and not been expressed. I am witness to your growth and happiness, a happiness that shines so bright that was dulled for so long, it brings a tear to my eye, a tear of happiness for you. Thanks also for sharing, so others can feel that they are not alone in what they are feeling. Those negative thoughts can literally tear you apart as we can see it happening every day in our society. So my sunshine thank you, thank you, and thank you.

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:55 am

      Thank you so much mom, you are the greatest woman in my life and I don’t know what I would do without you- you inspire me daily and you have been there with me through it all, and for that I am eternally grateful! I love you to pieces, you are the best mom I could ever ask for. Thank YOU!

  • Reply Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It July 18, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    This is an AMAZING post. I think that God was working through that guy to remind you that people appreciate you for YOU, such a beautiful thing! 🙂 My inner critic definitely gets the best of me sometimes, but I always remind myself that my outer appearance DOES NOT define who I am. Glad you had such an awesome beach day with your bffs, you do look so happy! <3 Have an amazing day lovely Lyss! xoxo

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:54 am

      Thank you so much love!! Yesss- our outer appearance does not define us or have anything to do with our self-worth! Amen to that girly. And thank you so much!! I hope you had an amazing weekend and got to get in some relaxation time!! Love ya <3

  • Reply Caroline July 18, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Beautiful. This post and you. I see a girl who is so full of life, a deep thinker, and someone who is strong in her own vulnerability. I always get so down on myself for even having those critical thoughts, but through some journaling and searching, I’ve realized that recovery/being recovered doesn’t mean things go perfectly all the time. Thank you for sharing, you bring such comfort to me and so many! Have an AWESOME Monday girly! xoxo

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:53 am

      Aw Wow Caroline, I could go on and on about all the wonderful things I could say about you!! I am so thankful we have connected through blogging. <3 I find that journaling helps a lot too- I need to pick up my journal tomorrow! Whenever life gets hectic I never have time. Thank you for reading, it means so much to me!! Sending lots of love <3

  • Reply Emily July 18, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Wow, Lyss, I so agree with you. We were made to be humans, created for God, for God’s will and pleasure, and I can see that God has opened your eyes to that freedom and given you a beautiful change of mind and heart, just like so many other recovery warriors I know. You are a beautiful miraculous evidence of God’s glory, and don’t ever forget that. <3

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:52 am

      YES Em! And you my friend are a beautiful piece of evidence of God’s glory!! I am thankful for YOU!

  • Reply Meredith July 18, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    I love your blog! It is so important for us to remember to not compare ourselves to others and keep a healthy outlook on life. Keep up the great work! 🙂

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:51 am

      Thank you Meredith for your kind words!!

  • Reply Cayanne Marcus @healthyezsweet July 18, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Your outlook on life and your willingness to spread positivity to others is what I love most about you <3

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:51 am

      I can say the same about YOU Cayanne. Thank you so so much love!

  • Reply Lynne July 18, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Thank you so much for your honesty Lyss, I can so relate to this post. You truly are an inspiration. 🙂

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:48 am

      Lynne, thank YOU for all your support and encouragement!! xoxo

  • Reply Claire @ My Pink & Green Life July 18, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I really love reading your thoughts like these, Alyssa–it is so so encouraging! I am so happy that you are at a point where you know to reach out to others when things start to go downhill. It takes so much humility to open up and be that vulnerable, and it’s something I’m still working hard at every single day. Thank you so much for sharing! <3

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:48 am

      Thank you Claire for always taking the time to read them, I cannot tell you how much that means to me!! Your kind words always make me smile, and I am so thankful for YOU <3

  • Reply Liv @ Healthy Liv July 18, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    I love this post, Lyss! You’re beautiful and totally right that we don’t need validation from others but how fun that God used that moment as a little reminder that you ARE beautiful just the way you are 🙂 Glad you had a really fun weekend at the beach with friends!

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:47 am

      Thank you Liv!! It was really one of those moments where the everything happens for a reason motto definitely came into play. And thank you so much, hope you had a lovely weekend too!

  • Reply Catherine @ A Cup of Catherine July 19, 2016 at 12:46 am

    This is WONDERFUL. My internal critic can be a real BI*** sometimes. Luckily I am usually able to let the feelings go after a few minutes or a day or what have you. I’m glad you’re at that point, too. We ALL have moments where we feel ugly or discouraged but it’s what we do AFTER that really counts.
    I’m glad you had a lovely beach weekend. Looks like so much fun!

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:46 am

      Oh my goodness, it really can be a real B word sometimes!! It IS what you do after that counts and how you react. And thank you! So glad the weather was nice. Thank you for all your support Catherine!! <3 xoxo

  • Reply Ellie July 19, 2016 at 12:51 am

    –> “I do consider myself recovered from my eating disorder is that it doesn’t even cross my mind to restrict my intake or exercise more to compensate for what I’m feeling. I just reach out to others and let myself get sad over it”
    That is so important! Being able to notice your feelings, feel them and not do anything destructive is beautiful Lyss <3

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:45 am

      Thank you for your support Ellie! I agree with you about how important it is to be able to notice our feelings! xoxo <3

  • Reply sarah July 19, 2016 at 1:50 am

    I loved when you shared this story on Instagram, just goes to show that beauty is so much more than your physical body and that our perceptions of ourselves are very skewed. I am so proud of you for turning the negative thoughts around, but also allowing yourself to feel ALL of your feelings and work through them. Love ya girl!

    • Reply Alyssa July 19, 2016 at 2:45 am

      Thank you so much Sarah. Your comments seriously always make me smile. Love you!!

  • Reply kat July 19, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Though true confidence and self love needs to come from within, I truly believe that God sends us messengers and “nudges” in the form of friends or random people with positive compliments. I’ve been feeling down on my progress in the gym lately due to my back injury when a random girl this weekend came up to me during our HIIT class and told me that I was her motivation and inspiration. What a kick in the pants! Sometimes its exactly what we need to re-fuel that fire 🙂
    Plus, you are really pretty, so I totally don’t blame the dude for asking for your number <3 Though I would've loved to hear that convo between him and his mom!

    • Reply Alyssa July 21, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      That is so sweet of that girl. I do agree with you in that God does send us messengers in the form of those positive compliments. You are always killin it in the gym Kat and just in life, so I’m not surprised at all. And thank you so much for your sweet words, YOU are beautiful as well my friend!! Xoxo

  • Reply Heather @ Polyglot Jot July 19, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    I do this all of the time with pictures! Comparison is my biggest and loudest inner critic voice! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Alyssa July 21, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      Thanks for reading heather and your thoughts on this!

  • Reply Kate July 20, 2016 at 2:39 am

    My friends and I joke that it’s all fun at the pool until someone wants to take pictures. We can feel totally comfortable wearing a bikini until we are forced to pose in it. I think with society’s ideals ingrained in our heads it’s so hard not to compare ourselves!
    I try reminding myself that it’s a body. The purpose of my body isn’t to look good. They are so many things it does that I can take pride in.
    I love this message, particularly since we are all vulnerable to feeling this way.
    It’s beside the point, but your beautiful!

    • Reply Kate July 20, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      You’re**** (geez)

    • Reply Alyssa July 21, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      Haha I so agree with that Kat, and I agree with the fact that our body does carry so many purposes besides just looking good. Thank you for your thoughts and sweet words as always, you are beautiful as well girl!!

  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law July 20, 2016 at 8:54 am

    I always say that we’re our own worst critic. Sure, what others say can hurt us – but it’s our internal critic that does the damage and turns one little comment into a huge earthquake of devastation.

    It sounds like your retreat was enlightening! And the perfect way to recharge and remind yourself what’s important!

    • Reply Alyssa July 21, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      We really are our own worst critic- that saying is so true! It was so enlightening and I’m very thankful I got to go!

  • Reply Susie @ Suzlyfe July 21, 2016 at 2:18 am

    I am really struggling with my internal critic right now, especially after hearing someone use some really triggering words for me in the past few days (I’m talking about it tomorrow). What I am trying to do is to use that moment of trigger, of devastation, as a springboard to push off of into a new, better place.
    Your retreat does sounds incredible. I need something of that sort that gets me back to feeling like me.

    • Reply Alyssa July 21, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      That is a great mindset to have- using that trigger to motivate yourself and push yourself into a new positive place is really great Susie. Sending lots of positivity and good vibes your way <3

  • Reply Quiet Pursuit July 23, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    “Life is too short to let our internal critic rule our minds.” – agreed!

    • Reply Alyssa July 24, 2016 at 3:02 am

      Thank you so much! <3

  • Reply Link Love 7/24/16 | Blissful Lyss July 24, 2016 at 3:02 am

    […] Mental Health Monday 7/18/19: Our internal critic […]

  • Reply Kathleen July 24, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    I’m late commenting to this, but this is amazing. When our internal critics magnify negative thoughts to the nth degree, it’s hard to maintain that perspective that nobody cares about our perceived flaws quite as much as we do. Your strength and ability to fight back those thoughts in real time is so inspiring.

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