We all have been paid a visit by that mean girl inside our heads—the one who tells us things like "You'll never lose the weight" or "You always make mistakes; no wonder you can't get a promotion." But would you ever say things like that to a friend? "No. It would be too hurtful," says Jacqueline Hornor Plumez, PhD, in her new book The Bitch In Your Head ($14; amazon.com). "So why would you do it to yourself?" Some people may think that voice is encouraging you to work harder, smarter, or just be plain better. "But most people are so used to self-criticism that they hardly hear The Bitch and have no idea how discouraging, demoralizing, and self-destructive she can be." Here, Plumez shares a few ways she can hold you back—and what you can do about it.
RELATED: 12 Worst Habits For Your Mental Health
How to get rid of the "You Look Fat Bitch"
Make health a priority, and don't feel bad about it
This "Bitch" makes women feel guilty about taking time for themselves, even if it's for their own health, putting them in a no-win position. A real-life example: If you don't work out, "The Bitch" says you look flabby. If you do work out, she says you are being selfish and "should" be doing other things. Be aware of this lose-lose position whenever you start to feel bad about exercising (or not exercising).
RELATED: The Benefits of Positive Thinking—and How You Can Do More of It
Focus on the things that you like about yourself when you look in the mirror—giving yourself a smile and a compliment. It also means not letting "The Bitch" berate you when you fall off your diet, but making a plan to avoid temptations in the future.
Take a day off
Went a little overboard on Brie during your healthy eating plan? Why not just say to yourself, "I had a bad day" instead of "I'm weak and fat and bad and bloated." Weight-loss programs that don't allow for occasional treats or "falling off the wagon" are unrealistic.
RELATED: 9 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic
How to get rid of "The Work Bitch"
Take credit for your success, and don't be afraid to ask for more
"The Bitch" in the workplace repeatedly holds us back, convincing us to accept less than we deserve out of fear. Self-esteem and self-confidence are built by absorbing compliments and believing them, not by attributing success to luck.
RELATED: The Surprisingly Easy Trick That Can Help You Use Your Phone a Little Bit Less
If work isn't making you happy, change it
No matter what your field or level, if you have to force yourself to get out of bed each morning to go to work, something is very wrong. Don't let her tell you everyone hates their job. That simply isn't true.
Break the stress habit
Constantly checking your phone and working extremely long hours is unpleasant and exhausting, but it becomes a habit that's hard to break. People literally get addicted to the adrenaline rush, the stress, and the feeling they are needed and important. Real life begins to seem dull by comparison until the habit is tamed or broken. If you can't give yourself a free hour with your family or friends without checking messages, something is very wrong, no matter what "The Bitch" says. Schedule forty-five minutes with your phone off, and then check it for fifteen minutes—and turn it off again.
RELATED: Your Guide to Positive Thinking
How to get rid of "The Blame Bitch"
Stop wallowing in guilt
Even when you've made a mistake, torturing yourself with endless thoughts like, "You're a terrible person!â" or "You don't deserve to be forgiven!" is merely self-indulgent. If you are really sorry about something you did, find a way to make an apology. If that apology would do more damage than good, find a way to clear your conscience without inflicting pain on another person.
RELATED: 7 Self-Care Tips That Will Make You Happier This Summer
If "The Bitch" is whispering, "They're making a big deal about nothing" you're probably in denial. And denial usually makes the problem bigger. Often an honest apology can help heal the wounds you've created, no matter what they are. You might not be forgiven, but at least you have tried to take ownership of the problem and make amends.
Regain your pride
If you want to be proud of yourself, do something that makes you proud. That can start with admitting your mistakes and making amends to the person you hurt—including yourself. Learn from your mistakes and live a life that gives you healthy pleasure and pride. And don't ever let "The Bitch" say you don't deserve that.
RELATED: 7 Strategies to Love the Way You Look
Want more? Follow @dr_plumez on Twitter.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter