IBS and the inner critic

IBS inner critic

Did you know that your inner critic could be one of your IBS triggers? One that is keeping a pattern of feeling bad in your life and potentially creating, or intensifying certain IBS symptoms.

This is worth looking out for, and difficult to detect if you don’t know where to look – so read on.

What is the Inner critic?

In psychology, the inner critic is a harsh, judging voice that will try to undermine a person’s self-esteem and self-worth.

“The critical inner voice is formed out of painful early life experiences in which we witnessed or experienced hurtful attitudes toward us or those close to us.”

It is often the memory of a parent’s or teacher’s voice. It tells you that you are not doing this properly, that you are just lazy and not trying, or that you are not intelligent, thin, fast, strong, or good enough.

IBS and the inner critic

So how can this trigger your IBS? Well, having thoughts like these as you go through your day trigger unpleasant memories and emotions, like shame or feeling not enough. And these can set off our IBS symptoms. We can unconsciously face these feelings just now and again, or all through the day.

For example, you have been trying to “eat right” in an attempt to digest better for weeks. Then you go and eat something you “shouldn’t” (which is totally human), and the harsh inner critic kicks in with “Well THAT was stupid, wasn’t it!”

Result: a flare-up, which could be caused by that food, but equally by the self-shaming that went with it.

Although the inner critic is, by definition, working inside you, you may find the same feelings triggered when you are around certain types of people.

For example, maybe you share an office with a difficult coworker or boss. Although you know the job inside out, it feels like they challenge your work, or how you do things. You start doubting yourself, getting stressed and you maybe even making mistakes you don’t usually. And you find yourelf bloating up badly.

The Inner critic can also be a FEELING

I had always read about the inner critic as a judgmental voice. However I didn’t hear any voices, so I assumed that it didn’t concern me.

IBS inner critic

Then I read The 5 Personality Patterns by the psychotherapist Steven Kessler.

He states “For some, there isn’t a voice at all, but only a bad feeling in the body.” And that’s when I made the link.

Every time I sat down to work, after a short while I would feel fidgety and hungry and want to get up, get a drink and eat something. I had the impression I did this to soothe myself in some way. Though I had no idea why. It was my inner critic at work, the same one that made me feel like this all through school, and university.

What is the relation between IBS and the inner critic? That bad feeling of the inner critic can trigger IBS symptoms, such as pulling tight your stomach and under the ribcage, and possibly create or intensify acid reflux, indigestion and bloating.

So do look out for this trigger.