One of the ways we protect ourselves from the judgment of our Monger (inner critic) is to start judging other people. In my book The Happier Approach I talk about three characters: The Monger (inner critic), The BFF (false self-compassion), and our Biggest Fan (the voice of wisdom and kindness).
Today I want to talk about the BFF, the voice that is often misunderstood. Clients often tell me they understand the Monger and the Biggest Fan, but they aren’t sure if they have a BFF voice. If you have a Monger, you have a BFF.
The BFF is full of drama. (When I named her, I was picturing an “Oh My God!” stereotypical valley girl who would call her friend her “BFF, I mean like, TOTALLY!”). She is always up for anything, has a feeling of superiority, isn’t afraid to be judgy and gossipy, and thinks you are perfect even when you call in sick, binge Real Housewives, and eat a bag of chips until you are ill.
I used to love my BFF. She was a welcome relief from my Monger, who would shame and belittle me all day long. Meanwhile, my BFF would jump in to relieve the pressure and encourage me to do “fun” stuff like drinking some wine, eating some ice cream, or binging a TV show (or two). But then I realized that wasn’t the only way my BFF was showing up. She is a bit more sneaky than that.
Here are some other ways she hurts us:
She loves to judge other people. Whenever you engage in the judgment of others, that is usually your BFF.
Imagine this: You are at a party and you notice an acquaintance wearing a dress, but you are wearing jeans. Immediately and unconsciously, your Monger starts talking, “You are so underdressed. Why did you wear jeans? Such a slob.” Without thinking, you walk over to a friend you know well and say, “Look at Molly — she is wearing a dress! Talk about overdressed for the occasion.” “I know! She has to be so uncomfortable,” your friend says, who is also wearing jeans!
Examples like that happen all the time. Anytime you hear yourself judging someone else, slamming their opinion, making fun of their clothes, think of your BFF.
Most likely, your BFF is attempting to protect you from your Monger, but her protections end up making you feel more petty and vindictive and do not work.
For me, my BFF comes out any time I am listening to someone who has a different opinion than me, whether it be something heated like politics or benign like what to have for dinner. If they have a different opinion than me, my BFF will immediately attack them and become this mean, petty person.
Over the years, I have been able to recognize this, so now the first thing I say to myself when I hear my BFF slamming someone for their thoughts is, “we are all allowed to have different, equally valid opinions.” Slamming them isn’t going to make my opinion more valid; it is just going to keep me from learning something new.
Our BFF’s other skill? Self sabotage.
Our BFF is the first to encourage us to take the day off, stop pushing so hard, procrastinate. This behavior is the reason many people believe they need their Monger to shame and belittle them into action — basically, their BFF is just a little too loud. That is a myth.
The truth is you don’t need the Monger; you just need to quiet your BFF. Notice yourself procrastinating, making choices that aren’t supportive of your goals, always saying to yourself next Monday, I will finally _______. All of that talk is your BFF.
You can see how the cycle works: Monger jumps in to remind you how terrible you are and what a disappointment you are. BFF jumps in to stick up for you and release some of the pressure of your Monger. They both might be well-intentioned (your Monger trying to motivate you and your BFF trying to keep you happy), but the results leave you feeling miserable and stuck.
Enter the Biggest Fan. She is the voice who has your back and is kind. She motivates you with kindness, rather than shame or judging other people. She is wise and kind.
This week’s podcast is all about the dangers of positive thinking, one of the most toxic ideas pushed by the self-help industry. Tune in to hear how the message of positive thinking is holding us back — and even harming us — and get some practical tools and resources to use in place of just “looking on the bright side.” Check it out on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or over here.