I was happily scoffing a caramel egg last week when someone I was with said “You shouldn’t be eating an Easter egg in Lent.”

I instantly felt a little pang of something gross. Shame. Like I was a bad person. I had broken “the rules.” There was something wrong with me.

But these days I don’t just accept feelings like this, I question them. Why did I feel ashamed? And why did this person want me to?

DID they want me to?

I should = the inner critic

Any time we use the word “should” this is the inner critic. Which is a fearful and unreliable part of you. So I asked this person (and their inner critic) “why did you say that?” And the dialogue went a bit like this:

*surprised face. “Well.. it’s not Easter yet.”

“But I’m not religious and neither are you.”

“True.”

“Is Lent important to you?”

“No. Um..wow I don’t really know why I said that.”

What are your out of date narratives?

We are constantly repeating out of date thoughts to ourselves (and the people around us) in exactly this way. It’s very limiting – this person hadn’t eaten Easter chocolate during Lent in decades even though she didn’t believe in Lent!

I shouldn’t be myself, people won’t like it”

“I shouldn’t say no to anyone.”

“I should be perfect or I’m a failure.”

“I shouldn’t show emotion.”

“i should just smile and take it.”

“I should look thinner/younget/stronger.”

Thoughts like this are trapping you in people pleasing, self-doubt and imposter syndrome, among other things. And undermining your resilience.

How to stop the influence of the inner critic

Like most things related to changing how you think, awareness is the first step.

Listen out for the “shoulds,” question them and stop letting out of date thoughts run your life.


Noticing the language you use is just one way to become more authentic and intuitive, to stop focusing on others and instead tap into what you think.

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