Jesy Nelson has shared a powerful Instagram post explaining how she "mentally bullied" herself into believing that being skinny would make her happier.
Sharing an old photograph of herself lying on the floor of a gym with her hands over her face, the former Little Mix star, 29, used the accompanying caption to detail what was going on in her mind at the time and how she's since flipped her mindset to gain a healthier perspective.
"I just saw this picture pop up on my feed and it made me feel so sad," she began her emotional post.
"On the day this picture was taken, I remember going to the gym with my manager and I stood in the mirror and I said, ‘god I’m so fat I just want my legs to be like this’ and I pulled my skin around to try and create a thigh gap because I genuinely believed that being skinny would make me happier."
But the singer went on to recall that losing weight didn't make her happy.
In fact, the intense pressure she was putting on herself to be a certain size impacted her mental health.
"Even when I got to a size 8 from starving myself, I still wasn’t happy. I mentally bullied myself everyday to try to please other people," she continued in the candid caption.
Nelson explained it has taken her 10 years to realise that she's the only person she needs to please.
"As humans we find it so easy to pay other people compliments but yet we find it so hard to be kind to ourselves because it’s so much easier to pick ourselves apart than to find the things we love about ourselves."
She went on to encourage anyone else who is feeling self-inflicted pressure to try to be kinder to themselves.
"Please don’t waste years of you’re [sic] life seeking approval from others, seek approval from yourself. Be your number one fan. You are the one in control of your happiness and you are the only one of you in this world and that’s pretty fucking powerful!"
Since Nelson shared her empowering post fans have been quick to head to the comments to praise the star for encouraging others to cut themselves some mental slack.
"You can't imagine how many people need to read this," one fan wrote.
"It's awful that nothing's ever good enough and we as women always try to fit the patterns that were not even created for us," another agreed.
Watch: Jesy Nelson drops a major hint she may go solo.
How to recognise if you're 'mentally bullying' yourself
"We all have an inner critic, but some people have a much louder, harsher one than others," explains Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder/co-CEO of My Online Therapy.
"If your inner critic is particularly harsh, you’ll find yourself regularly racked with self-doubt, whether that involves picking apart your appearance/character, analysing situations and whether you said or did the right thing etc."
According to Dr Touroni, the best thing you can do is to become aware of this voice and the kinds of stories it likes to tell.
"Sometimes our inner critic can become so firmly entrenched that we begin to think that it is us," she adds.
Dr Touroni says our inner critic is formed in childhood, in response to the voices we had around us growing up. But it can also shift and change as we grow older, especially if we grew up under a lot of public scrutiny, as is the case with Nelson.
"Our inner critic’s role is actually one of protection," she explains. "It was formed as a way of guiding ourselves away from having to experience further shame and criticism."
By internalising the voices around us, we were, to some extent, able to steer ourselves away from experiencing more pain.
"But obviously as we grow older, this voice no longer serves the same function and it can become toxic if allowed to grow unchecked - in some cases, leading to anxiety and depression," Dr Touroni adds.
In order to help silence our inner critic it is important to try to recognise when we are being too hard on ourselves.
"Increasing self-awareness and getting better at recognising this voice is an important first step, and then learning to call it out and replace its criticisms with words of encouragement instead," Dr Touroni says.
"Very often we talk to ourselves in a way we’d never dream of speaking to a friend. Asking ourselves how we’d respond to a friend, partner or loved one can help us find new, healthier ways of relating to ourselves.
"Working with a therapist can be especially beneficial during this process as they will be able to guide you towards developing self-compassion, and ultimately, a more positive inner dialogue."