How to Work with the Inner Critic

How to work with the Inner Critic

Here are some strategies on how to work with the critic in a more skillful way.
We need to first understand our Inner Critic, as described in my last article.

The primary strategy that has worked for me is to use mindfulness as a tool to be aware of my inner experiences. I’ve tried to notice the kind of thoughts coming from my critic and feel the impact. How does it feel to be judged, criticized, diminished? I keep in mind that they too are only thoughts and only live with the energy that I give them.

Another strategy that works for me is replacing the inner critic talk with a Loving Kindness practice. Loving Kindness is a practice where you replace negative thought streams with wholesome thoughts. I practice by saying the following phrases to my self silently when the critic is cruel to me.

May I be happy
May I be safe
May I live my life with ease

Replacing negative thoughts with positive and loving ones assist us in becoming more compassionate with ourselves.

Another strategy I use is humor, usually sarcastic humor. For example, I would say to myself when the Inner critic was strong – “Yes Inner Critic you are correct, I am the worst writer that the world has ever seen”, and then just move on. Obviously replace “writer” with any word that your Inner Critic uses to judge you.

Using Inquiry is another tool or strategy to work with the inner critic. Is it true what the critic is saying? Is it true that I’m stupid of whatever? Investigate if the critic is telling you the truth or just selling you a bunch of lies. When you discover that they are lies it’s much easier to release them into the wind.

You can also try and be intense with the critic. Tell him or her powerfully to stop and go away. It’s not true or helpful what the critic is telling you.

The ultimate goal is to come to a place of disinterest. Treat the critic like a barking dog in the distance. The dog is annoying but nothing more. Just tell the critic, yeah I hear you, so what. Make the comments not important. It will lose its intensity and slip away into the night.

These are just some of the strategies that I have used for many years and they have helped me deal with the Inner critic and all the judgments he brings up.

Try these tools for yourself and see if they are helpful. Try and see which ones work best for you. What do you have to lose? Maybe a better relationship with your Inner Critic will help you along the road of life?

Be safe and remember.  It’s Only Stuff

The Voice Inside Our Heads

 

The Voice Inside Our Heads

We all have a voice inside our heads that talks to us most of the time. The accepted term to describe this inside voice is “The Inner Critic”.

Hopefully the voice is a positive one, however usually the voice is the opposite and critically judges us.

Lets break down the word “Inner Critic”

 

“Inner”  – The inside landscape of our existence. Something very personal.

“Critic”  – A person who judges, evaluates or criticizes.

I believe it’s very important to recognize if your Inner Critic is a positive or negative influence on your life. Once you determine that fact, then and only then, can we address our relationship to the voice in our heads. Changing our relationship to the voice is one of the keys to self realization and awakening.

Does your voice speak to you in nice terms or is it an oppressive critical voice?

Unfortunately for most of us the voice can be harsh and tell us things that are hurtful. Have you ever listened to the voice? I mean really listened? What do you hear? Do you hear hurtful words or encouraging words or maybe some words in between?

The thing to remember is that they are only words. Words are made up of letters put together and then turned into thoughts. The issue comes up when we think those words/thoughts are real, that they are believable.

Once we investigate them by turning towards the voice and see that not only can they be hurtful they are usually wrong. Why do we just believe our thoughts without even really thinking about it? Our minds tell us to do and think certain things and we just listen and obey without even giving it a second thought. It can be considered as a sort of brainwashing or just habitual, compulsive and unwise acts.

When I came to the realization that I don’t have to listen to my mind (Inner Voice/Critic) it literally changed my life. Don’t get me wrong the mind is an extremely useful tool if it’s used correctly. We should strive to use the mind and not let the mind use us. There is a subtle difference between them, however the impact between the two is immense.

“You carry all the ingredients to turn your life into a nightmare. Don’t mix them”

“You carry all the ingredients to turn your existence into joy. Mix them, mix them”

– Hafiz –

Remember It’s Only Stuff…

 

2 Arrows

The 2 Arrow scenario

The 1st arrow is what life shoots at us.  These are things that we have to deal with because we are human working with the human condition.

The 2nd arrow is optional and usually filled with Anger, Hate, Frustration or a myriad of other negative emotions.

Why do we shoot ourselves?

It usually comes from our unmindful thinking patterns, better known as habits.  Some call it Autopilot.  When we give the time needed to investigate them, we can have a better life experience.

Mindfulness allows us to slow things down and lets us see how things really are.  With time and practice we can make the decision to respond instead of react to the inner/outer experience.

 

Using Loving Kindness with Road Rage

Sending out Loving Kindness while driving……

Today I was driving and encountered some hostility on the road, imagine that……how surprising. (Welcome to L.A.)

I started feeling anger arise and I immediately said to myself.  “This is what anger feels like”  Instead of allowing it to overflow and take over I decided to follow a teachers advice which was…

“Loving Kindness is always a good response, you can never go wrong with sending Loving Kindness”

So I sent Loving Kindness (LK) to myself and then I sent out LK to all the drivers that I encountered on my journey.  Instead of seeing someone with eyes of judgement I saw and sent them LK.  I then realized a few things.

First of all, one cannot send Loving Kindness without it putting a smile on their face.  Try it.  I found myself getting in such a good mood just by the smile that was generated by a simple gesture that took a second to do.

Secondly, I noticed that when I looked at someone without mindfulness, I usually judge and label them. I put them in a box.  i.e. Seeing a homeless person, I would involuntarily label and put them in a box called “Homeless person” and add all of society’s stereotypical labels as well.  I wanted to switch it up abit to see if from a different perspective.  Curiosity took over.

Thirdly, I realized that when I sent someone LK I forgot to judge them.  The proverbial “Ah Ha” moment occurred.  I noticed that I didn’t have enough time to do both.  Once I sent them LK, I moved on to other things and judgement wasn’t one of them.  So it looks like I accidentally changed LK for judgement.  Hmmm, Maybe my studying is finally starting to take hold.

So I started my new practice of sending Loving Kindness to everyone as a default greeting, silently.  I actually learned this a while ago by reading works by Chade Meng-Tan of Google fame.  I guess I just needed a reminder.

Give it a try.  I challenge you to try it next time you walk into a crowded room.  Just look at each individual and say to yourself,  “I wish for you to be happy”  Notice if the energy of the room changes.  Since only you know you are doing it, it’s extremely safe and you won’t get embarrassed.

Remember….It’s Only Stuff

Awakening to Heart practice

My Meditation practice was revived with Buddhist jumper cables.

I was moved deeply during my visit to Esalen over the Christmas holidays.  I was allowed to be genuine without any pretense, just being.

It was very liberating and such a learning experience that has lit a smoldering fire that was needing attention. Well the fire has been stoked and is now in beginner’s mind inquiry mode.

The impact that the Esalen sangha had was intense at times.  The honesty that was demonstrated was liberating, especially with people that I only knew for 7 days.  Some of the connections felt as if they will were always there but hidden from my reality.

I’ve since joined the “Against the Stream” sangha in Los Angeles and I’m enjoying it tremendously.  Looking forward to Noah’s daylong 1/21.

A Prayer for the Children

child-med

A Prayer for the Children

I heard this from a Dharma talk given by Vinny Ferraro.  It struck many chords within myself…..and I don’t even have kids.

 

We pray for children who sneak popsicles after supper
Who erase holes in math workbooks
Who can never find their shoes
And we pray for those who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire
Who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers
Who never counted potatoes
Who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead
Who never go to the circus
Who live in an X rated world
We pray for children who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions
Who hugs us in a hurry and forget their lunch money
We pray for those who never get desert
Who have no safe blanket to drag behind them
Who watch their parents watch them
Who can’t find any bread to steal
Who don’t have any rooms to clean up
Whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser
Whose monsters are real
We pray for children who spend their allowance before Tuesday
Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food
Who like those stories
Who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the tub
Who get visits from the tooth fairy
Who don’t like to be kissed in front of the car pool
Who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone
Whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smile can make us cry
And we pray for those whose nightmares come in the daytime
Who will eat anything
Who have never seen a dentist
Who aren’t spoiled by anybody
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep
Who live and move but have no being
We pray for children who want to be carried
And for those who must
And for those we never give up on
And for those who don’t get a second chance
And to those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it