There's a voice inside of all of us that's not our own. Call it the inner saboteur, the worrywart, the gremlin, the ego, the everpresent biotch, whatever its name, its goal is self preservation. However, what it deems as dangerous, frightening, or risky appears to be exponentially greater than what is real. Based on childhood stories and past experiences of hurt, this inner voice wants to keep us in our comfort zones, believing we're incapable of acheiving our dreams because they are simply far too risky.
This inner critic hates change. It avoids uncomfortable or inconvenient situations by any means necessary. It tells us that we're not enough: not rich enough, smart enough, clever enough, beautiful enough. Or it tells us we're too much: too old, too young, too selfish, too boring. Evolutionarily speaking, this inner voice served a purpose at one point, protecting us from dangers in the wild. But the truth is that it no longer serves the higher evolution of our souls.
There are a few ways to begin to work with this other, which I have listed below.
- Recognize this voice as something other than your highest self. It is important that we realize that this voice we encounter is an aspect of our experience, but it does not need to have free reign over our decisions. It helps to name this inner critic, so that we can begin to identify when it is present within our inner dialogue. From there, we can choose to notice it's warnings, and we can choose to heed these warnings or not. Remember, there is always a choice.
- Notice how you respond to this character. From a space of relaxation, without judgement or criticism, notice the response tendencies to this inner voice. This inner critic has a purpose. This voice and the larger functioning mind, is a tool for our use. But when the roles get flipped, when the mind or the ego takes over and uses us as its tool, we are faced with a situation where we feel out of control and full of anxiety. Flip the switch and take back control. Notice the messages being delivered. Choose to view these messages as advice and, as we would practice discernment from any other piece of advice we're given, remember there is a choice as to whether we heed this advice or not.
- Remember ALL choices contain risks... but the energy accompanying these risks changes when we change our perspective with regards to these risks. Instead of looking at these messages or these percieved risks as something negative, we can choose to accept all outcomes as acceptable and a part of the adventure that is life. Our reality is only ever representative of the perspective with which we choose our experience. Risks can be seen as dangerous, or they can be seen as adventurous. They can be seen as burdensome or as empowering, as threatening or stimulating, as imposing or as an opportunity to learn and grow. It's all in the lenses we choose to wear.
- Acting with courage in the face of fear is called vulnerability, and it is the source of our greatest strength. Brene Brown, the author of Daring Greatly, says that "vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage are not always comfortable, but they are never weakness." Choosing to listen to the inner critic and acting anyway is a major act of courage. Those who take the greatest risks in terms of their personal and professional lives aren't fearless. I can guarantee you, there is fear present when they choose to act. However, what is different with these choices is an understanding that that fear, which is based in failure, is not the "be all, end all." Knowing that failure is an important part of growth and expansion, this decision to act in the face of fear can be expansive and empowering. Vulnerability is always challenging us to ride our edges, allowing those edges to grow and expand every time they are met.
- Find a physical anchor that acts as a switch on the inner dialogue occuring in that moment. Create a physical act that acts as an anchor to this present moment, instead of the projections and stories playing that aren't based in any physical reality. Some people push a button on their bodies, turning "off" the inner saboteur and turning "on" the inner cheerleader. Others clap. Some choose to close their eyes and follow their breathing for a minute or two. I believe is is important to keep the anchor physical as it brings us out of the mental plane and into presence. It allows us to see that we have a choice to decide to politely ignore the inner critic. Remember our thoughts are EXTREMELY powerful. Flip the switch and choose those thoughts wisely.
This inner critic doesn't have to be our enemy. In fact, we can begin to develop a positive relationship to them. But any healthy relationship is grounded in BOUNDARIES, in RESPECT, and in REFLECTIVE AWARENESS. Flip the switch and begin to heal your relationship to your inner gremlins today.
If you would like to explore in greater depth how to work with the inner critic, please contact me to book a holistic life coaching session.