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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Step Back

Silencing the Inner Critic

Put blinders on to those things that conspire to hold you back, especially the ones in your own head.”
Meryl Streep

The Spirituality Group is studying Michael J. Singer's book, The Untethered Soul, in which he strongly encourages us to silence the nay-sayers inside our heads. “Lean away from them,” he says. If those voices inside your head were your evil roommate, you would certainly stay out of the room as much as possible. In thinking about this though, I wonder whether it's any better to have voices that tell you you can do anything you want to do (like, apparently, Mr. Trump does). It must be devastating to find that there actually are limitations to what you can do, when you've been fed that line your whole life. Is it only the voice that excoriates and punishes that needs to be silenced? Usually, along side that bully, there is a voice of reason and moderation. I like that guy. I want him to talk more.

Vincent Van Gogh suggested: “If you hear a voice within you say 'you can't paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Defiance then is the key. Remember when you were an adolescent, and defiance was your middle name? “Oh, yes I can! Oh, yes, I will! I'll show you!” We need a little bit of that with our inner critic. For sure, we should not allow her/him to carry the day and beat us into submission. My own therapist would advise, “Kick 'em out! Tell 'em to shut up and leave at once!”

Here is writer Jo Hilder's thought on the subject: “What if your inner critic turned out not to be an evil bully needing to be conquered, but a frightened child needing your reassurance.” No doubt, the inner critic springs from all the negative messages we internalized as a child—the critical parent, the hostile teacher, a society that didn't include us—but now those voices belong to us, and we are the only ones who can change them. According to Michael J. Singer, the first step in that process is identifying yourself as the one who listens to the voices, and not with the voices themselves. In other words, take a step back, and allow the argument to play out without getting emotionally caught up in it. What you may find is that the voices carry on for a while and then move on to another topic—they may even change positions, with a new competing narrative. Their only job is to talk, and they don't really care what they talk about.

Our inner critic can simply be ignored. By stepping back emotionally, we can let him/her carry on like so much background noise and go ahead and do whatever it is we want to do. We may not be “the best” at what we do, but we will be as good as we allow ourselves to be. I'm going with Van Gogh on this one—manage your emotions, and go ahead and do what you set out to do. Be your own inner champion.

                                                      In the Spirit,


1 comment:

Willson said...

Thanks, Jane. The spiritual sliver here seems to be humility. Charles Kinnaird's post of a Dylan interview nails down the rough edges of what we might call the cloud of unassuming, where creativity and humility rise as one mist.