Often times we get caught up in our own inner dialogue. Mostly referred to as the “inner critic” - this tiny little voice in our heads creates self-debilitating thoughts of doubt, shame, and embarrassment.
You may notice that for most of us this inner critic is at an “on” function all of the time in our lives – whether at home, while running errands, watching television, or attending a party. You may be sitting in your back yard and relaxing and up goes the inner critic shaming the self and blaming you for not being productive. It goes something like this – “why are you wasting your time sitting here? You could have done so many productive things in this hour”. And as the inner critic takes over, we lose our precious moments of tranquility and peace, letting emotions like guilt and anxiety pervade our minds.
Alas, we surrender to the critic!
In a split second, we start judging our actions possibly hindering our self-esteem, often leading to sadness and a reduction of our over all wellbeing. The more we pay attention to and listen to the inner critic, the more ‘powerful’ it becomes, directly attacking our self-worth.
Cultivating mindfulness brings awareness to the inner critic. Paying attention to this tiny little voice in our head creates discernment of the self from the voice. In other words, one is able to recognize that the voice in the head is not me but my inner critic. With the practice of mindfulness one can get to the clarity of recognizing these unhelpful and unwanted critical thoughts and learn to let go of them.
Try it yourself:
- Find a place where you can be undisturbed for a few minutes (5-10 minutes). Assume a comfortable position by either sitting in a chair, upright, yet relaxed or on a cushion on the floor.
- Allow your body to be at ease.
- Slowly close your eyes and bring awareness to your breath. And then, eventually to the various sensations of your body.
- Now, gradually bring attention to your thoughts/inner critic in your head and let the thoughts flow as they are.
- Slowly and gradually bring awareness to a particular thought and name it, such as – “a thought of judgment” or a “thought of embarrassment”. Recognize that this is just a thought and let it go.
- Befriend your inner critic by offering compassion to yourself. Place a palm(s) on your heart and say out loud -
“I am here for you”
“I care for you”
“I’ll be okay”
“I got this”
“I am a brave person”