Mindfulness of the Inner Critic & Healing / Growing

Listening to your inner critic

Is your inner critic too loud? Are you a chronic overachiever, or pushing yourself to being wonder woman, working full time, caring for a family and even for aging parents? Take a moment right now to sit still and take ten deep breaths. Notice where your thoughts wander, when they zone out. Are you stuck in your inner critic’s audience, unable to shut off the show or leave?

Inner critic is a nice name. I actually refer to this voice as my inner ghoul! Sometimes I will do a short practice, say ten minutes, where I interrupt my meditation to write down the negative thoughts that come to mind. I jot them down in a notebook and then return to the practice, noticing the breath and body. Sometimes I come up with three pages of “why I’m unworthy” and “why I’m unlovable.”

Stopping to write down the nasty thoughts is helpful, because it gets them out of your head, where they have much more nebulous potency, and on to paper, where they appear in their true form–ridiculous, illogical, and punitive. I would never tolerate any such nonsense from family members, friends or colleagues and yet I bombard myself with it 24/7.

Want a quick look-see?

  • “I am doomed” [to fail at a task, in love, in my profession, as a parent].
  • “I am a phony” [at everything! A parent, musician, meditation instructor, friend, girlfriend, daughter, gardener, recycler and really an endless list] “and everyone will see through me and sever all contact with me.”
  • “I’ll never have enough.” [love, security, abundance, companionship.]
  • “I have made many bad choices and completely wasted my potential.” [at everything–marriage, parenting, career, finances, in my spirit practice].

Does any of this sound familiar? How do we tolerate this? Simple answer: habit and lack of mindfulness about it. Our work is to start paying attention to the attack, to make conscious what is just under-the-conscious. Once it is conscious, we can bring our big mammal brains to the task of understanding & problem solving:

  • Is this true?
  • Is it helpful?
  • Do I need to make some changes?
  • Am I happy?

When the inner ghoul’s poisonous sound waves remain unobserved, they continue to wound much more deeply. Only in our mindfulness of this self-criticism do we create the space for examination, growth, healing and recovery.

Thanks, Rosanna D’Agnillo