Embrace Your Inner Critic With Kindness
Most of us have an internal voice that is judgemental towards others, the world and even ourselves. It is often called the inner critic, ego-mind, or simply the ego.
This inner critic always has something discouraging to say. It is very good at destabilizing our mood by planting self-doubt. The result is often that we feel regretful about the past and fearful about the future.
What to do with this negative mental voice? Can we silence it? Should we ignore it? Fight it? Bury it under positive affirmations? There is a smoother, kinder, and conflict-free way to meet your critical ego-mind – with love and understanding. Embracing this critic is the ultimate act of self-love
Can We Really learn To Love The Ego-Mind?
Could we, should we learn to love this judgemental commentator that seems to live inside of us? Wouldn’t that make it stronger and even more controlling?
But think about it. What is the alternative?
I often hear well-meaning suggestions like taking control of this voice by banishing or silencing it. We are advised to get rid of it, ignore it or push back with positive affirmations. But none of those methods has actually worked for me or anybody I know. Plus, those approaches are exhausting as they require constant doing.
If we push something away from us, we have to keep up the act of pushing. That costs energy. And we start living in conflict with our ego-mind, pushing and pulling
Let’s say you have a thought like, I am not enough – one of the most common thoughts people struggle with. If you successfully pushed it into the background of your mind, it lingers there, just waiting to re-enter your field of presence.
At first, we feel more at ease and more confident Wonderful. But it doesn’t take much to shake that newfound confidence. As soon as something happens and we get triggered, this voice moves straight back into the foreground of our awareness.
Events that can trigger the negative statement can be for example:
• our partner leaves us
• our boss gives ‘our promotion’ to a colleague
• our best friend no longer has time for us
• our business takes a downturn
• we get sick
In those moments, we often realise that the inner critic has never really gone away. It was just sitting backstage waiting for its next performance.
A New Approach To Self Love
What if we stopped trying to get rid of our critical mind and instead allowing it to be there? What if we could learn to meet it with understanding, curiosity, and kindness?
Allowing it to be, doesn’t mean we are falling under its spell and believe everything that it is telling us. ‘To allow’ means to stop resisting and fighting it. This opens the space for acceptance, compassion, and love.
Loving it? Why? Does this discouraging and harsh part of the mind deserve our love?
Think of your ego-mind as a little child that has a tantrum. Does a child in a demanding, angry and irrational mood deserve your understanding, kindness, and love?
When I grew up, the mainstream educators would have answered with, No, absolutely not! When I was moody and unreasonable as a child, I was shamed for my ungrateful grumpy behaviour. I was met with anger and punishment. The adults around me did not know what else to do. They thought this was the right thing to do.
Today we have a kinder approach towards our children. More and more parents can meet their child in the middle of an emotional crisis and do not judge or punish. Some even have the capacity to stop what they are doing, be present with the child, and provide loving guidance and support – without being manipulated by the behaviour.
If you love your child, you don’t stop loving it when it is overcome by an irrational mood. You may even be able to look deeper and discover what lies beneath their tantrum.
The Ego-Mind Is Like A Fearful Reactive Child
So coming back to the beginning: Does our grumpy, critical, nagging and discouraging ego-mind deserver out love and attention? I believe so. And the harsher and unkinder it talks to us, the more it needs our understanding, compassion and presence.
The American teacher and author Byron Katie has written much about the mind and its painful way of thinking.
“Unpleasant, unquestioned thoughts are nothing but lost children. Don’t be angry at them and send them away. All they want is some attention and they will continue to beg you for it until you listen to what they have to say.”
Byron Katie states that she loves everything that her mind thinks, and that included harsh judgemental thoughts. Her approach, called “The Work”, is about embracing what is, accepting who we are, including our judgemental part.
However, judgemental thoughts create pain for our human system, and therefore she offers us The Work. It allows us to meet the negative mind with kindness and invite it towards peace.
As we learn to be present towards the critical voices, we become more compassionate. Eventually, we are able to offer the ego-mind our loving support and guidance. This approach can end the inner conflict we experience – the war with ourselves and our own mind. And this could be the ultimate act of self-love.
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