Our inner critic – you know, the one that tells you you’re not smart enough or good enough or successful enough – loves attention. In fact, its only job is to make you pay attention to it.
It’s a tricky game, because we get pulled into the story of why we aren’t good enough before we’ve even realized it’s happening (again!) and then we’re off to the races.
The practice this week is to quiet that inner voice, to turn down the volume so you can hear your real voice – the one that knows who you are at a deep soul level. That voice is the one of truth, not illusion. The one that shows you your power, your possibility, your brilliance. That’s the one we want to pay attention to. But we can’t hear it if the noisy, high maintenance one that says you suck is always hogging the stage. So let’s learn how to turn the volume down on the one we don’t want.
For the next week, when you notice that the inner critic has arrived and is trying to get your attention, your goal is to disengage rather than listen. This means that you are trying to simply notice that the gremlin is speaking, rather than thinking about what it is saying. It may seem like a minor distinction, but the difference is that you’re going for noticing how you are, rather than why you are. No explanation is necessary, it doesn’t matter why you did (or didn’t do) the thing you did or said. No thinking, just noticing. Use your body as a guide, pay attention to your physical sensations, your breathing, your surroundings.
You may find that some of the time it’s not possible to just notice, and you get engaged in the story. The gremlin wants you to believe that you will figure it out if you just keep thinking about it, but that’s false. The gremlin’s goal is just to keep you talking, not to solve anything. Sometimes you may choose to engage, or find yourself already engaged. When that happens, here are some tactics to get the gremlin to go away.
Then imagine stopping him/her by doing any of the following that appeal to you:
- Plugging your ears.
- Walking away.
- Telling it to shut up (feel free to imagine yourself yelling at it, swearing it it, whatever works for you). Say SHHHHH or “enough” or whatever word or sound is your way of saying “stop it!”.
- Physically pushing it away. I have personally found an imaginary roundhouse kick to the head does wonders to get my gremlin to shut up. Your gremlin is mean and is hurting you. Defend yourself however you need to.
- Shrinking it – imagine it getting smaller and smaller, kind of like the witch in the Wizard of Oz when she’s melting, or as if a shrink ray had zapped it down to a teeny, tiny size. Imagine its voice getting higher and higher and quieter and quieter until there’s just a little squeak.
- Putting it in a box, closing the lid, and putting the box away on your closet shelf or in the garage or somewhere you won’t look at it.
- Any other visualization that helps you make it smaller, quieter, more distant, or unable to keep nattering away at you.
The goal is not to engage, but to find the best means for you to withdraw from the conversation. Your gremlin has nothing good to say to you, there is no value in listening. Let your inner ninja defend you, and push the hostile voice to the side so you can hear your true voice.
Let me know how it’s going for you, I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with this practice.