Do you live with an inner judge that relentlessly hounds you? A critical voice that is never appeased by anything you do? Sometimes barely a whisper and at other times it is screaming in your ear. The experience of hearing that critic might be like a gnat buzzing around you. Or a dog yapping at your heels. Or the voice of a parent, former teacher, or sport coach. This critical voice always seems to be saying—you didn’t do enough. Or get “it” perfect enough, or “ do it the right way”, or it wasn’t “neat enough”. Or you didn’t “please someone who will be angry “.
Listening to that judge is exhausting. And you are left never being able to celebrate or rejoice in what you have accomplished. The “not funny thing” about it- is that it is addictive. You think that if you try harder, the voice will be pleased. You keep trying harder and harder and imagine you are getting closer to approval. You pretend that this critic is benevolent and pushing you to do your best. You pretend this “judge” is a good friend. If you look back critically, you will find that this critic is never ever satisfied. When it does gives you quick kudos, it follows up with—“yah, but the good fortune may all disappear tomorrow”.
I think of the “inner critic” as a scared child, a child that is trying to protect you from harm—but with the emotional maturity of a 6 year old. A scared child thinks in black and white, fears getting punished or disapproved of, and wants a guarantee of comfort. This scared child is no match for the adult world of complex decisions, risk taking, and an ever changing landscape. Imagine for a moment that the next time your inner critic shows up, you see an image of yourself as a small frightened child. Imagine that you crouch down eyeball to eyeball with this child and tell him/her that everything will be okay and you will take care of him/her. They don’t need to worry—“it is handled”. You might even put your hand on their shoulder or give them a hug. You realize they are only trying to protect you, and you no longer need that protection, because you trust yourself.
Now imagine yourself as the adult you are. Reflect on the tens of thousands of times you promised yourself that you would give yourself a better, happier, and fuller life. The first step to take at this time is to love and befriend this scared six-year old. This scared child needs to be seen and heard. Much more importantly this scared child needs to be loved. The love you have for this child must be openly expressed and openly shared with the scared child. After all, the child is scared that you do not love him/her. Once you set on the path of including your hidden inner child in your decisions, events, outings and overall life style, you can anticipate that surprises will occur in your life. At first the surprises may be small ones, as the child gains confidence that he/she is being included in every aspect of your life.
Soon enough, though, the surprises will begin to multiply. You will find yourself, over time, making decisions based on what best serves your relationship with this now transformed wondrous child that you have come to see as your true self.
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