Imagine playing a game in which you don’t know what the objective is, the rules are not the same for all players, and your equipment is different from everyone else. To cap it all, you discover that nobody else is actually playing the same game. What a relief to finally find out that, in the words of Eurovision’s amazing bearded lady Conchita Wurst, you don’t have to try to fit in, because when it comes to living your life, it’s <em>your</em> game. What matters is to see it for what it is – and play wholeheartedly!
What is it that clouds the issue, and stops us from playing our own game, living a real life? One of the major obstacles to exploring the truth of our experience is that inner judge that insists on telling us what we should and shouldn’t do.
Naturally, we need to obey the rules of society in order to have order and safety in our lives, and follow our conscience in showing respect for others, and looking after the well being of ourselves and our environment. But when it comes to personal expression and growth, inner criticisms and unrealistic beliefs about ourselves are limiting, rather than supportive. Very often, these beliefs are so much a part of how we operate, we don’t even recognize them for what they are.
Everyone has their own personal inner critic, the superego that dictates what we should and shouldn’t do, who doesn’t like it when we expand beyond the limits of what we believe is ‘proper’ behaviour, or what we are ‘allowed’ to do. This inner judge believes that we’ll lose our loved ones and antagonize our colleagues and employers if we don’t act exactly as it thinks we must. It makes us doubt ourselves and hold back our natural liveliness and exuberance. It exercises veto power over our life, getting in the way of seeing and developing our full potential.
From my own experience, I know how important it is to take the time to look closely at whether the superego is operating, when my enquiry seems to have come to a halt. Vigorous defence tactics are sometimes called for, to get out from under its heavy cloud of doubt and undermining criticism. And that in itself is no easy task, since the inner critic tends to drain away the healthy life energy needed to stand up and tell it: You’re fired!