The discussion of the inner critic – see my blogs on Critiquing Criticism – often seems to have a reverse effect. Instead of relief at last, freedom from the difficult and often hurtful impact of criticism – or ‘faint praise’, which can be a cousin of criticism in disguise – it may appear to have become a constant companion. This is what I call the ‘purple BMW with pink spots’ syndrome: once you see one, you start seeing them everywhere! In other words, when you become more aware of some of the ways the superego is sabotaging your experience, it can seem that its attacks have increased, rather than simply been uncovered.
Love it to death
One of the best suggestions I’ve ever heard for how to beat the inner critic at its own game is to love it to death. After all, it meant well. It was a part of you that thought it was looking out for your wellbeing. It seemed like a good friend, trying to protect you – and others – from harm, or making mistakes. So if the holiday you sent it on seems very short, and it still doesn’t leave you in peace, turn around and look at it. Listen. See if there’s something to learn from it, perhaps an insight into false assumptions or beliefs you hadn’t realized you were holding on to. Love it for its good intentions. And then let it go. It’s the kindest thing you can do.
It’s difficult to talk of kindness or compassion, faced as we all are at the moment by continual anguishing news bulletins about disaster, hatred, war and thuggery. But if we have to start somewhere, then plain, everyday kindness to yourself seems like a good place. Kindness leaves no room for the inner critic, which in turn makes it so much easier to be more objective.
Hot & Cold
Objectivity is often seen as being cold, uncaring or uninterested. There is indeed coolness to it, which I think is more disinterested than uncaring. Objectivity requires being in the present moment, because old beliefs and fixed ideas tend to block freedom – freedom to be yourself, freedom of thinking, freedom of expression. Because the expression of truth allows freedom of choice.
With a little ordinary human kindness, there is always warmth. And where there is kindness, there may be objective analysis and recognition of mistakes, but there’s no harsh inner critic. Enquiry and meditation are great ways to explore the differences.
See www.chayes.nl or write for more information to chayes.nl