MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR INNER CRITIC
We all have an inner critic. It’s the internalization of all of the judgment in our lives living in our heads. That voice that comes from way high up in our heads who tells you all that you can’t do. Asks, “Who do you think you are?”
The critical voice is not you at all and you have no reason to listen to it. It’s not us. Our truth lies much deeper in our bodies—in our hearts and our core. The Inner Critic voice instead ricochets through our heads like an echo chamber. Getting still and listening to where our insight is coming from came help us to discern when it’s our critic. After some practice, it becomes easier to see when the critic is rearing its head.
It helps to personify the inner critic. Give it a name. Draw it, sketch it, sculpt it out of clay. For one of my clients, the inner critic was the voice of a professor who told her she should quit school. For other’s it comes from a relative in childhood or a co-worker.Find humor in the endless loop of negativity helps. I have a client who is a researcher and a writer who has given me permission to share her inner critic—Gnome Chomsky. Here is a picture of him. She keeps him perched on her desk. Anytime the voices of doubt, worry, illegitimacy creep into her head, she gives a laugh at Gnome and tells him to hush. She has work to do. Silly Gnome Chomsky, you have no idea how much of a badass she really is..
SHOW UP IN YOUR WORLD
I was witness to a sacred moment with my daughter. We were helping at an aid station for a running race that is hard to imagine—100 miles through the mountains at the Eastern States 100. We were at mile 80. At that point, these extreme athletes had been running for 18 hours straight. And they still had 4-6 to go.
Our aid station worked all night long, with the bulk of runners arriving between 2 and 6 in the morning. I had pictured we would be a table in the woods, offering some water, some snacks. This aid station was more like a pop-up city of hope. A huge spotlight. Tables and tables of food—gentle food like broth, soft potatoes, oatmeal. First aid. Music. Places to sit. Places to lie down.
I spent the weekend cheering at soccer fields, as I often do. My son’s team was missing a lot of its key players at this tournament. The more senior members of the team entered the first game heads down, sure of failure. And true to their expectations, they played terribly the first game. They seemed to have already decided before the game that they would lose.
The second game, one of the littlest kids decided to write a different story. He was new to the team, and you could see in his body language that he didn’t buy into the drama. He decided that he would be the spark. He scored two of the early goals, and suddenly the whole team believed in themselves again.
As a cheering soccer mom, when the team looks out of sorts, I often shout, “Who’s going to step up and be the leader right now? Who’s it going to be?” That second game, it was an unlikely choice from a spectator’s viewpoint. But it didn’t matter because that kid decided he could do it.
Mindset matters more than anything in life. That I know for sure. We get to decide how we will show up in our lives. I share this lesson with my own children endlessly.It’s a super power each and everyone of us have. We can decide that life controls us. That we have no choice. Or we can make miracles.
Like Glinda the good witch’s advice, we need to know that we carry within us greater strength than we will ever need if we can just be brave and vulnerable enough to tear down our walls and let it shine out. My daughter is starting to believe it. My son is still figuring it out. My greatest wish for him is that he lets his light shine so brightly that he can light the way for others too.
LET US LIFT EACH OTHER UP
Every year I spend a week in the woods. I live in a tent and I cook for my children’s summer camp. I unplug from my technology and steep myself in a much camp magic as possible.
I especially the singing at the fire circles. This song spoke right to me this year, sung over and over in a round:
Humble yourself in the arm of the wild
You’ve got to lay down low and… [repeat]
And we will lift each other up.
Higher and higher.
We will lift each other up.
Camp offers me the gift of slowing down. Noticing a bug walking across the roof of my tent. Sampling the blackberries along the trail. Staring into a fire.
The slower I get, the more I know. The more wisdom seeps up into me. The more grounded I am. The greater I am in touch with my truth. My intuition. The part of knowing that comes from deep within my belly and tells my monkey mind to hush up and surrender. To “be still and know.”
I’m back I’m the frenetic life of the day to day. But I keep trying to hum that melody and remember to notice. To wonder. To be thankful. And to get still and to listen deep within myself.