Does your inner critic stop you from accomplishing your goals? Maybe with sabotage?
There’s no time. I’m too old to start. Too busy to make time. Too involved with my job to exercise, eat better, start a journal, follow my heart.
The voice of negativity can be a harsh critic. Or, it can be the voice of guilt.
Why waste time on your development when your friends and family need you to care for them?
It might be mildly reproving.
You want to stay safe, don’t you? Have enough money for your retirement? Avoid potential disaster?
The voice of the critic is the voice of resistance.
Resistance does not always have bad intent. Mostly, it wants to keep us safe. Which means, taking no risks, not trying for anything better.
As long as we go along with the program, it bubbles along below the surface like an underground stream.
The minute we have an idea to change our life for the better, it rears up and spouts its negativity into our ears. Suddenly we get busy with worthwhile projects. People need things. The car breaks down. The refrigerator starts making an awful grinding sound.
We have to take care of these things, right? Wouldn’t a responsible person do exactly that?
If you are not doing what you want to do.
If you make decisions to change your life, but don’t follow through.
If you want to be more creative, but bog down due to time constraints, overwhelm, or conflicting demands, it’s time to look at your relationship with your own intention.
It’s time to clear the decks.
Intention is a habit. All habits are formed through repetition. What we hear all the time becomes familiar. What we get validation for, we repeat.
Maybe it’s time to allow our creative, life affirming part to lead the way and validate us for what will move us forward in the larger sense.
The first step is to clearly state our intention.
Take a few minutes and think about what, specifically, you want to do. Then write the statement in the present tense, first person.
I write in my journal for fifteen minutes every day before I go to work.
I walk four times a week for thirty minutes.
I no longer eat sugar.
I finish a chapter of my novel every month.
I take a painting class every Saturday afternoon.
If you have a robust inner critic, you might hear the voice complaining, protesting or arguing with you. You can ignore it. Or, you can simply tell it that you are developing a new habit and would appreciate its support. Whether it acquiesces or not, you go on.
It takes thirty days to develop a habit, so give yourself at least that amount of time.
It can help to track the days when you complete your goal. Post the list in a place where you see it every day.
Is Intention a Force I Can Call Upon?
Many people believe intention as a force in the universe. Lynne McTaggert calls it The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe, the energetic, invisible connection among all living things. Many spiritual writers refer to it as an aspect of Source, the divine, the creative self, the superconscious mind. I think of it as an aspect of myself that Knows.
From this perspective, intention can be called upon. Once we understand that we are more than our ego-mind, more than the physical, more than the inner voice of the critic, we can take active steps to connect to the force of intention. It will help us stay on track when the inner voice advises us that we’re too busy, too tired and too overwhelmed to do what we decided to do.
Writer McTaggart’s studies of the field resulted from interviews with scientists who relayed experimental results that could not be explained by “normal” means. She went on to develop The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World that enlists people via the Internet to change the world through their thoughts.
Scientist Emoto discovered that intention clearly stated, thought or written, changes the molecular structure of water. The Hidden Messages in Water
Physician Larry Dossey writes about how prayer can assist in the healing of physical illnesses. Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine
Intention is powerful. It is available. You too can use it to change your life.
What about you? Do you have an example of when you used your intention to make a positive change?
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!
We all have an inner critic. It’s a function of the conscious mind. Some have huge, robust, well-developed critics that comment and decide on every aspect of our lives. Others, more fortunate, have milder critics who appear only once in a while.
Every spiritual and psychological system of personal growth has ways to deal with the aspect of mind that criticizes, blames and judges to keep us where we are. The critic believes it is acting in our best interest.The critic wants to keep us safe.
Deciding to use forgiveness to work with the inner critic is a radical method that I have found works. This is not seeing the critic as an enemy in a war. While many are comfortable and energized by doing battle with what needs to be changed, I have never liked the idea of war. More useful is the idea of inquiry. The most severe critic is still part of us. It may sound like Mom or Dad of our second-grade teacher, but it lives inside our heads.
The ancient Hawaiian prayer of forgiveness, the Ho’oponopono, is a compassionate tool for personal work. It seems almost too simple to be effective, yet that is its beauty. Ulrich E. Dupree, author and teacher, wrote a little book about the Hawaiian ritual of forgiveness and how it can affect your life, your family relationships, friendships, even the environment.
The simple prayer is:
- I am sorry
- Please forgive me
- I love you
- Thank you
That’s it. A short prayer with roots into antiquity, it is part of the Hawaiian Huna tradition which teaches there is one power in the universe, the power of love. Ho’oponopono is compassion in action.
Its practice is a way of returning to unity, releasing judgment and condemnation toward the self and others, and finding harmony. Since it requires acting from the heart, it could be seen as a way of returning to the divine plan, which has compassion for all that exists.
This may be the opposite of what you learned. From infancy, we learn dichotomies, right and wrong, good and bad. All our institutions follow the hierarchical model. We move up or down, in school and then in work.
What stops us from experiencing the harmony and freedom from pain is our thinking minds. We come to adulthood attached to cares, fears, comparisons, standards, and beliefs about what we need to be happy.
The Ho’oponopono method of working with unease or distress takes a different approach. Instead of figuring out what we need to do, learn or achieve, these are the steps:
- We ask to reach within ourselves a place of recognition, courage, power, intelligence and peace.
- From that place, which can be described as sitting in the heart, we describe the problem and then search for our share in it. That could involve, for example, a judgment we’ve made, or an action, or a memory.
- We forgive unconditionally and speak the four sentences: I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.
- We give thanks, express trust and let go.
This method of personal change implies acceptance that we are co-creators of everything in our lives. On some level of awareness, we have accepted all we encounter. That does not mean we need to keep accepting it. Once we become aware enough to notice an issue, it is usually ready for healing.
I have found this method works, not only to forgive myself and others for making judgments, but to forgive my judgments of aspects of myself.
I find self-marketing challenging. I resist it. My inner critic tells me I’d be better off spending more time creating my fiction, not developing a platform to sell it.
That does not take into account the realities of today’s publishing world. Therefore, I can forgive the part of myself that does not want to spend time on marketing. As I do that, I can delve deeper into the issue and discover what I’m really afraid of.
This simple technique works wonders with resistance, with any form the inner critic takes.
I’m sorry. Forgive me. I love you. Thank you.
Everything has a right to exist. Even resistance.
The more we battle with what we don’t like, the stronger it gets. Forgiveness softens the hard, unyielding parts of ourselves that reach from the past to fasten their tentacles into our minds and keep us from living fully.
Even if you’re not convinced, try the Ho’oponopono prayer. It has worked wonders for many people.
To learn more about this method of forgiveness, read Ho’oponopono: The Hawaiian Forgiveness Ritual as the Key to Your Life’s Fulfillment
I’m an introvert. I’ve always known it, and it’s one of the few things I never judged myself for.
By “introvert,” I mean a person whose focus of attention is toward the inner world. While extraverts seek information outside themselves, we introverts aren’t satisfied until we process outer information through our inner filters. Many introverts are p(erfectly comfortable in social situations.We do need alone time, though.
(To learn how to be a successful introverted writer, try Hope Clark’s excellent book.The Shy Writer Reborn: An Introverted Writer’s Wake-up Call.)
For me, meditation and solitude are natural. I’m familiar with the internal landscape. My inner voices are old friends.
Even knowing this, even with experience using journaling and meditation to figure out what’s going on with me, I fall prey to the trap of listening too much to others.
When I started writing for publication, I wanted to publish. Writers want to be read, right? With research and effort, I made progress. Next came marketing. Internet marketing seemed like a natural fit. So I learned. Read. Took courses. Read blogs. Learned strategies.
Except it wasn’t.
I was listening to others’ opinions about what was marketable. I’m a creative intuitive, remember, so I love ideas. I love to follow them, apply them. Before long, I had so many projects, paralysis set in.
I was learning craft, the fiction market, how to position books, how to blog, how to develop a web site, how to use Facebook, twitter and forums. It was not only overwhelming, it brought all my insecurities to the surface.
Many times, I threw up my hands. The only time I was really happy was when I focused solely on writing my novels.
The other day I was re-reading Steven Pressfield’s excellent follow-up book to The War of Art. It’s another short, simple read called Turning Pro. I highly recommend it.Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work.
As I was pondered my recent rejections and how more than one beta reader had recently commented I wasn’t taking risks, with my fiction, it hit me.
As much as I listen to my inner self, I was using the distraction of marketing to avoid opening to a deeper level in my own writing. I knew, vaguely, that the deeper level was there. I wanted to get to it.
On the other hand, that takes time and there’s this article to write, and my latest book to market, and editing on that new story, and I have client work to finish, and . . .
Shut up, I said to myself. If turning pro means, as Pressfield claims, facing my fears and listening to the Muse, then I must listen to the message that a deeper part of myself is calling.
Turns out, as with most things, there are levels.
I committed to serious writing several years ago. That decision is made. But I get sidetracked on marketability. What will sell? What does the market want?
Then I remembered a lesson I learned long ago. There is a tone inside each of us. If you are very quiet and listen, you can hear it ring. It rings with your vibration. It tells you what is sacred and true. It resides in the center. The still point.
So my new resolution is to write from as close to my own center as I can get. This will vary from day to day. That’s okay.
For an introvert who enjoys solitude, it was humbling to learn that I have resistance to silence, to turning inward, to listening to the voice within. Embarrassing. But that’s what always happens when another piece of resistance falls away.
The upside is that energy releases and creativity flows more freely. Totally worth it. So I’m committed anew. To listening more deeply. To quit surfing over the waves and diving deep. That’s where my tone beckons me.
What about yours?