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Silence The Inner Critic August 22, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Meditation, Mindfulness.
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In meditation practice, as the observer of our thoughts,  we begin to see all the “crap” (technical tantric term) running through our brains.

That energy could be better utilized in other, more  creative, endeavors.

For example, many of us have an inner critic ~ a voice that reminds us that we are not good enough, or smart enough, to do whatever it is we want to do at that moment.

Sometimes we aren’t even aware that the inner critic has taken up residence in our brain.  We have so much other chatter going on up there, that we don’t hear our critic chipping away at our self-esteem in the background.

My inner critic used to visit me as soon as I got in bed at night.  Instead of giving me a pat on the back for the 99 things that I did “right” that day, my inner critic would launch into a pedantic stream of rhetoric about the one thing that I did not do well ~ using harsh words which would have reduced me to tears if uttered by anyone else on the planet.

Instead of telling him to shut up, I gave my inner critic free rein . . . hanging on his every word, and absorbing his poisonous ranting and raving, until I fell into the blissful oblivion of sleep.

Once I started meditating, I became more aware of my thoughts, including those offered up by my inner critic.

As I observed thoughts arising during meditation, I realized how negative many of them were ~ especially those espoused by my inner critic.

Pressing the PAUSE button for 20-30 minutes a day while meditating felt wonderful.

Over time, through the continued practice of meditation, I began to see my mind as the television set, my thoughts as the various programs being broadcast over the airways, and me . . . as the silent observer in control of both.

In short, I held the remote.  Talk about power!

As we become more aware of the chatter in our heads, and tune in to that chatter, we see clearly the dramas created by our thoughts, and we hear our inner critic spouting lies and half-truths.

Once we get the picture, we begin to reclaim control over our mind and  thoughts by asking a simple question: will watching this show (often a stale re-run), or thinking this thought, bring me happiness? 

If not, we use our remotes to change the channel.

As easily as maneuvering through a DVD, we observe what’s on the screen, we decide whether it’s in our best interest to continue watching, and then we act by pressing the relevant button:

PAUSE . . . FAST FORWARD . . . REWIND . . . MUTE . . .

And even . . . EJECT!

Learn to manipulate your thoughts, or they will manipulate you.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Teralyn Rose Pilgram on Dealing with the Evil Editor (Becky Levine’s Blog) * How To Eject Your Inner Critic

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Comments»

1. Don - August 22, 2013

Great post Nancy. I’ve noticed how simply an awareness and an observance of these destructive voices speaking, liberates one from their power. There’s something about just observing them and seeing their ludicrousness.

nrhatch - August 22, 2013

Yes! When these “tapes” are playing in the background, almost unheard, they chip away at our feelings of self-worth and erode our confidence. As soon as we “tune in” and really listen, our inner critic loses power because we are in a position to mindfully monitor and question its utterings and sputterings and mutterings.

2. Grannymar - August 22, 2013

I seem to do my inner listening and thinking when working with wool! I find physical work is a great channel changer.

nrhatch - August 22, 2013

Yes! When we focus on what we are DOING in THIS moment, we tune into the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures around us ~ it can be a very effective way to “change the channel.”

3. Eric Tonningsen - August 22, 2013

I also like the way in which Don Miguel Ruiz talks about clearing away and seeing through the “mitote” in Toltec wisdom. Many interesting and effective paths in which to accomplish this helpful goal.

nrhatch - August 22, 2013

I’m not familiar with Ruiz, the mitote, or Toltec wisdom. I’ll have to get busy on google.

4. Three Well Beings - August 22, 2013

I like the idea of changing the channel, and being in control of the remote! I have an inner fear monger…not so much of a critic, but if I’m not careful, I so easily hold hands with fear–and in a death lock! I agree with you about meditating…I’m not as faithful as I could be, but I recognize the benefits!

nrhatch - August 22, 2013

Even when I don’t meditate, I’m much more aware of the thoughts I think . . . which allows me to change the channel when thoughts arise that are not “advancing the ball.” Fear included.

I often play the “what’s the BEST that could happen game” when fear is insisting on focusing on the WORST case scenario. 😉

5. Patricia - August 22, 2013

Great advise to think about what’s the best that could happen!

nrhatch - August 22, 2013

It’s more fun than always gravitating to worst case scenarios. 😀

6. Andra Watkins - August 22, 2013

That I have plenty of outer critics has helped me gag my inner one. 🙂

nrhatch - August 22, 2013

You’re halfway home then. 😀

bluebee - August 23, 2013

I was about to say the same thing, 😉

nrhatch - August 23, 2013

It’s catching! (And catchy).

7. Booksphotographsandartwork - August 23, 2013

I am so glad that you mention this fact once in awhile on your blog because I so need to be reminded of this fact. I have a terrible problem with this. Not just at night but all day too! It’s like trying to fight a bear as you go through the day. I want to rise above this and acomplish better things so I need to be reminded. 🙂

nrhatch - August 23, 2013

You’re not alone in needing reminders, Linda.

Over the years, I’ve learned everything I need to know to live life with a perpetual smile . . . but it still slips from time to time. We slip, trip, and backslide from our best intentions. But I’ve noticed that it is easier to “get back on track” the more practice we have.

8. Crowing Crone Joss - August 23, 2013

love the image of the remote. It made me laugh as I always say that the best invention on that sucker, is the mute button. Like you, I’ve found the biggest gain of meditation is learning that I can change the channel or even, by god, turn the tv off!

nrhatch - August 23, 2013

The remote is a great image (especially for those prone to saying “I can’t help it . . . this is just the way I am”).

There are times when I am so immersed in the moment that the ticker tape of thoughts slows to a crawl or stops. Yay!

Crowing Crone Joss - August 23, 2013

those are the best of times, for sure.

nrhatch - August 23, 2013

Here’s to enjoying breath-taking sunsets . . . with no commentary from the “peanut gallery.” :mrgreen:

9. ericjbaker - August 23, 2013

My inner critic says, “Look. You’re smart enough and good enough. But you keep failing anyway. What the hell is wrong with you!!!???”

I’m thinking of sending an army of nanobots in there after him. I hope they can distinguish inner critics from regular old gray matter.

nrhatch - August 23, 2013

Make sure that the nanobots don’t nick your inner cheerleader while attempting to eradicate your inner critic! 😆

10. colonialist - August 23, 2013

THe other side of the coin, though, would be these people who have an inner praise-singer, convincing them that they are perfect when they are definitely not! Those could do with a good honest inner critic.

nrhatch - August 23, 2013

You’ve got a point, Col. But the “inner critic” I’m describing here is destructive, not constructive, in his criticism.

He is neither good, nor honest. 😛

colonialist - August 23, 2013

In that case, he is far better fired.

nrhatch - August 23, 2013

Exactly! Now . . . let’s get to work on those folks operating under delusions of adequacy! 😆

11. shreejacob - August 24, 2013

Beautiful and thank you! I’ve been having trouble with that inner critic..I’m however more aware when he makes his appearance! So, I’m taking it as progress 😉

nrhatch - August 24, 2013

That is the biggest step, Shree. Tuning in and paying attention to thoughts as they arise puts you in the driver’s seat. You can then begin to question them:

Is it true? kind? helpful? etc.

12. jannatwrites - August 24, 2013

Great post. My inner critic has been trying to mess with me lately. Though annoying, I’m shutting it out as best I can 🙂

nrhatch - August 24, 2013

When I first tuned in and listened to its sputterings, utterings, and mutterings, I was appalled at the tape playing insidiously in the background on auto-pilot:

“You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. And, doggoneit, no one likes you.” . . . the complete antithesis to Stuart Smalley’s daily affirmation. What a downer! 😦

Once I heard the ticker tape parade, I changed the tape.

13. sufilight - August 24, 2013

This post is in perfect timing for me as I am exploring mindfulness and I have been observing my thoughts. If the inner critic were a real person talking to me the way it does sometimes when I am off guard, I wouldn’t be on speaking terms with her. 😉

nrhatch - August 24, 2013

I know, right! When I tuned in, I couldn’t believe some of the nasty lies and half-truths it was spouting off. No one else would have been able to say those things to me unchallenged . . .

Giving her the silent treatment makes sense . . . or just pressing the mute button whenever she launches into a diatribe.

Aah . . . that’s better!

14. Pix Under the Oaks - August 24, 2013

I always have trouble with my inner thoughts early in the morning and when trying to go to sleep at night. I find listening to a sleep app with water sounds helps or listening to music. I let my inner voice/critic boss me around. Also something I have noticed and is off your subject but I wanted to mention is that I have found since CH retired (6 years) and is home, I find that now verbalizing what I used to keep to myself because I was alone gets me in trouble too. I find myself worrying out loud now through my conversation to him and have to constantly be alert that I am uttering negative thoughts which make them more real. No fun for him, no fun for me!

nrhatch - August 24, 2013

That’s not really off topic, Pix ~ sharing negative thoughts with others isn’t fun, and it can solidify those thoughts, but sometimes it has the opposite effect. Out loud, some of those negative thoughts sound ludicrous and more easily shrugged off. Rather like shining a flashlight to dispel the darkness.

The mind is a wonderful servant and a terrible master. When we learn to control our thoughts, we are better able to control our life. Sometimes it seems like a constant battle . . . but it’s worth it. After all, our freedom is at stake. 😀

Pix Under the Oaks - August 24, 2013

Yes I used to tell CH that getting them out in the open helped to get them out of my mind. And that he could share some of the worry.. 😀 But now I find that it makes them more “there”. And it seems I like to repeat them, saying it once isn’t good enough.. 😀 I am working on it all.the.time! I think today when I catch myself I will observe how silly they are and acknowledge how little there is I can do to change them. Like our lack of rain, drought, trees dying, ohmygod the sky is falling!!!
Thanks Nancy!

nrhatch - August 24, 2013

Keep at it, Pix. I am firmly convinced that mastering our thoughts is THE key to a happy and fulfilling life . . . even if we backslide from time to time.

Each time to pick ourselves back up, we regain our balance that much sooner.

15. kateshrewsday - August 24, 2013

A fantastic post, Nancy, and such a timely reminder how important regular meditation is. Thank you.

nrhatch - August 24, 2013

Thanks, Kate. Once we take the first step back (realizing we are NOT our thoughts and our thoughts are NOT us), life becomes ever so much easier. :

Step One: Do NOT believe everything you think.
Step Two: See Step One. :mrgreen:

16. Perfecting Motherhood - August 28, 2013

You know I’ve had a hard time making room for meditation in my busy life. So I was very excited to stumble upon this video on one-moment meditation. You actually train to do a one-minute meditation session, and once you get it, you can shorten it to whatever time you have, or need. I’m definitely going to try it, because I know I can do one minute.

nrhatch - August 28, 2013

Fantastic video, Milka. The benefits of meditation can be achieved with very little investment in time . . . and it’s always time well spent.

17. CMSmith - September 4, 2013

OK. I’m sold. Since Mom and Dad died I have had some childhood insecurities bubbling up. I’m going to give it a go again.

nrhatch - September 4, 2013

Christine, the book I’m reading now, Evolve Your Brain, is a fascinating look at how our brain works ~ both to our advantage and to our detriment.

Those sneaky synapses can hijack our thoughts unless we plant ourselves firmly in the driver’s seat! 😕

18. When Pigs Fly | Spirit Lights The Way - September 27, 2013

[…] Inner Critic (an outspoken naysayer) admonished and remonstrated with me (using his ever-clever kindergarten-style taunt), “You […]

19. Choose Happiness | Spirit Lights The Way - September 15, 2014

[…] through our brains in the same way we view images on a TV or computer screen, we realize we can change the channel any time we don’t like the program being […]


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