Tag Archives: inner critic

Voices

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The voice stayed with me
when the clock struck midnight;
it followed me into the new year.
It was quiet for a few hours,
letting me take in the new year…
But now it is saying, already,
You should be doing more.
You need to make phone calls,
you need to organize your house,
you need to earn more,
you need to plan for the future.
You could end up on the street.
You could lose everything.
Hurry up! No time to lose!

Now I want to know,
whose voice is this?
Of course I want to be responsible,
of course I want to take action,
of course I want to do the right thing.
But I don’t need a tyrant telling me what to do.
I don’t need a frightened, abused inmate
pushing me to be afraid too.
I’m ready for a new voice,
one that says,
Breathe. You’re doing just fine.
Let’s try this now.
You are not alone;
I’ll be with you every step of the way.
Everything is working out just fine.
You are safe.
You can trust me.
I got you.

I’m searching for that voice.
I’m wanting to see what my life will be like
when I listen to it and act from it.
May the voice of kindness rise up within me,
and may my ears and heart and mind
be open to receive its wisdom.

NaPoWriMo 2018, Day 7: The Artist Responds

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Hmmm…for some reason I keep hoping that these NaPoWriMo prompts will get easier, but they seem to be getting harder, perhaps because of what is happening in my external world.  But anyway, here goes.  Today’s prompt asked us to write a list of all of the identities  with which we associate ourselves, and then divide that list in two more lists, one list of identities that make us feel powerful and another list of identities that make us feel vulnerable.  Then we write a poem in which an identity from one list is speaking to, or contending with, or challenging an identity from the other list.  What a head game.  Luckily I’m always game to play in my head, so, let’s see what happens.

I wrote my list, and artist and critic were both there.  I figure that this a great place to start.

Critic:
Hey! Me here.
Who do you think you are
getting those art supplies out?
You aren’t any good
and no one cares what you
are trying to create.

Artist:
Oh sweetie, there you go again.
Why do you think you need to be good?
This act of creation is just for you….
you don’t need to impress anyone else,
and especially yourself.
Drop the pressure and radiate your light.
Life is your work of art.
Let your genius shine.
You don’t have to try so hard, friend…
Just relax and let your genius shine.

 

Lives to Save

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Tired, working hard to be prepared
for a workshop I’m teaching tomorrow
and those old scoundrels jump into my brain,
The Perfectionist and the Critic.
They let me know all sorts of things:
You should’ve had this done by now.
You don’t have enough authority to teach this.
It’s going to be a flop. They’ll want their money back.
Why aren’t you more organized?
You don’t have anything worthwhile to say.
You should just give up right now.
And I say:
Wow!
Thanks guys, really appreciate it,
everything you said is really helpful,
and I’ll be sure to take into consideration
what you shared with me…
AND,
I’m going to get back to work here.
I don’t have time to wallow in self-doubt.
I have lives to save.

 

From Fear to Freedom

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On this journey of self-love and acceptance
The goal isn’t to eliminate the critic
but to understand and hold it
with kindness and compassion.
The inner critic has served an important function
in our lives and those of our ancestors–
its main purpose is to keep us safe,
to help us survive–
and attempting to kill this part of ourselves
wouldn’t be helpful or reasonable.
But bringing more awareness
into the situation,
ah this now–
this will help us to shift our focus
from dwelling in the critic’s fear
to moving into our own power,
our creativity and inspiration.
Meet the critic with gratitude:
Thank you for wanting to keep me safe.
And then go on to reassure it:
I know this is scary for you right now,
but I want you to know 
everything is okay
and we will be fine
regardless of the outcome.
Acknowledge how hard it is
to feel this scared and still take risks,
to show up, be vulnerable,
feel this intense emotion,
dare to be your best self.
And then remember
you are not alone.
We all take this journey,
this sacred journey
that leads us from fear
to freedom.

Last Post of 2014

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Is it really here?
Did I really do it?
Why yes, I did!

When I started my writing project one year ago, a post a day for 365 days seemed like a pretty monumental undertaking–given that I hadn’t been writing regularly since getting married and having kids.  It required a rearrangement of priorities, a new vision for how I was going to structure my time.  I set out to explore the ideas of addiction and recovery in the context of my artistic self, and I was met with some pretty hefty resistance, from my inner critic and proxies for that critic–my husband’s resistance, my variable mental, emotional, and physical states, my health, my kids, my work…

And yet, here I am, writing post #391…that’s more than one post a day–how did that happen? As I stood there in the beginning, imagining a year of daily posts and all the time and discipline that this project would require, I felt a bit overwhelmed and maybe a little dubious that I would be able to follow through.  But I had been meditating daily for a while, and my practice had given me some understanding of my resistance mechanisms, the excuses I tell myself, the inner demons that rise up to squelch any attempt to change the status quo.

Trying to anticipate the whole year in advance made the project seem much more difficult than it was going to turn out to be.  I got it done, taking it one post, one day at a time.  And isn’t this ultimately how it works with any undertaking, big or small?  Everything is accomplished in a series of small steps, each one involving many choices, sometimes involving many different people.  When we get things done, we get it done in the present moment.  This is all we ever have.

The first months were about pushing through the fear and the resistance and just writing something. I sorted through years of words that had built up inside of me–many of my first posts are wordy, like verbal diarrhea just exploding out of me, this needing to find release, to express, to remember the writer that had gone into hiding in the wake of daily responsibilities as mother, wife, teacher, sister, daughter, friend.  Once the initial franticness had blown itself out a bit, I started to remember the self that had been overshadowed by the inner critic, the self that was waiting for me. It stopped being about the goal of posting and–much like my meditation practice–it started feeling more like a daily homecoming; writing became an extension of my meditation practice, a time to tune into my self with words, to explore this life and my thoughts on the medium of paper and keyboard. Freedom came as I stopped thinking about fulfilling the goal of a post a day, and I just showed up for my writing practice.  I’m glad I did.

I feel calmer now, more in touch with myself. I don’t feel frantic about my words or my thoughts like I did in the beginning. I’m here now. I can’t say I have experienced a 100% recovery of my creative self–what does that mean anyway? But I can say that a spark has been lit, and I feel enticed to keep coming back to it, to see what else might be illuminated as I attend more to this little spark I have been watching this year.

Thank you to all of you who have walked this journey with me. I set out to find myself, and I discovered something even greater–a community of soulful, beautiful, real human beings, walking this path of human being-ness with me. I’m amazed, deeply humbled, and profoundly grateful for the connectedness I feel now with many other writers and soul seekers.  I have appreciated every like and comment–each one feels like a great gift to me.

I just wanted to say, Thank you friends. Thank you for reading.  Tomorrow I’ll write again.  It’ll be another day, another chance for homecoming…and there won’t be much of a change for me besides that 5 at the end of the calendar year.  I don’t know if I’ll set another goal for this coming year–do I even need to?  I have come back home to myself and I don’t plan on leaving.

See you tomorrow!

The Loudest Voice

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Today I taught yoga to seventy students over three classes.    My heart is full in this moment; I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with these souls who were willing to move and breathe and just be with me.

Ever since I wrote about the stark contrast between my public persona as a yoga teacher and the one in me who suffers from fluctuations in mood, I have been thinking about my inner critic’s assertion that my struggles render my teachings inauthentic.

Is this true?  When I teach about the path to true happiness, and then hours later, I’m in the pit of despair–does this make my teachings on happiness any less valid?

It seems that the loudest voice wins out in this quest to capture my attention, and recently, the critic has been shouting the most.  Right now, the critic’s declarations seem absurd, and I wonder how I could have been so hard on myself.  If anything, my struggles render my teachings more authentic.  Because I have suffered deeply, I can feel true compassion for those who also suffer, and be sincere in my desire to ease their suffering in some way.

What is the loudest voice right now?  My body is tired but my mind is clear.  The voice I hear is the one who is eager to create, to share, to awaken and celebrate this life.  I like listening to this voice.  When I hear its words, I feel happy, ready to explore and enjoy and appreciate what it is I have.  The relief of this acknowledgment!  The utter relief in hearing something besides the one who tells me that I am a failure, I am hopeless, intolerable, unacceptable…Even a little space from that voice, and I see more clearly.  I see that I have a lot to give, and I want to give what I can.

The theme of one-pointedness emerged again and again in my classes this weekend.  I kept encouraging my students to focus on their breathing, to articulate in their minds what they were doing in their bodies, assisting the mind in staying present, giving their bodies the experience of aliveness, giving themselves fully to this moment.

It struck me periodically this weekend how much importance I have assigned to being a yoga teacher who is equally as happy in the rest of her life as she is while teaching students in the studio.  There is little room for sadness, exhaustion, anger, resentment, pettiness, overwhelm–because the presence of these means I have failed in some way.  It is as if, somehow, I’m not allowed to experience the darker side of human emotion–I’m not allowed to be depressed or angry.  But this is absurd!  Life is challenging, and sometimes I’m tired.  Sometimes I’m depressed.  Sometimes I’m angry.  But these feelings don’t make me less of a person and they certainly don’t render my teachings invalid!

The wise one in me knows that I can choose now to awaken in this moment and recognize its boundless beauty.  My past suffering does not hold me prisoner, it doesn’t make me incapable of experiencing happiness in this moment–happiness is this moment, and when I allow myself to be in the flow of life, happiness is normal.

So how to get to the place where I can greet the shadow emotions with detachment, and not get too caught up in assigning meaning to my struggles?  How can I just experience the sadness and rage without the need to fix the feelings I’m having?

Oh dear me…I’m beginning to fall asleep as I write this, too tired to construct meaningful sentences.  I am so incredibly exhausted after teaching three yoga classes. I’m going to allow myself to rest soon.

To anyone reading:

I’m wondering if you allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, or have you too discovered deep resistance to the feelings?  I want to know if you too have allowed your critic to pin your mind down and call it blemished, fundamentally flawed.  Have you suffered over your suffering?  Or do you allow the suffering to be until you’re ready for something else?

I’m just glad that the current loudest voice is a nice one.  A gentle one.

Night night everyone.