Last time, we talked about how to fight back to the inner critic. We start by being very clear that this is a distinct part of our psyche, not the totality of who we are. And then it may help to come up with an image or identity – some visual or auditory signal that we can associate this inner critic with (Aunt Thelma’s voice, for instance, or the image of an angry drill sergeant) so that when the inner critic comes up, we’ll remember it’s not “all of me” that thinks/feels this way, just this distinct part. It helps to make that visual or auditory signal be somewhat humorous so that we can shake ourselves loose a bit from the seriousness of it all and say to ourselves, “there’s cranky Aunt Thelma again, sitting in her lounge chair, complaining and telling me what to do and how to do it again.” We want to get to the point where we can laugh at it. And eventually we’ll even make friends with it, and mine it for the wisdom it may have to offer. It’s a mental discipline we are practicing in order to get to this place. One of the best tools I know to practice this discipline is vipassana meditation, also called insight meditation. If you can find instruction in this type of meditation in our area, that would be great, but in the absence of that, look for writings and recordings by Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, and Joseph Goldstein. I especially love the recordings because you can listen to that as you meditate, and it includes in-the-moment reminders as you’re practicing, which is the most helpful because, disciplining the mind is no small task.
More next time about this little pest we all have in common – and how to make it a friend.