Blaming, judging, projecting is NOT feeling and dealing. When we are caught in a mental loop, we are not present - we are feeding off the story our mind is creating. Our imagination can be a runaway train, caught on loop.
Harsh judgments interfere with the ability to develop a healthy sense of identity and belonging. We judge ourselves, we judge one another. Judgements - internal and external - separate us from our own selves and one another. Judgment is different than discernment. Judgement is an evaluation about good or bad, right or wrong, pleasant or unpleasant. Discernment is an assessment of differences. Judgement is often reactionary and can reinforce mental illusions. Discernment carries a degree of objectivity and is required to set healthy boundaries. We usually need more discernment and less judgement. Judgement declares, “My brother is a jerk for not paying me back.” Discernment states, “I will no longer loan my brother money.”
Examples: Judgement - It’s pointless to feel sad. Discernment - I’m feeling sad and I don’t know what to do with this sadness.
Judgement - I am weak because I’ve gained weight. Discernment - My body is larger than it was two years ago because I’ve been overwhelmed with stress.
Judgement - I am worthless because I lost my job. Discernment - I am experiencing self-doubt.
The inner critic may be so constant in your life that you don’t even recognize it as a separate voice inside your head.
If you suffer from low self esteem it is very likely you have a strong inner critic. Spend one week observing how often you insult yourself or talk poorly to yourself. “Maybe I should try online dating.” Inner critic, “If you can’t get a date in real life, you can’t find one on the computer. Nobody is going to like you anyway.” The inner critic voice is often so immediate and rapid, you may not even hear the words. It escalates immediately from “I should try online dating” to “I give up, why bother.” The inner critic is often like an over protective, mean older sister - trying to prevent you from heart ache. This mean older sister thinks its best to not try anything, in order to avoid failure or shame. Notice the areas you criticize the most. We are often our own worst enemy. Our inner critic stands in front of our greatest treasure.
How do you stop listening to all the noise of the inner critic?
1) Talk back to it - doubt the doubter and criticize the critic. When your inner critic proclaims, “I did awful on that interview, I probably won’t get the job.” Imagine a pet parrot on your shoulder that retorts, “When did you get a crystal ball? You don’t know what will happen!”
2) Nothing is beyond criticism (look at yelp reviews for duct tape!), teach yourself how to ignore it.
3) Tune in to the intention of this inner critic. Is it trying to protect you? Is it trying to make you a ‘better’ person? Inner critic, “I look awful in these clothes.” The underlying intent is to force you to dress nicer in order to get a date in order to avoid loneliness. Somehow the inner critic got the idea that insulting you into dressing differently is a route to curing loneliness. The critic is mean, but its trying to help. If you can get to the root of the message you will be able to give the inner critic some much needed time off!
4) Do the opposite. It is well documented that positive reinforcement is radically more effective at long term behavior change than negative attention. It might feel silly, but encourage yourself with pep talks, even if it doesn’t feel genuine at first. “I’m doing my best. I appreciate how hard I’m trying.”