One of the themes I have been working on this year in my personal work, workshops and in my writing is Transforming You Inner Critic Into Your Inner Cheerleader. Actually, this is a piece I have been working on personally for a long time. My mentor, Shaman Ross Bishop, author of Healing The Shadow and a shaman of almost 40 years, actually certified me as being one of his hardest cases in this area.
I have progressed tremendously and as a result, I am able to help others in shifting this pattern. I continue to work on it on my own. And, it continues to show up – sometimes stronger and more often, with less fierceness than it used to. It still shows up but it’s no longer paralyzing or totally self-sabotaging in the way that it was when I was younger. I have found the key is to cultivate love and compassion for myself; this is at the heart of my life, my work and my writings.
Why am I focusing on this today? Well, we’re on Day 6 of the Blog Challenge today and I am just writing my fifth post. I was packing and traveling yesterday and beginning my vacation. I thought once I got settled in that I would write it, but didn’t. In the evening, I spent time with friends, staying up later than usual and having fun. Missing a deadline for fun – this is somewhere my inner critic would have gone ballistic in the past.
Also, historically, I would have beaten myself up so badly that it would have been difficult to get back in the saddle again. In giving instructions for the 31 Day Blog Challenge, facilitator Lesa Townsend offered that if you miss a day it’s best not to worry about it, just write two the next day or make up for it somewhere along the way. That sounded reasonable and yet, I could feel the expectations percolating within myself to not have that happen. And, now to encounter this so early on. What an opportunity to explore and grow!
I share this because I know I am not alone in it. I can see even more clearly how this pattern keeps me stuck and in a cycle of perpetual pain and suffering. And, I now know that I can transform it. It’s still going to come up but by working on it in a proactive way and in the moment it is arising, I am able to create a paradigm shift in my life. Just like any part of life, it’s a dance. So, in approaching this aspect of healing in a willing, present and creative way, the door is open for healing and transformation, both personal and collective. That’s what The Heart Of Awakening is all about!
In my workshop on Transforming Your Inner Critic Into Year Inner Cheerleader, which I have offered several times this year, I share five steps to working on creating change in this area. Additionally, I offer a variety of tools and experiential practices to support this transformation. There is no magic formula – each person is different and needs to explore and find the tools that support them and their individual journey. However, one of the tools that I find most beneficial in the process of creating change is journaling.
Journaling is a powerful way to develop self-awareness, track our experiences and cultivate change in our lives. There are many ways to journal and it’s important to find a way that works for you. For some it’s hand writing, for others on the computer, jotting notes on your phone or even recording a voice note. In the process of transformation, the important thing is to develop a method that helps to you to track where you are, what tools you are exploring and what changes you maybe noticing. Also, lists are a wonderful way to develop clarity and have beneficial resources at hand when you need them.
In working on transforming the inner critic it can be helpful to explore the following:
- How your critical voices show up, e.g. guilt tripper, taskmaster, shamer, etc. Be creative – describe them, what they look like, feel like, you can even draw them to have a visual – this is part of bringing what is unconscious into our conscious awareness where it can begin to transform.
- When you’re critical voices show up, e.g. work, relationships, family, etc.
- Triggers you may become aware of e.g. paying the bills, public speaking, etc.
- What tools/interventions are you exploring? Do they help?
- How do you feel after using a specific tool?
- What are you noticing overall as you work on this pattern?
- Are you willing to stay present with your exploration even when it is uncomfortable, knowing this is part of the process of change? If you get thrown by your inner critic, are you able to come back to your practices when you notice?
- Are you able to become a good friend to yourself? What are the challenges with this? What would you say to a good friend who is feeling as you are? Would you keep a friend who speaks to you the way your inner voices speak to you? (Just consider that!)
- Identify people in your life who are outer cheerleaders/good friends/mentors and ask for their support in this process.
- Work with affirmations in your journal practice and in your life. You may wish to create your own affirmations in response to your specific critical voices. This helps to bring in a positive energy but can also help to surface our negative or critical voices, which tend to come up in response to positive words being offered to ourselves. This dual aspect makes affirmations a very powerful tool in transforming the inner critic.
- Do Mirror Work and journal about what comes up.
- At least once a month, do something to celebrate yourself. Create a list of things in your journal that you would like to do and that will support your inner cheerleader in emerging.
There are several posts on The Heart Of Awakening that may be helpful to explore:
May Is For Metta (I have found the Buddhist practice of Metta to be one of the best tools for this work. Not only is it an amazing spiritual practice, offering an opportunity to create loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves, it can also stimulate those critical voices as we begin to practice. This is where our work lies and so Metta can really help to peel away the layers while at the same time we are creating a new foundation.)
I also really recommend Ross Bishop’s book, Healing The Shadow. The new 2nd edition was published last year and offers even more insight and tools to support transformation and healing. I have found this book to be an incredible guidebook for life on earth and it’s one I come back to again and again.
Stay tuned for most posts on this subject. And, I may have another post today or I may save the missing post for when there is a burning topic that wants to show up. My affirmation for today is, “I am gentle and loving with myself.”
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, feelings and reflections.
Have a beautiful day!