Meditation Articles Series

The Inner Critic and Meditation

What is an Inner Critic that can often turn into a bully? A bullying Inner Critic is an abuser who puts someone else down and denigrates them in some way that makes them feel bad about themselves. Have you considered that you may have your own Inner Critic? This Inner Critic will give you destructive messages from time to time. These messages usually came from our parents when we were children. Because we were powerless as children, we believed our parents and so internalised the messages we got from them.

Some of the messages you may have received are:

You’re clumsy.

You’ll never be as smart as him/her.

You’re stupid and incompetent.

You’re unlovable.

You’re unattractive.

Your ideas and opinions are wrong.

You’re unacceptable.

Your feelings and experiences don’t matter.

When you meditate you may hear some of these messages arising within you. You will come back to your one pointed focus, and like any other thought let it pass by. But what do you do when you are not meditating and that inner voice with its bullying message starts to denigrate you?

Here are some steps to help you:

  1. If you can, become aware of this voice as a voice from the past. It is not you, but it can destabilize you very quickly making you go unconscious and beating yourself up. When you are aware of what is happening you can do something about it. That’s really important to know.
  2. Breathe; yes, that’s right, become aware of the breath just as you may do in your meditation technique. Replace agitation, (which you’ll feel in some part of your body and not like), with the breath. Take some long, slow, breaths, breathing in and breathing out consciously. This will help your muscles to relax, and reduce the outpouring of adrenalin, which creates stress.
  3. At the same time observe what is passing by. It’s just a thought after all, albeit a destructive thought. Change the thought by telling your Inner Critic, “That’s not true.” For example, “I am loveable,” or “My ideas and opinions are valid.”

At first you may have to be quite proactive. In time you will be able to observe the Inner Critic as trying to undermine you but no longer destroying your beauty and goodness.

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