Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Observing My Inner Critic

"As I create mental spaciousness, I am allowing my natural state of love and bliss to shine through."

I recently realized that I have an inner critic that is always reviewing, analyzing, commenting, and critiquing my actions.  These are my thoughts.  While I can always control my thoughts, it is not always easy.  In fact, I have found it is more practical to allow the thoughts to continue and just observe them.  I am not a very good 24/7 observer of my thoughts.  When, however, I notice these critical thoughts, I have recently started devoting more energy to observing them.

When they come up, I have the attitude in my observation of "here are those critical thoughts again..."  My attitude is one of a loving father observing a child that is engaged in some sort of ignorant non-beneficial, behavior.

I have only been on the "thought observation" mission for less than a year now.  Once I started it, I noticed immediate benefits (as in within the first 5 minutes). I have noticed that I am best at doing this when I have had enough sleep, earlier in the day, and usually during and shortly after meditation.  After that, I easily become wrapped up in my train of thoughts throughout the day.  I have been making steady improvements, however.

This latest realization of the need to observe my inner critic, which, in affect, silences this "voice", is the other shoe to drop on my spiritual path.  The first shoe being the realization that the spiritual path is the highest goal for me in this life.  Why is that?

My mind leans towards being very critical and over-analytical.  These thoughts go masquerading as "me" but they are far from me.  They are part of my upbringing and remnants of the past.  These thoughts want me to be "not me."  As I have brought my loving awareness to them, they have started to dissipate.  I am noticing more mental spaciousness as I am starting to hear silence more.

For example, I might be late to work.  In the past, I would think through the 5 reasons why I was late, felt bad about it, and shamed myself for this behavior. Now, I will observe these thoughts.  I will consciously expand the love inside my heart for myself and just love me for being me.  I will take the attitude that I am trying my best and that there must have been a good reason at the time for my tardiness.  I will reserve making any observations on how I can improve in this area until just before I go to bed at night.

I will take a bit of time right here to play devil's advocate and see if there is any benefit to being critical of myself in real-time. Let's say that it is useful to have this immediate beneficial information of what I could have done differently, that something else comes up that day where I use that knowledge. Or, maybe I will forget the contextual information about what I could have done differently or forget to do the self-review at all that day. I submit that these slight benefits do not outweigh the effect of these critical thoughts in everyday life. I feel worse because of them. It takes me out of the present moment as I dwell on the past. The thoughts are "caught up in the moment" and do not see the big picture of why I made the mistake. In short, these critical thoughts are out-of-alignment with life.

There is little benefit and more ill effects from me endlessly rehashing situations, events, analyzing my every move and why this or that could not have been done better.  Instead of this real-time self-commentary, I have decided to devote a few minutes towards the end of each day where I will review that day's activities to see if there is anything I can learn.  Learning from mistakes and doing self-review is important, however I have chosen to engage in this activity in a set time-frame once per day.  This is a good way to convince my analytical side that the activity will still take place just in a different way.  As I create mental spaciousness, I am allowing my natural state of love and bliss to shine through.

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