When I was in my early 20s I was one of those girls who was having a rather difficult being a human. In my wild search to understand how to cope with this earthly saga, I finally attended a workshop in London that radically shifted my life. The workshop leader said, “the very first step on the spiritual journey is to become aware of your inner critic, and stop believing it entirely. You may think it’s helping you to change, but it’s actually keeping you stuck, and you need to be relentless in telling it that you will not listen to it and put up with its abuse.”
Later as I walked through Regent’s Park with its wispy trees reflected in fairy ponds, I reflected on my own inner critic and saw that she was a gosh darn monster who consistently beat the shit out of me. What I learned that day was that this monster had a good intention, she wanted me to become the best ME possible. And she believed that the only way was to be forever on the look out for my imperfections so she could whip them out of me.
After all, many of us grew up subtly and unsubtly being punished when we did something “bad.” As adults we take over the job and punish ourselves when we don’t live up to our internalized view of fabulous and amazing.
But finally someone was telling me that this whole structure was the very thing that was keeping me stuck. For the first time I learned how to not believe in the horror story happening between my ears and began to stand up to my monster. That’s when I realized it was actually a child aching for love. It was the painful voice of the collective attempting to control reality, military style.
These days the story between my ears is more of a love story between my monster and me. I mostly know that my best defense when she pulls out her critical guns is to pull out the love grenades. But my monster is sneaky and sometimes it takes a while before it dawns on me that the story in my head is untrustworthy nonsense. It’s just the monster up to her old tricks again. But I know that within my mind, willpower, force, and lack of kindness don’t work. The unwavering remembrance of awareness combined with fierce, unstoppable compassion is what creates real, lasting transformation.
Here’s a picture of Regents Park… I love that place so much!