“What if your inner critic turned out not to be an evil bully needing to be conquered, but a frightened child needing your reassurance.” ~ Jo Hilder
We all know by now that the ego thrives in comparisons and judgment. It needs something to compare or contrast itself to, in order to be “something.” So there are two types of egos. The first one operates off the belief that it is better than other people.
It does this by projecting it’s own perceived “less than” qualities on to other people, in order to reinforce that it is above them. In this example, we have the judgments being placed on to other people and things outside of itself. so that it never has to look at itself as the “problem”.
The second type of ego operates of the belief that it is less than other people. This type of ego approaches life from the standpoint that they are not enough, not worthy enough, not rich enough, not skinny enough, not attractive enough etc… In this case, we have the inner critic being turned inward on to itself.
Most people are a mixture of both, sometimes they are one way, and other times they are the other way. When people are living unconsciously, they often believe the little voice in their head, that is either judging themselves or placing judgments on to others.
However, for those that start to awaken and come to know that our thoughts are technically OUR thoughts, but things we have picked up either from the collective unconscious or from our programming (which is the combination of things we have read, heard, seen and the way we are raised), when that little inner critic starts to pipe up we often judge ourselves because of it, or try to get rid of it.
We often think that we are too “evolved”, or “spiritual”, or “aware” to still have that little voice inside of us making judgmental remarks about others or the one that condemns ourselves for not meeting some sort of “standard” of whatever we are comparing ourselves to.
Since many spiritual and psychological teachings operate off the standpoint that the ego is not real and just an illusion we often find ourselves dismissing the inner critic as if it’s not real.
We think, “if it’s not real I don’t really need to pay attention, or I can just shoe it away somehow and make it just stop.” For anyone who has tried this tactic, they know that it rarely works. Trying to get rid of that voice that is making us feel bad about ourselves by just labeling it an “illusion” isn’t going to make the thoughts stop happening suddenly.
So what will make that little voice stop once and for all? How do we approach that little voice in our head in a way that it knows that we no longer believe in its validity yet at the same time giving it enough respect that it feels “heard”?
“When you adopt the viewpoint that there is nothing that exists that is not a part of you, that any judgment you make is self judgment, that any criticism you level is self criticism, you will wisely extend to yourself an unconditional love that will be the light of the world.” ~ Melissa Palmer
Imagine being a small child that no one paid attention to. Every time you tried to say something or give your opinion on something the adults around you would either completely ignore you, patronize you by telling you that your opinion really doesn’t matter because you’re not real, or that your voice wouldn’t be considered because you were just an illusion.
How mad, frustrated or angered do you think you would become by constantly being dismissed? Since the ego is based in fear and judgments, which, let’s be honest, no one really wants anything to do with, many have become accustomed to either denying it, writing it off, or trying to just get rid of it all together.
Also, for those on a self-awareness or spiritual journey, we have come to know that there is a state of consciousness possible that ego does not exist. We want that. The belief is, enlightenment means no ego, ego must be “wrong”, and because it is “wrong”, I must get rid of it at all costs.
Labeling it as “bad” or “wrong”, gives us the exact same consequences as the little child that is never heard. He gets worse. He gets louder. He becomes more and more demanding of our attention. And when our ego becomes more and more demanding of our attention, it comes in the form of obsessive thoughts, frequent obsessive thoughts or beliefs, or terrible criticisms about others or ourselves.
Instead of writing the ego off as the fake bully living in our head that we can discipline and control and make go away, we treat it in the same way we would treat a scared child. In essence, that is exactly what it is. If a little child were to tell you that it was jealous, angry, scared or depressed, what would you say to him?
In order for the inner critic to go away once and for all it needs to feel as though it has not only been heard, but it is empathized with and loved. To do this, we can become hyper-aware of the thoughts that pop into our heads on a regular day-to-day basis. Let’s say the thought is, “I look terrible today.”
We can either send the thoughts acceptance and love through our intention and energy, or we can physically say, “I love the one who feels insecure, I love the one who thinks he/she looks terrible today.”
By first acknowledging the voice, offering it our presence and attention (just like we would do to a small child), and telling it we love it, we start to change our subconscious programming.
We are no longer operating off the standpoint that the ego is “wrong”, but instead we are so accepting and loving of it that it has nothing else to threaten us with. When the ego feels heard, accepted and loved, it becomes our ally instead of our enemy. It starts working for us instead of against us.
“Whatever arises, love that.” ~ Matt Kahn
By unconditionally loving every single thought and emotion that our ego throws in our direction we start to notice a huge shift in the way we deal with life. When sadness pops up, “I love you sadness,” when fear pops up “I love you fear”, when the feeling of being unable to accept or come to terms with the fact that we are sad or afraid pops up, “I love the one who can’t accept that he or she is sad, or afraid.”
When we do things this way, we see, there is NOTHING that cannot be loved. Over time the ego begins to feel validated, heard, loved and even appreciated. And when a small child feels loved and appreciated, it begins to act with exceptional behavior.
We find that we have become our own biggest fan, we are complimenting and loving ourselves through anything, and when that happens, we have no other choice BUT to extend this same level of compassion and empathy towards others.