Battling the Inner Critic

inner critic

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh

My brain is on turbo, all of the time, constantly labeling and assessing each decision, each move I make. That is partly why I became a yoga teacher. I wanted what was shown in the picture; the inner peace exuded by the gurus in their asanas, blanketed in solace as they silently sit in harmony with nature. I wanted the self-imposed judgments, the comparisons, and the slander going on in my brain to cease.

Then, I became a mother.

Holy cow, the voices of inadequacy and alternating superiority, only got stronger (and multi-dimensional). Self-imposed criticism reached new heights; I am exercising, but it’s not enough. I am spending time with my babies, but it’s not enough. I am eating healthily, but it’s not enough. And the pattern becomes clear.

Quite powerful, these messages often mirror my fears, my shadows, my insecurities – some aspect of myself in which I feel lack, that I am not enough. These voices fly under my radar, so much so that I am often not consciously aware they are feeding my every move. I have learned that going upside down into downward dog didn’t alone make the internalizing of these messages stop. The problem lay in my own acceptance of these voices as truth.

I have learned that not everything my head says is true.

My brain often tries to logically compartmentalize everything as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, as it is a brain of absolutes. Now, I can’t knock it completely because it got me into great colleges, helped me ace tests and has also saved me from some disastrous life choices. As long as things are going well, the voices can be boisterous and superior, yet as soon as I feel vulnerable, and life events go awry, the messages of defeat become louder, quickly erasing any previous confidence.

So, how to deal with my turbo brain, constantly on overdrive? Blocking the messages didn’t work. It is quite like telling a child ‘no’; they are not only going to do it anyway, they are going to do what is forbidden ten times over with exuberant force. With time and practice, I learned to use my own filter, which operates from a place of true wisdom, a place that exists in everyone.

It does not seek gain at the expense of another, nor claims a higher pedestal or a lower podium than another. It recognizes the messages that stem from insecurities, and swiftly directs the destructive messages to flow right past, not allowing for more than a fleeting ear. It allows me to recognize that internal messages of criticism and over-inflated sense of self, serve no productive purpose, except to create fear.

And when fear of lack is the underlying propellant, it will always keep me wanting more, never satisfied, making happiness truly unattainable. And today, I choose to be happy, turbo brain and all.


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