60 to 60: Inner Critic at the Dog Park, Part 1
The other day, I was having a real downer. You know those days when that Inner Critic will just NOT for the love of all that is Good and Holy BACK DOWN? Oh, she can be so pesky. So belittling, and cruel.
What exactly is the (her/his/their) deal here? You’d think that–after a certain amount of days on the planet, getting bumped around and bruised up a bit and yes still and always rising–that the Inner Critic would be retired by now. Or at the very least, be taking an extended nap.
But no. There she was, springing up as she does. Judge-Judy-Critical, strong and powerful. No tricks for this trickster. Always, with so much to say:
Who cares what you have to say/write? It’s too late.
Why can’t you just get along with everybody? You’re so rigid.
You know you’re basically broken. Why bother to heal all these layers?
Does this sound at all familiar?
I never, ever never would speak to my daughter this way or a friend. Not even a stranger, like the nice lady from south Texas at the Puerto Vallarta airport. On a delay, she told me everything about everything. There was sorrow. I did my best to lift her up in the time we had together. Of course. That’s generally what we do for each other, as fellow humans.
So why in the world do we allow these thoughts to come in about ourselves? Here’s what I know.
1. Every human being on Earth has an Inner Critic.
2. Let’s cut out the “shoulds.” I should eat better, work better, BE better. I should be thinner, should be running, should be meditating more, should really keep my opinions to myself. I should be doing this, that, the other thing. We end up should-ing all over ourselves, and probably everyone around us, too. Let’s cut it out.
3. The Inner Critic adheres to Lower Mind thinking. That’s all. It’s like a river– the thoughts might start off slow-moving but then things get going and pow. Off and running. It’s all very familiar because that Inner Critic has been hanging around doing pull-ups and one-armed push-ups FOREVER. This familiarity can actually feel much more comfortable to us, than doing the work to change things up. It seems easier, cozier, to stay in negative pathways and thought patterns that we’ve known so well.
4. We CAN change things up. For ourselves. If we really want to. The mind is our greatest handicap AND our greatest asset. None of this is new to the human condition! We do not have to live in Lower Mind thinking.
When dealing with the Inner Critic, It has helped me tremendously to look back at ancient Himalayan pranayama* techniques. With focused and intentional breathwork, I have learned extraordinary, simple ways to quiet things down. We learn to get out of the mind and back into the heart. There are many methods that are designed to shift up thinking patterns, shake up biochemical memories and completely activate a new and uplifted energy. Instantly, our nervous systems relax, brain functioning improves and “correct” thinking happens, whatever that means for each individual. The pathways that have gotten ingrained in us CAN be altered, improved, and refined.
The breath can help move that Inner Critic right out the door.
Except sometimes I need to move my whole self right out the door. Even after focused breathwork I can still be in a funky state. We are all so human. So, the other day I grew weary of listening to this relentless-loud-drunk Inner Critic of mine. I was bored by my own complaining and lethargy! I grabbed my shoes and the leashes. Tio and Olive–The Rescue Love Dogs Who Are Always Available to Help with Mental Health and All Other Things jumped into the car. We drove to the dog park.
After just one lap the Inner Critic finally went to sleep.
Please see Part 2.
* Pranayama: Sanskrit. Prana- life force. Yama- tuning.
When we engage in pranayama techniques, we are essentially tuning ourselves up.