Being good

I’ve been dancing with my inner critic lately. I’ve recognized a pattern of needing approval from others. It is nothing new. Maybe it springs from my helping nature, I want to help people transform, to become their full selves. It is always so easy for me to see how amazing and lovable others are; I just want them to see it too.

But, of course, you can’t make anyone do anything, and that is definitely NOT what I am about. What I am weeding out is my tendency to be all things to all people. As a natural pleaser, I thrive on helping others and want positive feedback. But I often focus strongly on anything less than praise. My inner critic goes wild with trying to figure out how I could be better, trying to win over every single person on the planet. I absolutely am aware of how futile this inclination is, but there it is… A flaw.

I am not perfect. I cannot please everyone. But that is not the same as not pleasing anyone. I have many fantastic traits. Being myself is the most important one. Getting rid of the last traces of approval seeking is the task at hand, my self development Everest.

And yet I cannot deny how for I have come, sharing my creative and spiritual work in a public forum, writing daily, meditating, creating course material. These are all things my shy 20 year old self would never have dreamed I would voluntarily do. Progress made, progress still to be had.

I was told once that you know you are in the right place if you feel stretched out, uncomfortable, nervous. I must be in the right place! 🙂

Inner Ally

DC Comics' Wonder Woman

A few posts ago I mentioned that my writing group homework for this month was to connect with my Inner Ally and ask her “What makes me great as a writer?” It has been an interesting writing journey this last month to be sure, and I love the process of nurturing the supportive voice rather than the critical voice.

So here is what my Inner Ally had to say:

You are a great writer because, first and foremost, you write. It is as simple as that. It takes tremendous courage to write in public and that is what you are doing everyday. Most great books never get written just simply because these wonderful writers convince themselves they are no good and never try. Sitting to write is the most important aspect of your writing. You have seen your writing style shift and develop over the past few months of consistent effort. Writing is a skill that must be practiced and you are doing that.

You bring to your writing a diverse blend of left and right brain knowledge. You have a unique perspective that merges science with the spiritual. Your sensitivity to both worlds makes you a great bridge between old and new thinking. You think deeply about the world and all of its inhabitants. Through your writing you are able to get other people to think deeply about their lives and their world. This is important work. Nothing changes until consciousness changes.

I like you, Inner Ally, you can stay! 😀

Perfection Illusion

brain

Image by TZA via Flickr

When are things perfect? How long do they stay that way? Who decides what perfect is anyway? If you have Virgo rising like me, or are just a natural perfectionist then these are some key questions to ask yourself. Perfectionism, or if we are being generous, detail orientation, is the crushing drive to make all experiences, actions, events, and people conform to a narrow, rigid definition of perfect.

There are some benefits to high standards, for sure, but when a person’s self-esteem and relationships with others begin to suffer, it has been taken too far. Some signs that we have crossed from high standards to perfectionism are: anxiety and depression when faced with a situation that can’t be ‘fixed’; procrastination when faced with potential critics; compulsive fixing of minor details (that ultimately mar or delay the work being done); people you love tell you they feel they will never be good enough for you. These are just a few examples.

So back to our questions. Who decides what perfect is? The short answer is: you do. Your own inner critic is ultimately the one who holds up the yardstick to all that you do. The inner critic is that part of you that pummels you for saying or doing the ‘wrong’ thing. The inner critic, if it is let free reign, is fueled by the comments of the ‘outer’ critics and meticulously keeps score of all your failures. It is one-sided and unfair, because it promptly forgets your wins. Left unchecked, a strong inner critic can destroy self-esteem. Often we hear far more criticism than praise from, usually, well-meaning people. Unfortunately, the negative stuff tends to be stickier than the positive stuff. The inner critic works hard to convince us that we need everyone to like us, all the time, in every situation, no exceptions. As long as we are looking for an external source of approval our inner critic is happy, because you start depending on something that you have no power over. At its worst, the inner critic grows so strong that even if highly respected authorities heap glowing compliments on us, we never believe them.

We can defeat the inner critic by nourishing our inner ally, the part of us who really knows that we are a piece of the Divine. Affirmations, complimenting others, and stopping all verbal criticism of ourselves and others are good first steps at undermining  the inner critic. Test this out. Practice “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” for a week. Our subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between something mean we say about someone else and something mean we say about ourselves. So go on a thought diet, no more mean things. You could also couple this with making an effort to say nice things about yourself (affirmations) and nice things about others (compliments). If this is new territory for you, start small with things you really believe and work your way up to more difficult levels of niceness.

When are things perfect and how long do they stay that way? Short answer: never, or hardly ever, and that is a good thing. Abraham often tells us that the negative things in our physical world are the starting point of new creations. Whenever we encounter something we don’t like, we immediately cause the Universe to start creating what we do want. We purposely chose a life situation that would give us the contrast we would need to grow and develop. The problem is never the unpleasant event, the problem is always staying stuck on what you don’t want and not focusing on what you do want.

As soon as you focus on the solution to a problem, the whole thing gets easier. You could never fix a car by examining the broken fuel pump over and over; you can only fix a car by finding a working part and replacing it. We often examine our problems too closely and completely forget to step back and see the big picture. It is often in that big picture view that we find our solutions. When we let go and embrace the whole of our lives, we gain perspective on the small little details we are worrying over. Ask yourself, is this really important? Is getting this thing I’m doing perfect worth the anxiety and restlessness? A small world view will always say ‘Yes, this is life or death.’, a big world view will usually say ‘No, this is pretty minor, just let it be.’

Perfection and criticism go hand in hand, like two best friends. They team up to convince you that you are less than you really are. So practise letting them go, and embrace being your own best friend.

Inner Ally vs. Inner Critic

My writer’s group homework this month is to make friends with my Inner Ally and ask her “What makes me great?” as a writer. A large part of our discussion centred on the dynamic between our writing selves and our inner critic. We tend to have very well developed inner critics with very loud obnoxious voices, but our inner allies are … where are they… what do they sound like…what do they say?

The idea of activating your inner ally comes from SARK’s book “Make Your Creative Dreams Real“. It is a wonderful resource for anyone in a creative field. It is filled with many wonderful ideas to kick your butt out of bed to start living your creative potential. Highly recommended.

The inner critic is gruff, grumpy, easily dissatisfied, easily distracted, scared, tired, and demanding. The good news is that the critic is easily distracted. I like to visualize my inner critic as a demanding, bratty child that is just causing trouble because they are bored. I give my little critic something fun to do while I work like going to the playground. I have spent a lot of time with my inner critic, but not much with my inner ally.

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, displaying her a...

Image via Wikipedia

My inner ally has a voice like a good friend, she is kind and patient, she is enthusiastic like a cheerleader. She is also strong and can happily say no to things that pull her off track. She can roar as loud as any goddess and is always looking out for my best interests,like a mama bear protecting her cub. She is the part of me that speaks up whenever I say ‘No, thank you”, and whenever I say “I choose…”. She is soft and comforting, like a warm hug, but just never try to convince her that it is ok to compromise your spirit. She is no pushover and that is a very good thing. If I were to draw her, she might look like Wonder Woman, feminine and strong. Or she might look like a fierce goddess like Kali, who slays demons of ego, but saves babies on the battlefield. Or she might be like a jungle cat, nursing her babies in between hunts. Or she might look just like me.

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