Hello fellow explorers,
As we are all unique ‘something’s’ undivided from ‘Everything’, our everyday experience is not happening completely independently of us. Rather it is entangled with our perception of it.
So what then is the source of the ‘inner critic’?
You know, the raucous background voice of self judgment that ‘sounds’ in our minds and is pretty merciless in its criticism. It screams and belittles: ‘you are not good enough’; ‘you can’t possibly do that’; ‘you are bound to fail’; ‘others are smarter, richer, better looking… and countless variations of the same theme.
Why do we have an inner critic? Where does it come from? Why the need to criticise? Why do it at all?
After a lifetime of limiting self sabotage and trying to figure it out, what I have discovered is that even if it seems that way, it’s not just an inner thing. It is always connected with the outer. It swings both ways! The voice of self-criticism is the same voice that criticises the others in our lives which is why I like to call it the ‘Inner-Outer Critic’.
Yet no matter the faces or names, the ‘Inner-Outer Critic’ always stems from the same cause. It simply stems from Something-Nothing mis-perception – a pervasive belief that like an unseen ghost in our minds tells us we are somehow separate and disconnected from each other and from everything else. This simple mis-perception produces an apparent disconnect between our inner and outer experience that drives the comparison and judgment of our own selves and others.
It is an easy thing to spot once we accept that criticism of our own selves is never divorced from our habit of comparing ourselves with others and adjudging ourselves better or worse off.
The really weird thing about the ‘Inner-Outer Critic is that we criticise our selves which makes us feel worse and we criticise others, because it seems to make us feel better about ourselves!
For whilst Something-Nothing mis-perception means a belief in a disconnected existence, it also means that consciously or not, we have a sense of ‘Emptiness’ about our being and our lives. This is that sense of lack of disconnection; an uneasy anxiety; a sense of something missing in our lives that renders our experiences less than – our lives less than fulfilling.
This Emptiness is the home of the Inner-Outer Critic, which is why it is never a positive voice.It can feel so overwhelming that we go to great lengths to deny and distract ourselves from ever getting in touch with it.
We do this in many ways. We can try to ignore it by point blank refusing to feel it. We can have little or large disagreements, squabbles even wage wars of judgment on specific others with different racial, cultural, gender/sexual, ideological or socio-economic orientations or with different values, beliefs and attitudes. We can choose behavioural, psychosomatic or substance based fixations or addictions and so on…
The means do not really matter – they all seek to keep Emptiness at bay. When we find fault in an outer other, we feel momentarily better about ourselves and our Emptiness dissipates, but it is never long before it returns and another bout of inner-outer judgment is required. But matter how hard we try to deny Emptiness there invariably come times when we come face to face with it – most often when something happens that we can’t control!
The good news is that ‘judgment’ never means anything beyond our perception of it. To judge something is to perceive ourselves as disconnected from it. Yet as we are all unique ‘something’s’ undivided from ‘Everything’ there is literally no outside agency of judgment. There is no big bearded, judgmental dude with a sky-cam and big stick!
So let’s take a load off… As we are not in fact disconnected from each other, then Emptiness must be a misperception and any need for an Inner-Outer Critic, redundant!
So, instead of flat out denying or coping with the Inner-Outer Critic let’s regard it as potentially a friend in disguise. You know, the friend who has your highest and best interests at heart and gently scolds you if you are not living your best, connected self.
Although its voice is critical the Inner-Outer Critic is a reminder that the outer fault seen in another is showing me something that at some deep level I believe is an inner fault in me! So any moment in which another criticises me is a moment to reflect on where I may be judging myself. Any moment I catch myself criticising ‘me’ is a moment to reflect on where ‘I’ may be judging others.
Once we make this simple choice to befriend our Inner-Outer Critic, we begin to remember that we are really not so separate and disconnected from each other – that whilst all are unique in their own way our core interests not really that different after all.
We begin to remember what our hearts already know, that in essence we are all unique yet inter-connected aspects of an infinite and eternally evolving multi-verse – and that all our hearts keep time with the multi-versal beat.
As we do this, the Inner-Outer Critic starts to diminish. It might even slow to an occasional murmur – only there to remind us if we have lost our way and strayed into a moment of unnecessary judgment and loss of peace.
And, when we finally stop our outer critic – we silence our inner critic (and vice versa).
So, let’s acknowledge and thank our Inner-Outer Critic for what it represents and in so doing lift the shackles – shake loose our judgment – of our own self and others.
Let’s take a moment of appreciation of our lives, the challenges we have faced and overcome just to get to this moment. Let’s forgive ourselves for those things we think we should or should not have done. Let’s extend appreciation to those others in our lives who are showing us where we are – and where we are not – being kind to ourselves.
Until next time…