There’s a dark side to pursuing a life with real meaning and purpose. And few people talk about. It appears when you’re dreams aren’t coming to life. When your goals are still “out there.” When you’re waiting for that sense of achievement to arrive. And instead of being excited and inspired by your aspirations you’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and deceived.
As many of you know I side stepped a successful speaking career in pursuit of meaningful work. It wasn’t the medium that was wrong it was the message. I knew deep down that I wasn’t saying what I really wanted to say. In order to work out what I really wanted to say I needed to stop identifying with the outside world and start communicating with my inner world. This was not easy. In fact I don’t think any type of inner work ever is. But it’s required work when you’re in the pursuit of a meaningful, purpose driven life.
The truth is we all have a tendency to identify with the external world a little too much and it needs to stop. For me, like many people seeking a meaningful life their identity is attached to the outcome. Their inner critic and ego has a field day when so called plans and dreams don’t come to life. Just look at the effect that the election of President Trump has had on the world. Uncertain times bring uncertain feelings. Suddenly many people are feeling upset and angry. Lost and confused and uncertain if their next step is the right one – sound familiar?
A decade ago I would have let this type of thinking consume me and in my private practise I have clients who (prior to working with me) used to feel the same way. When ‘something’ happens in their business that isn’t part of the plan they often bounce back to that old familiar feeling and their inner critic pops up to say, “This isn’t working, it’s never worked, why would you think it would, you have no proof, you should stop before you embarrass yourself even further.” and my personal favourite, “Get a real job.”
Hello the voice of fear. Don’t worry, it is human to experience fear. But it doesn’t mean that it’s natural to stay in a state of fear.It's human to experience fear. But it doesn't mean that it's natural to stay in a state of fear.Click To Tweet
There really is no way we can stop this inner critic from chasing us from a fear induced external perspective. We need to switch it to a LOVE based internal one. In fact when this inner critic rears its ugly head again (and it will) you need to take it as a sign. Detach yourself. And repeat after me, “Isn’t that fascinating I’m reacting in that way.” “Isn’t that interesting that my ego is able to identify so strongly with the outside world. Things must be out of balance. It’s time to turn inwards. It’s time to find my centre. My natural state. It’s time to come back to a feeling of love.”
I’ll be honest. It’s taken a lot of time, energy, experience and deep soul searching to be able to know when things are getting out of whack AND be able to choose love. But as the saying goes, ‘what you resist, persists’ so over the years I have learnt that until I am willing to acknowledge this inner critic. Thank her for showing up. Only then am I able to ‘Let go’ of her, breathe and choose again. From a loving perspective.
Over the years I have developed a practise for dealing with my inner critic and it goes like this.
Recognise that I have started an internal dialogue with myself that is not healthy. This is a sign that my inner critic has come out to play. In the past this dialogue might have continued for days and months. These days I am better at noticing her and choosing to ‘let go’ of the dialogue, quickly. This is key.
I choose to ‘let go’ of the residual feeling. After an intense dialogue there is usually a residual feeling that remains in my body. I realise now that this is how my autoimmune issues were incubated. As my toxic thoughts subsided they migrated down into my body. I would literally hold this tension in my neck and subsequently my right arm which became the conduit for the (big) lesson. (This is where the physical symptoms of my scleroderma showed up.) It’s so important to recognise where you are holding stress and tension in your body and to let it go. If I am at home I will have a shower to release the built up energy, during the day I will go for a walk outside. Whatever it is that you choose to do it generally requires movement. This action literally moves the toxicity through and out of you. Whatever you do, you need to move.
Change your state.You need to choose some type of mindfulness practise, meditation, deep breathing, a simple round of EFT will have a profound effect on your mind / body connection. Because that is principally what is going on. Your mind and body have just had a negative conversation of which you now need to come in and resolve. Bring peace back so to speak! In the beginning I would just close my eyes and breathe. But I now have a series of tools depending on where I am that I can use. The trick is to find what works for you, because we are all different and what works for one person may not work for another. Just remember you need to change your state, don’t stay locked in the feeling.
As human beings we are hardwired to feel. It’s part of our reptilian brain and the human response to flee pain. But the problem is we don’t experience the fight or flight response in the jungle anymore we experience it in our minds. And, as we as the human race become collectively more conscious this fear is no longer triggered by external sources. It’s our internal dialogue that’s become our greatest challenge, fear and foe.It's human to experience fear. But it doesn't mean that it's natural to stay in a state of fear.Click To Tweet
Learning to live in harmony with our ego is something we can all achieve but it takes work. It’s required work for all us who have a deep desire to show up and be seen.
Over the years I have worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, coaches and speakers. Individuals who have a message they want to share with the world and the one thing that holds them back? Their ego. Too much ego and they disenfranchise themselves. Too little ego and they don’t possess the courage to pursue their dreams.
The careful balance of pursuing meaningful work is an outside in, inside out job. It’s a work in progress. In fact let’s be honest here. It’s a life practise. It requires dedication to your cause. Identification with your ego and a personal practise that supports your whole being, not just your mind. So the next time you start dialoguing with your inner critic see it as a sign it’s time to pivot. Drop to your meditation cushion (or tool of choice). Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Remove your attachment to the material world and go inwards and upwards. Connect to the higher aspect of yourself. Heed the lesson then come back and continue on your path towards changing the world. Because we need you more than you know.
Thank you so much for being here. I am thrilled that we are on this journey together. So how do you manage your inner critic. Do you have a process or ritual for bringing you back on track? I’d love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Hundreds of people visit these posts each week and you never know when your wisdom could be exactly what another person needs to hear!
And remember, Live With Purpose!