How To Quiet Your Inner Critic

I really did hate him.

He drank too much beer, he was overweight and scruffy, and he thought he knew everything there was to know about life.

Also, he was just an asshole.

But this other guy, he was really cool.

He was very focused, he took care of himself, and never gave up even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

He was a good person and he barely even knew it.

There was this kid that was nothing but a trouble maker.

He hung out with his sketchy friends all day, drinking and smoking, he wrote slam poetry and played music in coffee shops, and he slept on people’s couches at night.

He was selfish. He was bad.

But this other kid, he was an angel.

He enjoyed school and he was always drawing cartoons. He was always helping his friends out whenever he could.

He was loyal. He was good.

At some point we have to begin to understand that we are doing the best that we can with what we have.

We have been dealt our cards and we have to play them. Our genetics and our life circumstances are all part of our hand, but the way that we play those cards is what makes us who we are.

All of those people above were me, at one point in my life.

What we need to understand is that we are not one fixed point on the horizon, we are an ever-changing universe encased in a fragile human body that is always changing.

The primary lesson we must learn, whether within meditation, yoga, self-help classes, any type of education or vocational training, or just plain life, is that we must accept what we are right now in order to be at peace with life, within this very moment that our heart is beating.

This moment is all that we actually have and if we are fighting against it we will never fully arrive in the here and now.

Radical self-acceptance is the primary step we must take in order to become present in our lives. Look at how we accept everybody else’s foibles except our own. Look at how we can have perspective about everyone else’s issues except our own.

Our first hurdle is to accept what is.

I am me. I am 100% me.

It is pointless to worry about any part of me, it is pointless to hate any part of me.

For I am what I am.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t or won’t change. Hell, I will change within this very day, I will change by tomorrow, I will change 100% by the end of the year.

Change is the only constant.

We are all constantly shifting and moving through life, and we are absolutely never the same, from one moment to the next.

The strange paradox is that once we can finally utterly accept who we are completely, that is the moment that we can begin to actually transform into who we really want to be.

Before that self-acceptance, we are constantly fighting against unseen forces, which is our shadow self trying to control our lives. We have not yet accepted that our shadow self is part of us, and so we wage war against that which we think is trying to kill us, which we think we hate.

But once we accept all the good, the bad, and the ugly of ourselves, only then can we really move forward into the transformative process of becoming who we really are.

As I grow older I find that all of these old selves which I thought were separate reincarnations of me are really only one being. As I begin to accept myself in all my weirdness and glory I find that all these aspects of me have always been there, living together like one big happy family.

They are me and I am them.

There is no “Who you are meant to be,” there is only, “Who you are right now.”

We spend far too much time trapped in our own heads, filled with hatred or admiration for our selves, like some kind of deranged parent that lives within our minds. This is our well-fed self-critic that will eventually kill us.

The moment that we feel happiness or even ecstasy is when we forget to listen to that liar, and begin to be exactly whatever it is that we are, right now, in this moment.

Our constant desire to believe that there is something wrong with us fuels a multi-billion dollar industry of self-help, as well as the rampant consumerism that drives the economic engine of our modern culture. And that engine requires energy, an endless source of energy to fuel the monster. And that monster is our collective well-fed self-critics, screaming at us all day and night until we pass out in exhaustion.

The monster screams at us that we are not okay as we are.

But, surprise — we are okay.

In general, everything is okay.

Here we are.

We’ve made it through the last 5, 10, 15 years of life and we are still alive.

So in order to begin our path toward acceptance of our real and true authentic selves we have to quiet the raging monster in our heads and begin to live peacefully with what is.

While we can’t wholeheartedly destroy our inner demons, we can accept them for what they are and begin to allow them the space they need to transform into something much more constructive for us.

At some point they may even help us grow.

The way toward the cessation of that inner dialogue and the transformation of our inner demons into helpers is to engage in healthy movement and expression and creation in any form — meditation, art, exercise, adventure, work, play. There are one million avenues to go down and explore.

The point of all that exploration is to begin to savor the truth of the bare naked reality of our lives, before it is too late.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store