The grubby fug: 5 step plan for a date with the inner critic

An unfortunate and muggy fug was squatting, mostly around the frontal lobes but extended into tension around the upper back, neck and chest. I´d decided to extend an increasingly hyper-critical attitude towards myself and my activities. I was fighting what i wanted to do (which felt right inside my guts), with what i thought people might think of me, cue critical chorus of what i thought people might say or think.

Case study: A number of people asked me to record yoga sequences to help them with particular things. Simple, right? I had got so far to record them, then met the paralysis of terror, inhibiting me from sharing them. What might people say?! Do i seem egotistical? Does this make me a w*nker? Oh man, i should be better at this, etc. Well, that was almost two years ago, and i´m publicly outing myself at my lack of balls, and sharing this story because i feel it imperative to reassure everyone that we really need to address, then let go in order to grow.

Sometimes, the worst voice of all can be the one that lives inside, sneering, scoffing and scathing, allow me to introduce the inner critic. Many of us have this dastardly character and might notice it triggering feelings of shame, inadequacy or anxiousness in certain situations. Ignoring this pest mostly leads to a suppression which stores up, and over time can result in, an unfortunate amplification of wretched messages. So how do we deal with that?

Spend less time with the critics (or worse, trying to please them!), and more on following your heart, your true essence and your passion. In other words, let go of what they think. Of course, no-one appreciates an arrogant buffoon, and positive feedback is all part of that growth. But if we only try to please critical (and non constructive) voices, we can get caught up in the ego, and the good intention can only end up unfulfilled. A waste of time and energy…Not a nice feeling.

Therefore, I propose a five step plan:

1) I´m a fan of reaching deep into the knots of guts and pulling out the dark sh*t and plonking it on the table in all it´s ugly finery. Having a good look at it, and finding the links, where it came from, how it feels, what its consequence is. This isn´t the nicest of feelings, but it beats the stagnation associated with believing those voices.

2) The inner critic can be a valuable tool! It might be prompting your attention towards something you really want to achieve or change. Check if your critic is offering a valuable insight to something you haven´t considered before and use it as a catalyst to drive you forward.3) However, if the voice is uttering non-constructive and plain insulting fodder, flip it the birdy, so to speak. Use this voice to propel you forward, prove it wrong, silence it! As the wise Jack Kornfield so wonderfully articulates in The Wise Heart, “We become aware of all the stories, judgements, and beliefs we are holding. When we look more closely, we often discover that some of them are one-sided, fixed points of view, or outmoded, habitual perspectives. We see that they are only stories. With mindfulness we loosen their hold on us. We cling less to them.”
4) Bit of breath.Inhale and consider all that feels tight, whether that´s a destructive comment that is painful, or perhaps a constriction in your body (generally the top of the inhale will show you any tensions that are existing). Try exhaling through your mouth, and with it, imagine the negativity releasing its grubby mits from you and leaving your body. Repeat a minimum of 10 breaths. Pause and notice how you´re feeling.5) I´m a fan of letting it all hang out on the mat.This week, we shifted our state in class by beginning with opening the front of the body. Feel free to do this at a wall or with a partner. Raise your right hand and place your palm against another or a wall, shoulder hight. Arm should be straight and stand up tall. Spread your fingers, and keep your throat open. Take a deep inhale, and on your exhale start to turn towards your left, keeping your palm connected. Lengthen through the sides, front and back of your body, and allow this shoulder release to create more space through the chest, rotator cuff and arm. Swap sides and repeat.I also think it´s worth mentioning that should this unfortunate situation of self-criticism pester you at any point, try your very best to extend compassion to yourself. Accept every morsel of you, and extend appreciation and love to each cell. Cellularly blast out any trace of loathing and replace it with love. Yes.

Oh, and as for the videos? There are a couple of newbies here. Do drop me a line if you have any requests. I´m trying to be better. And that comes with practice. I hope that they can help someone in some way find a bit of time for themselves to establish a form of home practice, or offer something to improve their situation.

You deserve to feel good about the person you are. You are the author, the curator, the artist of your life. No one is going to live your life for you, unless you let them. Stand strong and tall in your wonder.

And here´s a Spotify playlist bunnies!

Jonathan Johansson – Under sjukhusen
Sbtrkt – Never Never (feat. Sampha)
Mo Kolours – Biddies
Quincy Jones – Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me
Hot Chip – I Feel Better
Four Tet – She Just Likes To Fight
Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light
LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean
Jamiroquai – Blow Your Mind
Youth Lagoon – Bobby (Bonus Track)
Suicide – Dream Baby Dream – Long version
Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – What I Am
The Isley Brothers – Footsteps In The Dark – Part 1 & 2
Ben Howard – Keep Your Head Up
Atlas Sound – Modern Aquatic Nightsongs
Real Estate – Three Blocks

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One thought on “The grubby fug: 5 step plan for a date with the inner critic

  1. Pingback: Sound advice // Grimes on pressure, haters, following your dreams and doing what you love | Yoga with Dionne

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