THE JOURNEY TO LOVING YOURSELF
STEP 1 – BECOMING AWARE OF THE INNER CRITIC
On the path to anywhere, the first step is the most important. If you are reading this text, you have officially joined this journey and I am happy to be here with you.
Today, we are stepping into what we fear the most – the inner voice that comes out whenever we want to try something new (as is loving yourself). The voice is there to doubt us, to tell us we will fail, to remind us we are not smart/creative/hard-working enough to succeed. It is there when we do fail, to say: “I knew it. I told you so!”, to laugh at us and humiliate us. As I grew older and more aware, I started asking myself: “Is this voice really me?” The more correct question would be – whose is it?
The inner critic is not our own, that is for sure. How can my Self be so cruel, judgmental and doubting, when the Self is powerful, full of potential and fearless?
What we need to do is for a moment turn towards the inner critic inside ourselves and listen to it. It takes just a bit of patience and curiosity before we start remembering the words we used to hear when we were young. “Watch out!” “Are you sure that’s a good choice for you?” “Wait, let me do it, you’ll mess it up!” “Don’t be lazy.” Your heart and soul are already aching, correct? That is because you know these words do not come from there, they did not come from your heart and soul.
As children, we look to others to create an image of ourselves. Our parents are like road signs that show us when it is okay to be loud, when it is needed to be quiet, when it is okay to cry, when it is time to smile. In a subtle way, and to an extent, they form our sense of self. If you observe a child in the park at the moment they fall to the ground, you can see that the first instinct is not to cry, it is for their eyes to search for mom. Why? Because mom’s reaction will determine the child’s perception of the situation. If mom smiles and says “You fell. Are you okay?”, the child will smile and get up. If mom screams and shows horror on her face, the child will start crying. We learn about ourselves and the world from our parents.
In a similar way, the way that our parents talk to us slowly creates the voice inside of us that, for so long, we believed was ours. The inner critic is just a reflection of how our parents treated us in times of uncertainty. We mimic what we were told, and since it’s formed in our early childhood when the sense of self was so blurred, it takes time for us to realize that what we are telling ourselves does not come from our Self.
Why is this important on the road to self-love? Awareness is the most efficient tool to change. Being aware of the fact that just because a voice resides in us does not make it good for us and that it is okay to question it – that in itself creates change. It creates a shift in the way that we understand ourselves and consequently, it will, in time, morph the way we talk to our Self to be less judgmental, less doubtful and more gentle. And being gentle to ourselves is a beautiful commitment to make.
This realization that our self-criticism comes from our parents is not to be used for accusations or blame. After all, our parents learned about the world from their parents, and their parents learned from theirs. This is to be used in healing and in slowly adapting to a new way of going through life: with compassion, strengthening our real voice – the Inner Child. Who is this Inner Child – we learn on the next step and in the next TAT issue.
Gently and firmly, I walk with you on this path. Until next month.
Author: Eva Feldman, as a highly empathetic person and a psychologist, she connects her understanding of the human psyche with spirituality, focusing on consciousness and awareness. Her goal is to share knowledge and passion about human beings in a simple and understandable way, and in that way to contribute to raising awareness in this day and age. Masters degree in Psychology, education in Art Expressive Therapy, as well as personal interests of social justice, mindfulness and Being, make for an interesting addition to her practices of dance, yoga and teaching. She found a purpose in living life fully and encouraging others to do so. Follow Eva on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/toomucheva/