“So the boggart sitting in the darkness within has not yet assumed a form. He does not yet know what will frighten the person on the other side of the door. Nobody knows what a boggart looks like when he is alone, but when I let him out, he will immediately become whatever each of us most fears.“—Professor Lupin to his third year class in 1993
The Voices in our Head that only we can hear – whispers, shouts, murmurs, shrieks, screams, ridicules, warns, criticizes, slaps, reminds, remembers, blackmails, appreciates, sneers, schemes, sees, wishes, hopes, longs, desires, surrenders, falters, fails, prides, pushes, pulls, bites, punches, pinches, shames, weeps – that have lived with us, grown with us, walked with us, transformed with us, journeyed with us through our life!
Most people are unaware of these Voices and have completely merged with them, identified with them! These illusory voices take over the reigns of their lives and they bounce of its pull and push – without ever meeting with that One Knowing buried deep within these many voices.
If I were to speak Harry Potter’s language – there is the Harry Potter and his Lot, and then, there is The-Man-Who-Must-Not-be-Named (Voldermot) and all those who fear him or love him on the other side! All these voices are the Inner Critic. Most people are so caught up in the Voldermot Voices that they never come to meet the Harry Potter within!
Befriending the Inner Critic journey is finding the Harry Potter Voice within and Separating out the Voldermots! Of course, there is no ignoring the Voldermots – because the more we choose to ignore – shove it under the carpet – pretend it is not there – the BIGGER AND STRONGER IT BECOMES!
When we are able to clearly hear the Harry Potter voice or the Wise One within, we also begin to hear the accompanying voices of Dumberdore, Hagrid, Hermoine, Ron, Neville – the other truth speakers that walk with Harry!
When you first become aware of your Inner Critic, you realize it is crowded with voices of conditioning – perception – rules – shoulds/shouldnots – dos/donots – imparted by all those who have showed up in your life in close acquaintances – Parents, Grandparents, Relatives, Friends, Teachers, Movie-TV characters, etc- and left an impression on you! These impressions become the most popular voices of your Inner Critic, and steer your life’s course.
How do you take the Steering back?
How do you find your own voice among-st all these voices?
FIRST STEP: AWARENESS
Awareness – becoming aware of it – is the biggest step. Now you can arrive at this awareness in many ways : life-altering events like near-death experience or death of a dear one or separation, arrival of a guide or teacher in your life, breath-work, meditation, or simply the flow of Grace for a lack of better word meaning It is your time to do this work!
SECOND STEP: SEPARATING FROM IT
Once you are aware of it, you are able to separate yourself from each one of these voices, see the source of its origin, acknowledge it, recognize the role it has played in your life – constructive or destructive, supportive or un-supportive, again acknowledge that because that was part of its promised existence in your life and gratefully bid it farewell, for its time in your life has come to a closure!
THIRD STEP: TRANSFORMING IT
For many voices this awareness itself might be good enough.
But then there are those hard-hitting, deep rooted impressions – usually from close family – near and dear ones!
For those you need something more than just awareness! 🙂
Separating out and letting go is a happening. We cannot do it mentally. Doesn’t work!
Letting go and surrender has to happen at the level of the body as a somatic experience and for that we need to engage in it in a more gross kind of way! It is a happening – one moment it was there and the next moment it is gone!
That is where I have felt that in addition to breathing and meditation, Expressive Art and Ritual have immense power. Personally, it has given me the conscious expressive way to give my inner critic a form, write its narratives, see it, enact it, speak it, and become separate from it. In doing so, I am able to clearly recognize it as separate from me, and feel the letting go and separation a concrete somatic experience in my body. Once I know its absence in my body, I immediately become aware of its slightest nearness and can do the needful!
My own inner critic has over the years gone through so many different shapes, forms, images, voices and expressions.
I have found that as I recognize, acknowledge and come to terms with these aspects of my inner critic, my relationship with the source of that inner critic be it people, events or emotions – have shifted dramatically in my body in an empowering way! There is such a deep awareness around it.
That is why one of the core engagements that we do in the She Stands Tall Project in the beginning is the Inner Critic engagement.
I am so amazed at the way my own Inner Critic form has shifted just in the last decade. Now it is most closest to my Inner Intuitive Wild Critic & Muse. I don’t always like hearing what she has to say because her words are not rooted in the rational mind and hence, many times I cannot rationally explain the whys or whynots of her voices! All I know is that whenever I have chosen to listen to her, I have experienced the deepest fullest Me in resonance with the universe and life than when I have not.
Of course, even now the Voldermot voices do make an appearance and I have to catch myself from acting on them! This is where my commitment to Nourishing my Body-Mind-Spirit play an important role.
SOMETHING YOU CAN DO
What-Who-Where-How-Whom is your Inner Critic!
What are its various narratives, appearances?
What belief system does it want you to subscribe to?
Where in your body do you feel your inner critic?
What is its gesture, expression?
Pick one Appearance of your Inner Critic
Color it – Draw it – Sculpt it – Mold it – Write all that it says when it shows up.
If you have a Sacred Space or Altar in your home, let is stay there.
Look at it, read it, stay with its awareness through your days engagement. See if you can recognize it when it shows up. Remember your form. How do you want to respond? Has your response shifted? How has the awareness supported you? What more does it need?
When you feel it is time, you can bid farewell to the Inner Critic.
You can take it from your altar space – keep it separately or shred it or bury it or float it – whatever you feel you wish to do, do it!
Maybe then, it is time for the Next Inner Critic to be Transformed!
Make life fun-engaging-exciting-expressive!
What else is there – Really!