I've had an inner voice as long as I can remember. That voice was like Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern and Simon Cowell all rolled into one. It was voice that spewed hatefulness and criticism and it has been with me for a long, long time. It was hard to be positive while this Inner-Rush was whispering in my ear. I became my own worst enemy - my harshest critic. I played that voice in unending loop of negativity.
"I cannot believe you made that mistake. You are an idiot."
"Don't go there and do that. You are too fat. People will make fun of you."
"Don't say anything about that. You don't want to start a fight. What if he leaves you? Who will you be then? You are too ugly, too poor, too fat to ever find a relationship."
Over the years, I've worked on shutting down that inner voice. One of the best tools I've learned came from listening to Pema Chodron's Getting Unstuck. She talked about treating yourself with loving kindness when trying to meditate instead of beating yourself up for not doing it RIGHT. And I did beat myself up. I'd sit down and try to meditate and soon my mind would be wandering and my Inner-Rush would start criticizing me for not even being able to meditate right. Somehow, I was missing the whole point. Here I was, trying to inject some peace and calm into my life and I'd have the WWE Smackdown going on inside my head.
Pema's advice with regard to meditation was to realize that I had wandered and declare it, but without judgment. Just like you would recognize, say, a tomato. Yea, that's a tomato. Hey, my mind wandered. Time to bring it back. No criticism. No judgments. Just assessment and re-focus. Treat yourself with loving kindness. I actually think that was a stated intention I made yesterday.
I had the opportunity to use this technique last night at kundalini yoga class. It was a new class for me. Last night, it was a small class, only one other man, plus the instructor. My Inner-Rush started in:
"You shouldn't be here. These other people have a REAL practice. You are a poser and they know it. The Indian yogi thinks you are a fat pig."
I was able to assess the situation, without judgment. I could expose my errors in thinking without being critical. "Wow, Roxie, you are engaging in some serious mind-reading. You do not KNOW what that other guy's practice is like and you do not KNOW what the teacher thinks about you. Chances are, no one is thinking about YOU at all. Refocus and enjoy the experience."
I was thinking about the experience on the drive into work this morning and I've come to a new way to think about that inner voice. Rather than criticize myself for having a critical inner voice (how's that for circular logic?), I began to view this Rush voice as a coping mechanism/defense strategy gone awry. This voice started years ago to "protect" me from mistakes, as the punishment for mistakes was shame. What started as a help had become a hindrance. I no longer need that inner voice to keep me from harm. It was just trying to warn me that I was a bit out of my comfort zone, that I was stretching myself, taking a risk. I've outgrown that voice. It was a strategy that I adopted when I didn't know any better. And it got out of hand. I now know better and I can do better.
Dentist Dude released me to a few soft foods. Specifically, over-cooked pasta. So last night I fixed mac and cheese. It was good and I enjoyed it, but I've basically been off processed carbs for a number of years and they no longer agree with me. While I didn't overeat last night, I can feel the carb-load today. The search for a clean protein that I can eat continues.
Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Look at things in a new way.