What Jim Morrison Can Teach Us About Life

morrisonJim Morrison once said, “People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all…. feelings are disturbing.

People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous….Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. “ In our culture, we are afraid to feel feelings that are not happy. We do almost anything to avoid it. What I’ve discovered through counseling work with patients is that some people eat bad feelings away. Some people drink, use drugs, gamble or shop as a way of avoiding feelings. Others just keep themselves very busy, working or even exercising to excess. We spend so much energy trying to keep away from difficult feelings!

We are conditioned to believe that the definition of happiness is freedom from pain or difficulty. We believe that feeling negative or painful feelings will prevent us from being happy, and we should therefore avoid it at all costs.

As a culture, there is an assumption that both being happy and feeling negative or painful feelings cannot exist at the same time. In fact, many people believe that if we allow ourselves to feel what is really inside our minds, that these painful emotions might take over and prevent us from EVER leading a happy life.

The truth is, as Jim Morrison said, our pain is actually meant to wake us up!

In order to lead the lives that we want, it is crucial that we are able to be honest with our feelings. To actually look at the thoughts and feelings that are happening inside our minds, even if it’s hard stuff!

There isn’t a human being alive that doesn’t struggle with some difficult feelings at some point in his or her life. So, it is astounding to me that we are not taught in any formal education we go through, how to actually feel negative and difficult feelings.

The fact is that when we allow ourselves to feel the pain, rather than running away from it, this is the key to the freedom that we all so desperately crave!!

The key to happiness comes down to guts. By that, I mean the willingness to look at your fears and the guts to face them. Right now. Feel them. Be present to them. Those same feelings that you have designed your life in order to avoid. I promise you, what is on the other side of this, is freedom, joy and contentment! JUST DO IT!!

You’re Driving Me Crazy!

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We all get frustrated sometimes. Our expectations aren’t met. Our intentions get thwarted. What we want to happen isn’t happening fast enough. We keep doing what we think will produce the best result we want, but it still seems to go nowhere. What to do about it?

We can stomp our feet in frustration, we can pull our hair out, we can throw an adult temper tantrum.  All that will get us is painful feet, thinning hair, and a reputation for being immature.

Frustration that dominates our lives becomes a problem. Life is filled with circumstances and events that can be frustrating. But if we get triggered into an over-reaction when things don’t go our way, it is usually the inner critic that has taken over.

She is the one who makes your blood pressure rise and the one who feels angry and resentful towards whatever or whomever is blocking you.

As always, the first step in easing the frustrations we feel is observation. Noticing when we are feeling frustrated is the first signal that our inner critic is taking over. What is she saying now that you haven’t done?

  • Is she telling you that you are failing at what you set out to do?
  • Is she criticizing you for not reaching your goal, or for not being nice, or for being less than perfect?
  • What expectations does she have that you are not meeting?

Can you begin to see that the Inner Critic is the one who is getting frustrated with you? Because her perfectionistic standards are not met, she gets frustrated, angry and disappointed.

We have to remember that we are all separate from our inner critic. When we remember that we are separate, we can let her be the one who is frustrated, and we can become calmer, and give ourselves and the world some breathing room. Then we can literally breathe easier and with every breath, our blood pressure can reduce, our anger can dissipate, and we can become more realistic about what is frustrating us.

SHAME: A FEAST FOR THE INNER CRITIC

Everyone feels embarrassed sometimes.

You’re sure that you were right, and it turns out that you were wrong. You were late to your best friend’s wedding. Your zipper was open. Your skirt got tucked into your underpants. Your red face lasts for a second…or a minute, and then fades. You blush every time you remember. But, you DO forget, and eventually, you don’t even remember. But shame is another story…

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…Shame can last a lifetime.

It can begin in childhood when a teacher says, “you should be ashamed of yourself” or your mother tells you repeatedly that she is ashamed of you. Then each time you do something wrong, or make a mistake, the feeling of shame gets reinforced. Until it becomes an ingrained, conditioned response any time you don’t meet your own idealized image of being right, or being good, or being strong, or being smart, or being anything less than perfect.

This becomes a field day for your inner critic.

Your inner critic becomes the voice of shame. It tells you that you are wrong, or bad, or stupid, or weak. It seduces you into believing that it is correct, and It knows what it’s talking about. And then you spend your energy hiding the shame you feel. You compensate by making sure you are good, sure you are smart, sure you are strong.

Shaming is one of the most powerful tools in the inner critic’s tool box. When the voice in your head is merely critical or judgmental, or can dismiss it or even ignore it. But when it becomes shaming, it’s much harder to dismiss. Believing our inner critic’s shaming voice robs us of our aliveness and takes us away from being present in our lives.

A life time of living with shame can be altered by recognizing that it is your inner critic who feeds your shame. It feeds on each and every incident that it can use to shame you, and its appetite is never satisfied! It is always looking for more!

Freedom lies in not feeding the inner critic more power, even if starving it is out of the question. We can diminish our experience of the shame that has been haunting us, by checking in with ourselves and determining who is doing the talking: Is it my Inner Critic or is it the truth?

The Real Problem

Your Inner Critic is the voice in your mind that is constantly talking to you and telling you what you need to improve, where you don’t measure up, and what you need to fix. Your inner critic tries to have control over your world and convinces you that, if you listen to it and do exactly what it says:

  • You will have control.
  • You will be able to get your life to go in the direction that you want it to go.
  • You will get people to treat you the way you want them to.

In our work though The Center for ExtraOrdinary Relationships, we speak with  folks all the time who don’t realize how much of our lives are controlled by our inner critic. It’s easy to get automatically sucked into the message of the inner critic and then attempt to control the feelings we’re having by fixing or changing the world outside. We think that if “they” can just change their current circumstance, things will be ok.

Pointing fingerThe real problem is not with the outside world. Most of the time, problems are not what they appear to be. The real problem lies with your reaction to whatever is occurring, and that reaction is caused by the inner critic.

Attempts to change the outside world can wreak havoc on our relationships.

We try to fix or control the way people behave towards us, so that we can feel loved, important, valued. When the important people in our lives trigger our inner critic, we can react by getting angry, critical, sometimes even hostile! Even with the best relationship advice, this can become a pattern in relationships, where even the smallest of arguments can trigger people into an out-of-control reaction.

Unlike some methods found in traditional relationship counseling, understanding what you are REALLY upset about is the key to having great relationships. Rather than blaming other people for your reaction, it is important to recognize that it is actually your inner critic that is triggered, telling you that they are behaving this way because you are not loved enough, valued enough, important enough. This is how soda cans left on counters can cause blow up explosions! We are never angry at what we think we are angry about.

It is always the underlying message that our inner critic is giving us that is responsible for the damaging patterns in our relationships.

When you stop believing your inner critic’s messages, you have the ability to completely transform the quality of your relationships. You have the power to create more love, connection, passion, and fulfillment, simply by not allowing your inner critic to control your relationships.