I have devoted my life’s work to figuring out how to consistently have thriving relationships. I am not saying that my relationships are always perfect mind you, but I AM saying that my I don’t have ANY relationships that are consistently problematic. That’s because because no matter how bad it gets, whether it’s with my husband of 20 years, one of my three kids, my amazing friends, or extended family, I am always aware of one thing: what the voice in my mind is telling me about whatever is happening.
See, many years ago, through my ongoing inquiry into how to live my best life and be my best self, I discovered this amazing thing:
There is this voice in all of our mind that never shuts up. It is constantly thinking: worrying about how we’re doing in life, what’s going to happen in life, how others think of us, how we measure up to our expectations, or to others expectations, how our kids will turn out, how our bank accounts will turn out, on and on and on.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m caught in this broken record mind chatter, I am miserable!! And you know what? Even though I teach this, to the couples I counsel, in my workshops, my blogs, and I’m writing a book about it, I still get caught in it all the time!!
Why? Because it’s impossible not to. It’s literally like the air we breathe.
It is an acquired, learned skill to understand that most of what floats around in our minds is complete and utter bullsh*t. And it’s so unfortunate that this skill is not something that is taught in formal education. Because without knowing that you listen to bullsh*t all day long, you interact with the bullsh*t like it is reality. This is why I am trying to educate as many people as I possibly can, to understand the difference between their Authentic self, and the voice of the Inner Critic. Because seeing the difference between the two literally has the power to change the course of your entire life.
And, once you learn this skill, it takes 10 SECONDS!!! Ten seconds to spot the voice, and the story that it spews, disengage from it, and change your whole outlook about yourself, your life, or another human being.
If you don’t have this skill, you can’t see it. It is as transparent as the air you breathe, and the lies and stories of the voice in your mind become your truth. This is how your Inner critic can literally ruin the quality of your life and all of your relationships, especially the one with yourself!!
This just happened to me a couple of nights ago. Before I went to bed, I told my teenage son to turn off all of the lights and turn the TV off before he went to bed. (He goes to bed way later than me these days!). At 2:30 in the morning, I woke up to get a glass of water in the kitchen, and guess what??!!! All, and I mean ALL, the lights were still on, as was the TV!!! So, here is what the voice in my head said: “He is so irresponsible! It’s like he just doesn’t listen to a word I say, and doesn’t care about anyone but himself!!” Sound familiar? I was getting myself all worked up, my blood pressure was going up, my face was getting all tense, and I started planning how I would rip him a new one in the morning.
But, then I used the one tool that has literally changed my entire outlook on life. I stopped, and I took 10 seconds to find the voice of my Inner Critic. I saw my Inner Critic’s message clearly: “He doesn’t care about me or what’s important to me. It’s like I don’t even matter to him.” There it was. The same feelings I have had over and over again in my life: I DON’T MATTER!
Once I saw the story that my Inner Critic was making up, I could separate myself from that story. Do you know how many times I’ve heard that same G-d damned story over the course of my life? Do you know how many times in middle school I felt like I didn’t matter? When I got fired from my first job I didn’t matter? When my boyfriend broke up with me I didn’t matter? When I felt like I wasn’t successful enough I didn’t matter?
Of course I matter to my son. He is being a teenager!! Now, mind you, the next day, I still made him do some extra chores around the house to make up for the irresponsibility from the night before. But, my reaction to him was very different once I took 10 seconds to separate myself from the message of my Inner critic.
And truly, this 10 second tool has changed the quality of my entire life. I no longer get as triggered when things in life don’t go my way, and I no longer get as angry when people act like jerks.
Those 10 seconds created a totally different relationship with my son. Instead of letting my knee jerk emotions take over, I made a decision to separate myself from the same story my mind plays over and over. And when I did, I was able to stay in the space of love and connection with him. I was still annoyed that the lights were left on, mind you, but my knee jerk anger was not about the lights!!
And I promise you, so many of you out there are suffering in your relationship with yourself or the people you love, because you don’t yet know that you are listening to nothing more than a made up story, a broken record playing over and over, and you think it’s the truth. Learning this skill will change your life. And once you know it, it only takes 10 seconds!!
For more information on how my workshops and private sessions (FaceTime available) can make a difference in the quality of your life! Visit DethroningYourInnerCritic.com to register or to schedule an appointment, email me at Joanna@ExtraordinaryRelationships.net.