Sticks and Stones


It seems to be a condition of life that someone is always willing, even eager, to criticize us, to find fault with what we do, to confidently predict that disaster will be the result of our actions, to be eternally poised above our heads like a dark cloud, ready to dampen our enthusiasm and to say "I told you so."

Like many people, I had two general--and opposite--responses to such criticisms. Sometimes I decided that such critics were absolutely wrong. They were afraid to do anything original or creative; they dreaded taking risks so much that it frightened them to see anyone else plunging into the unknown. There was no reason why I should allow their neuroses and insecurities to affect me. If I from time to time found myself brooding over their criticism it was only because I still had a little work to do in the area of self-acceptance. I was working on that self-esteem muscle, and it was getting pretty powerful. One day I might use it to flatten my critics.

When the self-esteem muscle had weak moments, I decided that my critics were absolutely right. I would immediately agree with any and all negative judgments. Those people, truly my friends and guides, spoke with the voice of reason and common sense. I was the fool, sailing, rudderless, into the storm. I internalized their criticisms, making them bigger and more terrible than they were, using them to paint the self-portrait of a fault-ridden and relatively worthless individual. I sometimes became paralyzed; my creativity and ability to act ground to a standstill.

Through the Looking Glass

The world is full of people whose own creativity and originality are blocked. Having lost the courage to act on their initiatve, they are threatened when someone else acts out their own repressed fantasies of accomplishment. It's a mistake to allow ourselves to become paralyzed by their opinions. That, however, doesn't mean that we should ignore their presence in our lives.

If we review our lives we discover that critics have always been with us. They may be the mother or father who told us that the important thing was to have a steady job, the teachers who pronounced us talentless, the people who warn us that a belief in the benevolence of the universe is criminally irresponsible. They may be gone, but their voices have found a home inside our awareness.

I've learned that such unwelcome visitors usually show up at times when I'm in high-risk phases of my life. If I'm worried about money, people tell me how bad the economy is. When I contemplate significant changes, I hear about people who gave up perfectly comfortable and secure lives for uncertain and ultimately ruinous futures. When, in the early days of the Internet, I spoke about building a website, some people looked at me as I had told them that I was resettling on Mars.

That these criticisms and warnings perfectly mirrored my own unvoiced or unacknowledged doubts was no coincidence. Our thoughts have a magnetic energy, and the thoughts we don't allow into consciousness will make an extra effort to be heard, drawing to us the external voices of the Inner Critic we would rather ignore. It seems like a combination of the law of attraction and the Bad News Bears.

Opening Our Inner Ears

When we're working towards feeling positive about our lives, it's all too easy to try to paper over our negative feelings with affirmations and other cheerful sentiments. The drawback to doing this is that negative beliefs provide valuable guidance of what thoughts we're vibrating.

I can say a thousand times a day that I'm in perfect health, but if I'm feeling fear and despair, these emotions are energetic chains that keep me from getting to the perfect health place. Trying to ignore them are like driving in low gear and wondering why the car is moving so slowly. When we directly address negative emotions and thoughts, especially while using EFT, we can find the key that unlocks those chains

That's why I've learned to let the Inner Critic speak. Here's a typical conversation:

Me: I'd like to learn how to paint in watercolor.

Inner Critic: You? Remember your first day in kindergarten when you did finger-painting and you got most of the paint on your clothes? Do you really have nothing better to do with your money than to waste it on paper and paint? And brushes? Brushes are expensive. Besides, that's a really frivolous idea. Who told you life was supposed to be fun? You have more important things to do. You have a business to run, classes to give, people to counsel. How can you be so selfish as to consider doing something that is strictly for your own entertainment (since you know you'll never get anywhere with it)? Play now, pay later.

I now have a wealth of material with which to work. I could make a tapping monologue like this:

Even though I don't think life is supposed to be fun, I choose to believe it is.

Even though I'm probably wasting my money and time, I could waste a little and see what happens.

Even though I have a lot of important things, I choose to believe that having fun is important.

I can't waste my time.
I can't waste my money.
I can't be frivolous.
I can't be selfish.
I can't do something for myself.
I have to be serious about life.
Being casual and having fun would be wrong.
I'll be punished.

At this point, a memory might surface that involves your being punished by a parent or other authority figure for wasting time, money, or your intellectual resources. If you'd like to pursue this idea, you might tap for: Even though I don't remember who told me not to be frivolous/wasteful/selfish etc., I choose to remember when I'm ready.

When you're ready to introduce a positive energy to this issue: What if my parents/teacher/other adult authority figure were wrong?
Their lives weren't so great.
Wouldn't I rather be happy?
It might be a risk, but I could try.
I think I'd rather have some fun.
I think learning (choose your favorite) would be fun.
I choose to have fun.
With every fiber of my body, heart, and soul.

From Inner Critic to Inner Counselor

Having dialogues with the Inner Critic will provide you much material for tapping scripts. Some other examples from my own dialogue include, "Artistic expression is a luxury I can't afford," "I'll only humiliate myself," and "If I don't work hard I'll be punished."

Then affirmations come into the picture. Mine might be, "I have the talent to paint" or "If I enjoy it who cares about talent?" I have worked with the belief that life is hard work by consciously scheduling play time into my life (and by consciously dealing with whatever resistance comes up to experiencing play).

I've discovered that the more I allow my Inner Critic to speak and am open to hearing it the more the character of its communications change. As I got into the habit of dialogues with it I began to hear it say, "Remember that easel you were going to get? When are you going to order it? How about tomorrow?"

As I continue to converse with my Inner Critic, its storehouse of opinions and complaints gradually empties out. No longer ignored or suppressed, it becomes the Inner Companion, Inner Counselor, my best friend who will always tell me the truth I'm now ready to hear.

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