Taming your inner critic and getting to the core of who you truly are, not whom others think you should be, is a process. It’s a process of intentionally choosing your thoughts instead of allowing your inner critic to choose for you. Much like peeling away the layers of an onion, this process of discovering who you truly are takes patience, self-nurturing and fortitude. But it is possible – and once you find your true essence and live by your own internal wisdom – life is truly delicious!
However, you can’t change something until you understand what it is you want to change.
Who Do You Think You Are? (The Name Web)
1. Draw a circle in the middle of the page and write your name in that circle. Now, start writing down your associations with this word. Do this by drawing lines moving outward from your name. An association is any word or phrase that pops into your mind when you think about yourself.
2. Record both the positive and negative associations. You may find that a word triggers connections to other words or ideas. Write these down too, allowing one idea to flow freely into the next.
3. When you run out of associations, return to the center circle with your name in it and see what happens. Do this exercise quickly; don’t edit your thoughts. Your name web (or mind map) will look something like a spider web with all kinds of lines and words moving out from the center.
4. You might reflect upon:
- what you like most about being you
- some of your mother’s favorite phrases she used in describing you
- some of the descriptive words you use to describe yourself, such as being too shy, too short, or really clumsy
- phrases that your inner critic uses to describe you, such as, “I am so dumb,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m afraid they’ll find out my secret”
- phrases your best friend might use to describe you, such as, “You’re so compassionate,” “You listen well,” “You always say exactly what you mean”
5. After you’ve finished, you’ll have something that looks like a big web or net. Some associations form clusters full of descriptive words, others will stand alone.
6. Draw circles around the words with a repetitive tone or mood. You might find themes of unworthiness, resentment, or confusion. On the positive side, you might find themes of spontaneity or empathy. Other energies, such as love, health, or creativity may be mentioned. Write those repeating themes off to the side of your web.
This picture, or name web, with all of its associations and intricacies, is your personal model of how you see yourself operating in the world. This structure of knowing serves as a filter in every conversation or thought you have.
Look to see if there’s a correlation between the circled themes on your name web and the words and phrases used by your inner critic. Most of our inner critic’s voice is made up of what I call foreign energy—other people’s “shoulds” of how they think we should behave. This voice is often so loud it makes it near impossible to connect to your own inner Spirit, the core of who you truly are.
So how do we deal with this foreign energy? Are we stuck with these shoulds floating around in our heads for the rest of our lives?
I don’t think so! I believe that energy can be moved. After all, we weren’t born with an inner critic. We acquired it. And so, if it came in, it can be moved out. We just have to know how.
Maybe you’ve walked away from a particularly offensive conversation by literally shaking out both hands or shrugging your shoulders to remove the “icky” after-effects of your conversation. On the other hand, you might have felt like rinsing off in the shower or like shaking your body; like a wet dog coming out of the river. Either way, you were unconsciously removing foreign energy from your aura.
Not all encounters with foreign energy are as dramatic. Simply brushing the energy off your arms, legs, head, and back as if you were removing a layer of dust from your skin might be sufficient. Or, you might literally expel foreign energy from your body by inhaling deeply and then exhaling through your mouth with force.
These methods work well if you’re consciously aware of picking up energies from others and choose to expel the energy right away.
You’ve just completed the first step in getting to the core of you. You’ve found the filters that are preventing you from accessing your own unique truths and you’ve learned a few simple techniques to clear foreign energy from your space. There’s more work to be done, of course, but the first step is always awareness.