Last night on the way home from the dharma center AM and I were talking about the concept of the inner critic. I've noted often that I don't often get a tangible voice in my head telling me I should be ashamed, that I'm bad, that something is too ambitious for me, etc. Every once in a while one pops up, but now I am most often able to spot the absurdity of the statements it makes.
AM commented that perhaps I should stop trying to figure out why I don't get a tangible inner critic to work with. Stop comparing my experience to others and assume that I should be the same. Start working with the way my mind works, moving forward from what does happen. I think I hear people in my sangha talk so often about the work they do with their inner critic I feel a bit strange that I don't seem to have one to really work with in the same way.
Most of the time I get what feel like just rushes of emotion, wordless and omni-present. Occasionally my mind just checks out of the moment and is thinking about work, teaching a class, planning what to say at some even in the future. I don't even really notice it starting to wander off until I gain awareness of how far I've moved out of the present. I noted in the discussion last night there are times it as almost as if someone just happened to stroll by and pop a bag over my head leaving me blind, deaf, and speechless to the present. It makes it difficult to try and resist, work with it.
Now I try to first figure out what the emotion is, or at least what is on the top of the layers. I really try to stay present, check in and determine if the emotion appears to be excessive for the given moment. I have to pull down through more recent experiences and remind myself that something won't blow up. The first emotional instinct may quite often be out of place, an echoing call of the past intruding upon a future that is far safer. It is such effort to do this and I feel like I mess it up all the time.
The emotions, they're what I can call the inner critic; like feeling as if I mess up all the time. My inner critic doesn't yell at me; perhaps I can envision some sorcerous creature that summons forth the crashing emotions and unleashes them upon me. That's what I think was coming through when I titled a blog "Thrashed on by the inner critic".
Maybe writing is another door as well, when I write about the emotions the voice comes out more. "I mess it up all the time" is certainly a voice talking and not just the raw emotion of inadequacy, failure, and shame. Those are definitely the feelings that are coming through when I think about struggling with my anxiety. Expressing those feelings through writing suddenly gives them a voice. Not that I think I'll take up arguing with myself in my blog, but I do have the opportunity to be mindful of a voice coming up, saying exaggerated and hurtful things about myself.