Do you remember a time when you were told who you are? It’s nice to hear that you’re kind or smart. But sometimes you hear that you are clumsy, stupid, ungrateful or worthless.
Where do those names go? Yes, they are still in your head. And often they become part of the inner critic who doesn’t like much of what you do. Today’s Christian mindfulness exercise is helping us to recognize that your inner critic is talking and to learn how to stop listening to it.
It is all part of detachment, the art of experiencing feelings without allowing them to control you. Numbing out feelings is unhealthy. That’s not what I’m suggesting. Detachment steps in to allow us to make choices about our thoughts and actions. In Christian mindfulness, we allow ourselves to walk with Jesus and to do God’s will.
Learning to focus on the presence of God helps us to recognize the negative impact of our inner critic. We do what we should do, regardless of how we feel. This allows us to be loving to people we don’t like and to participate in situations where we have felt awkward in the past. We can do hard things with hard people.
The first step is to pray. Ask God to help you listen to your thoughts. Spend some time writing down what you hear. Are you getting criticism and ridicule? That’s the inner critic. Be aware of what the inner critic sounds like. Keep a list of what you hear, if that helps. These hurtful statements from the past have little to do with your identity in Christ.
Once we recognize our inner critic’s voice, we need to deliberately ignore it. When the words arise, pray before you take any action. Ask for an increase in God’s presence. And turn your thoughts towards praise and gratitude. Then do the next right thing.
Ignoring your inner critic can help you to detach from emotional reactions and walk in the ways of peace.