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How many times in our process have we had the thought, “I should be further along than I am.”
To that comment I sometimes like to ask two questions,
One: “In terms of percentage, how far along should you be?”
Two: “In terms of percentage, how far along are you?”
The assessment without those questions always seems vague and without validation. When you ask in terms of something specific like percentage, you can narrow down the answer to between 0 and 100. That by itself is still a lot of choices, but at least the criteria is more specific. I think it’s easier to answer when you make it specific. But even when I make it easier like this people don’t seem to be able to answer. They don’t know how far along they are and they don’t know how far along they should be. Yet somehow they “know”, “I’m not as far along as I should be.”
How do they “know”? It’s really that they have an image in their mind of themselves as a failure and they believe that the image is them. In short,,, they believe it. What we believe in our mind is what we “know.” What can be weird about this is that we can “know” something and it still not be true. What we “know” is that we are not as far along as we should be. We “know” it only because we believe it, whether it is true or not. We have no real measurement of our progress, or what reasonable progress should look like, but we accept the conclusion as truth. The result of accepting this idea as truth is that we feel like a failure.
Because the voice in your head thinks something doesn’t mean it has to be true. Sometimes the voice in our head can tell us things that aren’t truth. When we believe the lies that it says, we are likely to unnecessarily suffer emotionally.
When we believe the voice in our head is telling us the truth, and we feel like we “know” it. That sense of knowing can give us a feeling of confidence in what we know. We feel smart in our knowing, even if what we know isn’t true, and makes us unhappy.
Let’s call that voice in our head that is criticizing us the Judge. Sometimes it tells us the truth. Sometimes it tells us lies. Sometimes that judge can be so critical it is berating and abusive. It can drag us back into emotional suffering with its lies. Because that voice of the Judge has guided us towards success and away from failure in the past we tend to accept what it says as true. We unconsciously consider it an advisor. The voice of the Judge tells us we should be farther along and we assume it is somehow helping us. That’s not the only thing that is happening.
Sometimes when the internal dialog of the Judge is putting us down we justify that it is helping us. “It’s giving me a good kick so I’ll work harder,” is the kind of response we defend the Judge with. Sometimes we accept this defense at face value. When we do we believe it and now it feels true. We “know” it. Except if we look at little closer the explanation starts to fall apart.
What does “further along” really mean. Further along towards what? “Further along” really means happier. “I’m not as far as long as I should be,” translates to: “I’m not as happy as I should be.” What does it take to be happier? Happier means more love. Love comes in the form of self acceptance and self respect.
The voice of the Judge rejects us. It is not accepting and it is not respectful of our own well being and yet we defend this criticism as “motivational help.” We justify that the harder it is on us the more that it is motivating us. You’d be surprised how often I get this kind of explanation. The truth is that the more it criticizes us for not being far enough along, the more we reject our self. The more we believe this voice in our head, the unhappier we are. So how could this self rejection that the Judge is doing, which is the opposite of self acceptance and self respect possibly be helping us towards happiness?
It’s kind of like this. The judge is throwing dirt on you when you are not clean enough. It says, “Hey, you don’t accept your self enough so take this rejection and you will improve our self. It’s really becomes ridiculous when you are aware of it. But that’s part of the trick. You have to shift your perspective to become aware of it.
So what can you do to help your self? It starts with awareness. First you need awareness that what you think, may not be true. Awareness that you don’t always have to believe what you think. Then, with a little practice, you learn to scrutinize the internal dialog of the Judge and find out that it’s not always helpful.
A few things to consider.
That voice in your head may have been more helpful in the past, but as we get older it gets out of control. It spends more time berating us than guiding or helping us. When it comes to self acceptance, respect, love, and happiness,,, it doesn’t have much experience. Most of what that voice in your head “knows” is about fear. It is constantly telling you what you have to do and should do to avoid what you fear. The problem with the information it is giving you is that it is based on what it knows from the past. It assumes that all future experiences will be like the past ones. We have a very powerful memory, and it distorts how we see the present moment when we believe the internal dialog in our head.
For insights on how to change this dynamic of falling for the self rejection that goes on in your mind Listen and Practice the exercises in the Self Mastery course. The first 4 sessions are free. Sign up here. You might also want to check out the free audio about self awareness and changing beliefs.