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It would be nice if the Inner Critic, what I call the Judge, would go away in a one step process. That rarely happens. There have been a couple people that might have done it. Eckhart Tolle, or Byron Katie, maybe, but I don’t know their personal process in detail to say. They may have still had extra cleanup work on their mind to do once their big shift happened. For the rest of us normal humans that want our Judge to calm down, or even become completely reformed, there is work that can get it done.
What I have learned through my own process, and guiding others, is two important things. One, is that it can be done. You can tame your Inner Critic so that it is a kind ally instead of a punishing bully. The second thing is that the change is most effectively done in steps and accomplished through practice.
The first step to changing the Internal Dialog of the Judge, or any of the negative chatter, is to move your point of view to a neutral Observer Perspective. You do this by noticing things and observing things as a practice. This might not seem like much of a change, but it allows for other kinds of progress, like doubt or skepticism to work effectively. You might also call this perspective a state of consciousness or awareness. It requires that you be able to watch thoughts in the mind without much, or any reactionary thoughts that would add layers.
Once you make this shift in point of view three other things can happen. Your emotions decrease. You are able to become skeptical of thoughts from the Judge in an effective manner. Third, you recover personal power from those thoughts and underlying beliefs you have been unconscious of seeing.
The reason changing your point of view is so critical is that the analytical thinking of the mind doesn’t change beliefs. Also, the analytical thinking is infected with the ego’s perspective of the Judge, the Victim, and other voices, in your head. You will see this happening when you have a negative opinion about what the Judge says. It might be a thought like, “I’m over reacting, I wish I didn’t beat myself up, I’m such a loser for thinking this way, I’ll get it right next time, I need to be more perfect.” These types of thoughts are from the Judge as well. It is in way complaining about itself, and is effectively reinforcing itself as doing your thinking for you at the same time. All these thoughts, and others, are different ways that our ego mind reacts to a judgmental thought. This is clouding things up instead of making them clearer and quieter.
The mind is distorting things through stories, opinions, exaggerations, and distractions like this. It is not able to clean itself up any more than a toddler left out in the yard will clean itself up. Left out in the yard it will likely just get more dirt on itself. You need to bring in a clear consciousness of the Observer to oversee the cleanup. In order to have that clear consciousness of the Observer you have to develop it. This means being in a state of mind where you don’t add more thoughts, even analytical ones, or good intentions, to what the Inner Judge says. If you can’t be in this neutral state, you are still in various aspects of the ego based belief system.
The key is to develop Awareness so that you do not identify with the parts of the mind thinking and generating emotions. In the beginning this will be for short intervals measured in minutes, and then can grow as you practice and develop more skills. It is not so much that you are trying to be smarter and analyze your thinking, but rather to wake up from your thinking.
When you watch a movie, it can be emotional, but that doesn’t mean that the movie is real. It just means that you are identifying with the characters in the story of the movie. In a good movie you feel the emotions of the characters on the screen because your mind is identifying with them. If you don’t, you will think of it as a bad movie and change the channel.
The same happens when you identify with the characters speaking in your head. If you identify with them, then you are in their movie, and you are feeling their emotions. Everything they say will “seem real” because we assume that “feeling the emotions” means it “Is real.” It isn’t. Feeling emotions just means it’s a perspective inducing movie, opinion, or belief, and you identify with a character in there.
This is not to say that emotions can’t be authentic. They can be. But emotions from the thoughts you think and conversations and images in your own head are not the same.
If you can step outside the identity of the characters of voices in your head and watch it will begin to look very different. It will be like watching a movie that you are not invested it. Or like a dream that you are lucid in. You will know it is a dream and that it is not real.
This allows you to go to the next steps which is to lessen the emotions, be more skeptical, and recover personal power. Different exercises in the Self Mastery Course focus on different aspects of this belief changing process. The Gratitude exercise in session 1 is to re-program your mind. However, it also helps you change your emotions and point of view. It also induces you to the experience of how powerful a story is to change your emotions, and that you can have power over what you feel. Session 2 on Recovering Personal Power is about skepticism from an observer perspective about certain thoughts. Session 3 on the Attention is bringing awareness specifically to your point of view. Session 5 is all about changing point of view so that you can become an effective observer and then apply better skepticism.
Each exercise of the Self Mastery Course will help you strengthen these different skills so you can step by step change each story in your mind. Over time those steps will add up and you will discover that you changed the story of your life towards greater happiness.4