Inquiry and embracing change
Spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson says, “Love is what we are and fear is what we learn”. This implies that at our deepest layers we are perfect and whole. It reveals we are beings of love personified, and it is only the limiting beliefs of fear that mask our radiance. Our fear mind is not bad, and it is not to be hated. Remember, it is the part of us attempting to keep us “small, contained and restrained with the very real hope this will somehow keep us safe. But what we know now is we are so much more than our fear, and we want to change. We want transformation. We want authenticity. So in a way, transforming our lives is actually a journey of unlearning. It is a journey of undoing. It is an odyssey to clear away the clouds of fear covering our radiant sun selves.
A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years. Byron Katie
Held in the light of awareness we can utilize the gift of inquiry and grasp the grace of choice. Inquiry carves out the path to empower us to make new choices and find who we really are. When questioned, what is found is the voice of fear is simply not true to the present moment. The work developed by teacher Bryon Katie is a phenomenal example as a process to challenge the voice of the inner critic with powerful questions, and welcome the space for the voice of truth to emerge.
The Work by Byron Katie
1) Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
2) Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
3) How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4) Who would you be without the thought?
Held to the challenge of inquiry, the inner critic can be questioned for its validity. We can compassionately hold the space for ourselves and our clients to release the inner critic’s habitual replaying of outdated messages, thoughts and the feelings that might arise in the process. There is the space created for reflection and visualizing regarding what it would feel like to be free from the condemnation of the inner critic. When we bring in the voice of truth we engage authenticity by leaning into our imperfections with compassion and clarity rather than judgment.
Imagine life without the beliefs ….
- The world is unsafe.
- Vulnerability is weakness.
- I must always succeed.
- I must be perfect.
- I am responsible for the reality of others.
We can then help our clients and ourselves set loving boundaries with the inner critic by releasing it from its job of attempting to protect. In this way, we claim our own voice of truth. We can engage the inner critic with the gift of witness perspective and find just what it is attempting to protect us from. We can listen to it to find the lost gifts we need to integrate. Then, we can lovingly let it go by telling it,
I understand you are terrified of getting hurt and feeling rejected. I know you’re trying to protect me from those feelings. I will be OK. I will be able to cope with whatever happens. I no longer need your protection.
By expressing empathy for the critic, we consciously release the need for protection, and in the process, we claim true authenticity and real change.
We may not choose our life circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them. Along the same lines, we may not choose our inner critic, but we can choose to agree with it or challenge it. In every moment we have that choice. The energy and patterns of our inner critic may be habitual and, by definition, habit has a tendency to repeat itself. For real change to occur, we must consciously release habit and step into new energy. This happens when we release aligning with the stories, thoughts and habits that keep us stuck. When we clear away what has defined us, we allow ourselves the chance to embrace who we really are. We find accountability is empowering, vulnerability is true humility and receiving from others is a symbol of strength. We find shame cannot stand the light of truth, and imperfections are not inadequacies at all. We find we are whole.
Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Hazelden.
Buffington, D. S. (2010-2011). Banish Blocks and Barriers. Retrieved October 2013, from The Four states of Mind: http://banishblocks.com/the-four-states-of-mind.html
Burney, R. (2011). Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light: Book 1: Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Eddins, R. (2013, August 19). Working with your inner critic. Retrieved October 2013, from Psych Central: http://psychcentral.com/lib/working-with-your-inner-critic/00017552
Katie, B. (2003). Loving what Is: Four questions that can change your life. Three Rivers Press.
Lipton, B. H. (2007). The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles. Hay House.
Masters, R. A. (2010). Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters . North Atlantic Books.
Ruiz, d. M. (1999). The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship: A Toltec Wisdom Book. Amber-Allen Publishing.