I’ve been quiet here on the blog for a few months. The Unbecoming Circle took most of my attention this past spring, as did wrapping up the last full semester of my graduate school career. As the Circle wrapped up, I found myself focusing on my family, my upcoming graduation and the wide open future of my private practice.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I want my website to look like, how the blog will evolve, what programs I will continue to offer online, what my in-person practice will focus on. I’ve wondered and dreamed and worried and fretted. I’ve known and then questioned and then known and then questioned again.
And while I’ve been focusing on this new becoming, the voices in my head and heart have been making themselves known.
No, I haven’t had a psychotic break. The voices I’m writing about are the ones that we all have. The ones that whisper and the ones that scream. The ones that encourage and the ones that try to keep us right where we are.
The voices of the Inner Critic and Inner Cheerleader.
During the spring session of the Unbecoming Circle, we spent some time unearthing and exploring our inner critics and cheerleaders: who they are, where they come from, what their voices sound like, what their motivation is to speak (or not!) to us. We got to peel away a layer or two and start to see how important both of these voices are. We also were able to start to give love to both of them, and to understand that both the critic and the cheerleader are parts of us. Parts of us that we need to embrace if we want to be whole.
The work I did quietly on the sidelines while the circle gathered helped to calm both of my voices a bit. I mindfully noticed as I have been trying to figure out this next iteration of my working life that my Inner Critic isn’t as loud, she isn’t as aggressive as she has been in the past. I also observed that my Inner Cheerleader isn’t as frantic as she once was, instead more calmly, more knowingly, cheering me on.
By giving these two aspects of ourselves attention, by acknowledging them, understanding them and sending them love, we can start to hear the real message that may be hidden behind their words and feeling. By embracing both of these aspects of our Self, we can start to hear our own embodied wisdom.
Who is this Inner Critic and Inner Cheerleader? Where do they come from?
The Inner Critic is often motivated by fear. She don’t want us to take risks. She don’t want us to get hurt. The Inner Critic is trying to protect us from the Big Bad World. Hers is the voice of experience; she is born of that time (or times) we were picked on at the playground, or that time the cute boy didn’t reciprocate, or the time we failed at some important test or task, or those times we disappointed those we love. She is born out of pain and longing: the pain of not being accepted; the longing to be loved.
So she shouts because what is most important in the world to her is that we not feel the pain of failure or disappointment; the wounding of being unliked or even unloved.
And yet, pain, failure, disappointment, and yes even being unliked and unloved are all part of a fully lived life.
The Inner Cheerleader, conversely, is motivated by hope. She has the same experiences as the Inner Critic, however she isn’t fearful that everything will always end in failure or pain. She believes that things can be different than they have been in the past. And more importantly, she believes that even if you fail, even if you feel pain or disappointment, even if someone doesn’t like you or doesn’t love you, you are strong enough to get through it and start again.
Next week I will guide a one week online workshop exploring and embracing our Inner Critics and Inner Cheerleaders. We will unearth their motivations and voices. We will recognize how they are each an integral part of us, and also that they are not the whole of us and neither controls our decisions or our life. Then for one week in August we will take the time to explore and embrace our Shadow Self (more on her later).
Already a beautiful group of women have gathered to do this work this summer: taking a week to dive into our depths, to understanding our unconscious motivations, to connect more fully to our own embodied wisdom through mindfulness, creativity and stream-of-conscious writing. It would be amazing to have you join us.