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Turning the Tables on the Inner Critic

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Someone emailed me asking about self blame and requesting any suggestions I might have for how to address it. Here is my response:

Self blame is an interesting dynamic. It is mostly perpetuated by what is known as the super-ego or the inner critic or judge. This is a normal and healthy development very early in life that allows us to behave and stay out of trouble even when mom or dad are not present. We internally form an image of them and behave as if they are still watching us. It is useful when we are young, but later in life it is pretty detrimental to have a voice or image inside our head always telling us what is wrong with us. One of the key signs that the super-ego is active is if you feel small or inadequate or unworthy, and there is a voice referring to you in the third person, i.e. "What's the matter with you?" or "You are so worthless."

This split off image of others criticizing us is also a ripe place for projection of our own strength, power, and discrimination. And surprisingly, the best approach to the superego is to tell it shut up! And mean it! If that does not work, then tell it shut the hell up! In essence you do whatever it takes to get that voice and image to leave you alone. Do not allow it to get a word in edgewise. Make fun of it, laugh at it, tell it to go jump in a lake. But do not try to reason with it. Logic does not work with the super-ego.

If you can collapse the projection by standing up to the super-ego, then all of the strength and power that was being projected onto that critical voice will flow back into your body and Being, and then you can decide what is true and what you need to do. Paradoxically, when we defend ourselves against the super-ego, we actually are embracing the energy of it by reclaiming it for our own. And by the way, I do not recommend telling the actual people you love or who do practically have authority over you to shut up. You can be this fierce and go to battle because it is just an image in your own mind. It is like a cartoon character and you do not have to worry that you will hurt the feelings of the imaginary voice in your head!

One bit of good news in this approach is that when we are successful at dissolving or at least quieting the critical judge in our head, the other thing that can dissolve is the ego. The ego forms at the same time as the super-ego as we need a mental image of ourselves to relate to the mental image of our parents. When there is no longer any super-ego activity, then there is no longer any need for an ego.

I wrote something similar on my blog here and there is a book available that explores this in greater depth called Soul Without Shame available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009GN3DD8/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

I hope this helps.

Note added: My friend replied with some perspectives from her work with multiple personalities that would suggest that the super-ego is just a child-like part of us that might respond better to a gentle acceptance and some understanding of its positive intent. She was intrigued though by the idea of reclaiming the energy, strength and power that is split off in the superego. I wrote her back as follows:

There can be a surprising amount of energy and strength that flow back into the body when you stand up to the super-ego. It can also become very quiet and peaceful inside.

I do find the gentle approach you are suggesting can work also, but it often seems that the super-ego responds better to a firm and unyielding approach. Again, it can paradoxically turn into an embrace of the actual essential strength and power that is being held outside the body by the projection. And just to be clear, this approach is not appropriate for dealing with the hurt or wounded aspects of our psyche as they would only be more traumatized.

It maybe helps to remember that the superego is truly is just a projection of your own mind. There is no actual harm done to an independent being when you yell at it. I sometimes even grab it by the throat to make sure it shuts up. When I do, it becomes small and inconsequential and I feel much bigger and expanded. I actually enjoy the feeling of being like a big powerful Samurai warrior! I definitely embrace the energy when it is back inside my own body!

One other point you might encounter is that the superego can also give a comforting sense that mom and dad are always present....even to us as adults. The first time the superego falls silent, there may be a profound sense of alone-ness that has never really been encountered before. It is unfamiliar, but ultimately freeing. This approach of turning the tables on the superego maybe goes beyond the comforting and embracing of the split off projection and actually dissolves the sense of otherness altogether....which again can also dissolve the sense of a separate self or ego. You can be so alone that there is nobody here....not even you!


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There Is No Limit to How Limited an Experience Being Can Have!

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Q: Thank you for your pointers. There is a persistent issue I continue to toss about, and that has to do with the idea of one's thoughts, feelings, and desires being out-of-alignment with Truth. How and to whom has this situation arisen within Truth in the first place, such that it must be corrected?

A: One simple way of looking at it is....all there is, is truth. So in an ultimate sense we are never out of alignment with truth. However, on the more relative level, we can experience more or less truth. But more is not necessarily better. By experiencing less of the truth in a moment, we can focus our experience onto just a part of the truth and thereby create a contrast to an experience where we experience more of the truth. There is no limit to how extreme this contrast can get, as we all discover when life seems horribly contracted and out of alignment.

Perhaps all of our experiences are just the endless ways that awareness has discovered to create contrast and differences within the endlessness of truth itself. If Being is infinite and eternal, it would naturally be drawn to trying new experiences in endlessly new ways. One of the best and maybe only ways for an infinite Being to create is to create limitations within itself. Paradoxically, there is no limit to how limited an experience Being can have!

That all being said, on the more relative level there is a practical value to the notion of correcting a misalignment with the truth. It simply is functional when we are stuck in a small or limited perspective to correct that perspective with a more aligned or expanded perspective. So even though ultimately no harm was done by the misalignment and it even served to provide the contrast Being loves, there is also a natural impulse to then align or expand and bring experience back into a fuller state again. Life will assuredly take us out of alignment again sooner or later, and then we have that experience, and also get to discover how to realign from that new place of challenge or difficulty. And so it goes as life folds and unfolds itself in ever new and interesting ways!

As for your question of to whom do these misalignments appear, again there is more than one level. Ultimately, it is all happening to and also within the one Being that everything is. And yet on the more relative level, there are apparent individuals that serve as a focal point for much of the experience that happens. One bit of good news is that by creating apparent separate individuals, Being does get to have someone else to go out with on date on Saturday night! Again, what a clever way of creating new experiences within its infinite Self by creating a lot of different smaller selves to have those experiences, and also to experience each other.

I hope this helps and thanks for your questions.

dolphin pod

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The Joy in Compassion and the Compassion in Joy

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A friend who is dealing with an extremely limiting and difficult illness recently used some of her very limited energy to contact me:

Q: I just started reading your newest book, Everything Is Included. I would like to share something with you and ask a question already! You have always been so generous over the years with your support and energy. You know my situation. I don't think I've shared much about the nature of my illness, and I won't say much now other than that it's neurological, and just directing my awareness can be a strain. Reading itself has become problematic.

Your first essay got me crying because I had the felt experience of oneness so spontaneously and often as a child, and then again as an adult ... but very seldom since ill. Your second essay is the one I feel most drawn to so far and it has already hinted at how I can relate to my present scenario differently, and I have felt some expansion.

However, I got really tripped up on the essay "You might as well Enjoy Enjoying yourself!" Very distressing thoughts came up with this sentence: "Whatever is happening is what you are creating right now, and that is what your being is enjoying immensely." First I have the thought that there're billions of us co-creating, and it all seems more mysterious to me than that. I didn't personally or solely create what's going on in Syria, or Trump as a presidential candidate, nor can I see how victims of genocide created those realities. Nor can I see how my friend's son who was born with a congenital heart defect created that for himself, nor the victims of Chernobyl, nor the Native American decimation from chicken pox, nor how the four teenagers killed by a drunk driver down the road from my house created that. You can see where this is heading. I could really get "into" self-flagellation if I go with the thought that "my" being created this illness. Did my caregiving parents also create their daughter's illness? Gangaji used to say some bodies are just stronger than others. And it also brings to mind Eckhart Tolle's (or was it Adya?) saying our first biggest mistake is to think of this as "my" life. To me, it's always felt more like a collective Beingness is creating the whole show.

Not that it's so black and white either. Obviously, there are aspects of my experience that I am creating. Ok, I think you can see the hole I tumbled down. And I'm undoubtedly writing to you before giving myself enough time with it! Thank you, as always, Nirmala, for your presence and compassion.

A: Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am always touched when someone has a strong response to my books, as that means they are really considering the words I have written. And it is even more moving to me that you took some of your precious and limited ability to focus to check in with me.

As for the sentence that triggered you, I can completely understand why...especially if the sentence is considered all by itself. I agree with everything you said in response to that sentence, especially the idea that it is incorrect and lacking in compassion to take a statement about creating our reality and use it in any way to blame someone who is experiencing illness or tragedy. I did not mean it in that way and would not want to suggest anything like that.

My sense of this idea of how we create our reality is that it is a small part of the truth, and really just a very small part. All there is is truth, as truth is everything that exists. So small truths are still true and real. Even the illusion of a separate self has some reality...just not very much reality. As the essay you refer to put it:
My favorite definition of illusion is that it is something real that appears to be something other than what it really is. The smoke and mirrors that a magician uses to create an illusion are real smoke and real mirrors.So this illusion that appears as "you" and "your life" is not what it appears to be, but it is still real. Yes, it is a magic trick being done by the Being that you are, and yet the illusion is also made of that same Being. So the illusion is as real as the Being creating it.
So the you that appears to create your experiences is itself an illusion, but it does still exist. And so it does have some effect. As you said yourself, "Not that it's so black and white either. Obviously, there are aspects of my experience that I am creating." (continue reading)
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Nothing Personal leads you to the experience of your true nature and helps you explore its depth. Through exposition, questions and dialogues, it brings you to a place of realization of the Truth: you are the spacious Awareness in which everything appears.

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