The judgmental voice in my head

I look back on my life and see that I tended to be pretty hard on myself—judgmental, impatient, and intolerant more often than I’d care to admit. Yet, in my most lucid moments of closer observation, I see this as a contradiction, because I can see that it was not based on truth, and was also harmful, which reminds me of the sober assessment a therapist once told me, “It’s crazy-making.”

Why would I choose to view my life as disappointing when, in retrospect, I have done my best and achieved so much? Why would I view myself as not being good enough, smart enough, rich enough, worthy enough, or any other “not enough”? Yet, I have done that for much of my life; I’ve been so quick to judge myself unfavorably. It seems like an addiction that has a life of its own that is so hard to change.

Why?

One of the core building blocks of separation and the world of duality is fear and the belief that nothing is enough. It is built into the very fabric of the dualistic world in which we live. In other words, that is the way it is here on Earth. On top of that, my reality supports my inner state; I see the world around me with people, events, and things mirroring my inner state of lack (not enough), which in turn supports my twisted beliefs. The universe is just doing what it is supposed to do as a co-creator, manifesting my reality based on my inner state of being. As a creator, I am equally powerful in creating limitations, pain, fear, and harmful beliefs as I am in creating an unlimited, peaceful, loving, and empowering reality. If I stay in the former, it constantly prevents me from achieving peace and happiness. It is a choice, but a choice made from awareness, seeing, and inquiring into my inner state of being.

“Having your internal resistance manifest in your external reality is simply to live in an experience of your chosen definition. We are here learning about beingness by being. Reality is our greatest teacher, not because it somehow concocts clever lessons for us, but because it shows us our beingness. Reality does nothing but reflect to us what we are choosing to be.”
–Story Waters

It is not easy to change these lifelong beliefs or definitions of ourselves that we hold inside. We live in a sea of social programming that has a powerful momentum. To continue with the analogy, we live in this ancient sea full of old patterns, beliefs, behaviors, cravings, fears, and notions of what is acceptable and what is not. The sea is not our enemy, but it can and does have an overwhelming effect on us. We’re all in the same boat, drifting along in the sea of life, mostly unaware of our ability to change course and navigate our journey in a more informed and awakened manner.

Our self-definitions and beliefs develop over many years, starting in childhood. We watch our parents, friends, family, and others display their beliefs, routines, and patterns, which are passed down from generation to generation with some degree of change, of course.

My patterns, behaviors, and beliefs were passed on to me this way. These beliefs and behaviors are like a closed loop that solidifies throughout our lives as we project those beliefs into the world and then have them mirrored back to us. Reality always mirrors our state of beliefs back to us in some form or another. If I feel unworthy, vulnerable, or any of the “not enough” beliefs mentioned above, I will project these into the world, and these beliefs will be mirrored back to me because that is the way reality works. I have lived this, I understand this, and I know what I must do, yet it remains a never-ending challenge. It is not about understanding this; change happens in my conscious doing, actions, and behaviors which are in the present moment of life, the point of power.

I have made changes to my beliefs and self-definition throughout my life. Some changes have been meaningful, some have not, and some are more stubborn and require deeper inquiry and commitment. Some changes are made, and I never look back. For example, changing to a healthier vegetarian diet went against the grain of my childhood environment, but I followed my heart and persisted in making the change. The will to change was strong enough to shift my inner self-definition and overcome the pull to conform to what everyone else was doing.

Another early change was developing a skill in which I excelled, becoming an artist. This was contrary to anyone I knew in my family or circle of friends. This was an innate decision to follow my heart, my passion, and trust that I would do well. Nevertheless, I have been critical of myself in this area and reserved in giving myself credit or joy in my accomplishments.

I chose to leave my family and friends in Canada to take a job in the US when I was in my twenties. This was a major decision for me and went against the grain of my family unit of staying together. It was life-changing. I liked my life in Canada and had my plans laid out in front of me. But the lure of more success and adventure prodded me on, even though it was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made. Once again, through it all, I was hard on myself, including reluctantly allowing myself to be happy with my accomplishments.

Even with these changes, I was self-critical far too often, and it robbed me of peace and the joy of life. As my therapist suggested, it was making me crazy to continue down a path where everything I did was not enough and viewed myself so harshly through a critical lens. How can one live a joyful life under these conditions? They can’t.

My wife will attest to the fact that I have spent much of my adult life trying my best to be a better person, more joyful, less critical, and to relax and enjoy my life more. It’s not for lack of trying; some things are hard to change. Regarding this very topic, I once asked a channel about my tendency to be self-critical, and they answered that my life challenges, upbringing, parents, environment, friends, education, and talents were all the necessary bit players and situations in the story of my life to provide the backdrop for my unique unfolding and expansion to happen.

However, I viewed them as obstacles, and I did not realize that they were showing me the very thing I needed to look at within. I only had to allow them to speak to me, to see them for what they were, a true reflection of my inner state. Reality is my friend and consistently shows me what I need to look at to achieve my goal of becoming happy, successful, and appreciative of my life. The channel gave me good advice. They helped me to see that “the reasons I was not good enough,” the circumstances, situations, and people in my life, were actually the answers I was looking for. In my twisted thinking, I could blame them all for my lack of happiness. Poor me, it’s their fault that I’m not happy. A prescription to disempowerment.

So goes the mind of the ego, always shifting blame, always needing to be right, always blaming others, and needing to be safe and survive as a separate identity. It has been quite successful in influencing my life (crazy-making) and still asserts itself more than I care to admit. But I have grown to understand my ego and my mind, and I am aware when it is getting out of control. My ego is alive and well, but now I can stop it once I recognize its voice has entered my consciousness. As always, awareness comes first. I notice, then I can take responsibility to make a different choice. The choice is to shift my state of being, and my role as co-creator to be loving towards myself, to stay awake.

The moment the ego voice asserts itself as a judgment, a critical thought, or a feeling of impending fear, I see the opportunity to offer myself compassion. This leads to appreciation for having the valor to challenge the prevailing social order of separation. I see all of my past through the eyes of appreciation. I feel a sense of humility for being human and missing the opportunities that were given to me to see the errors in my thinking. I can forgive myself for being so hard on myself and for the judgments I placed on others. I understand the process and how it has enslaved me for so long. I was not seeing rightly; I was listening to the wrong voice. I’m okay with that and can have plenty of compassion for myself.

The right voice, the voice of my higher self, is communicated through the virtues of the heart. The ego does not know love; it only knows fear and survival. Using the six-heart virtues, I shift from fear to love, and my life unfolds from this love, which is dramatically different from the life of the ego. The virtues replace the negative judgments and limitations, and they add new empowering self-definitions to my state of being. This, in turn, is reflected out into the universe, which is mirrored back to me in kind.

This is the journey we are on that has no end. The ego and duality are not bad, not something we have to escape or destroy; rather, we reeducate it and find balance with interconnectedness in all of life.

Tomorrow is a new day, and it may present a new challenge for me, but I will recognize it as my teacher and will align with it. I will do my best to meet the challenge with appreciation, compassion, forgiveness, humility, understanding, and valor. In other words, I will be the bringer of love to my reality.

“To reject something is to resist it. To acknowledge your unity with something is to allow it.
That which you allow unfolds. To acknowledge that you are the creator of your own
barriers is to experience them dispersing in the motion of
their unfolding; their unfolding is your unfolding.
–Story Waters

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