Behind the Scenes with the Inner Critic

“Why is it so okay to beat up on us?” wailed the Inner Critic. PULEEZE! Seriously? You want us to feel sorry for inner critics everywhere? The last bastion of the misunderstood?

I am in the Green Room of the StellaMac talk show with the Inner Critic of a famous author who has agreed to this interview as long as she can remain incognito. Because I am breathless with anticipation on how she will justify her actions, I have agreed to the Inner Critic’s terms.

Inner Critic

“We should be thought of as Super Sheroes who stand by your side every day protecting and serving you. And what do we get? Abuse is what we get. Heaped on us from everywhere.”

“Well it doesn’t feel very Super Sheroey to hear things you say like “Who do you think you are?” or “Are you really going to wear THAT?” The last time I looked my Super Sheroes were not dissin my ass.”

“Oh grow up wuss. Haven’t you ever heard of tough love? It wasn’t me that told her she wasn’t talented. Blame it on that 3rd grade teacher or her narcissist of a mother.”

“So you’re not taking any responsibility for the harshness of your words and the impact they have on her? Is it really necessary to be so contemptuous and punitive as you shout your venom at her?”

“You say tomato, I say tomato. It’s a tough world out there Cookie and I’m only protecting her from rejection. I’ve got her back so she doesn’t get creamed when she says the wrong thing or writes crap that nobody
wants to read. I have to keep her away from that damn Muse who encourages her in her foolishness. Who tells her to tend to her creativity instead of cleaning the house or working a traditional job that pays real money. How does that help anyone? Ms. Muse floats around promising rainbows and moonbeams which have no basis in reality and keeps her from the stuff that really matters, like what other people think about her.”

“Well Ms. Critic, I get that you really want the best for your author and you are feeling a whole lot of misunderstood

So I invite you to consider working together with Ms. Muse to lovingly support your Author with words of kindness and encouragement.

Research shows that humans do much better when treated with loving kindness and I know that Ms. Muse understands that you believe you are only wanting what’s best for your Author and would really appreciate if you could work together.”

“You really are two bricks short of a load aren’t you? Wait till I tell the other Inner Critics about this ridiculous suggestion. They’ll either laugh their asses off or come gunning for the idiot who suggested it. Hey, we’re having an Inner Critic Conference next month – maybe you can come as the keynote speaker and give us something to talk about. We really need to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting with your Inner Critic cause he’s obviously not doing his job so let me help you out – lose the thought that you can write cause it ain’t working out for you as nobody wants to read the shit you write and on that happy note I’m so outta here. My Author needs to know how bad she was on the talk show.”

“Well that didn’t quite go the way I had planned but you know how ornery those Inner Critics can get when challenged. I’ve been having many “Come to Jesus” meetings with my own Inner Critic lately because although he plays an important function in my life by letting me know when to keep my mouth shut when it could come back to bite me, he also allows me to hide from my fear of rejection and stops me from taking needed risks. He has been treating me like a damsel in distress for so long I automatically believe I need to be rescued from my own inadequacy and those thoughts are based on objective reality. “

I love the old Dragnet series with Captain Joe Friday saying “Just the facts Ma’am, just the facts”, which I use on myself on a regular basis when I’m listening to the bullshit shoveled at me by my Inner Critic. So I invite you to write about:

  • What does your Inner Critic shout in your ear?
  • What payoff do you get from keeping her around?
  • What does he say to disarm you or make you believe he’s you’re friend?
  • What are triggering moments for you that gives the wily Critic motive to bring you down?
  • What can you do to have your Inner Critic and Ms. Muse work together?
  • How can you tell when it’s your Critic or your Inner Wise Woman speaking?

One of the teachers in my life has been Byron Katie whose book ‘Loving What Is’ came at a pivotal time in my life when the only sounds I could hear were the mutterings of my Inner Critic. I also learned one of my favourite sayings from Katie – ‘what you think about me is your business, not mine.”

Katie calls what she does ‘The Work’ and it simply consists of four questions about the thoughts we have:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

“Just the facts Ma’am, just the facts.” I am of the Tribe that believes the unexamined life is one not worth living and know that when I stand tall, stick out my chest, put my big girl panties on and look at the facts straight on my Inner Critic decides it’s time to take a nice, long vacation and Ms. Muse comes out to play. Or as the brilliant SARK suggests – give your inner critic a job to do my appealing to his/her/it’s ego. Like – “There is this really important job that needs your expert advise and don’t worry I’ll be okay.”

The Boulevard of Broken Dreams

The more I wander, the more I wonder.

~ Tom Callanan ~

The path is strewn with the debris of broken dreams. Those dreams of forever love, fame and fortune, a room of one’s own, everlasting joy and happiness. Would a different path have made those dreams come true? Was there enough belief? Enough hard work? Recital of the right affirmations in just the right order?

When so many of the choices we made haven’t panned out, how do we trust ourselves, believe it will all work out, don our courage yet again? When we are weary from the journey, how do we continue? How do we distinguish between the fear of new possibilities and the fear that protects us?

Or were they even our dreams – the children, the husband, the degree, the security of hearth and home? Perhaps the debris on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams are simply the remnants of what others deemed dream worthy.

As I wander wondering whether they were my dreams or not, how do I rise above the role of ‘The Apologist’? When do I stop saying I’m sorry for agreeing to disagree. Where is the line in the sand that I say “no more”?

I laughed to myself the other day when I realized I had requested the song “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by the Animals to be sung at my funeral – even when I’m dead I’m apologizing – that is seriously f**ked! And some would say so very Canadian of me although I’m going to go out on a limb and saying it’s so very woman-like along the same lines as being so very accommodating.


Even though I have bent to the whim of culture, I have also broken many of the taboos of the over-culture – no children or husband to call my own; a wanderer and seeker who calls everywhere I land home; a wild wisdom keeper who claims my age while wearing tight jeans and high heeled cowgirl boots; an unrelenting feminist who insists the conversation needs to continue; a bizness woman who believes we need to do it differently – with heart.

“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.” -Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

So, I choose to see the Boulevard of Broken Dreams as having forged the path where I could stand up and show my soul. The dreams that were not mine to dream I give back as I continue to sow the seeds, weed the garden and bathe in the beauty of what has already blossomed.

 

What taboos have you broken?

What taboos are waiting to be broken so you can show your soul?

What new story is waiting to be told?

What dreams do you need to let go of?

What new dreams are wanting to be dreamed?

From My Heart To Yours

StellaMac

 

The Dance of Transformation

I want to think again of dangerous and noble things…I want to be improbable and beautiful and afraid of nothing as though I had wings. ~ Mary Oliver

Isn’t transformation really unavoidable change? Or is it that as we run into unavoidable change we can make the choice to turn it into a transformational moment?

And if we are able to ride on through the ass-kicking, the messiness, the tears, the shame, the blame, the unfairness of it all, don’t we get to the other side of the abyss, claim our gold star and live happily ever after? Whaddaya mean NO!!!!!!

Well then I’m taking my glitter and getting the hell out of Dodge cause…


But even when it feels like the abyss is a never-ending cauldron of hellfire, I still choose to walk its path because what I know is there is the possibility of more connection, joy, love, peace, and fulfilled purpose. And trust me, when I’m hanging from the meat hook, as my friend, cohort and mentor Jenafer Joy calls it, I am not jumping around the maypole thinking kind thoughts. What I’m cognizant of, though, is I want to feel connected, joyful, loving, peaceful and abundant. So what choices can I make in this moment to get a step closer? Can I take a second in the middle of torment and stop and ask that question? Can you?


Sometimes I give myself a great big pink permission slip to rant and moan and groan and roll around in the muck of it all before I allow a spark of possibility to ignite. And then sometimes I crawl around for days and years, others I rise like the Phoenix immediately. And as I inch and sometimes fly towards how I want to feel and be, I shed some more of yesterday and say hello to now and tomorrow.

If creating our lives with intention shifts the energy and the results like I believe it to be so, then I invite you to make different choices. What do you want to transform in your life? Perhaps you want to invite love or abundance or travel or freedom or boldness into your being. What will you choose?

How do you want to feel?

What choices can you make differently?

What do you want to shed?

I can’t, won’t, haven’t because…

What would you do if you were “improbable and beautiful and afraid of nothing as though I had wings.?

Love,

StellaMac

A Different State of Mind

When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change. ~ Wayne Dyer

 

“Seriously? You’re quitting your job and selling your house?”
“Why do you look so surprised? You’ve been telling me for years to find what makes me happy.”

Well, it appears that when you make a decision that doesn’t make your best friend happy, it doesn’t matter that you’re doing what she’s been suggesting for years.

Full disclosure: I was a 50-year-old privileged white woman who had finally achieved career success (meaning I was making a good buck), owned a fine piece of real estate, had (and still have) a great family and fabulous friends, got to travel the world — and guess what? The promise of having arrived didn’t occur. Was I asking for too much out of life? That was eight years ago when I jumped ship and made my way to the far reaches of the continent to see if I could unearth the music of my soul. Some would suggest it was dramatic and uncalled for, but then again perhaps that was one of the reasons for my leave-taking.

Without understanding it at the time, I was honouring myself and my Muse by trying to get out from under the burden of my shadows. Out of touch with myself, I was unable to hear the yearnings of my own heart. Having worked relentlessly for years to become, I no longer knew who that person was. I heard others’ voices as the ones that mattered. Somehow I recognized that my feminine soul was crying out to me. Asking me for something for which I had no inkling. Just different. I felt silenced so much of the time brought on by my perception of what would keep me being loved. When I looked in the mirror I could see a vague outline, a dusty image of a long ago dream.


The stories we believe about ourselves are the lenses through which we view ourselves and the world – our ‘perspective’ if you will. And no matter that I lived in the land of plenty, I viewed my life through stories and beliefs and what I made them mean about my unworthiness, the ‘lack’ that abounded, the fruitlessness of finding happy. If I wanted different results, I needed a new story.

What single change of perspective or new story
would make the difference in your life?

For me things changed when I looked at everything in my world with gratitude. Another change was working on eliminating the blame game. When I separated from my husband, I made the decision to do no finger-pointing. It would do me no good to list all the ways he screwed up and ruined our relationship, which is the path I probably intended to take. True information and understanding would only come by examining my triggers and defenses and taking a frank and scrupulously honest look at my own shit and taking full responsibility for what was occurring in my life. The way I viewed my life began to change dramatically with these two practices, which then allowed me to hear the faint murmurings of my Gypsy Wisdom Muse who was saying “Go West, young(ish) woman, go West.”

The drummer I had been dancing to was the perfect pictures of who I was supposed to be and, of course, my Inner Wench was right there assuring me I had no chance of creating anything close to it. And, of course, I took her on the road trip with me because we do take ourselves wherever we go, especially those voices that want to crap all over our good time! But I kept doing the work of excavation – and continue to do the work even though I falter and fall down on a regular basis.

Having yearned so long for external validation, I began to realize that self validation is one of the golden eggs I was looking for otherwise there ‘be dragons over there’ as the need for validation is such an incredibly seductive drug. So I needed to make choices that resonated with the values that were important to me. I wanted ease, vibrancy, confidence, love, laughter, compassion and to have a new conversation about the way of women. And I needed to find how to make that happen from within.

How does the desire for external and internal validation play out in your life? Do you have old agreements you’ve made with others – your parents, your lover, your children, your friends? Notice if the ways you view the world or the choices you make are coming from your essential wisdom and wanted perspective. Or are they based on old stories and agreements?

It’s time to take control of your own life. Begin to design the life that is yours. Become your own puppet master otherwise you will find a whole host of puppet masters playing with your strings. Go on a treasure hunt for you. Be the producer, director, actor in your own life. Begin to listen and notice. Notice what you notice. Ask yourself every day what you want.

How do we get there?

  • We do the work to get clear on what we REALLY want and how we REALLY want to live.
  • We listen for the questions and answers from our own voices.
  • The feminine perspective is about being connected to our own intuition, our own divine feminine, our own integrity, our own hearts, our own gifts.
  • We free ourselves from the comparison game.
  • We embrace a relationship with ourselves and learn to love our own company.
  • We seek to know what our desires are and what we long for in this life.
  • We listen to what calls to us from our very being. Begin to notice what calls to you.
  • We get clear on how we want to spend our time as there is only so much of it.
  • We gain clarity on our money stories, become clear on how much is enough and recognize that money is just another form of energy and exchange.
  • We create healthy relationships and build community and connections because that is how women roll.
  • We gain greater clarity on the work we wish to do and how we can best pursue our passions and invest in ourselves.
  • We become aware of where our eyes keep going and what our hands want to pick up.
  • Notice what is distracting you – do you focus on it or does your attention leave it quickly? These are clues, so begin to pay attention.

Do whatever it takes to mine for the gold that is YOU. As a beloved friend of mine once said when she suggested an ‘unconventional’ therapy and I told her I couldn’t afford it: “Can you afford not to?” That was another pivotal moment in time where I decided to invest in myself so I could have a life that would excite me.

Does your life reflect who you truly are? Does it need tweaks or a complete overhaul? What small steps can you take RIGHT NOW to move you closer to what you desire? I invite you to pick up your pen and journal, your paintbrush and canvas, your crystals and singing bowls, your affirmations and prayers and pay attention. Can you afford not to?

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

~Leonard Cohen~

 

Who Are You Anyway

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss

 

Who are you anyway?

What a wildly provocative, complex and yet simple question which puts so many of us in a quandary when it is asked of us, even when it’s us doing the asking. It seems a simpler task to know what ‘category’ you fall into – mother, daughter, sister, lover. A more complex task to actually figure out who you are and how you want to show up in the world. To paraphrase the doyenne of Women Who Run With the Wolves, author Dr. Clarissa Estés, – when someone asks you “Who do you think you are?” you simply say, “Well let me tell you who I am.”

What would you say?

And hurry, because all the King’s horses and all the King’s men will be sure to tell you who you are, all the while coating it with glitter and gold and filling it with artificial sweetener so you think you are enjoying this self they have created for you.


Be sure it is your Muse whispering and not the tyranny of the shouldas, couldas and wouldas set by those others whispering in your ears. Be still and dig deeply for the truth because the ‘theys’ can be subtle and wiley, as it serves them well. But remember – we get to change our agreements. We get to change our minds. And yes, it may not be pretty, and we may have to wrestle some alligators – ours and theirs – but at the bottom of the rabbit hole is you. The fabulously brilliant, hilarious, wise, big-assed, cranky, creative YOU. And yep my friends, it is worth the ride. As the saying goes – “When God closes one door she does open another one but damn those hallways suck!”

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. ~ Steve Jobs

So how do we lovingly stop being who we weren’t to begin with? Me? Well it for sure is not a straight path trodden by the masses. It is for sure messy and scary, brilliant and exciting and has included me being a sobbing mess, a courageous seeker, an inveterate traveler, a nosy Parker (although I do prefer the name Queen of Curiosity), and a myriad of other identities desperately seeking Mary. Personally, I love a good road trip and they usually involve breakdowns, breakthroughs, flat tires, beautiful scenery, a dearth of nurturing food and a whole lot of laughter to get to where I’m going. And if I’m really watching where I’m going I might just meet myself a long-legged Cowboy.

I now have a medicine basket filled with remedies that deepen my understanding of myself, help the people I serve and take me on a magic carpet ride to the next discovery.

Love after Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come

when, with elation,

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door,

in your own mirror,

and each will smile at the other’s welcome

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine, Give bread.

Give back to your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf.

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit, Feast on your life.

I am passionate about women’s work from the perspective of the Feminine Paradigm and although there is a whole lot of talking about it out there in the marketplace, colour me skeptical that it is actually happening. And I am wildly unreasonable about bringing it to the world where we can embrace all of who we are. And now is the time for us to walk through the portal together. 

 And the best customer or best lover or best friend comes to us when we truly are our best and unique self – one we define and not one we leave for others to define. And trust me, they will if you let them.

What tools do you want to gather for your medicine bag? 

Who do you want to show up as?

Who do you need to let go of as they are toxic?

What kind of people do you want in your life?

Who do you think you are Dear Heart?

 

Loving You Unreasonably,

StellaMac

 

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