Have you ever noticed this inner voice that wakes up with you every day and goes to bed with you as well? This inner companion if you will!
It shows up every where and comments or critiques everything, including your own thoughts. This inner voice is your inner critic in the form of your thoughts.
Mine wakes up every morning complaining about the alarm or door bell, whichever wakes me first. It goes on to tell me I need to make coffee, like I did not know that already. It comments on what I read in the paper and reminds me of my tasks for the day in the shower. It comments on my skin while I brush my teeth, reminds me to replace the toothbrush. It’s with me while I attend my meetings choosing to comment on what’s being said. It complains when I sign up for projects, it berates me when I am behind on my deadlines and congratulates me on a job well done.
I started noticing it very consciously a few years ago and realised how exhausted I was to hear it all day. That said, it did not bother me much till it decided to get more negative than neutral and mundane. This happened especially during the lockdown this year when I was already struggling with working out of home, balancing work and home commitments, social isolation, and a back problem. It decided to use this time to tell me how I was unhappy with my life, how life sucked, everyday.
Every time I felt things were not going my way, the voice in my head, made it worse. It told me things like “nothing is going to come out of this, maybe I am not worth it, I am never getting out of this”, and I saw myself slipping into a downward spiral.
That’s the time I decided it needs to go on mute!
The way I mute
I started and have continued doing little things to mute my inner critic. The need arose when I realised that my thoughts are incredibly powerful and can control my emotions positively as well as negatively and if I don’t get a handle on my thoughts, then my emotions run the risk of running amok.
So here is what I started as an attempt to control my thoughts before they control me.
Every day I enter my shower cubicle telling myself that I am muting this voice till I am done with my shower. It was hard at first, the voice told me, you need to email someone, call someone else, finish up the task, do my exercise and as usual the list is endless. The minute I would hear the voice though, I would consciously mute and allow for minutes of silence. During the early days it actually felt like I was choking internally. Over time, in my case a few days, it became natural to shut this voice down.
Feeling highly accomplished, I started carving out other times in the day to mute it. I know meditation is one very powerful and effective way to do this but somehow sitting upright with my back straight, eyes closed, focusing on my breath for ten minutes, is not for me. So I decided to ‘meditate’ in my own way by consciously muting this voice while solving a jigsaw puzzle for a few minutes on my iPad, daily.
I hold a plank every morning and evening and I started muting this voice during my plank holds. I started reading again without feeling the need to comment on what I was reading.
Having started practising silence, I feel more positive. The more I control my thoughts, the more I am in control of my emotions and now instead of reacting, I have started responding.