Ok, I know you were probably laughing and thinking, “No way” when you read the title – but it’s true – you can learn to love even the “negative” parts of yourself!
Do you have that internal voice that makes snide comments about yourself or other people? That voice that judges, compares, makes fun of and finds fault easily?
That voice you hear inside your head (and no it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re crazy) is more common than you might think – we all have an internalized critical asshole part.
No matter how spiritual or compassionate or kind we appear, sometimes we are assholes.
Most people then come down on themselves about that internally derisive comment they just made, “I can’t believe I thought that, I’m such a dick” you might say. Or perhaps something even worse, and then the guilt sets in.
This is especially true if you’ve been raised in such a way or have taken in a culture of guilt and shame that says we are inherently bad.
The internalized critical voice usually comes from our parents and the way they spoke to us, as well as what they have modeled to us (“Thanks mom” as my daughter jokingly says all the time).
Knowing where it comes from doesn’t mean you can blame them forever, it does however mean you can learn to understand why and how you got to be the way you did. And once you know that, it becomes just a tiny bit easier to notice it when it happens.
That’s the key really – to be able to notice it as distinct from yourself when that voice comes up.
After you practice for a while, you’ll get really good at noticing when you have these thoughts come up and then, focus on how you feel. What emotions come up for you, triggered by those thoughts?
Practice that part too – becoming aware of the emotional reaction you have to that voice. And then, when you are doing both of those things consistently, you can begin to focus on the sensation underneath.
Now, that might be confusing so I’ll give you an example. You forget to send in your credit card bill, get a late fee and then get angry with yourself for spacing out (yet again).
As you hear that voice saying “I’m such an idiot (or fill in the blank)” – you can say, “Oh, there’s that rude voice again” (but make sure to not get angry at yourself for being rude because that just compounds the problem).
Simply notice! And is there an accompanying feeling state?
Let’s say shame comes up. Where do you feel that in your body? A flush, a faster pulse, a tightening or pressure in the chest/gut/shoulders?
Feel into that sensation then, breathe into that.
Another way I’ve been describing it lately is to imagine your family at the Thanksgiving dinner table and everyone’s talking – your bitchy aunt, your drunk, obnoxious uncle and all the rest of the crazies that make up your family are present.
You notice them but instead of freaking out about their comments, you simply allow them to have their points of view. They have their own experiences (like what makes us up) and that’s ok, they are valuable in their own way.
You can even have compassion for them. This doesn’t mean you agree with them (or your own voices) but you can love them and allow them to be.
So try this for yourself – when the voice, feeling, and sensations come up, you can invite them into the table – have compassion, let them say what they need (but don’t let them take all your energy) and love them.
In this way, you will be able to integrate even the asshole parts of yourself and free up a lot of energy to do other things!