Who’s Talking Now?
by Ruth Kizner
As someone who struggles with a harsh inner critic that tries to get me to do hard things by putting me down, I’ve been searching for another motivational style that might work better. One that I’ve come to love is Kindness. I’d like to share a brief meditation on this quest that I’ve written recently.
Take a moment to breathe deeply.
Relax into your space and close your eyes if you wish.
Feel your feet sinking into the floor,
And your heart beating in your chest
Perhaps place a hand on your heart,
to connect with your feelings.
Think of an inner conflict you are experiencing.
Perhaps you are wrestling with a difficult decision…
or you’re ruminating on an approach to a problem.
Are you thinking of something you wish you’d have done differently
this week, or something you wish you had said or done?
Pick one issue you’d be willing to explore a bit.
It can be something major or very minor.
Now, when you deal with inner conflicts,
do you tend to give yourself the benefit of the doubt?
Or does a naysayer often claim
that you could and should have done things better?
How much energy do you invest in evading the critic
or in arguing with it or drowning it out or
staying too busy or distracted to have to face it?
How successful have these efforts been?
If you’re willing to try another way,
you can set out to envision Kindness.
If it were a color, which would it be?
Could anyone in your life represent for you a style or archetype of Kindness?
A family member or friend?
How about a historic or current public figure?
A cartoon or fictional character?
Mr. Rogers? A religious or spiritual icon?
You can even make up your own vision of Kindness.
Now think of a place where you feel very comfortable and at peace
Perhaps it’s in your home
Or in nature
Maybe it’s here in church
Somewhere you feel like you can be yourself
Imagine inviting Kindness to sit next to you there and join you for awhile,
perhaps for coffee or tea.
Take some time to relax into and savor this treasured encounter.
As you look into those kind eyes, how do you feel?
What might you say to one another?
When the time feels right, ask Kindness for his or her perspective on your conflict.
Is there a gentler approach that you’ve been missing?
Feel the compassion Kindness feels for your situation,
and how deeply Kindness cares for you
On coming back to the room at your own pace,
see if your perspective on your conflict has changed at all.
Are there any new insights or possibilities?
I still find it hard to trust Kindness since it wasn’t modeled much when I was young
but when I acknowledge my critic’s views
and then turn to Kindness and ask for another view,
it feels more doable for me to take another step forward.
It may not be easy, for in spite of my critic’s authoritative voice,
I acquired its style back in childhood. It wants to keep protecting me
the way it did then, to put me down before others could.
So it can take courage to say,
Yes, this is how I learned to be toward myself
and here is Kindness. It can be hard to do
and yet it is a huge relief when I manage to do it.
No battles are necessary.
They never did work anyway.
I hope this exercise was helpful for you. You are always welcome to join the Writing as a Spiritual Activity group after the service to explore your own sources of inspiration with us.