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Lions Roar : March 2019
critical commentary that plays in our thoughts. Her suggestion is to practice metta for both ourselves and our Inner Critic. “We can meditate as the Buddha did,” she writes, “full of compassion for living beings—including ourselves. We can breathe out the silent phrases, ‘May I be free from anxiety and fear. May I be at ease.’ We can even direct these phrases toward the Inner Critic, because this is the very part of us that is chronically anxious and fearful. It is desperately afraid.” It’s also helpful to recognize that we don’t need to believe our Inner Critic, simply because, as Christina Feldman writes in “Silencing the Inner Critic,” it is never telling the truth. “Looking closely at the judgmental mind, we see that it is rarely truthful or able to see the whole of anything,” Feldman writes. “Instead, the judgmental mind is governed by seizing upon the particulars of ourselves and oth- ers and mistaking those particulars for the truth. A friend neglects to return a phone WE ALL STRUGGLE with an “Inner Critic”—that irritating, judgmental voice that invites itself into our minds to let us know we’re not good enough. We hear the Inner Critic in moments when things are going well: “There’s no way this will last,” it says. “You don’t deserve it.” And when things aren’t going well, it becomes even louder. “Just give up. There’s no point in trying,” it screams. “You can’t do this.” Maybe your Inner Critic tells you that you’re failing at your meditation practice, or you’ll never be as successful as your friends who seem to have it all. Or, simply, that you’re hav- ing a really bad hair day. Whatever it says, it’s usually unhelpful and downright wrong. The Inner Critic seeks to hold us back, reminding us how imperfect we are, its sharp, judgmental voice telling us we need to be someone else—someone better, wiser, and more attractive—to succeed at anything. Our Inner Critic leaves us paralyzed, unable to even try to do anything good for ourselves. But we can be grateful there are tools to silence the Inner Critic—self-compas- sion, kindness, and gentleness. And luck- ily, there’s a number of teachings in the Lion’s Roar archive that expose our Inner Critic for what it is and help us cultivate loving-kindness toward that sad, angry, lonely little voice in our minds. In “Getting to Know Your Inner Critic,” Zen teacher Jan Chozen Bays offers advice on how to recognize and tame the WEEKEND WISDOM Silencing Your Inner Critic LILLY GREENBLATT explores why we shouldn’t believe the little voice that tells us we’re not enough. call, and this triggers a cascade of anxious thinking that con- vinces us they are an indiffer- ent person or we are unworthy of their attention. We arrive late for an appointment and in moments the Inner Critic determines we are a mindless failure. The practice of medi- tation, of discovering what is true, suggests there is another path that can be followed.” Finally, when we feel fro- zen in place by all that our inner dialogue tells us we’re not, Pema Khandro Rinpoche offers solace to our fear of inadequacy in “You’re Ready Enough.” She assures us that we can be imperfect beings and still act for the benefit of all, as so many great practitioners have before us. “Being mes- merized by limited self-concepts presents the biggest obstacle to altruistic action,” she writes. “Every great Buddhist practi- tioner ever, in the history of Buddhism, knew their limitations and acted for the benefit of beings anyway. It’s because of their lack of hesitation that we can receive the dharma today.” At the end of the day, we are all perfect in our imperfection, and enough, just as we are. Our Inner Critic can be soothed with a little kindness, and the wisdom, as Chozen Bays writes, that “everything is just as it is, perfect in its own place, interconnected with every other piece of the Whole.” ♦ ALEXANDERSVIRIDOV/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM Weekend Wisdom features favorite selections from the Lion’s Roar Weekend Reader. Every Friday, the Reader explores important themes and highlights related articles from our archives that you can enjoy over the weekend. Go to lionsroar.com/newsletters to sign up and read the full articles referenced in this essay. LILLY GREENBLATT is the associate editor of lionsroar.com. LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2019 19 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE