How do you feel after the last exercises about the inner critic and the exterior critics? If you’re like Doug and me, you’re miffed that all this baggage has had a hand in shaping your self image. These unconscious ideas were planted by others into our young fertile minds. After awhile, we became our own mental jailer, and built upon the negativity that was seeded when we were vulnerable.
The danger of this negativity about ourselves is that it’s accepted as truth without question. Like much of what we’re taught as children, the “truths” about ourselves becomes part of the unexamined unconscious. They run as background programs in our brain, informing our decisions and shaping our choices. “I can’t” and “I shouldn’t” are controls that infect almost everyone. The purpose of the preceding exercises is to recognize the mental pollution we’re carrying around, examine it and prepare to replace it with helpful and healthy thought patterns.
An unexamined mind causes problems. Reactions and feelings to a given circumstance are scripted, and automatic responses replace thoughtful interaction. Anger, fear, anxiety, inaction and rigidity are the symptoms of negative criticism that we have internalized.
Reactions are predictable if our inner negativity isn’t squashed. How many “hotheads” or “short fused” people do you know? Don’t they always react as expected, as if running a program? They are running a program. Somewhere in their brain is a row of reel to reel tapes ready to be played in response to any situation. “Uncertainty? I better play the anger tape. Fear? Good thing I just queued up, you guessed it, the anger tape“…This is because they believe what they have been taught about themselves, and don’t think beyond the programming.
We have to stop believing all of the limitations and labels that have been placed on us. We also have to stop accepting more labels from others in the present, as well as from ourselves. Only after we examine why we are who we are and delete the negative self talk can we become who we want to be. A clean mental slate has to be available to rewrite who we are, on our own terms.
Don’t worry if you don’t know who or what you want to be yet. Doug and I are still grappling with this set of questions. What is important is you know what you aren’t, and what you don’t want. This leaves room for defining the real you… Find your youhood.
There isn’t an exercise for this post. Doug and I wanted to pull together the last few exercises and explain a bit about why they are important to understand the self. We’re now ready to move on and discover what we want to write on the blank slate of us. New programming must be written, but not by others. We don’t need scare tactics to keep children safe or in line anymore. We’re big monkeys. We need honesty and introspection to find our monkey contentment. We now have room to mentally shape ourselves in a positive cast.
Out with the negativity… In with youhood…