Inquiry: What is my greatest recurring internal criticism that I believe may have some validity, and that I could possibly do something about?
Personal Integration: This practice can be done alone or with a friend, lover, or counselor. Take one to five minutes or longer to contemplate and answer the question. When done with another, it is essential that the listener remains neutral and encourages you by repeating this inquiry as needed to help maintain focus. Finding criticism that has validity isn’t always easy to uncover. However, it is well worth the time to question and discover. Often times this self-judgment or rejection can be the deepest form of suffering. This is because some part of it may be true, and you need to pay closer attention to it, but the energy in which it is delivered can be destructive. We are on a journey here to separate the true message from the chiding criticism, and not be overwhelmed by the energy of the tone
Inquiry 2: Ask the criticism “Which is the part that is true?”
Personal Integration 2: Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format. Recognize that the one that is asking this question is a truth seeker. You are looking for what you believe is true, and have the courage to listen for the truth even though it is being punishingly delivered. Give yourself some appreciation that this is an advanced form of self-healing, and a life long project. As you question this make sure you remember that you are only interested in what is true, not in generalizations that are meaningless or character assassinations that do not support your well-being.
Inquiry 3: Ask the criticism what it would specifically like you to do in the present or near future.
Personal Integration 3: Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format. This is a key to addressing all of our criticisms. A protective part of wisdom is making sure that we have a chance to respond to what our criticism is demanding. It is also open to really change or face the truth as long as there is a chance to do something about it. As you ponder this question, really be precise and speak out loud the various truths that really do require attention. Remember that you are not validating the negative energy that it is delivered with, but simply separating the essence of the message from the way it is being delivered.
Inquiry 4: Ask the criticism which part of it is not supporting your well being, but is more interested in being punishing?
Personal Integration 4: Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format. This is a practice wherein you are looking at the energy or tone of voice in which the criticism is delivered. There may be a judgment that is uptight and moralistic or even the extreme of character assassination. See it very clearly for what it is, by witnessing or observing this part and saying to it “I see that you are just interested in judging or assassinating me. I see that you are not interested in my well-being. I have my eyes on you. You want to punish, abuse, torment me, or make me feel horrible about myself. I am going to watch you closely so that you won’t have so much power over me.”
Inquiry 5: Ask yourself if you find and activate a voice inside you that is outraged or passionately protective of yourself, that is able to strongly protest or even wipe out the destructive part of the criticism?
Personal Integration 5: Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format. It is important as you look for this strength inside that you recognize that most of us haven’t really begun to find this real power. Don’t be discouraged if you find that all you can find is a weak intellectual voice. This is a good start and shows how important it is to do this practice as a lifestyle, not simply as a casual affair. Let your self build the intensity as much as possible as you say to the critic “Get out of here! You are not here to serve my life!” In addition, it’s important to find the words that are just right for you to address either the content of the criticism or the tone. Most of us would benefit from spending regular time in this contemplation.
Inquiry 6: Look within and find a criticism that is simply an assassin… When you find it, ask and see how much you respond with your passionate protective voice.
Personal Integration 6: Follow the same instructions as above in the monologue or repeating question format. Remember that some criticisms have no validity at all, and are there simply to harm you. Locating these is like finding gold. It gives you a chance to take back your life in an area that you have been burying yourself. Let it know with as much energy and clarity of intelligence that you will not stand for an assassin’s voice that has no interest in supporting your life. This part of your wisdom is like a muscle and needs a lot of practice, encouragement and support. Give this to yourself as an act of generosity and self-compassion. This is a life long practice for most of us.
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