“That will never work.” “What is wrong with you?” “Who do you think you are?” “That’s a stupid idea.”
If a friend talked to you this way you probably wouldn’t be friends for long. Surprisingly, though, most people do have someone who talks to them like this. It’s their Monkey Mind!
Monkey Mind is that inner voice jabbering away at you, criticizing, judging, blaming, doubting, and worrying. Everyone has some of this chatter going on. It’s part of being human. In fact, experts say that of our 25,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day, 90% of them are critical and the majority of these critical thoughts are aimed at ourselves.
Your own critical voice is often the biggest obstacle you face in creating a happy, fulfilling life. This kind of commentary droning on in your head can drain your energy and either slow you down or completely stop you from knowing and creating what you truly want in life. Besides that, it’s no fun!
If you are limited by and suffering with this jabbering voice, wouldn’t you love to stop it or at least turn down its volume? But how?
What Doesn’t Work
There are three typical responses to your inner critic: you’re not even aware of it talking (which may mean it’s running your life without you realizing it), you believe and agree with what it’s saying, or you argue with it.
Unfortunately, none of these responses works. These have you either following the Monkey’s dictates or allowing it to strengthen its power as you focus your attention on it.
What Does Work
Over my life I have had a very active and quite mean inner critic. For many years I tried and tried to get out from underneath it without much success.
Five years ago, I finally learned a strategy that helped. Using this approach I’ve had about a 90% reduction in that critical chatter. Monkey Mind isn’t completely gone but its frequency and intensity are vastly reduced. This created a profound, positive difference in my life: that critical inner voice doesn’t run my life anymore and that frees me to be calmer, clearer, and happier.
What worked for me? Shifting my attention away from Monkey Mind and towards what lights me up. Yes, it’s that simple although I know it’s not always easy.
When I notice the critical commentary running in my head, I work to shift my attention as quickly as I can. I might take a few minutes to walk near the water, call a friend to chat, or read a good book — all things that light me up. If it persists I need to out-persist it by continuing to think about and do what lights me up.
My clients have also found this to be a very powerful, effective approach. The more they focus on and shift their attention to what lights them up, the more they are able to turn down the volume.
The way to ease the Monkey’s grip on you and your life is to gently, steadily, and persistently shift your attention away from what it is saying and towards what lights you up.
In Your Life
If you’d like to turn down the volume on your inner critic, experiment with this strategy.
1) Create a “Lights List.” What makes you smile just thinking of it? What increases your energy? What do you love? What are a few “lights on” things that are quick and easy for you to do?
2) When you notice your critical voice talking, acknowledge it. Then choose something from your “Lights List” to think about or do. Keep doing this until Monkey Mind is out of the driver’s seat and you’re back running your own life.
The key to this simple strategy is to gently persist, focusing on what lights you up until you have loosened the critic’s grip on you.
May you turn down the volume on Monkey Mind so you can create more of what you truly want in life.
Bonnie McFarland helps women approaching or in their 60’s make peace with 60 and creae a life they love at 60 & beyond. Her ebook, 3 Big Mistakes That Can Sour Your Sixties . . . And how to avoid making them as well as her Savoring Your Sixties ezine are both available free at http://www.SavoringYourSixties.com