Many of us live with, what we can call an inner tyrant - I don’t know how many of you have experienced that, but one of the things that we can find in that inner tyrant is this incessant self-criticism. Some of it is really subtle, and maybe some people have more of a personality where you criticise yourself a lot and say things to yourself like, ‘I’m not good enough this way; I’m not good enough that way;’ and often people who are very highly accomplished can be incredibly hard on themselves. In fact, we fool ourselves. We say, “I’m a perfectionist,” instead of, “I’m continuously criticising myself.”
We can learn to tame our inner tyrant through mindfulness. Mindfulness means being present with what we are thinking about ourselves, while we are thinking it, with a nonjudgmental attitude. Mindfulness becomes a formal practice of meditation - it is gentle real-time, present-moment, nonjudgmental attention during your self-critical thought process.
In my own practice and teaching, I have found that working with our self -criticism has been a very powerful mindful practice. It creates great transformation of deeply-rooted negative habits enabling the development and stabilisation of awakened qualities. Our daily practice of mindfulness transforms us, our relationships and our social interaction with others. We grow to become more familiar with non-judgmental states of being, with our wonderful, amazing qualities, and as these qualities become stronger, judgments, whether of self or other, have less hold.
Once you begin to recognise your inner tyrant and the present-moment of these self-critical thoughts, you can slowly begin to calm your mind. This calming process starts a new process of identifying your harmful stress patterns and this in-turn allows you to break your vicious cycle of stress. It is also our judgmental mind that constantly creates stress in our daily lives. Learning to tame your mind becomes your greatest tool!