Today's the last day of our Spring Cleaning for Your Psyche posts. Next, we'll be back to our usual posts on kids and parents. If you liked this series, watch for the ebook!
Since you've been reading this series, you know all about the inner critic by now. You recognize how it kicks into fight or flight when your child shouts “You’re not the boss of me!” You notice how it panics that you’ll be an outcast when your two year old tantrums in the supermarket. You've learned by sad experience that it thinks berating you will make you a more patient, energetic, loving parent.
The truth is, we’re only more patient, energetic, and loving with our children when our own cups are full. An upset child is not an emergency. And any situation with our child is better handled from the power of our hearts than from the fearfulness of our inner critic.
One way to quiet the inner critic is by shifting into your heart. Our hearts have access to a whole different level of problem-solving. There’s a reason the heart has historically been seen as the source of courage, compassion and wisdom. The heart is what allows us to rise above the ego and choose love.
"Since emotional processes can work faster than the mind, it takes a power stronger than the mind to bend perception, override emotional circuitry, and provide us with intuitive feeling instead. It takes the power of the heart." -- Doc Childre
How can you shift from your inner critic into your heart?
1. Try heart-focused breathing several times a day. Put your hand on your heart and breathe into your heart. This technique has been shown by researchers to have a calming effect on the nervous system. It also shifts your brain away from our usual intense focus on incoming perceptions and into the open neural circuitry that allows you to unlearn old, automatic responses and relearn new, healthier responses.
2. Speak from your heart. Get into the habit of putting your hand on your heart as you speak with your children. This grounds you and helps you speak from your love, rather than your inner critic.
You might think of this practice as activating your heart perceptions so you can see beyond the fears and judgments of the mind. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
3. Practice shifting from your inner critic to your heart. With your in-breath, focus on your heart, as you breathe in an attitude of gratitude and love. With your out-breath, focus on your solar plexus (just below the sternum where the left and right sides of your ribcage meet) as you breathe out an attitude of compassion and forgiveness. Even a few minutes of this can change your whole outlook. The more often you practice (While you're rocking the baby? Waiting in the car? Pushing the swing?), the more quickly you’ll be able to shift your state with it.
It has been an honor doing mental spring-cleaning with you. May your inner critic enjoy frequent vacations, and your heart be full of love.
This post wraps up our Spring Cleaning for Your Psyche series, which has been interspersed with our regular posts about kids and parenting for the past few weeks. Also in this series:
Let Your Heart Take Over (this post)
"Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them." — Albert Einstein