Take a break from your inner critic

in Blog This article was originally published by Julian Gude on The Remarkable Blog from exceler8.com
kneel before your inner critic at exceler8 in west palm beach, fl

I’m kickstarting my blog into life as part of NaBloWriMo with a thirty-day challenge to write and post on my business blog every day in November. Here’s day three.

Take a break from your inner critic

Forming a new habit is tough. There are obstacles everywhere. One obstacle lies below surface challenges like, ‘I don’t have time.’ This obstacle ends your journey almost as quickly as you’ve begun. I’m talking about vulnerability. Vulnerability is to new habits what Kryptonite is to Superman. And the General of vulnerability is your inner critic and he is General Zod! He knows exactly how to foil your new adventure.

I don’t have much luck with silencing my inner critic. I’ve tried most of the same things you have. Kissing up to him. Shouting him down. Beating him in a burlap sack. But most of the time I feed him too much. There’s nothing left to sustain me and I stop.

This past week my wife Shannon had a TED Talk playing in our office. It was background noise to me at first. But this woman’s speech kept breaking through my work in a good way.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.

Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
-Brené Brown

I was listening to Brené Brown’s now uber popular TED talk on The power of vulnerability (it has almost 12 million views). Here’s a little background on Brené: 

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness. She poses the questions:

  • How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness?

  • How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?

I have something called a watch list. It’s for people who I stumble across that impress the hell out of me. They’re so interesting that the thought of forgetting their story stresses me out. I add them to my watch list. This is a special list I keep so I follow up and see what they’re doing, saying, writing, or speaking about. Even after close inspection and frequent exposure, most of the people I put on my watch list turn out to be amazing. I don’t stop watching.

Brené has a perfect blend of intelligence, insight and understanding that makes her an instant addition to my watch list. Let me know if she makes your list.

2 Responses to "Take a break from your inner critic"
  1. Lorenz Gude says:

    So that’s where Vloging month went. Good for you. Hopefully by next year I’ll be writing instead of making movie clips. And Shannon’s and your interest in this kind of leap out of the flatland into the dynamic multidimensional space intersects and confirms many of the things I’m working on right now.

    So I am reading a Freudian about Kierkegaard and how man is trapped into an inauthentic life because he is denying death. I’m not agreeing but it is a great explanation of Thoreau’s ‘All men live quiet lives of quiet desperation.’ And then Kierkegaard leads me to an 18th century German philosopher – Lessing – who saw he couldn’t justify believing in Christ because he couldn’t prove miracles happened by way of reason. The 18th century Enlightenment is where ‘In you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist’ comes from. And Lessing called that inability to get out of the one dimensional flatland of reason ‘a broad ugly ditch’. As modern people it presents as an impossible, even absurd leap of faith to try to get across the ditch. Pirsig found a way across but like Brown he had to have a breakdown to get there. It’s difficult. So I have been digging away all my life at the problem of how Western civilization became different from other cultures by completely losing our spiritual sense. I know that the Enlightenment was a critical inflection point and that it required both the Renaissance and the Reformation to catapult the West out of a traditional religious/spiritual way of being. When the West gets to the Enlightenment – the so called Age of Reason- they even closed the churches during the French Revolution and build Greek style temples with young women performing rituals to the Goddess of Reason. Really! And then they acted out irrationality with The Terror by Guillotine followed up with the collective bloodbath of modern warfare under their Emperor, Napoleon. 50 years later all that is non rational breaks out in the arts as Romanticism. Darwin administers the coup de grace by pointing out that we are not fallen angels, but risen apes. Nietzsche performs the funeral with the sermon “God is dead”. Then along comes Freud who looks back at the whole mess and says – ‘I didn’t discover the unconscious, the Romantics did, I just systematized it”. Now we have Brown insisting on making a leap out of the sterility of limiting our search for what is important to the measurable. Pirsig saw it because he insisted that Quality was not only unmeasurable – it was undefinable.

    So I am batting this around with Barbara after reading the Katha Upanishad on Skype – the edition by Eswaran that Shannon introduced me to – and Barbara says she will send me a talk from 2003 at Harvard Divinity schools by an Iranian Muslim named Nasr who has been in the US since Khomeini took over in 79. He is looking at the Modern West from that side of the Western world that never pushed God beyond the edges of awareness. The part of the West that has had neither a Renaissance nor a Reformation, never mind an Age of Reason. And what does he see? That we have reduced consciousness itself to one level. The measurable level. The level of reason which presented a ‘Broad Ugly Ditch’ to Lessing and most of the rest of us since. Hinduism or Buddhism (and Christianity if you can learn to read it) explicitly talks about how humans can progress through various levels of consciousness. Alchemy, which Jung discovered is more than superstitious chemistry, is about levels of consciousness – an Alchemical process in his terms is a process of spiritual awakening – and there we are back to Brown. Oh and what did Brown turn up after her breakdown, her spiritual awakening – connectedness. Jung called it the principle of relatedness and recognized it as the Feminine principle and called it by it’s ancient Greek name Eros. All very academic and I bow to Brown for saying it directly without the need for academic complication. Are we having fun yet? You bet!

  2. Really interesting points to chew on here. I’m looking forward to you putting this in the context of a book as you plan to do.

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