About seven years ago, I took a turn towards Zen and started my yogi journey. Of course, you can do one without the other. But that goes down about as smoothly as peanut butter without the jelly. The yoga I will focus on in another post. The Zen is what I'm after here. Zen is a Japanese school of Buddhism with a focus on meditation and following your intuition. Many people see it as the source of what us Westerners call "Mindfulness."
My friend Mindfulness made its entrance not a moment too soon. It's amazing what living in a new city all "alone" can do for your need to feel grounded. I was searching for something that would help me stop getting so blood-boilingly frustrated every time I was cut off in traffic, or the store was out of that thing I really needed- again. These were, and continue to be, life's little reminders that I did not have control (and still don't, btw). But, because of my recent life change at the time, instead of feeling "reminded little," I felt an intense shout: "You don't have control!", "If you had only...!", and my personal favorite, "You should have seen that coming!" I didn't name the train of thoughts at first, but as time passed and I became more practiced in mindfulness, I realized without a doubt that my self-worth was taking a beating. These themed judgments about things that I didn't even have control over would. not. stop. And..... Cue my first formal introduction with the Inner Critic. I read Judith Lasater's "Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life." It seemed like a good option when I found it on Amazon.com one day. I was looking for an easy ready without being pandering. One of the best-timed purchases I've ever made; because in it, I found one of the most impactful, simple lessons. I'll share it with you here:
"A villager lived in a small house with his wife, mother-in-law, six children, a cow and some chickens. It was driving him crazy. So, he went to the village rabbi and asked for help. The rabbi said that he could solve the problem: he advised the man to buy a goat.
Overjoyed, the man immediately went out and bought a goat. Now he had a wife, mother-in-law, six children, a cow, some chickens and a goat. The house was even more chaotic than before. The villager returned to the rabbi and described the increased chaos.
Once again, the rabbi said that he could solve the problem. He told the man to sell the goat. Obediently, the villager went home and sold his goat. Suddenly, all he had in his small house were his wife, his mother-in-law, his six children, a cow and some chickens.
Things were positively peaceful without the goat."
Now, insert adorable pictures of goats below. Take a look. Seriously. Scroll through these goats and see how many pictures it takes for a smile to come across your face. Go ahead, I'll wait. Just scroll down when you're done.
OK, I MEAN RIGHT?? Maybe you're not a goat person or an animal person, but that's why there's a cute Kidd in a couple of them....
Don't worry the jokes don't get any worse than that.
I digress. The point is that the Inner Critic is fantastic at pointing out what your goat is and when you need to sell it. If only we would listen to those negative thoughts and judgments about how poorly we're doing at this life thing and figure out WHY our Critic is trying to get our attention. Is it the ridiculously high expectation, comparison, or opinion (that probably was adopted from someone else- thanks mom and dad), that we need to let go of in order to be happy as we are in the moment? If you listen to your Critic instead of running and avoiding, you will most certainly, eventually find out why you are depressed, anxious, stressed, or generally dissatisfied.
What is our Critic telling us we need, but is in reality actually weighing us down and distracting us from this moment you will never get back?
So, I ask you what is your goat, and is it time to sell? Good luck and know that I'm sending you light on your path!
***Disclosure: Tides Therapy and Consulting, LLC earns a percentage from qualifying purchases and programs when Amazon Affiliates links in posts are used for recommended purchases.