This is an excerpt from my new book. The title and date of its release is TO BE DETERMINED. Well I mean I have the title. When I tell you guys is to be determined 😉
Here is one chapter related to getting rid of your inner critic. I created The BrainLids Method to get rid of it. Don’t get all freaky on me since I said “method”. It’s going to be okay I promise. All it is, is 6 things to do every time you catch your brain saying something mean to you. The more you do these things, the more you’ll learn to control your own brain. The less you’ll be controlled by your brain.
I posted Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 on the BrainLids blog already. Instead of posting 4-6 individually, I’ve created an entire compilation of all the steps. It’s much more useful and less dense this way. It’s best when you see it as one entity. I hope it helps.
Again, I suggest you use it every time a mean, unwanted, or critical thought pops in to your head. You can squash that ish like a bug with this method. Over time you’ll train your brain to be a master at beating the inner critic. Eventually you won’t even have an inner critic at ALL. You can then finally stop feeling insecure. You’ll forget what an insecurity even feels like. It’s magical.
Well it’s science, but it’s still magical.
Ok I’m done. Enjoy the book excerpt and the rest of the BrainLids Method. Keep an eye out in the coming months for my first book (eeep!!!) 😉
So, you’ve learned how to detach from your brain in a general sense. Let’s get more specific and eradicate the voice responsible for the majority of our insecurities: the inner critic.
The inner critic is the mean, critical voice in your head that is constantly feeding you negative garbage and never makes you feel like you are good enough. This voice does a really good job at disguising itself as the real us and spinning us around in circles.
Why does this inner critic form and why does it cause us to suffer so much?
This inner critic forms from years of listening to mean things, watching mean things being done, and being mean to ourselves. Listening to the inner critic is simply a habit. Like anything, the more we do it the easier it’ll be to do. It makes us suffer so much because one day when we’re not even paying attention, we start believing what the inner critic says. We start thinking the inner critic is who we really are. We think everything the inner critic says is true.
This sort of thinking is false. The inner critic is not who we really are. Anything that stems from who we really are will make us feel good and peaceful (see page 15 in chapter one for why). We know our brains have been taken over by the inner critic when we do not feel good and peaceful.
This is why a critical step in learning how to control our brain is eradicating our inner critic. To do this, we follow six steps. These steps don’t have to be followed religiously for the rest of your life. These steps are going to be most useful in the eradication phase when you’re not strong enough yet to control your own brain. Once you gain more control and advance to the creation and optimization phases, you might only need to fall back on these six steps in extreme situations. These six steps are called The BrainLids Method and they go as follows:
Step 1. be aware when the inner critic voice is bothering you
Step 2. separate yourself from the voice
Step 3. investigate what birthed the voice
Step 4. replace the voice with something more enjoyable
Step 5. focus on this enjoyable thing in great detail
Step 6. take an action to solidify the enjoyable thing that you really want
Let me explain some more and then I will give an example.
Let’s imagine I have a bowl of white frosting. This white frosting is your brain. Whenever a mean thought pops into your head, you can think of it like someone dropping a drop of red food dye into your bowl of white frosting. Now if you’re a zombie, and are controlled by your brain, you will think since there’s a drop of red food dye in your frosting, you should mix it in with a whisk. So, you will get your whisk and start mixing. Your brain will now be red frosting instead of white.
Why does a zombie think they need to mix in the drop of red food dye?
Because zombies (unconscious people) think that red food dye in the bowl signifies “MUST MIX”. That’s what they were taught in baking school. They were conditioned to think that every time a thought drops into their head, especially when it’s a mean Grinch-y one, they MUST play around with it. They think they must play around with it because they want it to go away. Little do they know, it’s the playing around with it that causes it to stay.
This is the kind of mess we make in our brains every day. We have a healthy white frosting brain… all of a sudden, a red, self-sabotaging thought drops into our head. Instead of just letting it be and choosing a healthy thing to think about, we whisk the red mean thought for minutes, hours, days, or even years.
Once again, because we think that if we play around with the thought long enough, maybe it will stop bothering us. But our brains are smarter than that. The more attention we give to a thought, the more it grows. What do you think happens if we whisk away at a mean thought? (i.e. think about all the reasons we are such a failure) … soon enough, our brains will be a mess of red, mean thoughts about how much of a failure we are. But did you know you don’t have to whisk away at every mean thought? Did you know a thought can go away on its own, and no longer bother us if we simply choose to pay no attention to it?
The only reason we whisk away at our thoughts, a.k.a. play them over and over again in our heads, is because it’s a HABIT to do so. Like I said in chapter one, our ancestors have been thinking the same way for hundreds of thousands of years. We have learned so many habits of thinking…
the habit of playing with every thought, especially the mean ones
the habit of paying attention to every thought, especially the annoying ones
the habit of thinking every thought we think is our own creation
the habit of thinking every thought we think is true
Up until now, we haven’t known any better than to believe and chase after every single thought that pops into our head.
We must forgive ourselves for this. Then we must break the habit.
Because this is what causes us to suffer— when we unconsciously whisk away at every thought that pops into our head. We suffer when we hook on to every thought like we are fish on the hook of a fishing line and we get thrown around for a ride. We start attaching emotions to our thoughts and then blaming everybody and everything when we feel crappy. We drown in our thoughts and emotions. This inevitably leads to suffering.
So, you’re literally saying suffering is just a habit? Why do these habits form? Why are they so hard to break?
These habits form for two reasons:
1. Our ancestors’ brains thought this way
2. We continue to think this way
Our brain is plastic. This means that like plastic, you can melt it and change it into different shapes if you so choose. (Please don’t take me literally and go melt your brain).
Our brains change every time we: speak, see, act, think, and behave (a.k.a. our brains are always changing). We don’t grow up being taught this, but it is true. Our brains can change. We can change our brains. Changing our brains depends on what we say, see, do, think, and how we behave.
Think about it: if we combine 1) our ancestors’ habits of replaying the past/simulating the future with 2) our own habit of whisking at every mean thought about ourselves, what do you think our brain is going to do? Our brain is going to change itself so it’s always replaying the past, simulating the future, and whisking at every mean thought about ourselves.
If we want to change our brain, we have to change our habits of thinking— both those of our ancestors and of our own.
Let’s go through an example.
You’re at a party and you don’t know many people. You feel slightly uncomfortable since it’s a friend of a friend’s party and you don’t have a wingman. Some random person strikes up a conversation with you. You find yourself stuttering over some words and asking awkward questions. When you walk away from the interaction, the thought “God I’m so awkward” pops into your mind. Normally, the average zombie is hooked and completely controlled by this thought.
Zombies tend to have very strong inner critics. They tend to be very identified with their mind. They tend to be very attached to their brain. The thought “God I’m so awkward” would usually spiral into something like this:
“God I’m so awkward”
“What the hell did I just say to them”
“Who says that”
“They probably thought I was so awkward”
“Everyone here probably thinks I’m so weird”
“Why am I even here”
“I knew I shouldn’t have come to this”
“I always do this to myself”
“I should just leave”
“I’m never going to a party again”
Meanwhile the spiral of thoughts of the person you just interacted with probably went something like this:
“They were cool and quirky, what different questions. I like them!”
“I want another drink”
“Is it time to eat yet?”
“Damn I can’t wait for those chocolate truffles later”
Point being: the zombie was so identified with their thoughts, so controlled by their brain, that they let that mean voice starting at “God I’m so awkward” completely drown them. All the meanwhile, the other person they were so worried about was concerned with themselves and chocolate truffles. Hence, why we need to eradicate the inner critic. We are not zombies.
There is absolutely no reason to be causing ourselves pain and suffering. There are already so many external circumstances that could potentially trigger suffering. Why would we CHOOSE to make ourselves suffer? Why would we CHOOSE to be mean to ourselves? The answer is we wouldn’t.
What does this mean then? This means we are not choosing to be ruled by the inner critic. We just are. We are so involuntarily identified with our thoughts and controlled by our brains that we are being ruled by them. We are acting like zombies. If we don’t learn to control our own brains, they will keep on controlling us. If they keep on controlling us, we will continue to suffer.
Let’s take a look at this exact same situation with The BrainLids Method applied.
When these kinds of thoughts pop into our head (i.e. “God I’m so awkward”) and we start feeling crappy, we should immediately 1) be aware. Say “Look! A thought that made me feel crappy!”. Your brain decides what’s important to you by how much attention you pay to it. By forcing your attention not on the mean thought but on how it made you feel, you are training your brain. You are training your brain to be a master at detecting the inner critic by noticing crappy feelings. You’re preventing the habit of whisking from spinning out of control. You’re choosing not to whisk at the mean thought.
After we are aware that the thought is in our head and made us feel bad, we 2) separate. It looks something like this: “Since that thought didn’t make me feel good, obviously I didn’t choose to think it. I guess it must not be mine.”. By separating from the mean thought, you are training the part of your brain responsible for emotional control called your prefrontal cortex (PFC). When you strengthen your PFC, you train your brain to not react emotionally to scary thoughts. Meditation will also help a lot with this, but I will save the meditation discussion for chapter eight.
Once we are aware the thought has popped into our head, and we have separated from it, we quickly 3) investigate what birthed the thought. This will look something like this: “The interaction with the other person and the questions I asked triggered this bad feeling. I thought I asked awkward questions. I was embarrassed by my stuttering. They gave me short responses, so I assumed they were weirded out by me.”. Keep in mind I said investigate what BIRTHED the thought. This means investigate what situation caused it. I did not say investigate the thought itself, which would actually worsen the situation.
Next, we quickly 4) replace the thought with something (or things) that makes us feel good— something that WE created, i.e. “It’s fun to ask unique questions and shake up normal interactions. I like when I do unique things like that. Parties are kind of like a fun experiment. That person was cool. I wonder if they have chocolate truffles for dessert.”.
We 5) focus on this new thought in great detail: “I’m going to think of some other unique questions to ask. I could ask people what the highlight of their year was. I could ask what their passion in life is. Oh, maybe the chocolate truffles have sprinkles!”.
Finally, we take 6) action to solidify what we really want. What we really want is to not suffer and to enjoy our life. We want to feel good. This would look like going to find someone else to talk to and ask more unique questions or looking for chocolate truffles (obviously).
This series of steps I just explained is very different from the thought “God I’m so awkward” popping into your head and saying “No! Stop! Go away! I don’t like that!”. When you try to stop a thought, you brain is going to think something is wrong and it’s going to send you into panic. This is normally why panic attacks occur. Something pops in our head (a scary thought) and we try to stop it— we try to suppress it. Our brain senses that you’re getting all worked up about something (the scary thought) so it pays more attention to that scary thought in order to keep you safe. (remember survival = #1 driving force). When your brain pays more attention to the scary thought, you get even more scared and you guessed it: panic attack.
This is why I’m telling you to not try and stop the uncomfortable thought… I’m suggesting you simply be aware of the thought— be aware of how it made you feel. Separate from it and know that if it didn’t make you feel good, it must not be yours— it must not be true. Anything that is really yours from your truest self will make you feel good.
Investigate what caused you to think that uncomfortable thought so you can see that it came from something other than you. Replace it with a thought that makes you feel good. Focus in great detail on the new thought (yes, you have that choice). Then finally take action to prove to your brain that you are safe and that the new thought you just created is the real one you want to focus on.
That’s the end of the excerpt from the book. I hope you find The BrainLids Method useful. If you have any questions on it or want it further explained, let me know.
You guys rock and don’t deserve to have any voice in your head that is mean to you. Ain’t nobody got time for that. You deserve to be a badass and live to your fullest potential. This method and the entire book in general will teach you how to control your brain. I’m excited for you guys to read it.
Until next time friends 🙂