“Then you’ll have a reason…”
I was perusing a self-help book for questions I might consider using for my Healing Woman Project. Had just gotten up to put out the basset hound we were dog sitting for the day. Stepping over the dog gate in the kitchen, I noticed the scatterings of Madison’s golden dog hairs clinging to the base molding around our kitchen island. “After Madison leaves this evening, then you’ll have a reason to vacuum the floor.”
What? I heard myself say it. And I was surprised. Because it was so familiar. And because it was something I rarely hear. I was feeling guilty about not vacuuming, but did not have a good enough reason to get to it! Now, finally, a reason…
That’s the way it is with our inner critic. A constant narrator who speaks to us in such a hushed voice, below the radar of our conscious awareness, MOST of the time, that we hardly know s/he is there.
How can we come to hear the voice that remains hidden most of the time? In my experience, practicing mindfulness of the moment–what is going on in my body, in my mind, with my feelings, or paying attention to the cloudy sky, wet pavement, or blonde hair dropped from the body of a basset hound–strengthens my powerful awareness muscle such that every once in awhile I catch a pearl that might have been lost had I not been paying close attention. To something.
When I first heard that voice, I thought, “Hmmm. Interesting.” And I could think of many times this voice played in my head. “Don’t answer that phone call because if I don’t want to do something, I will have to think of a good reason.” Anxiety at work–“if challenged or questioned about what or why I did something, then I will have to have a good reason or I will be punished.”
I remembered the story my dad told me when I was pretty dog-gone (excuse the pun) young. About how his granddad said that if his grandson came to him with a request, he would need to have a well-thought out reason for asking. I am sure he just wanted to help my dad develop his exceptional skill for logical thinking, but it was clear to me from the way he told the story that my dad expected the same of me. And I did not always think logically. Sometimes my heart just wanted something.
Good reasons were important, though. A good enough reason could get me what I wanted. And sometimes a good enough reason was my protection from being punished.
Oh yeah, then you will have to have a GOOD ENOUGH reason. As those words settled into me, the tears began to flow. Good enough. I realized that was the deeper issue at the core of this narration. Why does a small child have to have a good enough reason? For what? To be accepted. To be noticed. To be loved. Somehow, that is what she came to believe. What if she had no reasons? What if she just lived what was asking to burst forth right now? Dance in the wind. Paint like a muse. Smile at a flower. And no one noticed at all? What if? A soft space in my heart smiled.
Once again, I see how the narration of my inner critic does have a history. With mindfulness I come to see more aspects of that history. Experience the pain of it. Let it go. And become lighter and more free.