As I was saying a couple of posts ago – mindfulness is about learning to be fully present in the moment.
Tall order, I know. Hey – it’s a skill. You know how you develop skills? Through practice.
One of the things that often keeps us from being fully in the present is a tendency to constantly critique what we’re doing and how we’re doing it: chances are, whatever you do, there’s a little voice in the back of your head. Let’s call it The Critic. When you’re trying to do something, The Critic may offer up all sorts of unhelpful commentary:
“Seriously? What’s taking you so long? Do you realize how many other things you need to get done today? You’re already running late! You’ll never get it all finished at this rate – so you’ll have to do some of it tomorrow. You’re already late for tomorrow – you’ve just ruined the whole week!!!”
The Critic quickly fills up your head with unpleasant thoughts coming at you a mile a minute; when you’re drowning inside your own head, it’s hard to focus on what you’re actually trying to do. Your brain is spending a great deal of time and energy bullying you and slowing you down.
So – one important step toward mindfulness is learning to silence The Critic.
How do you do that?
You remind yourself that The Critic doesn’t help you get things done; it just fills your head up with negativity and worry, and slows you down and distracts you.
Start by just trying to notice The Critic when it starts coming at you. When you get good at doing this, you might be shocked at how it criticizes your every move.
Then, once you get good at noticing that it’s happening – start responding. Basically, every time you hear The Critic inside your head – tell it to go pound salt, and tell yourself to go back to paying attention to what you’re doing.
Sounds pretty simple, right?
Yeah – well, simple and easy are two very different things – and this will take lots of practice.
Then, mindfulness is basically paying attention to what you’re doing as you’re doing it, without The Critic commenting on your every move.
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~ Dr. Dee Rajska, C. Psych.
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