Are you tired of the little voices in your head that constantly remind you of why you can't do, be or have what you want? Do you sometimes feel like you want to silence your inner critic? Have you been successful? Are you familiar with the phrase, what you resist, persists?
For me, denying the inner critic feeds it, energetically. It is more invalidation. Embracing it may feel like too big a stretch, at least at first. (That will be a topic for another time, where we discuss the need to treat the inner critic like a baby, a newborn that may need special attention to outgrow its influence.) Neutralizing the energetic charge of something you’re resisting is a great first step.
If you're ready to try a new approach, consider cultivating the mind of a beginner. A beginner’s mind is open, willing to question, to doubt, to explore. A beginner is not bogged down by previous misinterpretations. Understand that perhaps the inner critic is simply a rerun in your head based on the past, a rerun that needs to be reprogrammed. As Einstein said, “you can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”
To cultivate a beginner’s mind consider trying something new each year. Be reminded that's it's okay to feel awkward when you're starting/trying something new. Be reminded you learn more quickly from your mistakes than by perfection. My writing coach recently shared the results of a study where participants were put into two groups, one who were told to throw as many clay pots as they could over a certain time period. The other group was told to work on perfecting one piece. Who do you think learned more? Yes, failure is a great teacher.
As a beginner, it’s easy to learn to laugh at yourself, releasing unrealistic expectations and remembering the joys of growth. It's incredible to me to be able to look back over the journeys I've travelled. I never could have imagined the landscapes I've seen. And yes, there’s been plenty to laugh about, both in the moment and in retrospect.
It wasn't that long ago people believed the earth was flat. When I was in graduate school, plate tectonics was a new and controversial theory. It is now a widely accepted concept. Ideas are developed, tested, and renovated. Our understanding of the earth is constantly evolving. Shouldn't we?
I’m glad the world is not flat; I’d miss the mountains where I so easily rejuvenate, where the clues of the past are puzzles to be solved in the remnants of the rocks. And I would miss the experience of skiing and teaching what I’ve come to love.
When I first started teaching skiing, I was surrounded by people with vast amounts of knowledge and experience in developing abilities. I worked hard to assimilate and incorporate what I was learning. Surprisingly, the harder I worked, the easier it got. That became a motivator to engage in it even more. Ironic that I work harder, because I'm basically lazy and want it to become easier.
That was 15 years ago. In a recent clinic to maintain my instructor certification for skiing, I found myself bogged down by voices of past teachings, and needed to cultivate the mind of the beginner to assimilate the current experience. Later I could choose what to do with that information, but I needed to be willing and open to try the tasks at hand. I needed to remember I was not in the same body I was then, that these were unique conditions, that I had different muscle memory I was working. I needed to cultivate my beginner’s mind.
You can cultivate the mind of a beginner at any stage in the learning process. Are you willing to become a beginner again? Are you willing to cultivate the mindset?
Consider some of the benefits:
· You don’t expect immediate results. (Expecting immediate results can set up a tension that actually blocks learning.)
· You expect to be uncomfortable as you try something new. (When you expect perfection….well, remember the clay pots.)
· You are open to learn; you know you don’t know. (This was my biggest lesson in graduate school. Yes, with more expertise comes the lesson was the vastness of what we don’t know is even bigger.)
· As a beginner, you are not alone. There are many more beginners than experts. (You can learn an incredible amount from your peers as they experience and share their own failures and how they dealt with them.)
· You can learn from others who are trained to accelerate your learning.
To me, the mountains are a perfect place to cultivate the mind of a beginner and a good place to begin to neutralize the voice of the inner critic. I’ve designed a retreat that is staged in the mountains, the perfect space to begin that neutralization process. “Becoming You: The Next Chapter” is a woman’s retreat where you can unplug, and enjoy healthy meals, yoga and massage. In this retreat, participants will set the stage for what they will create in the next chapter of their lives.
Consider joining me and my friend and colleague, Mary Shackelford, a health and wellness coach, as we take an intimate group of 20 on a journey in a secluded private retreat center high in the Colorado Rockies. For more on this space-limited event, and early bird/come-with-a-friend discounts, click here. I guarantee that the view from up above will be different than where you are now.
(Look for my next article in this series on creating the space for bringing in the new, as I share some thoughts on extracting the wisdom…and I’m not talking about teeth.)