That little critical voice within oneself, sometimes extremely loud and at other times powerfully quiet, is nothing new in the field of psychology. Freud called it the super-ego, Jung referred to it as a complex, and most people do everything they can do to forget about it (insert addiction here). Unfortunately, it seems that no matter what a person does, the voice persists. One might argue that it acts like a compass, pointing a person toward actions more aligned with one’s higher self. However, if you’re like most, when the voice rears it’s ugly head, one can easily find themselves overcome with anxiety, shame, and hopelessness.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the changing tide in psychotherapy when it comes managing this pesky part of one’s psyche. Whereas a cognitive-behavioral approach has been used in the past to either change behaviors associated with the voice or challenge the negative and usually distorted underlying thoughts associated with it, mindfulness of one’s negative voice through meditation is quickly catching on.
The point? To witness the critical voice with no intention of trying to do away with it. The rationale behind mindfulness meditation is to tame that critical part of self, not banish it to Siberia. With practice, the hope is for a person to be able to simply observe and not act out on self or others when it arises.
“Part of what mindfulness does is get to you to recognize that these critical thoughts are really stories you have created about yourself. They are not necessarily true, but they can have self-fulfilling consequences,” says Zindel V. Segal, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto who devised Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy to help depressed patients. “If you can get some distance from them, you can see that there are choices about how to respond.”
Read more on taming your critical voice through mindfulness meditation here.