Dealing with Guilt and Shame

Critical Mind Work ©subhan schenker 2011

Guilt is: I made a mistake.

Shame is: I AM a mistake.

Sanity is: That didn’t work. Now what…?

These three phases deal with the presence (or absence) of the critical mind or judge, and how that affects us.
The first is the critic beating up the child-like part of us inside for doing something that the critic brands as a “mistake.” The child believes the critic and accepts the fact that he or she has done something “wrong.” The guilt that this summons is that we are not worthy, lovable or competent because we have done something that a worthy, lovable, competent person would NOT do. This guilt hangs like a cloud, squeezing out any joy that might be there.
The second is the more intense feeling we call shame. The critic has not only told us that we’ve done something wrong, but that our very nature is wrong! The child within buys this judgment and feels that his very essence is wrong!
In neither of these is the critic challenged. Whatever the critic says is believed by the child.
So the problem then becomes “me” – as I identify with this child part of the mind.
A healing way of experiencing this internal dialogue between the critic and the child is to understand that the root of the problem is the critical mind and its judgments, not the child.
(One tool that can help us here is the Work of Byron Katie. Using her 4 Questions, we can challenge the Critic’s thoughts and begin to understand that its truth falls apart under

scrutiny.)

Once we understand that the critic is the issue, and we challenge the critic’s thoughts, then we can move into the third phase, which is devoid of criticism and is seen in the light of exactly what happened: I did something…it didn’t work…now what? No guilt. No shame. No anxiety or worry. And very importantly, no blame directed at the child! Then we can continue the adventure of experimenting in real time and discovering what works – and what doesn’t – without fear, shame or guilt!

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Subhan regularly presents a workshop called “The 5 Steps to Freedom from the Inner Critic.” Here is a flier about the workshop. Check the scheduling by writing him at info@worldofmeditation.com.

generic-flier

STOP the inner Critic from controlling your life!

“I’d like to (fill in what you’d like to do), BUT (fill in the reasons why you don’t do it).
When this is NOT a sham (we really don’t want to do what we say we’d like to do), this sentence structure reveals a split in the mind: The LEFT is the part that wants to do it. The RIGHT has all kinds of logic, “shoulds” and “have tos” on its side to stop the LEFT side.
So what does this produce in us? Sadness? Resignation? A strong feeling of obligation or guilt? Depression? A feeling of hopelessness? And how much of our lives do we LIVE in this place because the right side (the Inner Critic) wins and we feel compelled to do what it says?
THIS is how the Inner Critic operates! This is what keeps us confined, infantile, contracted! There are ways out of this place – ways to effectively deal with and understand this controlling part of the mind.
Join us September 5 – 7 for “Freedom to Be Yourself: Transforming the Inner Critic into Inner Peace!” It is a weekend workshop at the World of Meditation Center in Seattle. For all the details, go to http://bit.ly/1jqB7L6 and STOP the inner Critic from controlling your life! (And save $100 with the amazing early bird offer!)

The Intelligence and Courage of Children

Q. As a child, I often played the role of being a “good” child which I now regret. Sometimes I would say or do things that I now see as manipulative and self-serving. Rather than being authentic, I was a coward who tried to make everything nice. Is there any way for me to resolve my feelings of disgust for what I did.

Subhan:  We are unaware how intelligent and courageous we were as children.

Because we have a very strong judge inside, we have come to accept its view that the child was “manipulative” or a “coward” in what he did. What is missing is the understanding that every adult owes that child a large measure of gratitude for the strategies he created that got him through difficult and painful times.

By being “good,” you were probably getting some kind of reward, or at least diminishing punishment. Isn’t this an intelligent thing for a small child to do? And choosing to try to make everything nice, that child was able to find some control over the chaos of the moment. Remember, children who were unable to do this had grave difficulty in surviving. Many of them either left the planet in some fashion or escaped below the mind and became what we call “mentally ill.” They were in fact too sensitive and unable to adapt to the challenges that they were confronted with. So it is important for each of us to inquire into our childhood to see and experience how remarkable it was in the way we used our intelligence then to deal with pain, fear, shock, shame and anxiety that felt like it could destroy us. As “surviving” adults, we are living proof of the effectiveness of our childhood decisions.

The judging part within us does not consider any of this. For most of us, this judge sees little value in what we did as a child and much to be improved upon. Not only is this myopic, it serves as a continuous distraction from the wisdom of the adult within us who is growing up! If we can find gratitude for the child’s actions, then perhaps we can minimize the judge’s role, and we will be able to see new possibilities.

One new understanding that can arise is that while these actions were brilliant for a 5-year old, they are no longer effective for a grown adult. It is like building a boat to get across a swollen river: once it gets you across, there is no need to carry it on your head on the other side. If we are identified with the child’s mind and implement the decisions it made long ago, we will be unaware of the adult part within us that is able to cope with present situations. Instead we will continue to see the world through the eyes of that child, even though the situation has drastically changed; and we will react the same way the child did. Then, we are simply adults experiencing the world as a 5 – year old and dealing with it the same way that the child did.

So give your child some credit for surviving the obstacles in his life. This will help keep the judge in tow. And now put some energy into bringing forth the grownup within who can make effective, intelligent decisions based upon this moment!

Childhood Survival Strategies and How They Worked!

Q. As a child, I often played the role of being a “good” child which I now regret. Sometimes I would say or do things that I now see as manipulative and self-serving. Rather than being authentic, I was a coward who tried to make everything nice. Is there any way for me to resolve my feelings of disgust for what I did.

Subhan: We are unaware how intelligent and courageous we were as children.
Because we have a very strong judging mind inside, we have come to accept its view that the child was “manipulative” or a “coward” in what he did. What is missing is the understanding that every adult owes that child a large measure of gratitude for his ability to create strategies that effectively got him through difficult and painful times. By being “good,” you were probably getting some kind of reward, or at least diminishing punishment. Isn’t this an intelligent thing for a small child to do? And choosing to try to make everything nice, that child was able to find some control over the chaos of the moment. Remember, children who were unable to do this had grave difficulty in surviving. Many of them either left the planet in some fashion or escaped below the mind and became what we call “mentally ill.” They were in fact too sensitive and unable to adapt to the challenges that they were confronted with. So it is important for each of us to inquire into our childhood to see and experience how remarkable it was in the way we used our intelligence then to deal with pain, fear, shock, shame and anxiety that felt like it could destroy us. As “surviving” adults, we are living proof of the effectiveness of our childhood decisions.

The judging part within us does not consider any of this. For most of us, this judge sees little value in what we did as a child and much to be improved upon. Not only is this myopic, it serves as a continuous distraction from the wisdom of the adult within us who is growing up! If we can find gratitude for the child’s actions, then perhaps we can minimize the judge’s role, and we will be able to see new possibilities.

One understanding that can arise is that while these actions were brilliant for a 5-year old, they are no longer effective for a grown adult. It is like building a boat to get across a swollen river: once it gets you across, there is no need to carry it on your head on the other side. If we are identified with the child’s mind and continue to implement the decisions it made long ago, we will be unaware of the adult part within us that is able to cope with present situations. Instead we will continue to see the world through the eyes of that child, even though the situation has drastically changed; and we will react the same way the child did. Thus, we are adults experiencing the world as a 5 – year old and dealing with it the same way that the child did.

So give your child some credit for surviving the obstacles in his life. This will help keep the judge in tow. And now put some energy into bringing forth the grownup within who can make effective, intelligent decisions based upon this moment!

The Judging Mind

If I am to live a joyous life, I need to know about, experience, understand, and drop the judging mind that I carry. It has seeped into every aspect of my life and is creating a living hell by constantly judging, coercing, berating and restricting me.

Although it was beneficial in my early youth – in that it helped me stay out of harm’s way with my parents, teachers and religious leaders – now, its job of coercing me to meet my parents’ and others’ expectations is killing the joy of life.

This is a big chunk of my life’s “work”. It is an issue with a HUGE impact that requires experiencing, understanding, and the luxury of time to explore!

How We Get Stopped From Finding the Work We Love

Ask Subhan…
Questioner: I just don’t know what I want to do as my career or job. Every time I get an idea, I seem to find a hundred reasons NOT to do it. Can you help me untangle this mess?
Subhan: There is a Sufi mystic named Rumi who said, “Look for the answer in your question.” What an insight!
Let’s take his advice and look at your question: You say, “Every time I get an idea, I seem to find a hundred reasons NOT to do it.” This indicates that you DO have ideas that interest you! It is what a part of the mind does with these ideas that causes your difficulty.
Your question reveals two parts inside of you. One part has ideas. They may even be adventurous! The other part – what I call the critical mind – gives you a hundred reasons in opposition, which form a powerful obstacle that stops you from truly exploring the idea. This critical mind criticizes it, makes it wrong, makes it unattractive, makes it not good enough, etc. In a short time you lose any excitement and adventurous feeling that you may have had about the idea.
Realize that the mind’s critique that leads you to, “It is not what I want,” is probably just to stop you from going to an unpredictable place where it doesn’t want you to go. But instead of it saying that it is unpredictable or dangerous, the critical mind gives a litany of perfectly logical reasons why it isn’t the place to go. In that way, it constantly keeps you away from the new…and stuck in the old – which it considers SAFE!
The problem is that life lives and breaths in adventure and the unknown, not in the safe and the predictable.
And it is one thing to experience something and decide that it isn’t for you. It is quite another thing when this decision becomes a continuing pattern of the mind. Then it is pointing to a deeper, hidden motivation.
And watch how the mind insists that, although this particular idea isn’t right, just keep waiting and hoping that the REAL thing will come down the pike. This keeps you from total despair. And you stay hooked to the future, looking for what is ABOUT to come, rather than exploring what is already in front of you that interests you. It is like “waiting for godot”…and godot never comes!
So what to do? When there is an initial experience of attraction to a career idea, pursue it!
Use what I call the “Adventure-Risk Zone” analysis. This analysis says, Find and take small steps into the Adventure-Risk Zone in the direction of the idea, but not so big that they trigger the resistance of the critical mind. You can then experiment taking steps towards your idea and learn which ones work and which ones don’t.
Once you understand how the critical mind functions, you can learn to bring your awareness and understanding in when the mind uses this obstacle. It is a knack that you can learn. And it certainly helps to have support while you are learning this. It is extremely helpful to have the support of people who know and understand how the critical mind functions. They can be resources and mirrors so that you can see what is happening unconsciously in the mind. And you can learn to break these patterns once you become aware of them. Then you can see that the pattern IS THERE, and move through and beyond it!
To sum it up: The critical mind finds the new and adventurous repugnant because it requires change to happen; it invites in the unknown; it is unpredictable. The mind sees this as very dangerous. So it does whatever it can to halt the process. It is this continuing pattern of stopping anything from materializing that begins to give the critical mind’s intention away. And once this is seen and understood, it is possible to challenge the mind and move beyond it when you become aware that it is going into the pattern again.
(In our FTWYL classes and workshops, we now do a substantial amount of work learning how to recognize and effectively deal with the critical mind.)
©2010 subhan schenker