Releasing Self-Criticism, by Elizabeth A. A. Wilson
Sometimes becoming new happens without you paying attention. I lost all my baby weight within the first 6 months after my daughter was born. I was astonished – there had been no exercise, no diet. But looking back I can identify a shift in consciousness – I had been making healthier choices. Breathing more deeply, drinking more water, doing everything a little bit more slowly.
There was no end of my old body and beginning of my new body. Just a constant emergence of new cells born under the attitude of a different mind.
They say if you get into your car in Sarasota and point it in the direction of Tampa, you’ll get there. But if you incorporate just the slightest degree shift in your steering, not even an inch difference in the steering wheel, then over time you’ll find yourself in a completely different location.
I look back at what I’ve achieved in the last three years thanks to the slightest degree shift. I have no idea where I will end up.
But! The new beginning does not involve going back to the old when things get scary. They will – they’re new. Newness is a tricky territory. And for a long time while you’re in newness, whatever that means to you, your old mind will be screaming at you to turn back to the old.
For instance, I used to have a strange relationship with alcohol. I couldn’t just drink one of two glasses of wine, I would have to keep drinking until the last drop was gone. It wasn’t a behavior that supported all my highest and best desires, so I made a conscious decision to change that destructive conduct. It took a lot of discipline and focused will, a lot of grace and cooperation with Spirit, but over a relatively short amount of time I managed to shift my relationship with that chemical. Until the other night, when a group of the loveliest, bubbliest, funniest girlfriends got together on the beach with two bottles of champagne, a hundred stories to tell and a clear midnight sky pricked with the eyes of the gods.
The next morning I woke up with my belly aching from laughing all evening, my toes buzzing from the memory of the cold sea water lapping against my skin, my skin tingling from the crystal quartz sand and my soul happy and full of the love of great girlfriends. But did my ego mind pay any attention to that? Not at all. It was howling and thrashing itself from the guilt of having drunk champagne.
The night itself was perfect. It was my thinking the next day that was faulty. An excruciating self-criticism.
Shakespeare wrote, “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” And self-criticism is the moment we sabotage our newness. It isn’t the individual choices we make, good or bad, that define the path we lay for ourselves. It’s our thinking along the way. Spirit can work in any configuration of circumstances, any decision we make can be the right one when we work with the power of God instead of against it. God’s good can be found anywhere – I’ve walked the streets of poverty-stricken shanty towns in Kenya and seen great kindness and generosity there.
I’ve been tempted my whole life to put my relentless self-criticism down as healthy introspection. Critical thinking is rational examination which is so vital to our progress. But for it to be that positive propulsion into expansion it needs to be conducted without judgment. I can view what I perceive to be faults within me and not love myself any less. The way I used to apply self-criticism though, was more like cynicism. An impotent complaint and embittered resignation. Totally destructive. The self-critical part of ourself is strikingly unimaginative. A relentless complainer which frankly drones on about the same old stuff any time we give it the space. I can still hear the dull, toneless chanting inside my head that tells me of my inadequacy—but I’ve sure accomplished some amazing stuff despite it! How much more would I have enjoyed my progress if I had been noticing the expansion instead of noticing what wasn’t?
So the secret to new beginnings is not in starting them—they start all the time. 35,000 times a day in fact, every time you make a decision. The true secret to new beginnings is in releasing the old thinking.
“To put off your old self which belongs to your former manner of life and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind and to put on the new self, that is true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22
You don’t see this self-critical behavior in nature. You don’t hear the trees bemoan in therapeutic analysis over their root systems or recount how many rocks they had to circumnavigate so they could grow. They know that the uneven texture of the ground is what keeps them stable. Were an oak to lay root in a moor or desert where the ground was smooth and free of obstacles, it would topple with the slightest gust of wind. And so the mighty oak stands, owning every knobbly bit and every twisted branch, growing and being, and being and growing.
Renewal is happening anyway. Watch it. Be in it. And be brave enough to release the old way of self-critical thinking so you can fully embrace the higher, brighter and clearer version of you.
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“Remember not the former things, nor consider things of old. Behold, I AM doing new things—I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18
A statement of healing for newness:
I AM in and of God, and God is in me, as me. I know that through my imagination I can reconfigure my cells, and by feeling so wonderful about my new healed state I can draw that reality out of the quantum soup and into my experience. I AM excited about feeling stronger and healthier, about my new body, and revitalized mind. I AM already feeling Spirit coursing through me like water, washing away all that is less than my highest and best. I call on my healers in Spirit and they lovingly and unquestioningly respond by directing the Light through me. I AM renewed, strong, healthy and vital. And so it is.