Stop the Violence Within

Never speak badly about yourself.

It’s a simple statement, one many of us would agree with in concept. But do you follow it’s advice? Probably not. Because our inner critic speaks to us in a voice so familiar we rarely notice it’s presence.

Recently, I had a friend say out loud with absolute conviction: “God, I’m such a (expletive) idiot.” She said this more than once, and I was taken back to my childhood where this type of mental patterning was more commonly accepted. I used to say this out loud to myself all the time. Now, I just say it internally.

If we want to be free and happy, we cannot afford the luxury of negative thinking. It’s been years since I’ve allowed myself such overt and out loud negative mental patterning, but hearing my friend say it reminded me of just how insidious verbal self abuse can be. It’s the proverbial pink elephant in the room, but it’s an internal room that only we can see, so detecting the problem can be a challenge unto itself.

Many of us desire to create excellent, adventurous lives. But without our even knowing it, we could be sabotaging our plans. This got my direct attention recently when I had one of those “cranky” days (that’s code for bitchy and depressed.) I was out of sorts and nothing seemed to be going right.

I wondered: When I am in this foul humor, what is really playing out? In this cranky state, I find my old negative mental pattern comes charging through, but now it’s more subtle than my childhood. I find I give myself a hard time. I find that I become a really judgmental guy, and that this judgment is particularly harsh. In fact, as I sit with it and try to understand it more, it all boils down to this: I am simply being mentally violent, and violence is never, ever good.

Given that I am much more comfortable in my role as a lover of peace, these moments of being in a foul humor really shake me up. I am reminded of Gandhi who lived with two great goals: living truthfully (Satya Graha), and living in non violence (Ahimsa).

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