Worthiness sits at the heart of many of my struggles, and it usually takes the accusatory, cynical form, “What makes you think you can ____?” Questioning my qualifications, position, or abilities to deliver on some new challenge is a favorite refrain of my inner critic.
As I reflected on Brown’s talk and the discussion that followed, I found that it wasn’t the question that pulled me up short. Instead it was the tone of voice embodied in the question. So, instead of trying to stifle my inner critic – a part of me – I chose to listen differently.
I chose to listen with love.
Softening the tone of the critic I heard the voice of a coach not a cynic. I heard an encouragement to call upon the best of my resources rather than a belittling of my abilities. I heard an invitation to consider the tough questions and weigh the cost, rather than an admonition to sit down and shut up.
I heard myself into wholeness.
Many have written on the value of listening to the inner teacher, true self, or still, small voice. Often this is contrasted with the inner critic or false (ego) self. I value those insights, and they have helped me in many ways. Now, as I listen anew to this inner conversation, I set aside the duel between competing voices and own it all as who I’ve been, who I am, and whom I choose to be.
Spiritual maturity is largely a growth in seeing...It does not mean self-hatred or self-doubt, but finally accepting both your gifts and your weaknesses as fully your own--they no longer cancel one another out. You can eventually do the same for others too, and you do not let one or the other fault in a person destroy your larger relationship with them...It is the change that changes everything else. It makes love, forgiveness, and patience possible. Without it, we are trapped inside of our judgments. Richard Rohr
Parker Palmer speaks of importance of vulnerability in the face of power (watch now).