The Inner Critic Hungers For Warmth

It's birth, origins and why it needs your love

On hearing that we can actually re-wire our brains with empathy, my life has been transformed and the compassionate embrace I have been cultivating for years took on a profoundly new and healing dimension. So I'm not only bringing warm presence to myself, I am also triggering the right brain empathic process that sets up new synapses and floods my body with homeostasis in the present moment. (Yummy hormones) I just want to gather them neuroscientists in one room and give them a huge group hug of gratitude. So, here's what happens, in my own words, and I want to tell you in case it might warm your heart towards your beautiful 'self'.

Imagine you are a little one, witnessing something very frightening and traumatic in front of you over which you have no control, no escape and no hope of rescue. It's a shipwreck. What was needed in that moment, as your body entered shock, was to have an elder in your community with a regulated nervous system to scoop you up, remove you from the situation, hold you pressed against their warm heart, reassure you that someone else is taking care of the adult/s who are in distress and that all will be well. And then? A nice cup of hot cocoa and some of your favourite toys to play with, and a doggie to lean up against. Soon my love, you would have been on your feet again, running outside to see what the snails are up to on the cabbage patch. The shock would have eased and very little damage to your nervous system would have taken place. My heart breaks as I write, tear filled, knowing that for so many of us that warmth of holding was not there.

If left unattended without warmth, your beautiful young and yet unformed brain cannot integrate the information is it receiving and so your brain does what it can to 'make sense' of the situation. It uses your left brain with it's capacity to put your experience into black and white terms, to shout out some thoughts to keep you small still and safe or to make you run - fight/flight/freeze. Survival response. As you hear these shouts in adult life they may sound like this: 'you've done something wrong', 'you are not loved', 'you are not good enough', 'humans are dangerous'. The birth of the 'inner critic' They remain with us, always with the same enquiry 'Is it safe now, to come home into my body, can we relax and be in this moment?' And that enquiry will arrive whenever your soft sentient body, the beautiful sensors on your skin that are hardwired for connection, pick up something that frightens it and triggers it in your environment. The needs? Safety, protection, preservation of life.

And so, the loving needs to take place, each time we catch the reactivity, in order to warm these parts of ourselves, we become that regulated adult with open arms to these frozen places to reorganise our experience in real time and to open out choice and agency in our lives. This is a gargantuan feat and feels counter- intuitive as the fight/flight/freeze response asks us to disappear once again. I have had warm hearted others around me in my adult life to support me to cultivate this arrival home, may they surround you also.

I have found that cultivating self-compassion is a lifetime's work, thousands of times a day when the fear rises, and no wonder when my very life was repeatedly at risk. But oh how this compassionate path has softened me into life, the capacity to feel all life, to pass under a copse of trees and to burst into tears with the impact of their beauty. This connection is what has opened out to me as a result of this compassionate walk, heaven on earth, and also a deep commitment to self care and a respect for the tracks of trauma in my body, and to love every part of it, to familiarise myself with it, so that I can choose where I place myself in life and also to be of service to others who want to learn that embrace.

May these words warm your heart today, bring a sense of belonging in your own skin. What I described here is what I teach/coach, so if you would like my support I am here. My greatest wish now is to be of service to life. May it be that something I have warmed through in my own body and soul can accompany another to a place of inner warmth and hospitality.

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