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How to Become a Thought Connoisseur

podcast Mar 10, 2020

Can't listen? Here's the transcript: 

Hey Dethroners!  Today I want to talk about one of the greatest superpowers that comes from dethroning your Inner Critic: To become a thought connoisseur.

For most people, life is a battleground, where their Inner Critic’s are constantly fighting to either protect us from pain, or prove that we are worthy.  And when we don’t see this, we are never internally at peace. Our minds are racing from one thought to the next because our Inner Critic has a lot of demands about who we are supposed to be and the lives we are supposed to be living, and how we are going to make sure that those demands are fulfilled. 

That is because your Inner Critic thinks that meeting those demands is what will make you feel good enough, content, happy. But it actually does the exact opposite for your automatic mind to focus on where you aren’t good enough, what you need to change, and how to protect yourself from situations that whip up fear, anger, and insecurity.  This model of “success” that is perpetuated in our culture is exactly what feeds our Inner Critic minds.

When you learn to dethrone your Inner Critic, you begin to realize that all of the fear, sadness, anger, and discontent you experience is really stemming from YOUR automatic thoughts in your mind. It’s like we are all machines. Like we are dishwashers.  The button gets pushed, and our machinery begins. And the machinery has been the same machinery operating for forever!

I have a client who desperately wanted to be in a fulfilling relationship for years. Through our work together, he realized that his Inner Critic was the only thing preventing that because he decided he wasn’t good enough at age five because one kindergarten boy told another boy not to be his friend. 

He remembered the exact incident with tremendous detail. So he kept his distance from people to prevent judgment and getting hurt or rejected. And his Inner Critic has been trying to protect him for his whole life by keeping him quiet and shy. So although he desperately wanted to be in a fulfilling partnership, he was unable to really put himself out there and meet someone.

This is how our Inner Critic mind dictates our life!  He is now a thought connoisseur because he uses his mind in a completely different way, to intentionally tap into who he really is when his Inner Critic is not ruling his mind and dictating his behavior.  He now sees himself in a completely new way. He deliberately focuses on the parts of himself that he already feels good about, like how funny he is and how his friends and family really love him. 

He intentionally uses his mind to tap into a fundamentally new way of experiencing himself and has become a completely different human, ALL by using his mind. He is now in a committed relationship, and will probably be engaged in the next few months. 

When you don’t even realize how your Inner Critic controls your behavior, you keep staying stuck in the same life, where the things you really want seem out of reach. Because we aren’t taught how to think. There is a big difference between having thoughts and thinking. 

When we don’t know how to master our minds, we are just run by our machinery. The Inner Critic machine says, “there is a certain way the world should be, and the people around you should act, and if they don’t, it’s because you’re not good enough.” So, when this guy was faced with the possibility that someone would act in a way that made him feel like he wasn’t good enough, for instance, they might judge him, they might reject him, his Inner Critic said “NO way, man!” That is way too scary and dangerous.

So his body would physically react like his life was in danger. His heart would race, his breathing would become shallow, his adrenalin and other hormones would surge through his bloodstream. And then the physical reaction would create more Inner Critic thoughts, like, “I am not going to go and talk to that woman. I am not going to put myself on dating apps. I am not going to go talk to that group of people standing over there." So he would avoid the very situations that would give him the life he wants. 

His Inner Critic created a vicious cycle where he was unhappy and unfulfilled because he wasn’t in a relationship...but his Inner Critic would protect him from the very situations that would create him having a relationship. This is a perfect example of what Brene Brown means when she says, “We can have comfort or we can have courage, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”

Unless you understand where your Inner Critic is trying to control and manipulate life to keep you safe and comfortable, you can’t really grow. And so many people are stuck.  They are living mediocre lives at best because they won’t take the actions that would transform their lives. Most people think that if they just take different actions, they will have a better life.

But here is the thing about actions--actions are created by thoughts. And most people want to jump straight to changing the actions, without changing their thoughts.

Think back to a time when you made up your mind you were going to do something OR change something in your life. (Was it a workout program? Getting your $%&#-ing laundry under control? Maybe you were gonna save some money? Finally start that blog or book? Or maybe get your temper under control?! ) Everything starts out great, right? You’re finally going to do this!!

But then somehow you never quite do it.. you never make it happen because you fall back into an old pattern. Your Inner Critic gets louder in your head…

"You can’t do this."

"You’re dumb."

"You’re going to look like an idiot."

"You’ll never be good enough."

"You’ll never make it."

"Who do you think you are?!" 

"This will never work anyway."

That’s your Inner Critic trying to keep you away from feeling painful emotions.  And that is unavoidable because the human brain is actually hard-wired that way. 

Remember, we are animals. So when our brains were formed millions of years ago, part of our machinery, our hard wiring, was to give us a fight/flight mechanism to avoid danger. Think of a deer in the grass who is peacefully grazing and then all of a sudden hears a noise and jerks their head up.

So here is the difference between a deer and a human: A deer will return to peacefully grazing in the grass once they are out of harm's way. But humans? We are actually NEVER in harm's way in the first place, unless you are in a situation that could cause physical injury.

Because it’s only our automatic and conditioned thoughts that make us feel like we are in harm's way in the first place. So, unlike the deer, we are almost never back to a state of calm unless we learn how to become a thought connoisseur.

Your Inner Critic doesn’t want you to EVER feel discomfort like fear, rejection, failure, inadequacy. But like my client, everything we want in life can only happen if we are willing to feel ALL of our emotions, including the ones we have been running away from for our whole lives. When you can clearly spot your Inner Critic as the creator of all of your emotions, you can see that an emotion won’t kill you.

It’s nothing more than a vibration inside your body. You can feel your heart race and adrenaline pumping, and choose to take action anyway. You can stop trying to manipulate and control life to only feel-good emotions and never feel uncomfortable ones.  And many people have been living that way for their whole lives.

So they are avoiding half of their life. And they are getting more and more dissatisfied with their lives, which is mediocre at best, and downright chaotic at worst. When your Inner Critic is no longer in control of how you respond to your life, you have a choice of what you will do and say when you are faced with failure, criticism, rejection, embarrassment. Because you know how to choose how you will THINK when you are faced with those situations. That is what it means to be a thought connoisseur. 

You can even use the experience to learn and grow, without listening to your Inner Critic try to beat the you know what out of you because you haven’t met your Inner Critic’s unrealistic expectations.

When my client put himself on a dating app, he got a ton of rejections. And he went on a lot of dates that didn’t go well. But he stopped listening to his Inner Critic tell him that was because he wasn’t good enough. He knew the difference between him and his Inner Critic. And when you become more and more proficient in recognizing the difference between YOU and your Inner Critic, you are living the most powerful life you can possibly live. 

It’s like having a superpower! You can see clearly the game that your Inner Critic has been playing for your whole life. You will see how much of your life has been designed to try to meet its demands and expectations, which I call its addictions.

You learn to label your Inner Critic’s thoughts as pure nonsense. You don’t reject those thoughts, because those are the computer programmed thoughts that have been with you forever, and unfortunately, will be with you forever. But you no longer accept them.

You become the expert in choosing your thoughts you will use to design your life. You just allow your Inner Critic thoughts to happen, because they are going to come, but you choose to observe them, and not get emotionally caught up in them.  You can watch your mind run its machinery...it’s automatic computer programming that was installed when you were a very young child and first felt the feeling that something was “wrong”.

You can uplevel your Inner Critic’s addictive demands that you should never fail, be rejected, judged or feel inadequate. You can upgrade those to preferences, but realize that you actually can experience all of those things and you will be ok.

And this is how your Inner Critic no longer has the power to control your life. This is how you experience freedom from your Inner Critic, perhaps for the first time in your life. You can feel ALL of your emotions, and use your uncomfortable emotions as the warning sign that your Inner Critic is whipping up automatic thoughts again. 

You become a thought connoisseur… you are very selective of the thoughts that you will direct your mind towards. And this is exactly how you can tap into your intuitive wisdom which your Inner Critic has been blocking for your whole life. You see situations and people through a completely different lens. You are more able to live your life in the here and now, instead of always looking towards the future and trying to predict or control how your life will go.

When you dethrone your Inner Critic, you realize that is just an illusion that was created by your Inner Critic a long time ago. You have been governed by that illusion that you have to predict and control life and it has made you feel agitated and discontent, maybe for your whole life. Dethroning your Inner Critic allows you to feel free and content, because you are actually enjoying your life right now, instead of trying to get to some arrival point in the future where once that demand is met so you can finally be happy. 

Anything you do or have will never be enough unless you are feeling fulfilled in just BEING, right here and now. To appreciate just being who we are right now and the life we are currently living, with all that we are and all that we’re not, and all that we have and all that we don’t.

Your Inner Critic desperately wants to reject the here and now and convince you that there is something that must be fulfilled for you to feel content. It will continue its endless comparisons, judgments, and criticisms. But whether you enjoy your life or continue to constantly harass yourself, depends on recognizing the difference between YOU and your Inner Critic. That is the true key to life.

There are things about life that you will never be able to change. In fact, half of life will continue to be the way you want it to be and half of life will not. When you become a thought connoisseur and use your mind in a completely new way that generates thoughts that produce happiness, joy, gratitude, peace right now, you are living a completely different life.

Because you are the master of your mind, not your Inner Critic.  And this is truly the greatest gift that you can ever give to yourself. This is what changes the course of your life.

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