October 19, 2008 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
Pay Attention to What You Pay Attention To
Do you have a strong inner critic that loves to constantly remind you of what ways you just aren’t quite good enough? If you do, know that you weren’t born with it. You internalized it from someone(s) in your life, but you now have a choice: You don’t have to pay attention to it! You can’t turn it off like a light switch, but you can learn to not give it power. When it arises, simply say, “Oh, there you are again. Who invited you in? I think it’s time for you to go.” And then let it pass. Instead, pay attention to this voice: “You are a child of God, loved beyond measure, called to let your unique light shine wherever you go and wherever you are. Usually it is rude to not pay attention to someone when they are speaking to you. The one exception is when that someone is your inner critic. Ignore that voice and over time it will go away.
If you have been together any length of time as a couple, you have by now discovered your partner’s shortcomings and those things that particularly annoy you about them. Now that you have discovered those things you have a very important choice. You can pay a lot of attention to them (either in your internal thoughts or out loud) and create a great deal of negative energy within and between you. Or you can pay attention to all that you love about your partner, all that first attracted you to him or her. And of course, because we all will attract the kind of energy that we create, the choice we make about what to pay attention to in our partner will have a great effect on what they choose to pay attention to in us.
Adults who struggle with a strong inner critic, most likely internalized that voice in their childhood. Such is the power of families to influence a child’s self image. In order for anyone to see how they look, they need to look into a mirror. A child or a teenager does the same thing when it comes to their self image, looking to their parents to see what their words, actions and gestures reflect back to them about their worth. And it’s important to know that children never outgrow the need to be loved and to be cherished. Pay attention to what kind of messages you are reflecting to your children (including adult children) and if they are too often negative, then make a conscious decision to change that by paying attention to what you pay attention to.
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