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Acceptance, protection, loyalty and to be honored, that’s what my critic wanted. How did I know this? I asked her. For years she criticized me, “Come on Nia, get it right. Why are you so late? If you were more organized you might actually be able to get something done.” The critic’s voice was loud and clear, consistent and ever present…because the critic was me.

Day 3 of Kim’s Sedona retreat, she introduced us to our inner critic. Well, she didn’t introduce us for we’ve known each other intimately for many years. She helped us identify our inner critic. Most of us have one. It’s that inner voice that criticizes us on a daily basis. She had us shout out loud the words we hear our critic whisper in our ears, things like, “You’re fat! Loser! Dummy! Get it right!” and believe me, everyone was shouting out a multitude of things. Tall, short, dark, light, young old, it didn’t matter. Every person in that room, no matter how smart or beautiful or funny or capable I perceived them to be, had something to shout.

Then she had us close our eyes and place a hand over the area of our body where we felt it. For some it was in their gut. For me it was between the eyes. Then she told us to ask the critic what it wanted. “What are you screaming for?” I asked my critic. The answer came swiftly: acceptance, protection, loyalty and to be honored. My inner critic had been screaming those horrible things at me for all these years because it needed acceptance, protection, loyalty and to be honored.

Then I realized something very interesting. Those were the very things I complain about not receiving from the people who have hurt me the most, the people I’m closest to who have dishonored me deeply in some way. People I loved in action who did not return that love in kind. I’ve been burned time and time again by loving my neighbor as myself. When I shared that with Kim she then asked, “ and what does that tell you Nia?” and immediately I knew: “ How can I ask of others that which I am not wiling to give myself?”

We come into this world to teach others how to treat us, to show them. By pushing myself to the limit, over extending myself in ways that do not protect my own needs, do not honor who I am or accept that I have needs at all, I am teaching people that this is the way I need to be treated. And in an energetic sense, I am calling all those people, all those situations to me that will fulfill that need.

And so I contemplate anew the commandment to “love they neighbor as thyself “seeing for the first in 50 years the words “ …as thyself.”

For more info on Kim’s retreats, write Kim at kim@namasteretreats.com

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