Soul Without Shame provides a spiritual and psychological framework of working with the inner critical voice (sometimes referred to as an inner judge or as superego). This inner critic can be a source of tremendous damage and challenges that some people, I included, face when listening to or trying to silence it.
The book gives vivid examples of how the inner critic can make itself real and how that affects people’s sense of self and their behavior both to themselves and to each other. Brown shows how to identify when the inner critic is attacking — he’s calling the inner critic’s dialogue “an attack” in a conscious attempt to change the way we approach the critic — an attack is an aggressive act in the face of which one needs to launch a defense. He speaks of attacks from the judge, and this evokes a feeling in the reader to stand up and take notice and push back, a truly necessary shift in mindset.
Brown shows how the judge makes one’s world smaller — the space we take up, the options available to us, the emotional realm available to us — they all shrink when an effective judge takes aim. One’s sense of confidence in our very own judgment is diminished, which serves to undermine one’s ability to move forward.
A quote I found very useful and could relate to:
“Many people spend their whole lives doing their best to follow the coaching, guidance, and warnings of the inner critic. Society supports this. However, if you choose to pursue inner work — the search for understanding who you are, what your life means, and what reality is — you are by necessity setting yourself directly in conflict with your judge. To explore what you believe, what you experience, why you act and feel the way you do, is to question the authority of the judge.”
Perhaps the most useful part about the book is that it gives instructions and guidelines on how to work with inner critic, and how to build a proper defense. Through the application of compassion, embodied awareness, and strength, one can create mechanisms to face the terror of inner criticism, understand it and be able to consciously respond.