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A Spiritual Response to Our 'Constant Inner Critic'

16/06/2014 15:27 BST | Updated 13/08/2014 10:59 BST

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© Glowimages - model for illustrative purposes only

Underlying every edifice that stands the test of time there's a solid foundation.

Media and lifestyle icon Arianna Huffington understands that. Addressing an appreciative crowd in London recently, she spelled out what she considers a foundation stone of success.

"In a profound way we already have everything we need. We need to live from a sense of abundance not a sense of lack," Arianna explained.

On this basis she builds a case for the Third Metric, in which so-called success measured merely by money and power is seen as failure. It's the equivalent of a "two-legged stool" that "may hold us up temporarily" but will eventually topple over. Instead, real success requires a vital "third leg": a proper work-life balance.

This doesn't simply mean balancing work and family time. It also points to the need to nurture our inner life. Three ideas Arianna shared at the London event - promoting her new book, Thrive - stood out to me.

  • Stop living as a victim of "time famine"
  • A pause in your life can be a performance-enhancing measure
  • Cure yourself of technology addiction:

In particular, in relation to the latter point:

  • Reconnect with yourself each night by turning off your phones and "gently escorting them out of the bedroom"
  • Checking emails first thing means letting the world set the agenda, instead set your intentions for the day and remember what you're grateful for

These and other insights offered were very practical, helpfully addressing how to implement a Third Metric lifestyle and better challenge the "obnoxious roommate in your head" that would turn us into constant critics of ourselves. Yet that underlying sense of a foundational principle was never far away. It surfaced again when Arianna quoted wisdom she loves from sufi poet Rumi: "Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor."

I, too, love that idea. But as it was shared, I wondered if others might be asking: 'But why should everything be rigged in our favour? Why should "we already have everything we need"?'

Do we really have grounds for harbouring such beautifully articulated hopes?

Perhaps Arianna was gently pointing in the direction of an answer when, in a sweet moment, she affirmed her belief in God.

She made clear that's not a point she's trying to foist on others. Indeed, she stressed repeatedly that the credibility of the Third Metric rests on how much scientific data is now available "to support ancient wisdom and practices".

Yet, for many, like me, perceiving such divine direction is what brings out the very life-affirming qualities highlighted at the talk, including gratitude, joy, wisdom and wonder. As the late, celebrated Maya Angelou put it, in one of her last Tweets: "Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God."

That's not God as a mysterious or superstitious presence. Nor God as a magnified, capricious personality demanding blind, unquestioning faith. But God as an underlying Principle of good that can and does "rig everything" in everyone's favour. Not by handing out material benefits to vocal sycophants, but as a ceaseless, spiritual provider of solution-oriented thinking that anyone can become conscious of.

Such consciousness differs from positive thinking. Indeed, rather than projecting assumptions of what should happen, I've found that rejecting such preconceptions is what helps open my mind to a divinely grounded expectancy of good. Doing this has proved practical to myself and many others in overcoming all kinds of limitation, including emotional and physical health meltdowns and even chronic identity crises.

The latter occurred for someone who'd struggled with a sense of worthlessness since finding out she'd been given up for adoption. Questions about her identity deeply distressed her even after she had a career, got married and had a child of her own.

At that point, sensing her need, a colleague introduced her to another way of thinking.

"She started to tell me God was a loving God, that He loved all His children, that everyone was equally adored and cherished, and that He just wanted the best for us," the woman recently wrote in the Christian Science Sentinel.

Following several weeks of pondering that idea, she was startled to realise: '...that whole sense of "Who am I?" and "What is my identity?" which had been plaguing me for decades, was gone. The feelings of unworthiness were gone."

Her sense of self-worth changed so completely that she has since devoted herself to helping others "suffering from physical, emotional, and mental struggles, who want healing--permanent healing--and who want to understand their relationship with God."

Finding the solid, divine foundation underlying our lives equips us to answer back to that constant inner critic that we are never the fragile beings it would have us believe we are.

Instead, we can take an inner stand for our spiritual worth by doing what Maya Angelou once advised Oprah to do, when the megastar was literally facing an unjust prosecution: "Stand still inside your head and know who you are. You are God's child!"