Why we self-sabotage and making friends with the inner critic.
It’s not unusual to talk to yourself, sometimes known as having inner dialogue, and some people are more aware of this than others. It’s one of the ways the mind processes information and makes decisions. We often have competing desires and mixed feelings about things, for example wanting to go out and have fun versus the need to meet responsibilities.
These voices are influenced by the beliefs and values we have learned growing up. The way of speaking to ourselves can be like a supportive and encouraging parent, but often it can be harsh and admonishing. This voice can be thought of as our inner critic, continually berating us for not being good enough or being somehow ‘wrong’.
Often clients who come to me for help don’t realise how tough they are on themselves but all of them suffer in some way from the verbal abuse they are giving themselves. It’s understandable that people want to get rid of this voice and silence the inner critic but this is not possible or, somewhat surprisingly, is not actually desirable.
My approach is to see all the parts of ourselves as intrinsic to our being, even the ones that seem to be unhelpful or causing us pain. A great sense of relief cab come from realising that these parts of ourselves are actually trying to help, albeit in dysfunctional ways. This is because those parts of us were formed when we were infants in response to a situation which, at the time, we were unable to cope with. We adapted in the best way we could at the time. This part never really grew up and matured so it’s still trying to help us using the old programming of the younger part of ourselves..
Ignoring or fighting a part of ourselves, which is trying to help, often makes it try harder by becoming louder and angrier. Listening to this part and finding out what it really wants and needs allows it to feel heard and calm down. If we can begin to understand these parts of ourselves and come into a better relationship with them, they can grow into more helpful voices. The harsh internal critic can become an ally. The emotional energy that was previously being used to fight this part can now be released and used for more helpful purposes.
Working with a therapist can help identify these misaligned parts of ourselves and transform them into inner strengths. Integrating all the various parts of ourselves (mind, emotions, body) brings us into a more harmonious way of being and living. Things just seem easier and life can flow more smoothly. If you would like to talk with me about beginning to work on anything that is troubling you, we could arrange an initial session.