The Inner Critic and IFS

This fall I will be offering a 6-week course by videoconference on transforming your Inner Critic using IFS. I will let you know the schedule in a few weeks.

Inner Critic and IFSJeanette had low self-esteem, all her teachers wondered about this. She was musically talented, but had no confidence in herself. She never tried out for the orchestra or school plays. As she got older, this pattern continued and she ended up with minimal jobs. She just assumed that she wouldn’t amount to anything. Every time she had an inclination to reach out and try something, she got a sinking feeling in her chest and gave up on the idea. She didn’t believe she was worth anything or could amount to anything.

One day a friend was talking about this critical voice the friend had inside her. She was having a very bad day with it! Something clicked inside Jeanette as she realized that she knew the voice her friend was describing.  It lived inside her, too!  It was saying things to her like,

“You aren’t any good. You can’t do it. Don’t even try.”

She had always just assumed that this was the truth about her. She had never seen it as a separate part of her that was giving her these harmful messages. She remembered how a part of her would want to try out for a play but this voice spoke so forcefully that she didn’t.

This part is commonly called the Inner Critic. Since Jeanette didn’t know about it, she had no way to communicate with this Critic. She couldn’t confront the source of her negative beliefs about herself.

Now that Jeanette became aware of how it was tearing her down and ruining her life, she got very angry at it and wanted to get rid of it. If she had turned to conventional therapy, she might have been encouraged to persuade it to change or simply to overcome it. She would have seen it as the enemy. However, this isn’t very effective. When we battle with the Inner Critic, it can just become more entrenched.

Using the IFS (Internal Family Systems therapy) approach, Jeanette explored inside and gradually got to know her Inner Critic. To her amazement, she discovered that this part was actually trying to help her. Even though it was causing hopelessness and depression, it was doing this in a distorted attempt to protect her. It wanted to keep her safe from failure and humiliation, and it figured that the best way to do this was to prevent her from ever trying anything difficult. It accomplished this by constantly judging and discouraging her.

However, once Jeanette realized that her Critic was trying to help her, her anger melted and she began to understand and befriend it. In IFS, you never have to fight with a part or try to get rid of it. You can develop a trusting relationship with it and help it to relate to you more constructively. Through her relationship with her Critic, it softened and became less harsh.

When Jeanette explored further using IFS, she discovered that there was a different part of her that was receiving these messages from the Critic. This part believed these judgments and felt worthless, defeated, and hopeless. We call this part the Criticized Child. Jeanette realized that she could become a friend to this unhappy child and connect with it from a place of love and compassion.

Then using the IFS procedure, she accessed the memories from her childhood of times when she was judged and dismissed and made to feel worthless. The Criticized Child is the part that was hurt by those criticisms. Jeanette could then heal this Child through her love, and help it to release those feelings of shame and worthlessness. As a result, her Critic receded into the background and caused her less trouble.

As a result of this work, Jeanette discovered a helpful aspect of her Self that we call the Inner Champion. It has the capacity to support and encourage us in the face of Inner Critic attacks. Jeanette was able to develop and strengthen this part that cares about her and wants the best for her. Her Inner Champion told her that she has a lot of talent and can accomplish great things in the world. She learned to evoke it when necessary and take in its support.

Her Champion said,

“You are OK just the way you are. You can do it. I’m proud of you.”

This helped Jeanette to take the risk to develop her musical talent and try out for performing positions. She moved ahead professionally in a career that she really loved.

Inner Champion

As her Inner Champion took over for her Inner Critic, she became more self-confident and happier in many aspects of her life.

Course: Transforming Your Inner Critic using IFS

The Inner Critic is the part of you that judges you, pushes you, and undermines your self-confidence. It can make you feel worthless, ashamed, guilty, depressed, or inadequate. Actually, you probably have more than one Inner Critic part, each of which judges you for something different or in a different way. I have learned how to best work with these difficult parts using Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) in order to transform them into inner allies.

Many people can use IFS successfully on their own, without a therapist, and I have put together a step-by-step IFS procedure for transforming your Inner Critic and developing self-confidence. This is explained in my book, Freedom from Your Inner Critic.

These Inner Critic parts aren’t quite what they seem to be. They are actually trying to help and protect you even though their effect is to harm you. In this course, you will learn how to work with your Inner Critics using IFS to make friends with them and then transform them.

In this course, you will learn about the seven types of Inner Critic parts and discover which ones are the most harmful to you. You will learn how to discover the exiles (wounded inner child parts) that are being protected by your Inner Critic and how to heal them in order to free up your Critic from its judgmental job. You will discover how to develop your Inner Champion, which is the healthy part of you that can support and encourage you in the face of Inner Critic attacks.

This work will help you develop Self-Esteem, Ease, Pleasure, Aliveness, Courage, and other healthy capacities that have been blocked by your Inner Critics.

Format

This course consists of 6 two-hour classes by videoconference where you get to interact with me and a small number of other participants. Since we can see each other, it allows us to really create connection and trust in the group.

I will teach you how to do this powerful inner work and demonstrate it using live IFS sessions with volunteers from the class. You will also be paired up each week with someone from the class to practice doing an IFS session on yourself with your partner witnessing and helping you.

Mondays, 4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 pm eastern)
Oct. 10, 17, 24, Nov. 7, 14, 21
Cost: $250

Click here to register

p.s. If you missed the Inner Critic webinar, you can click here to see it.

 

 

Which Inner Critic Types Are More Trouble for You?

The Seven Types of Inner Critics

In our study of the Inner Critic, Bonnie Weiss and I have identified seven specific types of Critics. Each type of Critic has a different motivation and strategy, and identifying which Critics are affecting you can be useful.

The Perfectionist tries to get you to do everything perfectly. It has very high standards for behavior, performance, and production. When you don’t meet its standards, the Perfectionist attacks you by saying that your work or behavior isn’t good enough, which makes it hard to finish projects. Sometimes the Perfectionist even makes it difficult to get started, as with writer’s block. 

The Inner Controller tries to control impulsive behavior, such as overeating, getting enraged, using drugs, or engaging in other addictions. It shames you after you binge, use, or react with rage. It is usually in a constant battle with an impulsive part of you.

The Taskmaster tries to get you to work hard in order to be successful. It attempts to motivate you by telling you that you’re lazy, stupid, or incompetent. It often gets into a battle with another part that procrastinates as a way of avoiding work.

The Underminer tries to undermine your self-confidence and self-esteem so you won’t take risks that might end in failure. It tells you that you are worthless and inadequate and that you’ll never amount to anything. It may also try to prevent you from getting too big, powerful, or visible in order to avoid the threat of attack and rejection.

The Destroyer attacks your fundamental self-worth. It is deeply shaming and tells you that you shouldn’t exist. You might experience the Destroyer as a crushing force that wipes out your vitality or a pervasive negative energy that stamps out any sign of creativity, spontaneity, or desire. 

The Guilt Tripper attacks you for a specific action you took (or didn’t take) in the past that was harmful to someone, especially someone you care about. This Critic might also attack you for violating a deeply held value. It constantly makes you feel bad and will never forgive you. It might also make you feel guilty for repeated behaviors that it considers unacceptable, in an attempt to get you to stop.

The Conformist tries to get you to fit a certain societal mold or act in a certain way that is based on your family or cultural mores. This mold can be any kind: caring, aggressive, outgoing, intellectual, or polite. This Critic attacks you when you don’t fit into that mold and praises you when you do.

You can take a quiz to learn which of these types are more trouble for you.

 

 

Webinar: Transforming Your Inner Critic Using IFS 9-19-2016

Inner Critic Learn how to transform your Inner Critic and develop self-esteem using Internal Family Systems Therapy.

Monday, Sept. 19
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 pm eastern)
Click here to register for free

 

In this webinar you will learn


  • That your bad feelings about yourself aren’t true
  • That your feelings of shame and worthlessness come from your Inner Critic
  • How to get to know your Inner Critic using IFS
  • That your Inner Critic is actually trying to protect you
  • How to work with your Inner Critic using IFS
  • How to transform your Inner Critic
  • How to develop your Inner Champion

Feel free to register even if you can make that time. You will receive a recording of the webinar afterwards.

This will be followed by a six-week Inner Critic Course by videoconference.

Mondays
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 pm eastern)
Sept. 26, Oct. 10, 17, 24, Nov. 7, 14
Cost: $250
Click here to register

 

Your Inner Critic Isn’t as Frightening as It Seems

Inner Critic Isn’t FrighteningWhen you become aware of how an Inner Critic Part is tearing you down, you may want to ignore it, argue with it, or banish it. However, none of these approaches are effective for very long. The Inner Critic will keep popping up and attacking you. You usually can’t win an argument with a Critic. And they can’t be banished for long.

The IFS approach is much more effective. An Inner Critic part is actually an IFS protector, which means that it is trying to help you by protecting you from pain or harm. A Critic usually does this in a hurtful and distorted way, so it doesn’t really succeed in helping you, but nevertheless its heart is in the right place—it is trying to protect you. This means that you can use the IFS approach to get to know each Inner Critic and develop a trusting relationship with it, which lays the groundwork for transforming it.

If an Inner Critic seems very powerful and threatening, you may be frightened of it or devastated by its attacks. However, once you get to know a Critic, your view of it may change radically. You may realize that it is actually a frightened child part that is puffing itself up to intimidate you, but it really can’t hurt you once you see through its facade.

Let’s look an example. Sarah was very frightened of her Inner Critic. It screamed and yelled at her and crushed her with its powerful attacks. It told her that she was worthless and would never amount to anything. She called her Critic the Attacker and visualized it as a huge monster with great muscles and a loud voice that was attacking her physically.

However, when she worked with her Critic using IFS, she became openly interested in getting to know the Attacker and discovered its positive intent. Attacking was a game in her family, and her Critic attacked her to protect a child part (which Sarah called the Scared Kid) from feeling all that hate and criticism from the family. It said, “If I hurt the Scared Kid instead, it wasn’t so bad because I was the one hurting her—not the people she really wanted love from.”

This information from the Attacker allowed Sarah to begin connecting with it. Later in the session, when the Attacker was reluctant to give up its role, I had Sarah explain that it had an impossible job trying to protect the Scared Kid. It said, “It’s hard to believe that you could help the Scared Kid when I couldn’t do it. It was my job. I had to be able to do it. I now realize that I’m just this little kid, and I’m trying to protect this other kid.”

When Sarah and I heard this sentiment, we both had tears in our eyes. The Attacker was actually a child part that was intent on protecting the Scared Kid from pain. Now Sarah saw it as a frightened girl who was doing her best to act tough to prevent a terrible tragedy.

The Inner Critic and the Criticized Child

Critized ChildWhenever we are being attacked or judged by an Inner Critic part, there is always a second part of us that is receiving this attack and feeling hurt, depressed, or worthless.

We call this part the Criticized Child. This is an exile who believes the attack and feels ashamed or guilty, bad, or inadequate. Many people, at first, don’t make a distinction between the Critic and the Criticized Child, but doing so is crucial to unraveling this difficult issue.

There are always two parts involved. One part attacks us, and a second part feels attacked.

For example, suppose your Critic sneers at you and tells you that you’re so shy that you’re a loser and no one likes you. The sneering Critic feels harsh, judgmental, and dismissive toward you.

There is a second part of you (the Criticized Child) that believes this attack and feels rejected, ashamed, and worthless. You will need to work with both parts, but in very different ways.

The Inner Critic is an IFS protector that is trying to protect you by attacking you, as strange as that sounds. The Criticized Child is an IFS exile who already feels bad about itself, and the attacks from your Inner Critic make it feel worse.

If you haven’t already, you can take a quiz to learn which Inner Critic is more trouble for you.

In a 9 week on-line course learn how to Transform Your Inner Critic using IFS and Self-Therapy Journey

Your Inner Critic’s Positive Intent

Transforming your Inner CriticOne of the most startling discoveries about our Inner Critics is that they are actually trying to help us. This is an amazing, powerful secret learned from IFS.

In its own distorted, confused way, your Inner Critic is actually trying to help you. At first this may seem surprising, but once you get to know your Critic in a deeper way, you’ll come to understand why it is attacking you.

It may be negative and harsh, but it is doing so in a distorted attempt to protect you from pain. As strange as it may seem, we have found this to be true over and over with hundreds of clients, and so have other IFS therapists.

Your Inner Critic may think that pushing and judging you will protect you from hurt and pain. It may believe that if it can get you to be a certain way—perfect, successful, cautious, nice, slim, outgoing, intellectual, macho, and so on—then you won’t be shamed or rejected, and you might even get approval from people who are important to you.

It may try to get you to fit in by prescribing rules and then attacking you if you violate them. Even though attacking you actually backfires and causes you more suffering, your Inner Critic is doing what it thinks is best for you.

The good news is that because the Inner Critic actually has positive intentions, you don’t have to fight with it or overcome it. You don’t have to win a battle; you don’t have to get rid of it.

Instead, using IFS, you can discover what it thinks it’s doing for you and make a positive connection with it. You can offer it appreciation for its efforts, and it can begin to trust you. Knowing that your Critic’s heart is in the right place makes it possible to create a cooperative relationship with it and transform it into a valuable resource. This relationship makes an enormous difference in your internal landscape and sets the stage for deeper healing.

If you haven’t already, you can take a quiz to learn which Inner Critic is more trouble for you.

In a 9 week on-line course learn how to Transform Your Inner Critic using IFS and Self-Therapy Journey

Seven Types of Inner Critics

Jay Earley, PhD and Bonnie Weiss, LCSW


Inner Critic In our study of the Inner Critic, we have identified the following seven types of Inner Critics that people are troubled by:

Perfectionist

  • This critic tries to get you to do things perfectly.
  • It sets high standards for the things your produce, and has difficulty saying something is complete and letting it go out to represent your best work.
  • It tries to make sure that you fit in and that you will not be judged or rejected.
  • Its expectations probably reflect those of people who have been important to you in the past.

Guilt-Tripper

  • This critic is stuck in the past. It is unable to forgive you for wrongs you have done or people you have hurt.
  • It is concerned about relationships and holds you to standards of behavior prescribed by your community, culture and family
  • It tries to protect you from repeating past mistakes by making sure you never forget or feel free.

Underminer

  • This critic tries to undermine your self-confidence and self-esteem so that you won’t take risks.
  • It makes direct attacks on your self-worth so that you will stay small and not take chances where you could be hurt or rejected.
  • It is afraid of your being too big or too visible and not being able to tolerate judgment or failure.

Destroyer

  • It makes pervasive attacks on your fundamental self-worth.
  • It shames you and makes you feel inherently flawed and not entitled to basic understanding or respect.
  • This most debilitating critic, comes from early life deprivation or trauma.
  • It is motivated by a belief that it is safer not to exist.

Conformist (we used to call this the Molder)

  • This critic tries to get you to fit into a certain mold based on standards held by society, your culture or your family.
  • It wants you to be liked and admired and to protect you from being abandoned, shamed or rejected.
  • The Conformist fears that the Rebel or the Free Spirit in you would act in ways that are unacceptable. So it keeps you from being in touch with and expressing your true nature.

Taskmaster

  • This critic wants you to work hard and be successful.
  • It fears that you may be mediocre or lazy and will be judged a failure if it does not push you to keep going.
  • Its pushing often activates a procrastinator or a rebel that fights against its harsh dictates.

Inner Controller

  • This critic tries to control your impulses: eating, drinking, sexual activity, etc.
  • It is polarized with an Indulger Part—an addict that it fears can get out of control at any moment.
  • It tends to be harsh and shaming in an effort to protect you from yourself.
  • It is motivated to try to make you a good person who is accepted and functions well in society.

For more information about Inner Critics, click here.

The Positive Intent of Your Inner Critic

One of the most surprising discoveries about our Inner Critics is that they are actually trying to help us.Inner Critic Webinar

This is an amazing, powerful secret. An Inner Critic is a protector in Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS). It is judging you in order to try to win your approval from others or protect you from pain.

As strange as it may seem, we have found this to be true over and over with hundreds of clients, and so have other IFS therapists.

Your Inner Critic has learned a strategy for helping you.

It thinks that pushing and judging you will protect you from hurt and pain. It thinks that if it can get you to be a certain way—perfect, successful, cautious, nice, slim, outgoing, intellectual, macho, and so on—then you won’t be shamed or rejected and you might even get approval from people who are important to you. It tries to get you to fit in by prescribing rules and then attacking you if you violate them.

Sadly, attacking you actually backfires and causes you more suffering.

Nevertheless your Inner Critic is doing what it thinks is best for you, so you don’t have to fight with it or overcome it.

You don’t have to win a battle; you don’t have to get rid of it. You can discover what it thinks it’s doing for you and make a positive connection with it.

You can offer it appreciation for its efforts, and it can begin to trust you.

Knowing that your Critic’s heart is in the right place makes it possible to create a cooperative relationship with it. This makes an enormous difference in your internal landscape and sets the stage for deeper healing using IFS.

Inner Critic Phone Course: New Dates

The Inner Critic Phone Course dates have been re-scheduled to allow more people to enroll. Transforming your Inner Critic

In this course, you will learn how to work with your Inner Critics using IFS to make friends with them and then transform them.

You will learn about the 8 types of Inner Critic parts and discover which ones are the most problematic for you.

  • Perfectionist
  • Guilt-Tripper
  • Underminer
  • Destroyer
  • Conformist
  • Taskmaster
  • Inner Controller
  • Doubter

The Inner Critic Course will include reading, lecture, discussion, group exercises, and homework where you practice IFS work in pairs with other people from the class.

Tuesdays
May 19 – June 23 (6 two-hour classes)
4:30-6:30PM pacific time (7:30-9:30PM eastern)
Cost: $250

Click here for more information or to enroll.