The Inner Critic as Enforcer

One of the main reasons our Inner Critic parts judge us is to enforce the certain kind of behavior they want from us. They may want us to be perfect, hardworking, moderate, or cautious, for example. If a Taskmaster Critic thinks it is important for you to always have your nose to the proverbial grindstone, it will push you to overwork and attack you when you don’t. However, if you are generally a conscientious, focused worker, then there isn’t so much need for a Taskmaster Critic. You might very well have a Taskmaster Part of you that works too hard, but it wouldn’t be a Critic; it would just be an overworking part.

If you have a part that follows the rules, there is little need for a Critic to enforce them. For example, if you have a Dieter part that is very careful about the food you eat, there would be no need for an Inner Controller Critic to attack you. The Dieter might be overly rigid, but if it doesn’t judge the way you eat, it’s not a Critic.

Because of the enforcer nature of Critics, one might suddenly judge you when you make a change in your life. Suppose you have been very careful about food all your adult life and have therefore never gotten any flak about your eating from a Critic. Lately you have been working on loosening up, and you are beginning to experiment with being more relaxed and less rigid about food. You might get attacked by an Inner Controller Critic about this. Until this point, it didn’t need to attack you because you were behaving in the way it wanted. Now that you are changing, it has become activated in order to enforce its view of how you should be.

Introductory Webinar: Transforming Your Inner Critic using IFS

Transforming Your  Inner CriticTransforming Your Inner Critic using IFS an introductory webinar on September 11, 2017.

Are you struggling with low self-esteem, depression, perfectionism, self-doubt, or inner conflict? These issues often stem from the Inner Critic, which is the part of you that judges you and makes you feel bad about yourself. You hear a voice inside that constantly berates you, doubts you, and undermines your confidence in yourself.

I have developed a comprehensive understanding of the different forms that Inner Critic parts take and how to transform them using IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy). IFS is very effective in working with Inner Critic parts when you use my Inner Critic version of the IFS model.

During this webinar you can:

  • Learn about the different forms Inner Critic parts can take
  • Understand what it takes to transform your Critic using IFS
  • Have an experience of working with your Inner Critic
  • Experience what it is like to participate in a videoconference class
  • Get a preview of the upcoming Inner Critic class
  • Meet Jay and ask any questions you have

Monday, Sept. 11
4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)
Click here for more information or to register.

Feel free to register even if you can’t make that time. You will receive a recording afterwards.

Click here  for information on my upcoming Inner Critic Course

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.

Transforming Your Inner Critic – A View Through Two Lenses

Freedom from Shame and Inadequacy: Transforming Your Inner Critic
A View Through Two Lenses

Jay Earley, PhD, and Ann Weiser Cornell

  • Do you feel bad about yourself?Inner Critic
  • Do you hear a voice calling you worthless and unlovable?
  • Do you struggle with self-hatred?
  • Is there a voice that constantly doubts your abilities?
  • Do you believe that you’ll never get anywhere?

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. It seems to come up especially when you are expanding, doing more, being bigger. In fact, there isn’t just one Inner Critic, but a whole flock of them, hovering anxiously and ready to attack or push when you want to take new steps in your life.

You have so much you could contribute to the world if you just didn’t sabotage yourself from inside! Join Jay Earley and Ann Weiser Cornell for an inspiring and practical two-hour webinar that will help you free yourself from undermining inner attacks so you can move into living the life you were born to live.

What’s special about this webinar:

  • You’ll learn surprising truths about the positive intent of Inner Critic parts
  • You’ll understand the dynamics of inner criticism and how to transform it to inner support
  • You’ll learn powerful practices that you can use immediately in your life
  • You learn from two different teachers and methods

Watch Jay and Ann together! These major figures from IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy) and IRF (Inner Relationship Focusing) rarely present together. We will explore the similarities and differences between our powerful methods in a lively, interactive dialogue.

Learn how to develop self-esteem and self-confidence, so you can

  • Accept yourself just as you are.
  • Know that you are lovable.
  • Feel confident in what you can do.
  • Feel proud of your capacities and accomplishments.
  • Feel a deep sense of self-worth.

Other reasons to take the webinar:

  • You are a Healing Professional whose clients who struggle with shame, low self-esteem, or inadequacy?
  • You are curious about how to work with a “part” or how to use a “felt sense”?
  • You have been wondering how IFS and IRF are similar and different? 

Wednesday, April 19
1-3 pm Pacific time (4-6 pm Eastern time)

Click here to register for free

Feel free to register even if you can’t attend at that time. A recording will be available afterward.



An Inner Critic Story

Jeanette had a bad case of low self-esteem. Even when she was a child, all her teachers were puzzled by this. She was smart and musically gifted but had absolutely no Your Inner Criticconfidence.

She never auditioned for the orchestra or for school plays even when she was encouraged to do so. As she got older and this pattern continued, she ended up holding minimal jobs that didn’t come close to tapping her native talents. She just assumed that she wouldn’t amount to anything. Every time she had an inclination to reach out and try something challenging, she experienced a sinking feeling in her chest and a gray cloud descended on her, so she gave up on the idea.

One afternoon Jeanette’s friend Lynn was having a very bad day; she complained to Jeanette of heaviness in her heart. Lynn was talking about a critical voice that she heard inside of her. Suddenly something clicked with Jeanette; she realized that she recognized the voice her friend was describing. It lived inside her, too!

This was Jeannette’s Inner Critic. It was saying critical things 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 viewed these harmful messages as coming from a separate part of her psyche. She recalled how she longed to try out for high school musicals but this other voice spoke so forcefully that she didn’t dare.

Since she hadn’t been consciously aware of it until that moment, she’d had no way to communicate with it. She hadn’t seen any way to confront the source of her negative beliefs about herself. Now, however, she had a lever to begin to work with it.

Jeannette had an Underminer Inner Critic, which is one of the seven types of Inner Critics that we have identified and studied how to work with.

You can use Self-Therapy Journey to work with and transform your Inner Critic parts. Click here for more information or to try it out.



A Story of the Depressed Pattern

This is the story of one person with the Depressed Pattern.

Ginger felt listless and low energy. She was feeling lethargic and it was hard for her to do anything because her life seemed hopeless. It was difficult for her to get up the energy to do more than minimal tasks around the house.

She had a good, well-Image of a depressed womanpaying job, but she lost it when the economy crashed. Then six months later her mother died. This was too much; it threw her into a deep depression that lasted for over a year.

Ginger reached out to friends less and less, and even when she was with them, she was withdrawn and down. So she became more and more isolated and alone. This increased her sense of hopelessness and bleakness. She felt dead inside.

She came to believe that this was her lot because there was something deeply wrong with her. She couldn’t say what it was, but she just felt like she was a loser and so, of course, she had no friends and couldn’t find a job.

Though she had enough money at the moment, she knew it wouldn’t last too long, so she had to do something to find employment. She continually told herself that she had to work on her resume, do networking, apply for openings, but she couldn’t even start on these tasks. A part of her felt that there was no point in trying because nothing was going to work. She sunk deeper into misery and sloth.

Overcoming depression, a continuation of Ginger’s story.

Self-Therapy Journey contains a module for overcoming depression.