Unblending from the Inner Defender

In working with an Inner Critic part using IFS, you first must unblend from the Critic and the Criticized Child. The next step, involves checking to see how you are feeling toward the Critic to determine whether or nUnblending from Inner Defenderot you are in Self with respect to it. Being genuinely open to your Inner Critic is not easy. It has been causing you pain, so it is natural for you to be angry with it. It is understandable if you judge it and want to be rid of it. However, approaching the Critic (or any part) with these attitudes won’t lead to changing it.

These attitudes aren’t coming from your Self; they are coming from another part of you that I call the Inner Defender because it wants to defend you from the Critic. Often the Inner Defender feels judgmental and angry toward the Critic. It may try to dismiss the Critic or even banish it from your psyche. But you can’t get rid of a part, and the Critic usually fights back against attempts to dismiss it.

Sometimes your Inner Defender argues with the Inner Critic. If the Critic says that you are worthless, the Defender tries to prove that you are a good person. If the Critic says you can’t succeed, the Defender argues that you can. It wants to engage with the Critic and defend your goodness and your right to be yourself. It wants to fight against being controlled by the Critic. For example, Sarah had an Inner Defender that was angry and rebellious toward her Critic and wanted to convince the Critic that she was a valuable person who could make it in the world.

While it makes sense that your Inner Defender wants to champion you, engaging with the Critic in this way usually doesn’t work. The Critic often wins the argument, or, if your Inner Defender wins for the moment, the Critic may redouble its attacks later. In addition, this approach creates inner conflict.

If your Inner Critic tells you how to behave or not behave, then you might also have an Inner Rebel. This is similar to the Inner Defender except that its concern is inner autonomy. It doesn’t want to be pushed around by an Inner Critic, so it defies the Critic. It says, “Don’t tell me what to do.” Even if the Critic’s ideas are good for you, the Inner Rebel may go against them in order to preserve its sense of personal power. This can make it difficult to follow through on disciplines needed for health, exercise, or spiritual growth.

Now let’s discuss how to unblend from the Inner Defender (or Rebel). Just as with any concerned part, you ask it to step aside so you can get to know the Critic from an open place. However, your Inner Defender may be reluctant to do this because it knows how much pain the Critic has been causing you. The way around this is to explain to the Inner Defender that the Critic is trying to help and protect you, even if you don’t yet understand how. Then ask if the Defender would be willing to step aside and allow you to get to know the Critic so you can discover its positive intent. When the Inner Defender has stepped aside, you will be open to getting to know the Critic from its perspective, which will ultimately lead to transforming it.

For more information on the Inner Critic and IFS, click here, or read the book Freedom from Your Inner Critic.