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.

 

 

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.

Self-Therapy Journey Demonstration Webinar

Self-TherapyJourneyLogoSelf-Therapy Journey (STJ) is an online tool for psychological exploration and healing. You get the life-changing power of psychotherapy for a tiny fraction of the cost.

This free webinar will help you learn about STJ to decide if they want to use it. I will provide an overview of STJ and a demonstration of how to use it on the web, which will include almost every page. I will also answer questions about STJ.

You can think of STJ as a very sophisticated and interactive set of self-help books, plus guided meditations and customized reports. It is based on the Pattern System and Internal Family Systems Therapy. Check it out at www.selftherapyjourney.com.

Tuesday, Aug. 25
4:30-6:30 PM pacific time (7:30-9:30 PM eastern time)
Free
Click here to enroll for free.

Feel free to register even if you can’t make that time. A replay of the webinar will be sent to you afterwards.

What can you do with Self-Therapy Journey?

  • Understand yourself psychologically
  • Resolve problems like procrastination, shyness, or anger
  • Gain self-confidence, strength, openness
  • Transform behavior patterns, such as dependency or people-pleasing
  • Achieve intimacy, success, contentment

 How does Self-Therapy Journey work?

  • You take charge of your growth, in private, at your convenience
  • There are guided meditations for healing your emotional wounds
  • You get a customized report for each pattern, wound, and capacity
  • You engage in homework practices to change your behavior
  • You systematically work on your issues and track your progress

What Users are Saying

Self-Therapy Journey is brilliant. It’s been an absolutely great experience to use it. Every time I had a thought like, “What about this?” there was something in the online system to handle it. — Athena Murphy

I think Self-Therapy Journey is immensely helpful. You can go as deep as you’re willing or want to go. — Elizabeth Moulton, Clinical Psychologist

The problems that I worked on using Self-Therapy Journey have been resolved. — Cathy Duke, Licensed Counselor

Click here to enroll for the webinar.

 

 

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.

 

 

Types of Inner Critic

Jay Earley, PhD and Bonnie Weiss, LCSW

In our study of the Inner Critic, we have identified the following 8 types of Inner Critics that people can be 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

  • 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 –addict who 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.

Doubter

  • This critic doubts your ideas, decisions, and abilities.
  • This makes it hard to move forward with your life.
  • It is afraid that you will make a bad decision or fail at something.

Freedom from Shame and Inadequacy: Transforming Your Inner Critic

A View Through Two Lenses

Jay Earley and Ann Weiser Cornell

Transforming your Inner CriticEven though this webinar, Freedom from Shame and Inadequacy: Transforming Your Inner Critic, isn’t happening until April, I wanted to let you know about it in advance since I have a special guest co-leader, Ann Weiser Cornell, the Focusing teacher and expert.

  • Do you feel bad about yourself?
  • 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 is not 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 one-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. For the first time ever, these major figures from IFS (Internal Family Systems Therapy) and IRF (Inner Relationship Focusing) will be presenting 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

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

Tuesday, April 21
5:00-6:00 PM Pacific time (8:00-9:00 PM Eastern)
Free

Click and Register for the Self-Therapy Journey Webinar

 

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

Jim’s Story About His Inner Critic

Jim’s Inner Critic Story

Here’s Jim’s story about his Inner Critic and how he integrated experiences into his life, allowing him to focus on creating balance in his life. 

Jim was a successful corporate executive. His easy affable manner belied the internal tension that drove him towards success. He was the corporate man, the good guy, everyone’s buddy, but relentlessly self-critical on the inside. He had trouble taking time off, chronically worked late, and never felt he had done enough. His internal tension was beginning to manifest in physical ailments. His GI doctor suggested he seek psychotherapy because of the pressure he kept putting on himself.

The Inner Critic Jim had an Inner Critic that constantly judged him for not working hard enough, not achieving enough, not being enough. Its aggressive expectations caused him to push himself unmercifully and also to feel inadequate at a deep level despite his outward successes.

Jim came from a military family where he was the youngest of 6 brothers. Genetically gifted athletes, the family was very competitive. They always excelled in school sports, skied together, and rough-housed constantly. The military moving around solidified the “band of brothers” mentality. Though also a competent athlete, Jim was naturally more sensitive than the rest. He had more artistic inclinations, which he identified as being more like his mom.

His father, Arthur, was the iconic figure in the family. Jim looked up to him and sought his approval. This wasn’t easy to get, and Jim felt disappointed that he couldn’t please his father very much.

Being the youngest son by a number of years, he wasn’t allowed to join his brothers on certain family adventures. He remembers feeling left out, feeling small and inadequate. When he was included, his father wasn’t able to adjust his expectations to his youngest son’s age. He was pushed to keep up with his brothers and ridiculed when he couldn’t.

In his therapeutic work Jim accessed this Critic and discovered that it had the voice and face of his father. Now, of course, this was a part of Jim, an Inner Critic part, but internally it looked like his father. Jim began to dialogue with this “internalized father” as if it were actually his father. As he began to get to know the father, Arthur, he opened up to Jim about his own relationship with his father, Jim’s grandfather.

It turned out that Arthur, too, had felt that his father, a successful self-made, depression-era business man, was never satisfied with him. Arthur also had a softer, more aesthetic side that was totally unacceptable to his dad. His decision to join the military got him out of the house at an early age, and was aimed at snuffing out his gentler leanings.

This line of men were all carrying a burden of “being a tough man.” It came as a legacy burden from Jim’s grandfather through his father to him. Jim drive toward success was actually more his father’s drive than his. In working with this legacy burden, Jim’s therapist encouraged Jim to openly dialogue with Arthur about Arthur’s life and struggles. Arthur let Jim know that he actually identified with Jim more than his other sons, and was therefore harder on him.

Jim was able to listen to Arthur’s sadness and remorse about the way he had treated Jim, and Jim offered him forgiveness and healing. Together the two of them released their burden of ignoring the softer side of themselves and pushing themselves to be successful at all costs. They also offered this healing to Arthur’s father and the men of even earlier generations.

Jim and Arthur invited back into themselves, their gentleness, aesthetic appreciation, and feelings of positive self-worth. Jim was able to take in Arthur’s genuine pride in him. This completely shifted Jim’s Inner Critic. It no longer judged him and pushed him.

As he gradually integrated these experiences into his life, it allowed him to be easier on himself about work. He began to leave the office at a more reasonable time, take vacations, and focus on creating balance in his life.

He not only had a much more relaxing, enjoyable life, he also felt much better about himself, and therefore more confident in his dealings with people.

Transforming Your Inner Critic Using IFS Course

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,Transforming your Inner Critic 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. Bonnie Weiss and I have studied how to best work with these difficult parts using IFS in order to transform them into inner allies.

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. You will learn about other parts that arise along with the Inner Critic:

  • The Criticized Child, which is hurt by the Critic
  • The Inner Defender, which fights the Critic
  • The Inner Rebel, which defies the Critic

You will learn about the seven types of Inner Critic parts and discover which ones are the most harmful to you—the Taskmaster, Perfectionist, Inner Controller, Underminer, Guilt Tripper, Conformist, and Destroyer.

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.

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

Tuesdays 4:30-6:30 pm pacific time (7:30-9:30 eastern)
Feb. 3, 10, 17, March 3, 10, 17 (6 two hour classes)
Cost: $250
To enroll click here

A Story of the Underminer Pattern

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 confidence. 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 Underminer 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. She knew that if she were to live the life she wanted, she needed to know more about this self-depreciating pattern of thinking, and that this exploration would require stronger feelings of courage than she had at that moment.

Jeanette asked herself what to do and how to begin.  She took a deep breath and started by becoming still.  In the calmness she found inside, the place called Self, Jeanette asked if there were parts of her inside that had the courage to explore the Underminer part.  She also asked to hear from any part that might sound like peace and strength, rather than negative judgment. Then she was quiet and listened.

To her surprise, Jeanette heard from a number of such parts, and listening closely to each of them, she began to see that the Underminer part was only one part of her among many. 

When Jeanette was in touch with her courageous, peaceful, and strong parts, she was able to create a dialogue with the Underminer part. 

From her place of Self, she understood that the Underminer part’s intention was actually to keep her safe from failure and negative public exposure. Jeanette felt grateful to the Underminer part for its intention and thanked it for caring about her welfare. 

She told the Underminer part that she was now in contact with other parts of her that could be even more helpful in keeping her safe and that also could allow her to create the life she truly wanted.  She told the Underminer part it could relax. I will continue with Jeannette’s story in a future email.

Self-Therapy Journey  has a module for the Underminer Pattern and the Courage Capacity that transforms it.