The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Learning to know the inner critic

When people care for others and are supportive of them or when they blame others, they act from a set of values, expectations, or obligations they made their own. They are copied from significant figures people connected with during their life. But most of these memories were recorded during childhood.

People rarely do this only to others. Most often, they will use the same ideas with themselves. It opens an inner dialogue with a counterpart consisting of events recorded in childhood.  These recorded events represent the thoughts and feelings they experienced as children. And it is a set of thoughts and feelings that connects with an automatic behavior. One that can reappear anytime the current situation resembles a recorded event.

When the inner critic steps up, it recalls the behavior copied from significant others using their moral standards and ideals to perceive the world. Where the significant others used this to invite specific behavior from others, the inner critic uses it to invite such behavior from the self.

In doing so the inner critic easily recreates a situation triggering memories of the past. The person can feel as they did as a child when receiving such invitations.  Being back, yet again, in that situation, easily leads to the automatic reaction learned as a child.

As an example, invitations that resembled expectations beyond the child’s ability may have left an idea of low self-worth or inability to succeed.

As an adult, the high expectations will not have disappeared. They remain present in the automatic behavior resulting from the blueprint of how things should be and wanting to make them happen. The past experience transformed these expectations into the belief that it is normal to expect more than others. At the same time, the feeling of overwhelm experienced as a child then correlates with thoughts of low self-worth. The automatic reaction might then be to try hard to nevertheless succeed. It can also be to hide away from the expectation out of fear to fail.

The inner critic thus has become the voice that not only brings back the high expectations but also the low sense of self-worth. It takes both as truths.

By learning to observe these conflicting thoughts and feelings we become acquainted with the inner dialogue. Its awareness can then lead to changed behavior. We can learn more about the permissions we have to give ourselves, for example, to let go of a belief, or what vulnerability to accept once we let go of a belief.

Accepting to observe our inner dialogue can be hard as it seems to us to be our dark side, one we prefer not to shed too much light into. It takes courage to turn on the light and forgiveness to accept what we learn to see.




Share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *