Where does our inner critic originate? This is a question that I have been asking myself lately. Why am I so hard on myself? Why do I always want to condemn myself when I do something I think is wrong? Where is the compassion for me that I have for the people around me? Then I realized that there is a little girl stuck in my head and she doesn’t know how to cope with all the emotions that generate feelings in me as a child, and she wants to be protected. The other parts of me are doing what it thinks it takes to protect me; the best way it can. This inner critic is struggling with dealing with the trauma that came to me as a child. I have always wanted to get past this, but until now, I had no idea where to start.
Before we go any further let’s identify the seven types of inner critics – adapted from Illustrated Workbook for Self-Therapy for Your Inner Critic: Transforming Self-Criticism into Self-Confidence by Weiss LCSW, Bonnie J., and Karen Donnelly
Descriptions of the Different Types of Inner Critics
Perfectionist Inner Critic:
The Perfectionist Inner Critic believes that if it can always make you do the perfect, best, and the right thing, you will avoid criticism, judgment, and rejection from others.
It is constant messages of “That’s not good enough. You have to be perfect and make it look easy.”
We don’t often know what the perfect or what the best thing is to do. Those with a history of early childhood attachment trauma can feel like they don’t even know what normal is, let alone perfect!
So, this Perfectionist Inner Critic often results in paralysis and/or procrastination in life. While initially, it causes anxiety as a person is driven to perfectionism, this constant sense of failure becomes exhausting, and it can lead to general fatigue, depression, and a case of the I-don’t-care-anymore syndrome.
The Perfectionist Inner Critic can also be the internalized voice of a parent who had perfectionist tendencies. Parents with perfectionist tendencies cause the child to feel like they always have to look good for others.
In its defense, the perfectionist inner critic cares about you and is just trying to protect you from the criticism of others!
The Molder Inner Critic is similar to the Perfectionist Inner Critic because it also believes that if you can appear, think, and do things in the correct or normal way, people will accept and love you.
The Molder Inner Critic wants to mold you into what it thinks other people want and would like.
It is constantly assessing the people around you and trying to figure out who they are and what they want so that it will know how to mold you into something the people will approve of and like.
The end result of the Molder Inner Critic is to have no sense of who you are and what you like. Your Molder Inner Critic has turned you into everybody else. So much so, that you are disconnected from your own feelings, wants and desires, just so that you can be seen as normal and be loved.
In its defense, the Molder Inner Critic really cares about you and thinks it’s setting you up so that you will belong and be safe with other people.
A Guilt-Tripper Inner Critic is almost always present after experiencing early childhood attachment trauma. It becomes the voice of what you heard from the world (aka your primary caregiver) during your early life.
The messages of the Guilt-Tripper Inner Critic are ones that will tell you, “You are bad. You don’t deserve good things.”
This is exactly the message that’s internalized by an infant and a young child when their parent/primary caregiver is not able to emotionally attune and regulate them.
Regardless of whether this message was expressed verbally later on in life by a parent (or another person) or earlier in a child’s life, this message is internalized at one’s core as truth when there is an inadequate healthy emotional connection between a parent and their infant in the first 12 months of life.
In its defense, the Guilt-Tripper Inner Critic is trying to protect you from rejection. It believes that if it can keep you from expecting good things out of life and from other people, you will not feel hurt or rejected when good things don’t happen.
The Controller Inner Critic is similar to the Guilt-Tripper Inner Critic because it makes you feel bad about who you are and your small, everyday choices.
However, the Controller Inner Critic responds to your body and what you eat and drink. It often gives you the message, “You’re disgusting.”
The Controller Inner Critic doesn’t stop there though, it also takes the smallest things you do and tries to control everything in your life. For example: How you answer the phone, how you shake someone’s hand when you first meet, even how much time you spend in a store. Simple things to more complicated areas in your life are being deeply influenced by this critic.
The Controller Inner Critic can be the internalized voice of a parent who had controlling tendencies. Parents with controlling tendencies cause the child to always be on guard and become very self-conscious about everything they do. Often the child will try to catch things they need to change before their parents notice it.
In its defense, the Controller Inner Critic is also doing what it thinks will help you to be accepted and loved by other people.
An Underminer Inner Critic is also similar in its message and attempts to protect you as the Guilt-Tripper Inner Critic.
The Underminer Inner Critic specifically tries to keep you from trying new things, advancing in life, and following your dreams.
The Underminer Inner Critic gives messages of “You can’t do that.” Yes, it prevents success, but it also avoids failure and rejection.
In its defense, the Underminer Inner Critic attempts to keep you from taking risks, which might result in failure and could bring criticism, judgment, and rejection from other people. It tells you, “You can’t” in order to protect you because it knows how awful it feels when you’re already hurting inner child feels rejected.
The Taskmaster Inner Critic is one that pushes you always to work harder. It doesn’t want you to rest or take time for yourself!
The Taskmaster Inner Critic can drive us to become workaholics, excessive exercisers, or take on any project in an addictive manner. No matter how hard you work at something, it feels like it’s never enough.
The Taskmaster Inner Critic can be the internalized voice of a parent who had Type A personalities and constantly pushed their children to do and accomplish more. Parents with these tendencies cause their child to always need to be “on,” never feeling like they can just relax or just play.
In its defense, the Taskmaster Inner Critic thinks that if it didn’t continually push you to work that you would always play and wouldn’t be able to get anything done. It’s doing what it thinks is best to help you succeed in life and relationships.
The Destroyer Inner Critic is the harshest of all the types of inner critics. It’s especially prominent in children with more severe Attachment Disorder.
The Destroyer Inner Critic is one that tells you, “You don’t have a right to even exist.”
The Destroyer Inner Critic tries to crush your life force. This can result in suicidal ideation, but often times, it results in self-hatred that leads to punishment and self-harm.
The message that “You don’t have a right to exist” is internalized by an infant when there is emotional or physical neglect from a parent. This is perhaps why neglect leads to more severe Attachment Disorder than abuse, because the internalized message from abuse is, “You don’t deserve to be treated well,” whereas the internalized message from neglect is, “You don’t have a right to exist.”
In its defense, Destroyer Inner Critic is also a protective part. It believes that it will be less painful if it destroys you and your inner “weak” child so that you don’t experience the rejection and abandonment from others that it believes is inevitable.
Check out this link for the full article by http://draimie.com/working-with-the-inner-critic/
For us to move to past these protectors, we have to discover why they are there and how they are protecting us. Most of us probably hate this person who is only trying to protect us right now, so we have to move to the point of curiosity. The best way to do this is to stop hating and fearing these voices inside us and understand they are coming from a place of carrying for us. They want the best for us; they don’t know how to do that.
Evolution of The Internal Family Systems Model By Dr. Richard Schwartz, Ph. D. talks about the Eight C’s of self-leadership, which will help move us to the next level.
After twenty years of helping people toward that Self-leadership, I can describe what my clients exhibit as they have more of their Self-present. As I sifted through various adjectives to capture my observations, I repeatedly came up with words that begin with the letter C. So, the eight Cs of self-leadership include: calmness, curiosity, clarity, compassion, confidence, creativity, courage, and connectedness.
The best way to do this is by getting curious when they begin to show themselves and ask them, Why they feel the need to protect us? What are they protecting us from? When did they begin the journey of protecting us? How do they think they are protecting us.
For me, this has been a journey of understanding who I am and what I can bring to this world. I have always wanted to understand my purpose, but I have always felt like a burden to the world. When I traced this back to the inner child and inner critic, I understood why I felt this way and was able to move past this feeling and begin to appreciate myself.
My story: My parents were both in their 20’s in the poorest county in WV when they found out they were pregnant with me. I know they were both worried about how they would support a family. Plus they were not married, and in the early 1960s that was not acceptable. So they got married, and my mother has always been a worrier, so I think that my little self felt this as a child and I grew into a people pleaser, and I looked for any way I could as a child to make life easier on my mother especially.
Here they were with a family of two and dad was working at the local, and they were barely scraping by, so they moved to OHIO and started a life, but things were always tight, and we grew our own food, and they found a small house and redid it all on their own. My father was dead set on needing no one, so I think somehow as a child and understood that it was hard on my parents.
There was something in me that believed that my mother was not a strong person and that I had to protect her. To this day, I feel like the parent with my mother. I even helped raise my three younger brothers when at 14, my mother had three additional boys. I felt like a mother to them. I felt like I needed to protect them. I felt like I needed to make life easier on my mother, and I can remember her saying several times – “ I don’t know what I would do with her.” Of course, for me, that meant I was doing the right thing, and I was meeting my goal of not being a burden.
In my life, I have constantly repeated this pattern, and now I realize that I have made so many choices from this point of view. While not always bad, it has kept me from living a life that could have been so much more. So I am working right now on staying curious about this side of me and looking to see the value in who I am. I am not a burden but created to add value to this world, and I am looking to increase my value to myself so that I can help others and add value to them.
So I want to encourage you that this is a journey that will completely change the way that you are able to see yourself and the world around you. When we understand that we are just hurt children that need to start to lead ourselves, we have the potential to completely change our world and the world of the people around us.
If you are looking to change your life and need support. I would love to support you.
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May your Dreams be BIG and your life be Blessed,
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