The inner critic is a strong, mainly negative, inner voice. It has been developed in childhood for the sake of knowing your parents wishes and being safe from their critical comments. Growing up it is blocking our psychological and spiritual growth to the extent that it can cause depression.

The inner critic

The inner critic is the one in us who is always commenting. Developed in early childhood – starting already from birth on – he has in it the rules, values and regulations from a specific environment. Was his function in childhood to protect us against the critic from the outer surroundings, now he is a knaggy something that us talking us down all the time.
And in times of change, both outer and inner change, in times of psychological and spiritual change, this inner critic voice can become very hash and violent. Another name for him is the judge and as long as you are under his influence you are in courtroom.

If you want to grow and to live on, if you want to develop your potential, then this is the first barrier you need to take.

Protocol working with the critic

Here is a protocol that covers the first steps in working with the inner critic. You can follow this protocol yourself. If you want to have some help you can contact me. Working with this protocol is often part of therapy.

Step 1: The inner critic

I have written an article about the inner critic. It is in Dutch, maybe someone can help you with a translation. So if possible, read the article, otherwise look for information on the inner critic on the web. There is an excellent book on the inner critic in english available. See the footnote.
You can also just start to do the next steps.

Step 2: Recognition

It is important to start and recognize the inner critic. That starts with seeing the messages that he is giving. They can be in words, which is how they mostly come, especially in the beginning of the work with this inner agent.

Write, in the course of some days 10 statements down that are said by this inner critic. Examples:
I never can make it right
I will never make it
It is not for me
I am stupid; I never understand what they mean
I need to be nicer; I am so harsh
I am so withholding, I need to be more spontaneous
Now again I did not stand up for myself

Write down your own statements,. You can do that during the day, whenever you recognize one. You can also go and sit for it.

Step 3: Feelings

Write behind all ten statement how you feel about the statement, how they affect you

Step 4: Space

Change the statements from I and Me into You
You never can make it right
You will never make it
It is not for you
You are stupid; you will never understand what they mean
You need to be nicer; you are so harsh
You are so withholding, you need to be more spontaneous
Now again you did not stand up for yourself

Sense the differences between the I statements and the you statements.
You will recognize that the you statements give more space between you and the inner critic. He becomes an outer agent talking to you. Write down your feelings.

Step 5: Giver en receiver

What becomes clear is that here are two: there is someone who gives the messages and someone who receives them. We can be identified with the position of the giver, the commentator, or with the receiver. In the I-statements you are siding with the receiver. In the statement: ‘I will never make it’, you believe it to be true.
In the you-statements you are siding with the giver, with an outer agent, a critical other, a parent or a teacher.

Feel the difference in energy.
How does it feel if you are the receiver of the message? Who do you become?
Hoe does it feel when you are the giver of the message? Who do you become?

Often is the giver the one with the power, the critical parent. The receiver is the helpless and insecure child. Be ware of the energy, the feelings of power and powerlessness. As a child you often were powerless when these messages came to you and you often felt bad, wrong.

Step 6: Images

Make an image of the giver of these messages. This image van be very concrete, it can also be vague, a cloud, color, atmosphere. It can be as a huge rock or a devil like creature, or a snake whispering in your ear.

The inner critic is the manifestation of the internalized inner critical parent or elder. And an internalized critical parent comes with an inner helpless child. Here is an inner relationship, established when you were young, in order to protect you from the critical comments of your parents.
It is still in place, and manifesting and it takes all your life energy. It is draining you and talking you down all the time. It can make you deeply depressed.

When you have made these images, you can put them in front of you and look at them.
You then look at them from the position where you are free from both influences; you are standing outside of this inner relationship and can look at it from the grown-up person you are now.

Explore your experiences and see where there are moments that you are free form these dynamics. See where in your daily life, they are not influencing you and investigate how you feel in these moments. Be aware of the differences.
In the coming period, repeat these steps. You will see that you become more free from these inner dynamics.

In the next phase we will go and see the messages and their meaning. (not yet available neither in Dutch nor in English)

Byron Brown: Soul without shame

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