What is your Inner Critic and low self image symptoms?
The Inner Critic is thought by a number of therapeutic approaches to be the cause of depression, anxiety, mood swings, low self image symptoms and a host of other mental ills! Your Inner Critic is a cluster of voices heard when you were small that you have internalised and are still playing below your level of conscious awareness.
Often these voices say things which perhaps one of your parents said or a powerful adult figure like a teacher “ don’t say things like that in front of Mrs Johnson Tina, you are a terrible girl” or “you’re a very stupid girl Tina for getting all your sums wrong, you’ll never amount to anything. Such statements from a powerful adult to an impressionable child go very deep and cause feelings of shame and inferiority. As we grow towards adulthood on a conscious level we disassociate from these voices (even though they are still playing in the background and causing untold damage to our self-esteem and our feelings of power in the world!) and they become like a radio station playing in the background that we are accustomed to, so don’t always pay direct attention to.
Dealing with your Inner Critic
One of the most effective tools for dealing with the inner critic that therapists who are trained in this way use is “Voice Dialogue” which was developed by Drs Hal and Sidra Stone in California . They have developed a highly effective way of making you conscious of your inner critic and then “separating” from it and taking away its power. People who work with Voice Dialogue often experience a dramatic shift in feelings of personal power and can quickly transform into “positive” and “out there” people who stop holding themselves back in life.
If you want to read more about this, I recommend their book “Embracing your Inner Critic” or reading their interesting article on the inner critic here If you feel that you would like to work with your inner critic on your own then I highly recommend “The Power of Your Other Hand” by Lucia Cappacione who has worked closely with Stones and has developed a technique for writing with your non-dominant hand which is a very powerful tool in releasing yourself from the power of your inner critic with all of its woes!
More on Voice Dialogue
The Voice Dialogue approach is believed to help those in therapy increase self-knowledge, rediscover lost skills and talents, and communicate with their entire being
Voice Dialogue can help those in therapy determine the parts of the psyche they most identify with and help them discover how to separate themselves from the psyche in order to reduce and/or eliminate any negative effects it might have. Voice Dialogue therapists (facilitators) aim to help people in therapy to increase knowledge and awareness of the inner selves.
During a typical session, the facilitator will invite the many selves of the person in therapy to speak about what life is like for that self. The role of the facilitator is to listen and encourage the selves to provide as much information as they can about their views. They do not attempt to negotiate between selves, change the selves, or encourage them to agree on something. The facilitator may ask questions as part of this process in an attempt for both the person in therapy and the facilitator to learn more about each self. Questions might include:
- What is your name?
- Can you describe your appearance?
- Can you describe your emotions right now?
- How long have you been with the person in therapy?
- Do you remember when you first met the person in therapy?
- Can you please tell me about that encounter?
- What job do you perform for the person in therapy?
- Is your job hard to do?
- Does the person in therapy know you are there?
- How does the person in therapy feel about you?
- Do the other selves work along with and support you?
- What would happen to the person in therapy if you were not present to help?
To promote the expression and understanding of the individual selves, each self is given its own chair or space in the room. The facilitator will encourage the person in therapy to move from one chair to the next as each different self speaks. The Aware Ego process is also assigned its own chair so the person in treatment can observe, analyze, and act on what was revealed. After the presenting selves have spoken, the person in therapy stands next to the facilitator, who then gives an unbiased summary of what took place.
The Voice Dialogue approach is believed to help those in therapy increase self-knowledge, rediscover lost skills and talents, and communicate with their entire being. . Instead of living in the manner encouraged by the primary selves, which may be habitual and/or reactive, individuals can often learn, through Voice Dialogue, how to develop a detached perspective. By doing so, people may not only become better able to make informed decisions in all areas of life, but might also gain insight on the many different aspects of self and how to balance them.
The heightened sense of awareness many experience is referred to as the Aware Ego or the Aware Ego process. This process helps those in therapy come to know all of the different layers of consciousness in order to gain greater insight and take care of the selves, in a manner that attempts to contain tension rather than appease one particular self.
Stuart Alderton Therapist
Stuart Alderton is a therapist for Individual’s and couples practicing in east London. You can read more about me here
I also offer EMDR trauma focussed therapy details of which are found on my EMDR website