07 Jan The Relationship Between Introjects and Inner Critic
The inner dialogue going on inside a persons mind, can be both positive and negative. The negative internal dialogue we coin, “the inner critic.” We all have one and it ranges from mildly annoying to very destructive. A person can become suicidal if their inner critic gets a strong enough hold. In spiritual circles, some people may label this voice “the accuser.” Whatever you call it, the inner critic is a big problem for most of us. Most of the time, people have no idea how to get control over their negative self-talk, tame the inner critic, and become the master of their own minds.
In EMDR therapy, clients’ negative beliefs mirror the voice of the inner critic. They often identify with one of these negative core beliefs: “I am powerless, I am out of control, I am not good enough.” Even as you read this, you may identify with one of those negative beliefs and the ways in which it impacts your life, relationships, or career. These beliefs are often frustrating and overwhelming, and fuel the inner critic. Counseling allows you to change your negative beliefs with guidance from a safe, objective source, and to learn new ways of coping with negative thoughts and beliefs. We can work together to turn this inner dialogue around, and help it become a voice of encouragement and self-compassion.
Here are some questions we will work through.
- When did these voices begin?
- How do they get their intensity and momentum?
- Why do they try to sabotage our life?
- How can I learn to tame this voice, understand it, and make it work for me rather than against me?
We can tame the inner critic together, using a combination of therapeutic techniques like EMDR, somatic experiencing, internal family systems, and Splankna energy work. All of these techniques, both together and separately, can loosen the negative beliefs we hold on to, and ease the intensity of the inner critic.
The inner critic is related to the Introjects, or the messages our parents said to us, or about us when we were young. Sometimes these are positive if we are lucky enough to have parents who are emotionally mature or who have done their own personal work. But other times, parents end up frustrated and reactive when kids misbehave. Out of this frustration, they may say things like, “You are stupid,” “You can’t do anything right,” or “You are frustrating.” Over time, these voices (introjects) become the messages we tell ourselves and morph into our inner critic.
Before the age of seven or eight, we innately believe that whatever happens in the world around us is our fault, good or bad. We often hear messages from parents like “You are a bad boy / girl” when we make a mistake. Who we are as a person is judged. If we hear this message repeatedly at age 2, we learn to internalize shame, and we think that we need to be perfect in order to be loved. Since we can’t be perfect, every time we make a mistake, we tell ourselves, “You’re not good enough.” Beliefs like not being smart enough, pretty enough, not a good enough dancer, artist, etc are Introjects. These give the inner critic its power.
In adulthood, these messages become, “You’re not good enough in relationships with women, “You’re not a good enough computer programmer,” “You’re not pretty / talented / thin enough.” The “not good enough” messages in our culture lead to shame. For women, many times shame is based on appearance. For men and women, shame can also be based on performance. There are countless ways we can internalize the message of not being good enough. We have rehearsed these negative beliefs for many years by the time we become an adult. Relationships, partners, and even our career aspirations can be affected by the inner critic.
Together, let’s get to the bottom of this inner critic, by understand how it is affecting you, and dismantling the messages you tell yourself. Let’s change this around so that your inner critic can be transformed into an inner cheerleader, and you can be someone who cheers yourself on in all of your accomplishments!