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Negating the Inner Critic
by Derek Ayre

The majority of clients who I deal with are suffering as a result of a severe "inner critic". Symptoms can range from severe phobias to deep depression.

Teachers and parents formulate the inner critic in the mind of a young child. It is not that these "authorities" are wrong in their teaching, because we have all be subjected to these teachings that have its origins in the earliest annals of society. In fact, it isn't until we can recognize that "right and wrong" are value judgements that in many instances, has no credence in reality, that we can move on.

Take the example of a child who in his early years witnesses a strange ritual of getting rewarded for keeping his bed dry at night. He would be subjected to statements such as "There's a good boy!" and "You'll be having some sweets!" And then if on an odd occasion he has an accident, perhaps in a public place, he is subjected to a scolding. In other words he is rejected and has to "be good" in order to gain approval again.

As the child grows into an adult, the outer critic (the parental/teacher) manifests as an inner critic - a stream of nagging thoughts (shouldism) that in extreme cases of anxiety, goes on and on and on... For example, "If you do such and such, something will happen.", "Because you did/said such and such, boy are you for it now!"

Acceptance is what we all crave. Rejection, is what we all dread, regardless of how we interpret the two words. But... Here lies the resolution. It's the power of acceptance.

A Touch of Eastern Philosophy

Every thought, good or bad is part of us. If we can reach True understanding and recognize that there is no "part", that we are "at-one", we will recognize that when we try to reject an undesirable thought/feeling, we are trying to reject ourselves.


A good analogy here would be a glass full of water. What part of the water is good or bad? If we try and get out the bad, we will throw away the good. If we stir the bad (e.g. mud) at the bottom, it will contaminate the clear water. Our bodies' are ninety per cent water, and our spirits move just like water (fluid) and then there's the truth that there is no separation. Body, mind and spirit are really one.

The Power of Acceptance.

To accept a person exactly the way he/she is, will mellow and transform that person. To reject him/her will embitter and cause hatred that will be directed to him/herself or others.

Rejection was something that was feared more than death by execution in primitive societies. So perhaps now, it can be understood just how powerful these two actions are.

Acceptance and Rejection: Clarification

Care need to be taken here not to confuse acceptance with indulgence.

Acceptance means to acknowledge, observe and where appropriate communicate - communication by writing or speaking can aid clarification. But one must feel "safe" with the recipient of such a communication.

Indulgence means to react to/on the thoughts/impulses. This means to either deny it and punish yourself for thinking such a thing, or give in to the urges and impulses thus hurting self or others.

Acceptance is doing nothing. Just being. Being with the inner situation. Observing it at deeper and deeper levels and gaining an insight into the way that you got it constructed. And at some point during the process, you will be able to "de-structure" it and a transformation will take place. It will be replaced by a more positive attitude that you can choose.

Because, the inner critic is so ingrained in the subconscious mind, acceptance takes practice, and sometimes needs the guidance of a therapist. This is because paradox on top of paradox can occur in the process and cause confusion.

See Also:

Optimism: How to Avoid Negative Thinking
Have you ever wondered why some people feel down and defeated when faced with difficult situations, while others feel challenged and hopeful? Or why some people get all worked up and angry over small inconveniences and disagreements, while others respond more positively?

Remembering Our Past as a Positive Gateway to Our Future
Do you realize that your past experiences hold the key to a better future! Each of us can learn to unlock the door to a better future by understanding the promise that exists in our own unique memories.

Derek has been in practice as a registered therapist (UK) since 1976 and has helped many people, realize their goals and improve the quality of their life, on a face to face basis, in groups and on line. He is a Zen practitioner and this reflects in his work. http://www.ayrehypnotherapy.co.uk

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