I have written a lot in the last few weeks about people being stuck. Stuck in relationships, in a rut or stuck generally. For codependents, this feeling is made worse by their general thinking patterns and the fear of loss and being alone. However, in my work with clients generally and codependents especially, I have identified three styles of thinking that determine how anyone will behave in any situation. This observation comes from my inner child work with clients and looking at the internal family that exists around the child or wounded core (they are one and the same). Even though, readers of this blog might have identified other thinking influences, these are in my opinion, the three that are paramount in the way people think and subsequently behave. Once identified, it is then a process to negate negative thinking and promote the realistic. Firstly, let us look closely at the three styles identified:
The Inner Critical Voice
We all have one but some of us listen to it more than others. It is part of us and formed in childhood to warn us against dysfunction or potential risk. The inner critic could also have been formed from boundaries that were too strict or not strict enough. It is very strong in children who were abused or neglected in some way. In the same way we listened to it as children when it warned us against upsetting our parents or taking a risk, we listen to it as adults when it says the same thing. The inner critic has roots deep into our past and this is the voice that will berate us, insult us, use “shoulds and musts” to let us know we have failed or will fail in anything we want to do. Understanding this means to understand that the critical voice is protecting us from what we feed into our minds in terms of dysfunction. An example….leaving a toxic relationship will spark the inner critic into life reminding us of what we fear…loss, being alone. It will tell us we “should” stay otherwise we have “failed”. Its arguments are very convincing and its goal is to keep us locked under its control, basically doing nothing to avoid pain, rejection, new starts, etc, etc. The problem is that we often see this as good advice or a solution. It will keep us stuck in a cycle of indecision.
The Inner Rebel
This dysfunctional voice will promote either complete avoidance or impulsive, spontaneous behavior that will lead to action without thought. Formed again in childhood, it is the basis for counterdepedency and running away. While we can easily detach ourselves physically, often an emotional attachment exists and is still a focal point of thinking. This voice will give you clear messages based on you getting away from a situation. Not only will it tell you to travel to the other side of the world, it will quite calmly tell you to avoid conflict, shut down or keep your views to yourself. Where the critic promotes the insulting message, the rebel will offer a way out with avoidance and impulsive thinking. People who suffer from addictions often listen to the escapism promoted by the inner rebel. ” Forget all this trouble…take that drink, use that drug, but that product you don’t need…you know you want to and you will feel better”. It is the King and Queen of instant gratification. Listen to this, you will act without responsibility. The Inner Critic and the Inner rebel will often work together to berate you, insult you, make you act impulsively or avoid and then berate you again. A vicious cycle of thinking that will leave you in an extremely bad place.
The Inner Parent, Champion, Motivator
The true voice of reason and functionality in the internal family. Listen to this and you will not go far wrong. Many people will disregard this voice because it often means change or a change in thinking. Many people who are stuck in situations are very good at finding evidence to convince themselves that the inner champion voice is truly the dysfunctional one and needs to be disregarded. However, this is just the voice to listen to. If this is done consistently and the messages listened to, it will negate its more negative counterparts. The Inner Parent will help you to counter the other concepts by motivating you with realism and reason to move out of any given situation by helping you to set boundaries and meet your own needs.
If you find yourself in a place where the inner critic and the inner rebel are dominant, you will no doubt be second guessing yourself as what is the correct path. I always find the following helps :
1. On a piece of paper, draw three column In the first and third column, write rebel and critic.
2. Write down as much input as you can from these two concepts. For example, evidence of should, musts and anything that contain messages of impulsivity and avoidance.
3. Try to work out what the critic or rebel is trying to protect you from. What is the purpose of their input? How much is true? How much do I believe? How is it making me feel and behave
4. In the second column, write inner Parent, Champion or Motivator. In this column, write a more realistic version of the input in 3. What can I do to counter the arguments of the critic and rebel? Is it in my interest to listen to them and what would be the consequences of that? What can I do to meet my needs in this moment? What do I need to get through this ?
Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a Counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies globally. Online therapy is, in my experience, effective for treating a number of major conditions. Are you having issues that you need to talk through? I have a range of plans that can help you get the help you need. Online Therapy details : Here ……