Where I Was (August & September) & Where I Am (October)

*(Just a heads-up: My Inner Critic’s voice is mocking and hurtful (especially in the Inner Dialogue Exercise). Putting this warning up in case you are trying to avoid that sort of energy right now.)*

Life Changes

The last couple of months have brought some big life changes. One of the largest being I moved. Another big life change was my counsellor had a session ( I wasn’t there) with my parents, which opened my eyes to a new reality for our relationship. My parents seem certain that they have no role to play in the dynamics of our relationship. They are willing to “help me” with “whatever I am feeling”, but see it as having nothing to do with them. They say they are very confused by it all. They think I should not be upset now or upset about the past, they think my problem is I won’t “accept the truth”. Of course they don’t usually say it as straightforward as that, but that is the general message. I was left feeling invisible and wrong for the emotions I have. And I saw, finally, that I needed to pull back from the relationship. In truth there has never been much of a relationship, and in all likelihood there never will be. The realizations were painful and upsetting, and especially difficult as I was also in the stressful process of moving.

A New Space For Growth

As I’ve pulled away from my parents, I’ve gotten more space to feel my own feelings. I’ve come to see how alone and isolated I’ve always been in life. These last couple of months have felt like a descent into a mysterious depth, where I now feel stuck. But stuck isn’t really the best word for where I am. Maybe it’s more like some hurting side of me is finally stepping fully forward now. This hurting side of me feels a new safety forming in the growing distance between me and my family. This hurting part of me is right at the surface now, and it’s disorienting and painful, and hard to function and take care of all my responsibilities. The weight and intensity of the hurting part’s feelings feels strong enough to shatter me from the inside out. To destroy me. I feel such an inner pressure.

But I do not believe this hurting part is trying to destroy me. I believe it is seeking help. It is starting to trust that I, my real self, may actually try to listen and help it. And she is right. I am determined this time to figure out how to help her – to listen, to believe, and to try not to judge. However this feels like a near impossible task, because there is another side of me that appears slicker, smarter and more powerful than this hurting side of me, and that is my Inner Critic.

Inner Critic Part/Emotionally Hurting Part

I am observing the emotional hurting side of me is held in like a hostage. It seems so clear to me I am in therapy to get the hurting side of me help, yet she is almost never allowed to speak during my sessions. It’s nonsensical, but feels largely out of my control. During this healing process, I have found an Inner Parent part of me. My Inner Parent speaks with a comforting and loving voice. And I can only assume my Inner Parent is who sought out therapy for my hurting part.

Yet I am observing over and over that when the intensely hurting part comes to the surface, my Inner Parent goes completely missing. I can not access it anymore. And instead of being met by the Inner Parent the hurting part instantly faces the Inner Critic. It’s as if the mere appearance of the hurting part, is the cue for my inner system to get the Inner Critic side online. The Inner Critic presents itself and simply sounds to me like the voice of “the truth/logic/reality”. It has an objective air. Yet when I listen deeply, or imagine it as a 3rd party speaking to me , I hear the Inner Critic’s voice as invalidating, mocking, harsh, threatening, and pressuring. I hear hate.

Furthermore I’ve observed that as my emotionally hurting part feels more and more overwhelmed, upset, or alone the Inner Critic becomes more and more aggressive and hateful. Sometimes it may appear as if the Inner Critic is trying to “get me help”, but it’s in such a frustrated way. It brings the hurting part of me to therapy with an attitude of “What is WRONG with YOU!”. It sounds like: “Can anyone fix this useless stupid emotional person. Give her a diagnosis or something, she won’t just shut up and be happy. She should be happy. She is annoying everyone! Bringing everyone down.”

My Inner Critic keeps my hurting side largely silent to the world and somehow silent even to myself (a large part of this silence is I do not recognize my feelings as my own. It’s like I don’t feel my own feelings.) I do not fully understand how the hurting part is silenced, maybe it is through fear of embarrassment or shame. However it seems that unless my hurting side finds a voice (whether it’s to me, my therapist, or someone else), it is unlikely to receive help from anyone.

An Inner Dialogue Exercise: Giving My Hurting Side A Voice

The emotionally hurting side of me has been very intense and at the surface recently and I recognize it must get help. I did the following exercise a few days ago in an attempt to get some clarity on what was going on inside the emotional hurting part of me. In this exercise I observed how difficult it is for the emotional part of me to speak and be heard. Not because she is silent or has nothing to say, but rather because the moment she starts to speak the Inner Critic shows up and starts speaking over her in an argumentative and aggressive manner. This is an example of what that Inner Dialogue sounds like in my mind:

Emotional Side: So, I am really hurting. What I need help with is….

Critic: (Interrupts) Haha, so many have had it so much worse than you. What a joke!

Emotional Side: Yeah, I know, I’m just focusing on healing my heart right now.

Critic: Of what! You are always so dramatic and self focused

Emotional Side: (trying to just ignore it and speak) Um, so when I was a little girl

Critic: You are still such a little girl…it’s pathetic. Everyone thinks it.

Emotional Side: (getting upset now) Um so, when I was younger, um, my family was always miserable, no love or tenderness or joy was really ever shown to anyone from anyone and

Critic: That’s everyone’s story…you’re being dramatic

Emotional Side: Please stop! Why are you doing this! (continued begging to stop)

Critic: More evidence you are dramatic. Just stop, this is stupid.You are embarrassing yourself.

Emotional Side: Just let me talk

Critic: About what? Your “trauma’

Emotional Side: About what I love, what I want

Critic: How cute…

Emotional Side: I love people. They are all so mysterious. I love nature, music, art, and poetry. I love being together with all this beautiful whatever we are. But my favorite thing by far is people.

Critic: Wow, ever looked around. People are horrible. Destroying the earth. You can’t trust any of them. Name anyone, I can make you turn on them. All are hurtful and ugly. They hide in darkness who they really are.

Emotional Side: Humans are a world unto themselves. Mystery and beauty. All mixed together.

Critic: Sorry, but look at the world

Emotional Side: Why are you doing this!

Critic: It’s true

Emotional Side: Who are you? Tell me your past

Critic: I don’t have one

Emotional Side: Yeah you do. You seem to “know” so much.

Critic: ………I just know they are ugly. I’ve seen.

Emotional Side: Seen what? I’ve seen beauty, mixed, but beauty. Like all of nature, it’s mixed. I love flowers in spring, but when the plant turns brown and dries up and sits ugly in the garden. I don’t give up hope for the flowers or reject the beauty I saw. The plant has beauty, that still stands. Each person is like that I think. A mixed bag, the ugly doesn’t negate the beautiful.

Critic: But the beauty doesn’t negate the ugly either

Emotional Side: True. But I feel I can love what I see. I do love what I see. I mean I certainly am just like all of that. A mixed bag. I think you are trying to protect me from the ugly side, because it can hurt. But I think I’m building myself up to be able to face it better. I’m learning new ways of thinking and understanding.

Critic: It won’t last. You always come crawling back to me. You will be torn apart.

Emotional Side: Maybe, but the beauty’s been real. And I’m curious why do you think I come back to you? What are you providing?

Critic: I take care of you. You are naive. You think they love you. No one does. It’s interesting though, because you do love them. But I often convince you that your love is broken to protect you. It’s easier for you to take the blame then to hear the truth – no one loves you.

Emotional Side: Do you love me?

Critic: Yes, Of course.You’re beautiful.

Emotional Side: (Overwhelmed, crying) … I didn’t know that. I thought I was broken, a problem.

Critic: I know, I’m sorry, it felt necessary.

Emotional Side: Is it still necessary?

Critic: Less so. But you’ll be scared.

Emotional Side: Okay, I am scared.

Critic: That’s okay. I’ll try to be easier on you. We can build on your passions. I know you enjoy them.

Emotional Side: Thanks, it’s been really hard hasn’t it? Being so alone, loving everyone so much, but seeing so much misery. Feeling powerless, and powerful all at once. Intensity and emotions in secrecy. The loneliness and confusion.

Critic: Yes, it’s been hard. We were placed in a line of trauma.

Emotional Side: Thank you so much for validating that. It has been hard. But I’m here to start changing that aren’t I?

Critic: Yes. Your parents contributed some, and you are going to take that and run for you children.

Emotional Side: Yes, yes, that’s exactly what I want. But I’m so worried, I know I’m struggling with all these changes and new ways of being. Living love and living trust is so hard. I’m very afraid.

Critic: That all makes sense. I’m very proud of you already though. And others are too, even if they don’t have the words to say it. This is a beautiful task, just the picking it up, it will mean something to your children.

Emotional Side: I worry it won’t, that I’m lying to myself. That maybe I should be doing something else. Just like the feeling I’m not doing enough. How do I balance self care and care for them?

Critic: You are figuring it out, keep going. This is hard.

Emotional Side: I’m so surprised to see you turned motivator. Is this really the Inner Critic not the Inner Parent?

Critic: I think we might be the same figure. Maybe in different settings. We both want the same thing at least, to keep you safe.

Emotional Side: So I was safe being attacked by you?

Critic: Yes, I thought the environment was not safe for you.

Emotional Side: My parents are not safe?

Critic: They don’t do it to hurt you. But yes, they are not safe. Not until you gain more strength in yourself.

Emotional Side: Is it safe now? (The new space away from them)

Critic: Yes.

Emotional Side: But you still attack me, shame me?

Critic: I am nervous too.

Emotional Side: (laughing) You do sound like a parent.

Critic: I am.

Emotional Side: Well, maybe seeing this side of you will help me handle your rants better. I can recognize you are nervous and doubting as opposed to certain. You aren’t the voice of truth, more a voice of worries about my safety.

Critic: Hopefully we will figure it out. I don’t want to tear you down. Only keep you safe, The beautiful, good, and true.

Emotional Side: But I’m ugly too right?

Critic: Yep, like everyone else.

Emotional Side: But we grow the beauty I guess, enjoy it, seek it out, nourish it, encourage it?

Critic: That makes sense to me. But honestly, I’m not passionate and emotional like you are. That’s all you. I just sit back and enjoy it. You are the beautiful, good, and true.

Interesting Take Aways

I was basing that write up off an inner dialogue I had a few days ago. But as I wrote it up from memory, it started taking a new turn and I went with it. I feel I learned something big here. I have never seen my Inner Critic be so kind. I’m sort of left speechless and unsure. Did the Inner Parent take over or was that really the Critic? Or are they really the same? Maybe the Inner Parent voice I thought of as “new” from this healing journey was really just the “new goal” of the Inner Critic. Maybe the Inner Critic has been learning and growing alongside all the other parts of me this whole time. I’m really not sure. I’ll have to give this time to sink in and reflect. But I definitely felt an inner ally inside, one I’m not used to.

More Reflections Given More Time:

  • I feel when the Inner Critic speaks of “others”, it is referring to my family of origin as opposed to the world at large. Which makes sense if the Inner Critic part was formed in childhood.
  • It would be nice if the Inner Critic praised me more often. It seems to see a good side of the emotional me, but rarely does it ever speak in a proud or supportive way. I need to practice encouraging and supporting myself, and also actually accepting my own encouragement and praise.
  • The more I reflect, with adult eyes, on how my Inner Critic tends to speak the more I see the dynamics of my family growing up through a different lens. I’ve always “sided” with my father. And by that I mean I’ve seen reality through his eyes for most of my life. He was the hero. However, as I am gaining strength and gaining my own perspective, I am starting to see the past actions and words of my father in a new light. Something about the tone and attitude of the Inner Critic strikes me as very similar to how he treated my mother when I was growing up. His past actions and words I used to view as having “protected” me or himself now appear (whether intended to or not) incredibly harmful to our family. They seem inappropriate and disproportionate. It’s a lot to process, and I am in the thick of that now.

11 thoughts on “Where I Was (August & September) & Where I Am (October)

  1. I totally relate to struggling with the harsh inner critic, as well as healing from an emotionally abusive relationship with a parent (my mother). I’m here to say that it is possible to do the inner work of healing!

    Here are a few things I learned on my healing journey, which I hope will be helpful to you:

    1) We are deeply loved by the universe, which has our back and is conspiring on our behalf to help us!

    2) Damaged people hurt others, healthy people don’t. When our parents hurt us, they do so from their damaged areas. They may not even have started on their own healing, so hoping for a heartfelt apology from someone who may still be in deep denial, can be difficult to accept. Better to gently let them go mentally, to find the path to their own healing.

    3) We don’t simply shut off the inner Critic, instead, we practice speaking gently to ourselves when the inner critic surfaces. The Inner Critic is the accumulation of all the lies and hurt we have internalized over the years, either directly by what was said to us, or indirectly by how we were treated.

    A few years ago I realized that I didn’t like myself, and that was what gave rise to my Inner Critic, so I set out to teach myself to like myself! I had to start very slowly, and with generalizations, because anything specifically positive didn’t sound right to me!

    Every thought we have creates a Neural Pathway, and when we have a lot of the same types of thoughts, wide and deep roads get laid down in our brains! This is how habits are formed! To change those pathways we can’t simply go in and remove those Neural Pathways! We need to create brand new positive ones! Over time we build up new healthier roadways, while the old negative ones gradually fade away from misuse!

    This process doesn’t feel natural for a while in the beginning, so please persevere! It does eventually take root, but it will take time, depending on how deep and wide your negative Neural Pathways are!

    Remember, we have the power to change our thoughts!

    I’m going to share one of my posts where I speak about this, and you will find more links at the bottom for more encouragement and support!

    https://tamarakulish.com/2021/09/21/teaching-ourselves-to-like-even-to-love-ourselves-is-the-best-gift-we-can-give-ourselves/

    I’m also writing a new post, which was inspired by this and you’ll be receiving a ping-back when it publishes tomorrow morning!

    I wish you well on your healing journey to create new positive Neural Pathways to nourish and support yourself!

    Blessings!
    Tamara Kulish
    https://tamarakulish.com/

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    1. It is so kind of you to reach out to me with encouragement and help. It means a lot to me, thank you ❤️.

      I do relate so much to what you’ve shared here. Especially that sentence about how the positive things we say at first to ourselves don’t seem right!

      How this is all connected to our neural pathways being practiced or not makes sense to me too. It does feel like in order to make a shift in how I treat myself I can’t simply say “no more harsh inner critic”, I have to learn a new way of being. And I do see signs that is slowly happening with the development of my Inner Parent side. 🙂 After writing this post I realized my Inner Critic usually doesn’t attack the Inner Parent messages, it gives me a lot of hope that that internal attitude of the Inner Parent is in fact the direction I am learning towards. It will just take a lot of practice to get those neural pathways strong and for them to become the “new norm”, right now I fall back to the Inner Critic a lot because it’s so familiar I guess.

      Thank you so much for sharing all your insights with me. Reflecting on them has helped me gain a confidence that I’m moving along in the right path. That this all makes sense. And that knowledge makes me feel so much better. 🌸 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your words bring me joy! I’m delighted to see that you’re seeing yourself in a new light!

        It’s important to remember that the negative and harsh tone that the Inner Critic sends us is just theories we have internalized and don’t represent the truth of who we are and who we can become!

        Keep speaking encouraging and supportive words to yourself! With time they will feel much more normal!

        Blessings! Have a wonderful day!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing work.. I could recognize the parts of the IC that seemed to be an introject and served as part of the self care system which Donald Kalsched explores a lot in his book on the Inner World of Trauma.. but its powerful to see that that part of you does have a very strong and deep seeing side and is not bound by artificial sentiment so it can really help you.. What a wonderful breakthrough for it to be supporting you more now.
    I also had a thought those feelings of overwhelm speak to me of how alone you felt growing up… the work and feelings and tasks and journey so often feels overwhelming especially as the full impact of them begins to finally be felt but the truth is you can manage this.. I use the Day At A Time slogan to make things like this more manageable.. if you can honestly hold one feeling or do one task a day you will get there..

    I am so glad you are going through this amazing breakthrough.. Do you mind me asking your date and year of birth?
    Hugs and love
    Deborah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective on my post. You are always so insightful! I’ve never heard of an introject part of an Inner Critic, I’ll have to look that up. It helps me help myself to see how the system of our minds tend to work.

      One task or feeling a day makes sense. I have been trying to go easier on myself, and what I’m expecting of myself each day at this current time. 🙂

      I try to stay anonymous on here right now. Sorry 🙁Are you interested in my birthday to look into astrology? If it’s a wide range of dates for types I can look up the info and send it to you.

      Hope you are well! 🌺

      Like

      1. I’m interested I your planetary aspects as I feel you have a string Saturn contact to one of your personal planets but its fine..I totally respect your anonymity.

        I had a really good day today. Thank you. 💖

        Like

  3. Love this. We always have in us the inner critic, as we have been treated by others when little. Embracing ourselves while the inner critic comes up with things…, accepting it is us too…, the inner critic once seen instead of ignored, might lessen somewhat… This came up for me as I read the dialog above. Very nice. I like it very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and your perspective! ❤️ This was a hard post for me to share, so it means so much to hear your supportive words about it.

      I do agree, from my experience arguing with or pushing the Inner Critic away does not seem to quiet it down. Whereas after this exercise I am finding an extended period of some peace from the Inner Critic. It does seem to help to see it as us, and to try to figure out what it thinks it is contributing to us.

      Like

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