Is Your Inner Critic Toxic?

Toxic?I’ve recently read the article Three Steps To Confronting Your Inner Critic by Olga SantoTomásMonroe. I was struck be the combative tone of the article.

“We all know who our Inner Critic is—the internal voice that is our own worst enemy, judge, and jury that paralyzes our ability to go after what we want. Our Inner Critic is powerful. It is so powerful that we tragically think we cant manifest our goals; we become convinced that the best outcome couldn’t possibly transpire. When faced with our Inner Critic, how do we keep our motivation going? How do we successfully fight something that lives within us?

Here are five basic steps on how to confront and control your Inner Critic:

Your Inner Critic is toxic. Allow yourself the gift of dis-empowering and controlling it. When you feel yourself succumbing to your Inner Critic, stop the battle raging within you and start the five basic steps above. Regain control. Defeat your Inner Critic.”

There is no doubt that our inner critics can be a pain and very destructive. They can get in the way and give us a hard time. But are they really toxic and do we have to fight them, confront them and regain control

It is an appealing argument. Why wouldn’t we want to beat our inner critics down after they have given us such a hard time?

I think there are better ways to deal with our inner critics.

Read more

Are you having trouble with your identities?


Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself;
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman – Song of myself

We call ourselves, or are called by others, four names: “I”, “myself”, “me” and “you”.

These identifiers and identities can be great helps or hindrances to us, but they are often used and seldom examined although we talk about them all the time.

How often have you heard people say things like:

  • “I am happy”, “I am depressed” or “I am not good enough”?
  • “I give myself a hard time”, “I hate myself”?
  • “There must be something wrong with me”, “What is the matter with me?”?

How often have you heard (in your own head):

  • “You are so stupid”, “Who do you think you are?”, “You idiot!!!”?

There’s more to you than meets the ‘I’

Each of these sentences address parts of our identity. The parts of ourselves labelled ‘I’, ‘myself’, ‘me’ and ‘you’. Most of us are under the impression that there is just one of us. In everyday use being just one person is very convenient,  but within each of us is a collection of I-s, me-s, myself-s and you-s: mini identities that we learnt along our way through life.

Some of those mini-identities are helpful to us – “I am a quick learner”, “I am good enough”, “People like me”

Some of those mini-identities are not – “I am stupid”, ” I am not good enough”, “Nobody likes me”.

You might think that these are just descriptions, of course I think “I am a quick learner” because I learn quickly. Of course “I am stupid’ because I can’t learn anything”.

I am going to suggest that they are also prescriptions that guide our experience, and that it is just as reasonable to say that “I  can learn quickly because I am a quick learner” or “I can’t learn anything because I am stupid”.

Having beliefs about ourselves can be powerfully influential – for good or ill.

How to find your identities

Most of the time these beliefs are below our level of consciousness,  in the way that fish are not aware of the water they swim in, we are not often aware of these ideas about ourselves. It’s just our reality. But there are ways to spot them and bring them out into the open.

When we listen to other people we can quite easily hear them tell us who they think they are: “I am stupid”, “I am not good enough”, etc. That is because we are on the outside looking in and it’s much easier to recognise someone else’s thought processes than our own.

There is a way that we can identify some of our own limiting identity beliefs that is surprisingly simple, using our own built in sense of what feels true.

For example: repeat each of these sentences out loud and give them a score from 0 to 10 based on how true they feel. Where 0 is completely false and 10 is completely true.

  • The sun rises in the east and sets in the west
  • The sun rises in the west and sets in the east

This is not a test of the logic of the statement, just how true it feels.

Once we ‘know’ something we use this quick feeling method of deciding how true or false something is. If we didn’t have this innate sense of somethings truth then if we were asked where does the sun rise we would either have to look in an astronomy book or wait until the next morning with a compass in our hand to find out. It makes sense that we have a quick way of assessing whether something is true for us.

Here’s another one to try which is a bit more personal.

Once again say each sentence out loud and listen for its level of truth.

  • I am a man
  • I am a woman

Depending on your gender one of those is going to feel more true than the other.

Now that you have a simple way of assessing your beliefs about your inner world we can use it to see if any of these limiting identity ideas apply to you.

In the lists below there are a collection of identity beliefs, conflicts and inner criticism that I have heard from my clients as I’ve worked with them. The list is not exhaustive, the range of possible identity beliefs is huge.

Repeat each sentence out loud and get a sense of how they resonate with you. They may feel completely true (10) to you or just like a collection of words (0) or somewhere in between. Please note that this is not a scientifically validated test, or even a quiz you might find in a lifestyle magazine, it’s just a way of indicating what might have relevance to you.

I am …

  • I am not good enough
  • I am worthless
  • I am stupid
  • I am disgusting

I … myself

  • I hate myself
  • I give myself a hard time
  • I am ashamed of myself
  • I am angry with myself

There is … with me

  • There is something wrong with me.
  • I don’t know what the matter is with me

You are … (in the voice of your inner critic)

  • You are stupid!
  • You are useless!
  • You are disgusting!
  • You idiot!

If you found that some of those had an emotional charge on them you might be thinking “things are worse than I thought”.

Inner Peacemaking

Fortunately, although these identity ideas can be powerful and debilitating they are not obligatory. Whatever they are, they were learnt as you went through life and they can be unlearnt.

Most of my therapeutic work is spent helping people unlearn these patterns of thinking and behaviour using a mixture of EFT and NLP.  You can read about Identity Relief, one of the methods I use to dissolve identity beliefs here and here.

If you are a therapist who wants an effective way of working with these difficulties you might be interested in the Inner Peacemaking courses I run.

AAMET EFT Level 2 Training – Newcastle – October 8th & 9th

AAMETThis AAMET EFT Level 2 training is intended for therapists, counsellors, social workers and others in the helping professions who wish to add this extremely effective method to their repertoire.

What you will get from this training

  • How clients restrict their experience of the world with limiting beliefs and how to use EFT to detect and remove those limitations.
  • Ways to approach difficult issues with the minimum of distress to the client. EFT is already a very gentle way to neutralise trauma, in this training you will learn how to soften the process still further.
  • Approaches to finding the core issues, events and beliefs that hold clients trapped in a problem. Once these core issues have been identified and resolved the problems associated with them can be rapidly dealt with.
  • Different ways to address physical issues including how to discover and resolve contributing emotional factors.
  • How to use EFT over the phone and in groups

On completion of the training and the successful submission of three case studies you will receive an AAMET EFT Practitioner certificate. You need to have successfully completed an EFT Level 1 before taking this course.

The training will be on Saturday 8th October & Sunday 9th October at St Oswald’s Hospice Teaching Centre, Gosforth, Newcastle.

Fees: £175 if paid before September 1st, £225 thereafter.

For more information email or call 0754 700 9116.

Have You Decided To Be Free?

A short while ago I was running an AAMET EFT Level 1 training in Newcastle and one of the participants asked me a question I’ve never been asked before.

She said that although she had some experience with EFT and had used it on and off for a while she found it difficult to motivate herself to use it consistently.

“How do you motivate yourself to use EFT regularly?”

After a moment’s thought my answer was:

“You need to decide to be free”

I think this is a fundamental shift in attitude that is required for someone to take the many self-help tools and techniques that are available and make use of them.

I suspect that many people read books, attend workshops or trainings and are wow-ed by the results they get but quickly forget to use the techniques they have learned and slip back into their uncomfortable (but familiar) way of life.

If you want to get the best you can from your technique of choice: meditation, EFT, NLP, (insert your favourite three-letter acronym here) then you need to make a decision that you have had enough of things as they are and want to have a different experience of life. I think you have to make this commitment at some level to get long-term benefit from these processes. Otherwise you will just be a dabbler, trying this book, that workshop, each new technique and miracle cure that comes along. To get the benefits of the technique you need to do the work.

“… Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”

– W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition

The moment you decide you want to be free of your old reactions and responses I think your relationship to your techniques of choice changes, from looking for something that will miraculously fix you, to something you can use to change your experience of life.

This kind of decision takes care of questions of motivation because the response to our unhelpful reactions and responses shifts from ‘Can I be bothered to work on this?’ or ‘Have I got time to change this?’ to ‘Why on earth would I want to keep this old response?’ and ‘What can I do to change this?’. Making the change after that may be an effort but it isn’t a chore.

So, have you decided to be free?

Image courtesy of mattw1s0n

Inner Peacemaking With EFT – July 9th – Newcastle

An Advanced EFT Training

Many people are victims to disabling beliefs about themselves and persistent inner critics.

As a part of growing up we create a number of beliefs or ideas about ourselves. If we are fortunate enough to grow up in a loving and supportive environment we will build a constructive identity, We might think or say to ourselves – I am a good person, I am capable, I am confident, I am worthy.

We might also internalise positive thoughts about ourselves to the point that we have our own internal coach and mentor, encouraging us and offering reassurance and advice to us when things get difficult.

Many of us however have managed to learn some unhelpful ideas about ourselves and have internalised critical others into our own thought processes so that we feel badly about ourselves, limit ourselves and give ourselves a hard time.

We might think about ourselves:

  • I am a bad person
  • There is something wrong with me
  • I am a failure
  • I am a disappointment
  • I hate myself
  • and so on …

We might have a critical voice in our head saying (or shouting)

  • You idiot, how could you have been so stupid
  • Who do you think you are?
  • You will never amount to anything
  • You are useless
  • and so on …

If we are really unlucky the combination of negative identity beliefs and inner criticism can be completely debilitating. These patterns of thought and behaviour run deep and can be difficult to deal with using standard EFT.

In this one day workshop Andy Hunt will teach you how to use two new EFT based techniques to retrain or retire your inner critics and dissolve unhelpful ‘I am …’ beliefs. These processes are gentle and effective.

This training is only available to EFT Level 2 (or above) practitioners. Although it is an advanced technique intended for use with clients, it can also be used as a self -development technique.

In this one day experiential training you will learn how to:

  • identify and isolate the inner critic(s)
  • neutralise the inner critic, taking what is worthwhile in that criticism and letting go of everything else.
  • identify the three types of unhelpful identity patterns
  • use tapping and the ‘compassion bubble to dissolve the I am … type of identity belief

To take advantage of this course, you will need to bring some of your own unhelpful identity beliefs and your inner critics for retiring or retraining.

This practical, skills based training will include demonstrations, discussion and pair practice of the techniques.

Time & Venue

The training takes place between 9:30 am and 5:30 pm on July 9th at St Oswald’s Hospice Teaching Centre, Regent Ave, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 1EE.

Training Fees

There are only 12 places available, the first six places will cost just £95, the remaining places will be £115.

To book your place email me, the first 6 will be allocated in order of arrival of the emails.

If you want to know more about the background of this work you can watch a slide show presentation of some of this work given at the EFT Gathering 2011 in Ilkely.

A Simple, Portable Pick-Me-Up

A portable pick me upHere’s a simple technique based on the NLP Solitaire process that can be a useful pick me up when you are feeling a little down. All you need is a pack of blank study cards and a little time to get things started.

One way of thinking of these cards is as though they are an emotional snap shot album of all your best moments. As you know, you will start to feel good if you look through a favourite snap shot album.

On each blank card write a few words that describe a happy or (positive) powerful life experience. You don’t need to write an essay, just a few words that bring the experience to mind.

Read what you’ve written for a moment and step back into that experience to really enjoy it. Relive that moment in delicious detail, seeing what you saw, hearing what you heard and feeling what you felt. Make the recall of it as full and vital as you can.

Continue adding to your collection of ‘happy cards’. You will need at least 20 cards, the more the better. You can add extra cards to the collection at any time.

You will probably find the process of creating the happy cards very enjoyable in itself.

When you need a pick-me-up, or are bothered by something, or you are in a mood that’s difficult to shake off.

  • Make a mental note of how you are feeling.
  • Randomly select on of your happy cards.
  • Read the description on the card and once more step back into that experience.
  • After a short while, if you are still feeling out of sorts, pick another card, read the description and step into that happy experience.
  • Keep reading and ‘stepping into’ the experiences on the cards until your mood lifts.
  • How are you feeling now? How does that compare to how you were when you began?

When you think of other positive experiences, or have some new ones, make a note of them on a blank card and add them to your collection.

Please note: If the unhappy experience you are having at the moment is very severe this process may not be as helpful as some of the other EFT and NLP techniques that are available.

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