One of my goals of therapy with Internal Family Systems (IFS) is to redirect/gently reprimand my “inner critic.” An inner critic is part of that little voice in your head (the ego) that keeps you awake at night and often causes you to criticize yourself or worry like crazy. Do you have one of these little voices? In a recent post, I named my inner critic Herman (although why my inner critic is a guy and not a girl is not something I care to analyze, because my inner critic certainly looks like a girl in my mind’s eye, but I guess I just wanted to give her an unflattering name! She’s kind of a pain in my ass!).
My Annoying Friend Herman(itta)
So my girl Herman (Hermanitta?) is constantly giving me a hard time. I wrote a poem about how I feel about her with She Shrieks My Anxiety, because she is always going off on random ridiculous and often annoying tangents in my mind. She obsesses, judges, makes me feel guilty, tries to get me to conform, let’s me know when I’ve done something less than stellar (Again and AGAIN!!) and she lets me know that I need to work harder at forcing (love bites) the universe into getting my own way (see I can blame someone else! HER!! IT was HER!). Sometimes she won’t let me rest at night because her chatting, conniving and bossing is incessant. In An Untethered Soul by Michael Singer…he envisions the “Ego” or Inner Critic as a friend of yours (Hence Herman, you skank). If that little voice was someone you were hanging out with, would you tolerate all the utter bullshit that comes out of her bitchy-ass mouth? Of course not! You’d punch that ho right in the kisser!! See ya!
And yes, I have to admit that sometimes she’s the one who whispers stories in my ears that turn into writing. So I guess she’s not all bad! That’s the whole idea of Internal Family Systems, that there is no “enemy” part of self. There are just parts that get out of line and it’s our job, as the true “self” to get these rogue parts back in line. We have to find these rogue operatives and let them know their off book maneuvers are not appreciated in this town! And dammit, I’m the sheriff of this here town! (I Shot the Sheriff…but I didn’t…) Shut up your mouth Herman!!
I’m Holding a Full House and I Win…What??
I found this website that neatly outlines the different kinds of inner critics and baby, I’ve got um all. Full House! Read um and weep, suckas! Oh wait…yeah…that’s actually a problem for me. Hmmmm.
You can find the list here: IFS Growth Programs
The Rogue Operatives in my Crime Family
After reading this and getting a good handle on the kinds of critics that I have (every last one, dammit) I now know exactly what I need to work on to bring these rogue operatives back into the loving fold of da family. (We’re a crime syndicate, what of it?) I also like how I have rogue operative(s) plural. Yup…I have a whole house full of spies (dormatory) that are on the LAM and it’s my job to corral these sons of bitches back into my warm loving crime family arms. Sounds like a big job…but someone’s got to do it! (I’ve been watching a bit too much Burn Notice lately!! ha!)
So let’s look at (analyze) a few of these operatives and see what we’re working with.
Right away on the list is my old friend the Perfectionist (Just one of the lovely character traits associated with panic attacks, anxiety and depression (the three amigos!))
I’ve always assumed that I need to be perfect. I think this is because it’s very easy to assume that everyone around you is perfect since you don’t see or hear about all their struggles. I don’t live inside anyone else’s mind (unfortunately, what a trip that would be) so I can’t imagine the kinds of struggles that others have. So it’s pretty damn easy to assume that they are perfect and I am not and in order to appear perfect, I must work very very hard because I am a terribly flawed and damaged person. My old Perfectionist Operative likes to tell me to do everything perfectly and this means everything. Job tasks or projects, even social interactions must be perfect and if they’re not…by god the Guilt Tripper Operative will be right there to remind me how I screwed up…and these memories will be alive for YEARS in my mind, allowing me to experience shame whenever Herman wants. I don’t even have to DO anything today, to feel the guilt and shame of yesterday. How nice!
Moving on to the Underminer Operative who stomps on your self worth at every turn. You are not good enough, you will never succeed. Don’t even bother trying because you know you’ve always been a failure! Yup…the Underminer has some really good shit talking skills and along with the Destroyer Operative, these two will take down your self respect in a one-two punch combo that is just about deadly. One of the best lines that spoke to me on the website I listed above is under the Destroyer. Her words: “(The Destroyer) is motivated by a belief that it is safer not to exist.” Good lord! But you know what….that’s truth. The destroyer does think that death is much easier than struggling with life. It’s certainly safer! I mean damn…nothing will happen to you at all if you’re dead! Whoaaa.
Moving right along is the Molder Operative. The molder wants me to be just like everyone else. If I get a little crazy, do something rash or even post something a bit over the top…the Molder is right there to tell me to bring myself back into line! The Molder does not want anyone judging us and finding us wanting (We’re really a very nice crime family! Don’t let ANYONE tell you different or they’ll be swimming with the fishes!!). So yeah…the Molder hates my free spirit. She despises my writing and every time I post something or read a few pages in my novel…she’s right there to remind me that I’m out of line. Me…the true self…OUT OF ORDER! What a bitch.
Next is our friend the Taskmaster Operative. She wants me to work my ass off. She is not satisfied until I’ve done just about everything damn thing I can think of. She pushed me like crazy to write my book and then pushed me even harder to publish. Once marketing came along, guess who was riding me! I was like…quit RIDING ME!!! She even pushes and pushes me to get a new job. And then recently my inner procrastinator has reared her ugly head because dammit no one tells the crime boss what to do and lives to get away with it! (Well, except maybe all the other operatives. Yeah…they get away with murder daily). In fact, the Taskmaster gives me ridic quantities of shit if I refuse her in any way. I have to be doing something and if for some reason I’m not, I should AT least be planning or worrying about something. I cannot rest, afterall. I should even be pushing the universe, demanding to get my own way, ALL the time. She’s a damn….well…a damn taskmaster! Oh wait…
Then there’s the Inner Controller Operative. Are you kidding me? The inner controller is an obsessive witch! She wants me to be in control of everything at all times and if I’m not….watch out! I should control all my impulses (and my sick human body (what is wrong with you!)) or else she brings out the Guilt Tripper to kick my ass into submission. Trust me when I say that the Guilt Tripper is very very good at reminding me of all the times I had too much to drink or embarrassed myself. I remember each with clarity. The Controller wants me to be a perfect member of society, well behaved, nice, hard working. She doesn’t want anyone knowing about my body count or the skeletons in my closet. She just gets the Guilt Tripper to bring them out to torture me, in private.
“You Did What?? Holy Shit…(snicker) You Suck!”
So….We’ve got quite a few inner critics (The royal we). And they are so damn critical of everything I do. They are always there to make comment on my every action. It’s like having a group of friends who lives inside you, watching everything you do. Can’t you just hear their sneering voices? You did what??? Oh…My…God….What….A….Loser!! Yup…they are just a group of those bitchy girls from your high school who sit inside your head all day, watching the movie of your life and making commentary. They are not very nice.
Ummm…so how do we like…bring these operatives back into line? How do we make them play nice and listen to the Sheriff’s orders? Good question….
Apparently, from my research there are things you can do to combat these nasty ho’s who have taken up residence in your head. (Sorry, I’m making them out to be bad….but truthfully they are not enemies….I guess maybe they used to be your best friends but then they kind of turned on you….but you know they do have your best interests at heart. They’re like armor… they want to protect you from embarrassment, disappointment, pain etc.) Here’s another article from the same website above: Taming Your Inner Critic
How to Get Your Rogue Operatives Back in Da Family
One of the ways to combat them is to realize that they are just one opinion. Just as if they were a group sitting around a table giving you advice. It’s just one piece of advice, do you really listen to everyone who tells you something? Of course not! You pick and choose what makes the most sense. So…understanding that each Critic is just a part of you and not the “whole” you, is important.
Secondly, Critical parts are often left over critics from your childhood. Ever wonder why the same issues you had as a kid, keep manifesting themselves? It might be something different, like instead of why don’t I have a certain friendship…now it might be…why didn’t I get that promotion? So…bringing these girls out of the 90’s and into 2014 is really important. Plus it just helps to picture each operative in a side pony-tail, power bangs, a floral body suit and stone washed jeans, snapping on bubble gum. I mean…would you listen to that girl if she came up to you on the street? Of course not!
Thirdly…develop an inner champion (or cheerleader if you want!). This person (operative) can kick some mean girl ass! She reminds you how awesome you are, she counters the critics every attempt at sabotage! She brings those girls back into line by reminding them that we’re all in this together! We’re a team dammit and how are we supposed to run a crime family when everyone is out doing their own gigs and not looking out for the family? The family is EVERYTHING!! Remember…da family is….EVERYTHING! Look out for number 1!
What have we learned? Let’s take a look back (BTW (B.T. Dubs) my therapist Dr. Phil is gonna love this!). What we’ve learned is that we have some rogue operatives in our crime family. You are the true self (mob boss or sheriff) of this crime family and are therefore tasked with bringing these rogue and unhealthy operatives back into a healthy balance. If you choose to accept your assignment (and this is YOUR crime family, I know you want it to be a successful one!) you will have to combat your operatives with the tips above.
Ditch the Girl With Power Bangs and Bitchy Opinions and Bring On the Personal Cheerleader! (Mom?)
So…realize that each rogue op is just a part of your organization, they don’t represent the whole and they certainly don’t have a complete say in how the whole should operate. Would you let Cousin Theresa run your whole operation? Of course not! Also keep in mind that you need to give your operatives a make over. You’re a grown up now! You can’t run a crime family in power bangs and scrunchies, smelling like Baby Soft! You operate now in power SUITS and tasteful cleavage (décolletage, Natch!). Come on! Thirdly…there’s a secret operative in our back pocket who can remind all our other secret ops that we are in fact awesome. She makes all those other girls submit! Our Crime Family is da best!