January 25, 2011

That Nasty Girl (or Boy) inside Your Head

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:08 pm by kellyfdennis

At the end of the LCW article I asked you to “send your harsh internal critic packing”.  Some of you have said to me “that’s great advice, but how do I do that?” This next series of posts will be written to help you with that task.  As always, self-help in conjunction with face 2 face counseling is extremely effective in helping you to modify behaviors that you desire to change.

The harsh internal critic was called the “pathological critic” by psychologist Eugene Sagan to describe the negative inner voice that we all possess.  I call her the “nasty girl” because I work mostly with women.  However, gender is a moot point.  The pathological critic can take on either gender.  Therefore, your harsh internal voice may be a “nasty guy” if you are male. I’ll use female pronouns, but these principles apply to any “nasty” voice regardless of gender.

The nasty girl gets her fuel from judgments and evaluations. Usually, she makes a judgment and you come up failing; rejecting a little bit of yourself every time she does it, which may cause you great psychological pain.  You may find yourself avoiding anything that might magnify that pain: social interaction, academic pursuits, and relationships, just to name a few. She’s a pain in the !@#$ and needs to leave!  You’ll have a much more functional life without her.

Those of you who are fluent in psychobabble will notice that I have personified the pathological critic so you can create some distance from her. This is an important step.  Even though she is a part of you, you need to begin to see her as an outsider if you want to silence her (or at least turn down her volume). At the same time, let’s personify a “healthy” voice; a voice that will speak realism and positivity into your life while challenging the nasty girl’s judgments and criticisms. This voice can be a beloved teacher from your growing up years, a coach, “my accepting part”, “my compassionate part”, etc. Humor me; it’s an important part of the process.

So, who is this nasty girl and how did she get inside your head? She is a result of your early childhood experiences.  We all receive self-esteem “messages” from parents, siblings, extended family, other caregivers, teachers, and peers.  The negative messages individually are relatively harmless, but when our subconscious catalogs thousands of them, they carve a river in our identity. “What were you thinking?”, “How stupid are you?”, “You’re so lazy.”, “Can’t you do anything right?”, etc. Negative, negative, negative.

Trauma also fuels the nasty girl. Many of us were affected by sexual, physical, verbal abuse which cause feelings of fear and fear makes whatever we believe and learn much more powerful.  In addition, experiences of loss or abandonment  in childhood create a belief system where we may think we are to blame for parents divorcing or a death in the family.

Whether the nasty girl who lives inside your head was affected by negative self-esteem messages or trauma (or both), the result is the same:  a belief that you are flawed and worthless. So why do you listen to her if she is so dysfunctional? We’ll explore that in the next post.

Until next time…think realistically!

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stefdennis

ponderings on life, food, God, and love

Grace on the Moon

Do Not Weigh Your Self-Esteem on a Scale

on anything and everything

my thoughts on what I see

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