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One of the most startling discoveries about our Inner Critics is that they are actually trying to help us. This is an amazing, powerful secret. In its own distorted, confused way, your Inner Critic is actually trying to help you. At first this may seem surprising, but once you get to know your Critic in a deeper way, you’ll come to understand why it is attacking you. It may be negative and harsh, but it is doing so in a distorted attempt to protect you from pain. As strange as it may seem, we have found this to be true over and over with hundreds of clients, and so have other Internal Family Systems Therapy therapists.
Your Inner Critic thinks that pushing and judging you will protect you from hurt and pain. It thinks that if it can get you to be a certain way—perfect, successful, cautious, nice, slim, outgoing, intellectual, macho, and so on—then you won’t be shamed or rejected, and you might even get approval from people who are important to you. It tries to get you to fit in by prescribing rules and then attacking you if you violate them. Even though attacking you actually backfires and causes you more suffering, your Inner Critic is doing what it thinks is best for you.
The good news is that because the Inner Critic actually has positive intentions, you don’t have to fight with it or overcome it. You don’t have to win a battle; you don’t have to get rid of it. Instead, you can discover what it thinks it’s doing for you and make a positive connection with it. You can offer it appreciation for its efforts, and it can begin to trust you. Knowing that your Critic’s heart is in the right place makes it possible to create a cooperative relationship with it and transform it into a valuable resource. This relationship makes an enormous difference in your internal landscape and sets the stage for deeper healing.