“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.” ~ Kristen Neff
Isn’t it true that in daily conversation, when you talk about yourself, you use the pronoun “I”? That’s the normal way of talking about yourself: “I went to the store.” “I heard you.” On the other hand, doesn’t your inner critic accuse with the pronoun “You”? “You’re so stupid!” “You’re a mess!”
What do I mean by inner critic? It’s that negative voice in your head. She wants “you” to pay attention to her, but you really don’t want to hear what she has to say. What a battle. No wonder it’s called an inner conflict.
We aren’t born with an inner critic that tells us “You’re stupid!” “You’re a mess!” But over your lifetime you have received negative feedback – from a parent, sibling, teacher, or peer. As a result, your inner critic is just parroting it as truth, because you haven’t told her anything differently.
It’s important to realize that your inner critic is a part of you that is trying to keep you safe: safe from judgment, safe from failure, safe from disappointment. Just safe.. It resides in your vulnerability, where it really hurts. But when you examine that vulnerability with mindfulness, you can thank your inner critic for a job well done.
Does that advice surprise you? You might think the answer is to ignore your inner critic. But that doesn’t work, does it? The reason for this is as I’ve previously discussed, inner conflict is the result of our subconscious parts not working harmoniously together.
The good news is you can create internal harmony with your inner critic with practice and patience.
When your inner critic is trying to get your attention, instead of ignoring her, try the following 8 steps:
- Slow down using mindfulness to be aware of, and present with, an inner disturbance.
- Observe the self-talk.
- Externalize and personify the inner critic.
- Join the inner critic energy.
- Dialogue with the inner critic as “WE”.
- Practice acceptance, non-judgment, and self-compassion.
- Watch the inner critic lose its energy and intensity.
- Move forward together in a collaborative partnership
To illustrate how these steps work in real life I’ll share Tea Time exercise I often do with my clients.
When you’re in a quiet space, imagine you’ve invited your inner critic to Tea Time. She’s not your enemy, so welcome her to the table with open arms and a smile. Do some breathing exercises to remain calm.
As you sip your cup of tea, engage your inner critic in a conversation, such as the following:
Your inner critic begins: “You are so stupid!”
Nodding, you calmly change the “You” to “I”, and, without resistance, you accept what is said, asking for more information: “I am so stupid and…?”
Taken aback the inner critic says: “I just want you to know that I don’t like you right now.”
You respond: “Okay, I’m stupid and I don’t like myself, and…?
Deflated, because you’re agreeing, the inner critic says: “We need to fix this.”
You join with your inner critic, shifting to “we” as you further agree: “Yes, we need to fix this. What should we do?”
Your inner critic joins with you and suggests the course of action you know you need to take even though it may be painfully hard to do: “I need to go to my friend, swallow my pride, and apologize.”
Now that your inner critic has warned you of a problem, you’ve identified the discord – the fight between knowing what you should do and feeling fear in doing it – you can master your inner game. Your course is set. You prepare what you want to say to your friend to repair and regain harmony in your friendship.
Internal conflict will seldom be that easy to resolve, especially if the negative talk originated with someone you love and is deeply ingrained. Once you know the steps involved in this process, you can calmly have this conversation with yourself about anything.
You’ll often find that the criticism can be changed to inner strength. Here are a few examples…
- From: “You’re too sensitive!” To: “I don’t take myself too seriously, and I have compassion for others.
- From: “You’re so gullible!” To: “I’m glad I’m not jaded and I have innocence still.”
- From: “You always procrastinate!” To: “I don’t have to be in a rush. I can live in the moment, enjoy it, and plan out what’s most important for me right now.”
Joining with your inner critic requires practice. It may even require the assistance of a trained professional, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s no shame in that.
Would you like more help making friends with your inner critic? I’d love to show you how you can use my Tea Time Exercise in greater depth. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let’s sit down and have a cuppa.
Are you plagued by self-sabotaging behavior? For instance, you want to lose weight but you keep turning to that carton of chocolate ice cream for comfort. Or you want to be a successful manager, but you rub people the wrong way, or unwittingly create drama so you’re always putting out fires.
Self-sabotaging behavior occurs when different “parts” of your self are conflicted. You want success, but a Part of you doesn’t believe you deserve it. You want to be healthy and fit, but a Part of you self-medicates unhealed emotional wounds with comfort food.
Even if you somehow manage to ignore the needs of one of your Parts, you’ll still suffer from lack of harmony and integration. The result will be suppressed emotions and unmet desires.
On the other hand, if you learn to use a Parts Integration Technique, you’ll be more congruent, empowered and clear in your decisions and actions.
You can teach your Parts to holistically work together in an exercise I call the “Tea Time” exercise. (You can find the “Tea Time” exercise by clicking here.) This NLP based, Parts Integration technique lets you see what’s going on under the surface. It creates harmony between Parts of your unconscious mind, so that all of your values, wants and needs are in alignment.
What are the benefits of doing the “Tea Time” exercise?
Parts integration stimulates self-awareness. We are never just one thing. Even if one Part is smaller, when you dismiss it, it can cause imbalance internally. The “Tea Time” exercise is a great tool for understanding and accepting internal contradictions. For example, if you’re an extrovert, identify your smaller Part that has a strong need for alone time. A person that spends all their time with others and no time by themselves might be trying to avoid feeling lonely or being with their thoughts.
Parts integration assists in goal setting. Sometime you might struggle with conflicting goals and priorities. Identifying and naming the Parts in conflict can stimulate a useful internal dialogue that acknowledges all aspects of yourself. Goals formed with awareness of internal conflicts are less likely to be sabotaged by rebel Parts.
Parts integration uncovers resource states. One of my clients, a resolute introvert, wanted to become more comfortable with public speaking, yet he felt resistance to feeling exposed. He has a powerful message and an amazing personal story to share. He’s also articulate and has a warm presence. Inside, a great speaker was waiting to be unleashed.
As he prepared his next presentation, I suggested: “Can we have some Tea Time? Imagine the Part that wants to share your powerful message and state its positive intention. Now give voice to the Part that doesn’t want to feel vulnerable in front of a crowd and state its intention.”
When he could see that both Parts wanted something positive for him (the first part wanted to him to share his mission; the second one wanted him to be safe) he felt more understanding and ultimately at peace. When the time came to give the talk, he stepped fully into the role of public speaker, sharing that he felt vulnerable. He really connected with his audience and his talk was extremely powerful. He still uses the Tea Time exercise to continue to discover different Parts and cultivate inner peace and integration.
Parts integration fosters balance. We often want to hide, squash, deny Parts of ourselves we don’t like. If I value being kind and available to other, I might want to deny or squash the Part that seems selfish or self-centered. Using the Tea Time exercise can help us discover that the part we are not acknowledging is attempting to create inner balance between being other-centered and self-centered. In fact, our system is always organized to seek equilibrium and stability. This exercise can foster a sense of wholeness, integration and overall wellbeing.
If you’d like some guidance on how to use NLP to address an internal conflict please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
I’m also thinking about developing a NLP training online. Are you interested? Send me an email and I’ll keep you posted on my progress toward completing the course. I’d love to hear from you.
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” ~ Thomas Merton
“I know I have to make a decision, but I’m really conflicted about this. On one hand I feel this way, but on the other hand I feel like this.” Have you ever felt or said something similar to this?
In my recent newsletter (if you haven’t signed up for it yet, you can click here to sign up), I discussed how this inner conflict is the result of our subconscious parts not working harmoniously together.
The good news is that you can teach your parts to holistically work together so you can achieve your desired outcomes in life. I’ve discovered an effective way that I use personally and that has helped my clients, too. I call it the “Tea Time” exercise.
The “Tea Time” exercise is my version of NLP’s (Neuro Linguistic Programming) popular Parts Integration technique. It’s a very useful skill to overcome ‘bad habits’, indecision, procrastination and all sorts of internal conflicts. It’s so helpful because it creates a non-judgmental space where all internal parts can be heard and expressed with the outcome of fostering understanding.
How do you do the “Tea Time” exercise?
Imagine that you’re sitting down to have tea with your Parts that are in conflict. For example, perhaps you are considering a new business venture and there are some risks involved. You feel conflicted internally and this is keeping your from moving forward. One the one hand, your safety-minded part wants to keep you safe. The wants-to-be-challenged part wants you to grow. You can invite both parts to participate.
Remember the following rules:
- Begin with a brief centering exercise to deliberately set the stage.
- Make a commitment to suspend all judgment and to listen with curiosity.
- Let each Part explain what it wants, needs, acknowledging its values, beliefs and positive intention.
- Act as a witness that, from a higher perspective, observes and perceives the different positive intentions.
- The two Parts previously in conflict can now understand the other’s intention.
- This understanding creates harmony between the Parts of the unconscious mind, so that their values are more in alignment.
By following this exercise you will have ‘Integrated Parts’ and this will lead to feeling more congruent, empowered and clear in your decisions and actions. In my next blog post, I’ll share how you can specifically use this technique for various outcomes and the specific benefits your can derive from doing so.
NLP is one of the best models for understanding the ways we communicate not only with others, but even more importantly with ourselves. It’s great for identifying what’s holding you back. If you’d like some guidance on how to use NLP to address an internal conflict please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“A certain harmony should be kept between actions and ideas if we want to fully develop the effects they can produce.” ~ François de La Rochefoucauld
Do you struggle with making decisions? Part of you wants to do it, but part of you doesn’t? Emotional experiences throughout life, especially during the early imprint years, results in the creation of “Parts” in your unconscious mind. (I blogged earlier about this in a post about your Shadow Self.) These Parts have their own values and beliefs, and they’re responsible for certain behaviors.
I believe that overwhelming feelings and reactions, as well as, out of control behaviors are the result of these “Parts” feeling conflicted. Internal conflicts occur when two or more “Parts” of a person are at odds about a particular situation and exhibit behaviors that are seemingly incongruous (out of harmony).
The most problematic conflicts occur when the opposing Parts have negative judgments about each other. To resolve this inner conflict, you must identify a common positive intention. It’s important to know what YOUR purpose or desired outcome is.
Sadly, many of your outcomes for career, family, romance, and health may be based on the requests, desires or expectations of others. You may try to please your parents, spouse, teachers, religious leaders, boss and society. Yet these are not your personal outcomes. It’s not really the life you’ve always wanted to live.
As a result, you probably won’t have the energy that propels you forward to make good decisions that help you achieve your highest potential. When you struggle with your outcomes, almost always there’s some hidden inner conflict that needs resolution. You won’t feel fully alive until these inner conflicts are resolved.
Sometimes you may have an internal conflict or incongruence about some aspect of yourself – you feel as if you’re of “two minds” on the issue. These Parts can each appear to have different intentions and can be functioning independently of the other.
Here are some of the conflicts you may be experiencing:
- your job vs. spending time with your family;
- your career vs. your health;
- being entrepreneurial vs. playing it safe;
- freedom vs. settling down with someone special.
An internal conflict is often revealed through the words you use. Phrases such as “on the one hand,” “I feel torn about this,” or “a part of me agrees with you.”
Your behaviors may suggest different attitudes, and these attitudes may vary in different contexts. You may have one set of behaviors at work and a different set at home. Do you ever find yourself saying the following?
- “I really want to stop procrastinating, but Part of me just keeps doing it.”
- “Part of me really likes him, but Part of me is scared.”
- “Part of me wants to go to law school, but another Part wants to travel.”
We often use this language without knowing that it represents a deeper conflict inside.
However, when you take a closer glance, you’ll discover a dozen of sub-personalities inside. Some may disagree quite passionately with each other about who you really are or what you’re capable of being or doing.
Some of your Parts may be brassy and dominant. Others are fully formed, but quiet and waiting to be engaged. Some Parts are distressing. Some are good at hiding.
My personal view is that it’s okay to have Parts, if the Parts are working in a holistic sense. For example, it’s nice to know that I have a creative Part, a compassionate Part, a safety-minded Part, and a wants-to-be-challenged Part. These Parts express different aspects of my nature that I’m able to access when I need specific assistance. When my Parts learn to cooperate with each other, I experience internal peace, harmony and equanimity. So can you.
Parts Integration is a NLP (neuro linguistic programming) technique for internal conflict resolution. NLP is one of the best, if not the best, models for understanding human communication. It has proven techniques to help you address what’s holding you back.
I’ve been using NLP for years to help my clients excel. Now I’m thinking about developing a NLP training online. Are you interested? Send me an email and I’ll keep you posted on my progress toward completing the course. I’d love to hear from you.