Guest post @thensuddenlynot: Meeting with the Monster
I have been slightly absent from my blog and creating new content - not because I’ve given up - on the contrary. I am working on an ebook with tools and exercises to help people like yourself coach your own Inner Critic. This has been a labour of love. I will be sharing this book for free when it’s finished, I am giving myself time as I want it to be right, rather than rushed. In the meantime, I have had the opportunity to meet a beautiful individual who has discovered her own Inner Critic: Odessa Higgs. Odie wants to create awareness about mental health and she shares her own Inner Critic story. I have been so impressed with her writing style as well as her inner awareness and revelations, that I wanted to feature one of her articles on my blog. Her writing resonated with me (look up “Resistance” on her blog if you like this article) and she kindly gave me permission to share a glimpse of her inner world with you.
I’ve been working to better understanding of myself for a long time. My initial motivation was to find relief from intense anxiety and depression, but the deeper I go, the more I realize that I am on a quest for enlightenment. I’ll probably write more about that another day.
But today, I want to talk about an experiment I did as a result of learning about Internal Family Systems (IFS) Theory, or, as it is more casually called, Parts Work. Essentially, the idea is that our psyche/self is made up of sub-personalities, or “parts” that are often in conflict or out of proportion with each other.
There is A LOT to this theory, but for the purposes of this post, I want to focus on my most monstrous and decidedly least favorite part: my inner critic. In an earlier post, I offered up some examples of my critic’s running commentary, most of which is straight abusive, if I’m being honest. My critic is almost always with me, squawking and whispering and undermining and generally making me feel like running away. Sometimes, I wish she was an actual person so I could strangle her quiet. But, in Parts Work, we don’t attempt to murder our parts, no matter how unpleasant they may be. Instead, we make an effort to listen to them, so each part can be heard, understood, and ultimately reintegrated as an an appropriate and functional element of the self. A basic technique in the IFS method is to invite your parts to talk to you, while you try to listen for what is bothering or activating them.
Now, my first thought upon reading about this strategy was, “Isn’t this a lot like talking to yourself?” The answer to this question is, yes. This is a lot like talking to yourself. But, whatever. If you’re getting hung up on that, then this probably isn’t your thing anyway.
And my second thought was, “Since my ‘parts’ are really me, how can listening to them show me anything I don’t already know?”
Here’s the magical thing about this technique. My experience has been that when you invite a specific part to talk to you, you will discover a world of secret motivations, fears, resentments, and hopes of which you were likely not fully conscious. This doesn’t mean you didn’t already have access to this information, but this process drags insights out of the shadows where they have been passive-aggressively lurking and into the light of awareness and actionability. There’s a big difference between knowing there is a monster under your bed and sitting down across from it at the dining room table for a heart-to-heart.
So, after reviewing some of the particularly vile things she had said to me of late, I decided to ask my inner critic, my own personal monster, what she has to say in her defense. Here’s a transcript of the exchange:
Continue reading Odie’s story on her blog: https://thensuddenlynot.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/meeting-with-the-monster/