As a therapist, people have come to me for years as a kind of broker for ideas, perspectives and/or tools to hopefully make life go better. We helping types use the term “tool kit” as a figurative place to store these ideas. One of the best tools I’ve ever run across is the committee in our heads. We all have self talk, or things we are saying to ourselves quietly inside our heads (sometimes not so quietly). I always suggest you just put a microphone up there and listen to the conversations. The more you listen, the more the parts of you will become apparent.
All of us—and most theories of personality—describe what is usually called ‘the critical parent’…the guy who loves to dominate the table. I ended up naming mine ‘shouldacouldaoughta’ because he starts everything he says with you should of, you ought of or you could of…ergo, critical parent! Often this character is a downloaded version of the most critical person in our family history…yet sometimes a composite of several of them. This part of us is criticizing us at every turn….is a consummate perfectionist about all we do our say. Rarely if never is he/she satisfied.
As we identify more of ‘the committee’ we learn who else may be able to tone this guy down, challenge him or at least sit him down on occasion. As children we did need a good parent watching out for us….but you don’t need him in the same way at twenty-five, thirty-five or fifty-five….and many folks never seem to have ‘retired’ their critical parent, remaining beat down inside rarely feeling successful at much of anything. Thankfully there are others up there!
If you don’t believe me, toss a mic on the table….and listen.
Michael Malloy, LCSW, ACSW
Directed Christian Counseling Services for 20 years, a non-profit counseling and social service center. In Private Practice since 1995 doing individual, marital and group counseling specializing in mid-life issues—depression, anxiety, ‘re-tooling’; men’s issues; and sexual abuse / addiction / identity issues. Spirituality is important in his life and he believes in the lives of all individuals….whatever path they so choose.
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