Here is an idea for an exercise to help clients defuse from their self-critic. This exercise could also help to assess the workability of listening to the critic. What is the fundamental objective of the critic? Is it actually effective at meeting that objective? Is the critic's objective aligned with the client's values?
We have created a self-critic job description handout if you would like to try this exercise with your own clients.
Here is an example using my own self-critic.
Job Description for Melissa’s Critic
Critic Job Responsibilities:
Gets Melissa motivated by yelling at her, labeling her, condescending to her, and sounding an alarm at the slightest hint of any remote possibility of social rejection. Keeps Melissa safe and comfortable at all times.
Critic Job Duties:
- Identifies potential deficits in Melissa and nips them in the bud by exaggerating them and yelling at her before anyone else can notice her deficits.
- Prevents sloth by any means necessary.
- Protects Melissa’s heart by blocking warmth and compassion from others. Sets reminders that connection always leads to disaster.
- Develops new, creative, and maximally effective ways to criticize. Cheerleads, “yes, buts,” makes social comparisons, or shuns strategically as needed to optimize persuasion.
- Eliminates Melissa’s obstacles by eliminating her interest in doing things.
- Makes the world safer by making it smaller so that everything can always be monitored no matter what.
- Enhances relationships by reminding Melissa that she has only conditional worth and will be fine as long as she only acts how other people probably want her to act.
Critic Skills and Qualifications:
Mind-reading, ventriloquism, other-as-content, self-as-content, rational mind, sympathetic nervous system, trophies, standardized testing, myopia, being right, fixing things, using lots of words.
You can also access the handout mentioned in this post along with other homework exercises here.