by Doris Helge, Ph.D. © 2013
The people who trigger our fear, guilt, shame, anger and frustration resemble our early caregivers. If your primary caregiver often ignored you or your needs and acted like your purpose was to make their life easier, it’s likely that you still attract people with a narcissistic personality. Even if you have a loving partner, you may attract professional colleagues who are self-centered and take advantage of you.
If you grew up with a critical, controlling adult or sibling, right now, you may be craving freedom from someone who seems as inflexible as a 26-inch-thick steel door in a bank vault. This person consistently and sternly informs you that you don’t measure up to their demands and expectations. Your inner critic probably chatters nonstop.
On the other hand, if you endured a childhood in which you struggled to please someone who had a Jekyll and Hyde personality, your challenge was different. One minute they hugged you, exclaiming, “You are so special. I love you so much!” You never had time to integrate that message because they soon invalidated you with hurtful messages like, “Why can’t you do things the right way?”
Because children need to feel safe and adults are their key to survival, you may have tried to gain safety by trying to please people who were a bottomless pit of neediness or people who were so unpredictable they couldn’t be pleased. If you constantly labored to be labeled “acceptable,” it’s likely that you haven’t yet discovered Your Authentic Self. You probably don’t yet know what YOU need and require in a relationship.
Please don’t judge yourself harshly for placing yourself in the middle of challenges similar to what you faced as a child. You love yourself so much that you truly want to outgrow your past. You’re longing to let go of the inner conflicts and circumstances that trigger your inner critic to deflate your confidence and self-esteem.
You are no longer a child. As an adult, you want to act thoughtfully and effectively instead of reacting to other people’s insensitive behavior with self-doubt, self-judgment or feelings of insecurity. You want to calm your inner critic.
The extraordinarily aggravating behaviors of other people . . . actions that tempt all of us to lash out in anger or run away in fright . . . are gifts in disguise. Each painful situation that ignites our fight-or-flight response is more precious than a backpack stuffed with bars of gold.
Every challenging relationship dance is precisely and perfectly choreographed for our personal growth. We are the producer and director of our dramas. Why do we co-create every painful relationship scenario, personal and professional? It’s because we yearn to more fully love and accept ourselves, every single bulge, wrinkle and wart. Relationships are a key component of the core curriculum of The School of Life. They are not an elective.
Because we don’t want to depart from this planet without having evolved more fully, we’re so brave that we crave both cozy . . . and uncomfortable . . . connections with other parts of ourselves. Other people are human mirrors. They show us what we cannot or are unwilling to perceive about ourselves. I’m not just talking about our imperfections. Other people also show us when we’re unwilling to receive compliments, love and support.
We long to share both our joys and our flaws with other people because when we are real, raw, honest and vulnerable, our lives are so rich that bliss totally overwhelms pain. We devour the true nectar of life . . . a sweet, very addictive concoction composed of two simple ingredients that cannot be artificially manufactured: meaning and purpose.
In spite of growth pains that sometimes feel agonizing, life seems easier because we just want to be more of who we really are . . . passionately alive, sentient humans open to all of life’s experiences. We are so intimately connected to ourselves and other people that we are incapable of being cruel.
When we feel hurt or angry, it’s easy to forget that we’re standing at a critical crossroad that provides two clear-clear choices. Option One is to blame someone else for our discomfort. When we travel this road, we’re guaranteed to endure similar challenges. We haven’t resolved the core issue that continues to fester under the surface, like an untreated infection. That’s why so many people moan, “I’ve had this awful experience before. The last person had a different name and wore different clothes, but this nasty experience reminds me of ground hog day. How do I get off this hamster wheel that creaks more loudly and painfully each time I repeat my journey?”
Option Two softly calls to us, “Do you really want to be free of your pain? Explore your unresolved issue so you can drink the infinite wisdom and self-love that are patiently waiting to delight you.”
When we embrace our humanity . . . our self-judgments, fears and insecurities . . . without shame or blame, we receive an astonishing gift. We discover that it’s safe and immensely rewarding to be our Authentic Self in relationship with another human who is also perfectly imperfect. A qualified relationship coach can help you discover how to enjoy every step of this special journey.
© 2013. Excerpted with permission from the Bestselling Book, “Conquer Your Inner Critic” by Doris Helge, Ph.D., named “One of the Top Ten Coaches in America.” With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Doris has a proven track record of helping you Create Your New Life Story. Download your free ebooks and see client testimonials at www.ConquerYourInnerCritic.com.
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