Slide background

Cobalt Blue: A Novel

A novel for courageous readers and seekers, COBALT BLUE is a turbulent, gorgeous ride into sacred sex..

Order Now

Emails to my Therapist

What to Do About the Brutal Inner Critic

My psychologist/analyst/writer friend Joe Burgo proposes in his latest post a way entirely new to me to deal with the brute within.

What he's referring to is the inner voice that brings up some past mistake I've made, causing me fresh paroxysms of guilt and misery.  This whisperer is, I believe, close kin to the one that causes in-the-moment hesitations, procrastination, and unreasonable self-doubt.

I know the Said-the-Wrong-Thing creature very well.  We're probably all pretty familiar with our own version of that voice.   My particular brand of obsessive-compulsive disorder (scrupulosity) has led me to take it to extremes, for example: convincing myself that something I may have said or done or not said or not done 25 or 40 years ago has horribly and unforgivably altered the course of someone's life.  Medication has helped me enormously with this; what I deal with still is probably not much worse than the  typical garden-variety inner monster.  And that's plenty.

So I was delighted to see what Joe has posted on the subject.   His suggestion is: rather than fighting off the idea or replacing it with a glowing positive affirmation, take a thoughtful middle course.   Calm down and examine the real or imagined error and learn from it a way to do better.  He calls it creating "a thoughtful inner parent." 

  If you're prone to self-flagellating, go read the whole post on After Psychotherapy.  I think this solution may be quite do-able.

Follow This Blog


Categories: procrastination, stillness, strategy


  • Mamie
    March 8, 2011 at 11:12 am Reply

    I so appreciate you turning me on to Dr. Burgo's blog.  His posts hit home so often; this one was a home run.  I had just spent the weekend with high school friends, and one statement I made was playing over and over in my head.  As he said, it's hard to stop this way of thinking.  I am working with his suggestion.

    • Peggy Payne
      March 8, 2011 at 11:48 am Reply

      He’s good, isn’t he? Also a fine novelist. He’s in my Thursday writing group with Laurel Goldman. I hope your weekend statement has evolved into something untroubling.

  • March 9, 2011 at 5:17 am Reply

    Really interesting. I have always thought of the substitution phrase as being a soothing, reassuring one, as opposed to a "glowing positive affirmation" – and I think many people need that unconditional acceptance kind of statement first, as part of developing an accepting, loving inner parent. Later, it can adjust to become more thoughtful and a way of looking at self and others and how things go off track. But my work has often been with children and adults who didn't get that very early kind of nurturing – or who got the opposite of nurturing. So a fairly major repair job has to be done. 
    I went over to Burgo's blog and was very intrigued. It's been awhile since I happened on someone who takes an object relational approach. That was my primary focus in grad school and in the development of my way of working with clients. I'd love to read his fiction – need to go check and see – has he published anything?

    • Peggy Payne
      March 9, 2011 at 7:36 am Reply

      The initial soothing does make sense, Billie. Joe published a couple of novels in his twenties, with Pocket, I think, back in pre-Amazon days ; he’s doing a much different sort of fiction now.

  • lynne Wogan
    March 21, 2011 at 4:51 am Reply

    Hi Peggy, lost you for a bit will try to tune back in

    • Peggy Payne
      March 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm Reply

      Good, Lynne. I’ve missed your comments. Glad you’re back.

Leave a Comment


Follow This Blog