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Lotus Pose

Pluralistic Methods and Tasks to Negotiate Control away from the Tough Inner Critic


MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) has a wealth of research indicating it can help clients neurobiologically, in reducing stress, increasing positive affect or emotions and increasing cognitive vitality (e.g. Didonna, 2009, pp.53-54).  Mindfulness could be effective in easing the tough inner critic.  During mindfulness, we are engaging the prefrontal cortex, the relational, problem-solving part of the brain, and this prevents the inner critic invading and upsetting us, reducing amygdala action. Smith (2022)  notes that there are a wealth of guided meditations on youtube and other sites, which are a good place to start when it comes to mindfulness (p. 41). Clients can choose their own personal preferences of gender, accent and content.  Additionally,  "gratitude practice", where the client writes down and reflects on three things they are grateful or thankful for that day, can aid neuro-plasticity and shift the mind from focussing on negative rumination.   This is similar to Hansen's (2013) "installing the good".  Fisher (2017) recommends a regular mindfulness meditation circle, where we invite all our "parts" (not just the inner critic) to come in and express themselves, without bringing judgment to this. listening to all the different parts: "Your job is to welcome them, to be curious about what they need, hope fear" (p. 264). In allowing our inner critic to express itself, we can mindfully bring self-compassion to the inner critic.   When we are triggered and in fight or flight, it is often hard to recognise thoughts as just thoughts. Our nervous system then could be supporting these critical thoughts.  But an increase in self-compassion also promotes self-soothing, useful tools for our clients to have.  Further, some clients do not feel pride or increased self-esteem when they have done well or achieved. Their inner voice is silent when they are achieving well, and it may be necessary to mindfully develop their inner “caring committee” or feelings of self-compassion.   This development in self-compassion mindset is really useful in my opinion, as it is noted by McGonigal that when you have your self-compassion mindset “online” it keeps the threat mindset away, so the client cannot go into fight or flight.  She notes that the two mindsets cannot coexist (NICABM, How to Target the Limbic system to address Trauma's Physiological Imprint, Bonus video 3, date unknown).  Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that in working to support your client’s psychological flexibility around their self-compassion, towards the inner critic  and other "parts", could have an impact on the anxiety they feel, as well as helping temper a tough Inner Critic.   Similarly,
Simon-Thomas notes "We know that as a trait, as a kind of over-arching characteristic of who a person is, when you score high on compassion, you also tend to score high on other measures of wellbeing, like the relative ratio of how often you experience positive emotions relative to negative emotions. Or how effectively you recover from difficult experiences and setbacks in life." (NICABM, How to Target the Limbic system to address Trauma's Physiological Imprint, Bonus video 3, date unknown).  Therefore, teaching mindfulness techniques may improve our client's psychological reflexivity and this could result in significant therapeutic change.

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