The short answer? Authority figures (Author-ity). They were (past tense) the authors of our lives. For many of us they had so much power and influence over us, their behaviors and beliefs became our norm, ingrained within us, and became our truth. The common ACA dysfunctional rules of don't talk, trust, or feel; don't look, listen, or heal, cemented the family story in place. Many ACAs don't have a clear and obvious inner critic voice, just an amorphous sensation of depression, anxiety, shame, fear or self doubt. It is often preverbal, just a feeling or negative self belief. These beliefs often created a deep wound that is pervasive and unjust.
For some the inner critic speaks with a loud insistent voice, but it is not the Voice of Truth. It's much like the image of a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Often the negative voice took over, and our inner child, inner parent, and Higher Power took on similar negative, judgmental, and critical positions. This script writer may also be consistently shaming, self defeating, self destructive, pessimistic, sabotaging, demeaning, punishing, nagging, and persistent. We come to see that these internalized tapes became the script of how we act out our lives. The inner critic never rests, it's always on your case and on your back.
The Big Red Book explains how we treat ourselves ruthlessly, and are doomed to repeat these patterns over and over, unless we find awareness and healing. The inner critic promotes continuous, relentless, and cruel self looping programming. You will never get love from your inner critic, the well is poisoned. It is like going to the hardware store for milk - it's not going to happen! The inner critic expects perfection even from children and beginners, so it is judgmental and shaming when we fall short.
The inner critic tells us the world is not a safe place, that we are always in danger. Within the family, this was often true as many alcoholic or dysfunctional families are violent and abusive in many ways. Often when parents come home, kids scatter because they don't yet know if it is good mommy/daddy that will shower them with hugs, kisses, and praise; or bad mommy/daddy who beats or berates them. Even if they are acting kind, they may flip to rage and abuse instantly. This is why most ACA's have post traumatic stress disorder.
In order to identify our inner critic we can consider what the voices sound like, who they sound like, and if we talk like that to others. The first thing we need is simple awareness. We may take the time to write out the opinions, comments, and storylines within our first person voice to get a clear image of what has been going on inside our heads, for years or decades (I feel worthless, unloved, ugly, etc). We most often find the inner critic Is an internalization of our parental figures pain that was dumped on us. It is a generational curse passed down to us and through us by our parents and others close to us. We realize now they couldn't break free, they didn't have the tools to heal, but now we do!
Next we can write out these beliefs in second person, or imagine them being acted out on stage or a movie screen with us as an observer. In this manner we can begin to separate ourselves from the old self-condemning scripts. We recognize the voice and say NO! That is not true! The anger and resentment that may pour out can actually feel good and freeing. We are taking back our power and our lives. We then begin to understand and accept the voice for what it is, an abuser, and to set healthy boundaries around it.
Another tool is to connect actions to behaviors: look at how inner voices drives behaviors such as lashing out at friends, pushing away loved ones, or engaging in dysfunctional or addictive behaviors. Try to identify patterns of self limiting thinking and behaviors based on these beliefs and influences. We weren't born this way. We came into the world beautiful, wonderful, and magical; but this bully infected us with a virus, with malicious mental software.
Our soul tries to connect with others, but the only ways that seem possible in this sick and twisted thinking is to become what we think others like, and by people pleasing. This is because we grew up believing we had value only for what we can do, not for who we are. Often we often find it easier to isolate, stay under cover, and in survival mode.
We may have become ashamed of our bodies, our minds, and our lives, because of the lies we were told about ourselves. We were told we were bad, because that is what our script writers felt about themselves. They projected their misery onto us and punished us for it, because they couldn't take responsibility for their own defects or take the necessary steps to heal them.
When we were children others had power over us. Now through our Higher Power and connection with others, we have the power and ability to respond how we chose. Our Higher Power often speaks with a still small voice, hard to hear among insistent demands and derogatory comments of the inner critic. Through ACA we learn to recognize the voice of our Higher Power, and with its help, lessen and eventually overcome the influence of our inner critic. We reprogram our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors, and in so doing we rewrite our script.
We also come to realize everyone is wounded in some ways. The more we learn about our grief and pain, the more empathy, compassion, and forgiveness we have for ourselves and others. We don't condone the behavior, but do try to see their precious child; wounded, in pain, and needing to be held and healed. We try to be humble and kind. As Plato realized "Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about."
Through program we may learn to integrate this voice and take it for what it's worth. Eventually we find we can listen to the inner critic and not take it seriously or personally. Instead we defer to the loving adult or parent voice. We find our trauma and triggers. Through this understanding and wiser choices we build a new life, a much better life; one that fits us just as we are, and as we grow.
Lastly, we take time to write out positive self affirming statements such as "I am worthy, loved, beautiful, talented, capable," etc. We can eventually quiet if not silence this voice and choose our caring, kind, loving, accepting voice of our inner parent. We are wise to remember our talents, abilities, skills, and all the good traits that make us precious and unique.
We want to experience life. To come out of the shadows. ACA Is a safe place. They are here for you; "Team YOU." It won't be fast, easy, or painless, and in fact like cleaning an old or infected wound it hurts even more in the beginning as the inner voice fights for its life and gets even louder and more insistent, but you can see it through, and you are worth it!