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					                    “Messages” from Others Internalized as Truths About Us
Think back to when you were a child. Verbally or nonverbally, consciously or unconsciously, you were often
receiving “messages” about yourself from others in your world, particularly from your parents or caretakers in the pre-
kindergarten days. After you began school, you were also receiving “messages” about yourself from teachers and
peers.

“Messages” can be almost anything. Here are some examples:

Your mother smiles at you lovingly.            You receive the message that you are loved and/or loveable.
You cry in bed at night and no one comes.      You receive the message that no one is there for you.
You fall down and cry. Your father comforts you. You receive the message that you are cared for.
Your parent says “Bad Girl!”                   You receive the message that you are bad.
Your parent attends none of your games.        You feel unimportant or unloved by that parent.
Your dad gets upset that you struck out.       You get the message that you’re loved only if you do well.

Now, let’s apply this to you.

Incorrect “messages” you received about yourself. From Whom?            Write a “corrected” message.
Example: “You’re never going to amount to anything!” Dad                I’ve accomplished quite a lot so far.

                                                  _________

                                                  _________

                                                  _________

                                                  _________

                                                  _________

                                                  _________

Incorrect “messages you received about your appearance                   Write a “corrected” message

                                                  _________

                                                  _________

                                                  _________

                                                  _________

Incorrect “messages” you received about your intelligence:               Write a “corrected” message

                                                  _________

                                                  _________

                                                  _________

                                                  _________
Incorrect “messages” you received about your skills:                   Write a “corrected” message

                                                _________

                                                _________

                                                _________

                                                _________

Who were your greatest critics?



Who were your greatest fans?




Now, think about your worst critic. Circle the words below which describe them.

Mildly critical, sometimes supportive          Usually critical with words             Physically abusive

Sexually abusive                               Harshly critical                        Pathologically critical

Mentally ill                                   Sadistic

If your worst critical had been a normal and mentally healthy person, how would they have treated you?



Many people who had harsh or pathological critics in their young years, internalize those “messages,” so that,
long after they get away from the outer critic, their “inner critic” takes over, and they repeat to themselves the
words and descriptions and ways of thinking about themselves that were previously used by the external critic.

Changing this takes time, practice, and actively working on developing an ACCURATE view of yourself. That
is the work of counseling.

				
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posted:11/24/2011
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