The CRITICAL INNER PARENT
can take up a lot of space!
PREVIOUS: Parent ego state (Part 1)
a. OLD Parent* voice – our accumulated version of parents & any other major caretakers. If they were loving & reasonably healthy then our Inner Parent is a good one.
BUT for ACoAs, that part of us is the Negative
Introject, or Pig Parent, gathered from a collection of people who influenced us as kids, and who we now carry around in our head. It’s the one the WIC is always listening to, is terrified of displeasing, is trying to obey -perfectly- & constantly failing!
*Caretakers who are mis-attuned, invalidating, emotionally neglectful &/ or physically abusive create great anxiety in the child. The resulting desperation triggers an unconscious defense: the child identifies with ‘the other’ (usually as a Toxic Introject), taking on the character of the abuser and canceling out its own needs, in an attempt to stay attached, bonded and loyal. So now PP messages can be very hard to get rid of since they’re linked to a lot of original psychological & emotional trauma still being held in the WIC ego state.
b. NEW Parent* voice – the Loving Parent (LP) is developed in Recovery, as part of the “UNIT”, using S & I to form a self-caring, nurturing component, capable of empathy for self & others, & can therefore help others without being co-dependent. Whenever we notice the OLD voice getting loud or taking over we can ‘decontaminate the Parent’, pull in the Good P. & get back to having the Adult be in charge.
*The INNER Loving PARENT voice follows the ‘general guidelines’ for healthy parenting. It is a biological imperative that children require mental, emotional & physical attachment to maintain psychological health. Some of the things we would have gotten in a functional family (there are no perfect ones) include providing the need-to-connect common to all children,
● having the child’s thoughts, emotions, fantasies & other needs validated, which allows them to know who they are
● allowing the child to have an effect/ making an impact/ able to influencing the others around them, & at least some of the time be understood & their wishes/ desires provided
● feeling secure with a safe adult who can be relied on to provide protection, such as freedom from humiliation and physical violence
● receive support and guidance, including physical closeness & positive shared experiences, such as learning & playing together
● opportunities to express gratitude to and love for the caretakers, which is received well, as a sign of bonding and loyalty
HOW the Parent ego state (PES) is USED
a. INFLUENCING, which operates internally. IF our early caretakers were loving & reasonably healthy then our Inner Parent is a good one, & we will treat ourselves well with self-care & self-soothing. IF they were wounded &/or toxic, the Introject will be experienced as a weak or bad voice beating us up, EITHER :
● in the form of self-criticism, causing feelings of SHAME, self-hate, self-doubt, a constant sense of being watched & controlled, not knowing what we want think or feel, generating chronic anxiety and depression….
● as outside criticism, by hearing warnings, judgements, demands, needs, rules…. from others, which creates fear & a degree of paranoia in us. Whether these come from real people or from ‘mis-hearing’ what’s said to us, we usually don’t realize we’re projecting our own PP outward:
— if we stay with people who are actually unavailable, selfish, mean, crazy… we are participating a relationship with an external version of our Bad Parent, as a copy of our original abandoners / abusers
— OR when have a strong painful / angry feelings toward people who are just being ‘normal’ humans but happen to push our unhealed buttons – we are making them into the PP we carry in our head
b. ACTIVE, which operates externally. In this mode we function in the outside world exactly the way our family treated us, reproducing the emotions, attitudes & behavior of our original significant-others. As above, this will depend on how we were treated as kids. Since most people are wounded, the ‘acted out’ (projected) bad voice will be coming from the Negative PES. The psychological function of treating others badly is to diminish the pressure & anxiety created by our Toxic Introject & the WIC. Letting it out on others is a relief from the ‘influencing’ voice that is badgering us all the time.
EXP: When a mother screams at & criticizes her children (as the Negative Parent) the same way her father screamed at and criticized her when she was young (her PP) – she gets momentary relief of that pain by externalizing the abuse she received from him & still holds in her being, but is probably not aware she’s reacting from her Bad Parent ego state.
Main PES CATEGORIES
a. Normative (NoP) is made up of either realistic or damaging guidelines, rules, punishments & rewards.
Positive NoP / “Counselor Parent” is strong, powerful, protective, principled. It provides appropriate boundaries & is comfortable setting limits without being disapproving or harsh – with self and others
Negative NoP / “Persecutor Parent”
● Treats the Inner Child harshly & tries to make it do as the parent voice wants – either to obey it’s own set of rules regardless of the benefit to the Child part, or just treating the Child as its ‘whipping-boy’
● Towards others, when in this mode we react with judgmental responses that are arrogant, authoritative, condescending, critical, demanding, disapproving, judgmental, opinionated, moralistic…. with a lot of do’s and don’ts & little flexibility.
— At work, managers in the NoP mode are task oriented & can be dictatorial & exclusionary.
b. Nurturing /Sympathetic (NuP) – who loves, cares for, provides for others, appropriately. Men & women can both play the role of Good Parent, but is most often in the form of a mother-figure.
● One of the NuP’s goals is to take care of the Inner Child – to sooth it’s troubles & keep it content, providing it with safety & unconditional love.
● In terms of others – from this position one behaves and responds with reassuring communications that are consoling, considerate, respectful, nurturing, permitting, protecting….
— At work, managers coming from the NuP are supportive & relationship oriented, consulting subordinates & encouraging their participation.
NEXT: Parent ego state (Part 3)