There was a song I learnt as a child
“Nobody likes me,
Everybody hates me,
Guess I’ll go eat worms.
Long, thin, slimy ones,
Short, fat, juicy ones,
Itsy, bitsy, fuzzy wuzzy worms.
This is strange song to teach children which ends with the worm eater bringing back up the wiggling and squirming worms.
But I think there is an honesty to the song.
Most people (everyone?) will have somethings they don’t like about themselves. Often this dislike goes with an internal message that we are not good enough, that we should be punished, maybe even that it would be better if we were dead – so this children’s song gives expression to this dark thought in a silly way which we often don’t share as adults. It also shows that “eating” or taking in these self destructive messages not good for our mental or physical health.
Sometimes it can be difficult to think of things we DO like about ourselves.
Try filling in chart by thinking about different qualities for each area. For example, your appearance might be broken into different body parts or facial features. Maybe you like your hands but dislike you feet (or vice versa):
|THINGS ABOUT ME, I||Physical Appearance||Personality||Knowledge or skills|
Have a look at where most things are on your table. Was it easier to think of the things you don’t like or the things you like?
Try doing another table, this time imagine your best friend is filling it out about you. How different is the table? You might even want to ask a friend to fill it in and compare.
Often the way other people see us and the way we see ourselves is very different. We talked about masks in the last blog post and that contributes, but a bigger factor is our inner Critic.
I love some of the ideas in this video. I have also used masks and art to explore the inner critics power, where it comes from and whose words it is holding over me. But I would also go one step further. Getting to know about the inner critic, as in this video, is very important but we can also talk back to the critic. Ask it what it needs.
John Rowan believes we have many of these subpersonalities, not just the critic and the persona/mask. Here is his suggestions for meeting the critical part:
‘Think of a time when you put yourself down, or criticised yourself, or beat yourself over the head for something you did or failed to do. Write a dialogue between the one who criticises and the one who is criticised. (You might spend about 15 minutes on this.) Does this look familiar? Does it go somewhere and get resolved, or is it an eternal game that just goes on and on? If the latter, ask the critic: ‘where do you come from?’ ‘when did you arrive?’ ’What do you want?’ ‘What do you need?’ And write down the answers. Then ask the same questions of the one who is criticised. (You might spend 15 minutes on this as well) Then go back to the original dialogue, and see if you can give it a better ending.’
Richard Schwartz has a similar approach to psychotherapy called Internal FamilyJohn Rowan. (1993) Discover Your Subpersonalities: Our Inner World and the People in it, London and New York: Routledge. (Page 30)
Remember, just because negative thoughts have some truth, does not mean they are the whole truth. You have failed in the past – everyone has, but that does not mean you are a failure and that everything you will do will fail.
I’d love to hear in the comments is anyone else has memories of singing the Nobody Likes me song (there are a few different versions) or maybe you know other songs (child or adult) which explore the same theme. Would also be great to hear about any other tips for taming the inner critics!
Therapy Group – Too Big Emotions
I am running a therapy group for young people aged 11 – 14. This will be in London, UK. Many therapies follow the one hour a week model but there is no scientific reason for this pattern. This group will meet for 3 hours, every day for 1 week – a more intensive model. This allows the group to go deeper into their feelings in a shorter time. When I have done short intensive work before I have noticed that less of the time is wasted on stops and starts and that changes can be more noticeable.