How You Talk to Your Child Becomes Their Inner Voice (with Wes Bertrand)

My guest today is Wes Bertrand who runs completeliberty.com and happinesscounseling.com. Wes is a guy that I greatly respect who has done some magnificent work in the areas of liberty, non-violent communication, adverse childhood experiences, and personal growth and recovery.

Our conversation centers around the question of whether or not our children would grow up to have negative self-talk, toxic beliefs, and an inner-critic if they were raised in a non-domination paradigm—a truly peaceful, fulfilling, and connected world.

And I want to add and make very clear that this is not a conversation about parents who overtly abuse and neglect children. I think everyone is on the same page that overt abuse is destructive and has lasting consequences. This discussion is about the “normal” parenting practices, and schooling practices, and discipline practices, and cultural norms, that have destructive and lasting consequences that the mainstream conversation, frankly, refuses to consider or discuss.

Here’s some highlights of this conversation:

  • Jay Early’s seven types of inner-critics
  • How to heal your inner-critic by recognizing it as a teacher rather than a bad part of you that needs to be hidden away.
  • Nathaniel Branden’s questions for parents regarding meeting the needs of children and interacting with them in a way that protects them from developing these harsh inner-critics.
  • There’s a lot of overlap with schooling, daycares, religion and other societal institutions…
  • There’s a section on spanking, punishments and rewards, and a whole lot more.

I know this is a really long episode, but it’s chock full of insights and information that will exponentially deepen your connection with your child, so find a way to listen to the whole thing. If you can’t block out a single chunk for listening, then just listen to it in small doses. You can listen to 20 minutes, pause it, come back tomorrow, that sort of thing.

We’ll be having a follow up discussion in the Reboot Your Kids Facebook group if you want to join in. Thanks for listening.

Jay Early’s Seven Types of Inner-Critics

  • Perfectionist – unconditional love
    • This critic tries to get you to do things perfectly.
    • It sets high standards for the things your produce, and has difficulty saying something is complete and letting it go out to represent your best work.
    • It tries to make sure that you fit in and that you will not be judged or rejected.
    • Its expectations probably reflect those of people who have been important to you in the past.
  • Guilt-Tripper
    • This critic is stuck in the past. It is unable to forgive you for wrongs you have done or people you have hurt.
    • It is concerned about relationships and holds you to standards of behavior prescribed by your community, culture and family
    • It tries to protect you from repeating past mistakes by making sure you never forget or feel free.
  • Underminer
    • This critic tries to undermine your self confidence and self esteem so that you won’t take risks.
    • It makes direct attacks on your self worth so that you will stay small and not take chances where you could be hurt or rejected.
    • It is afraid of your being too big or too visible and not being able to tolerate judgment or failure.
  • Destroyer
    • It makes pervasive attacks on your fundamental self worth.
    • It shames you and makes you feel inherently flawed and not entitled to basic understanding or respect.
    • This most debilitating critic, comes from early life deprivation or trauma.
    • It is motivated by a belief that it is safer not to exist.
  • Molder
    • This critic tries to get you to fit into a certain mold based on standards held by society, your culture or your family.
    • It wants you to be liked and admired and to protect you from being abandoned, shamed or rejected.
    • The Molder fears that the Rebel or the Free Spirit in you would act in ways that are unacceptable. So it keeps you from being in touch with and expressing your true nature.
  • Taskmaster
    • This critic wants you to work hard and be successful.
    • It fears that you may be mediocre or lazy and will be judged a failure if it does not push you to keep going.
    • Its pushing often activates a procrastinator or a rebel that fights against its harsh dictates.
  • Inner Controller
    • This critic tries to control your impulses: eating, drinking, sexual activity, etc.
    • It is polarized with an Indulger –addict who it fears can get out of control at any moment.
    • It tends to be harsh and shaming in an effort to protect you from yourself.
    • It is motivated to try to make you a good person who is accepted and functions well in society.

Inner-Critic Healing Factors

  1. Understanding the developmental process (parent/child dynamic, language of jackal leading to life-alienating communication—diagnoses, demands, deserve-oriented thinking, denial of responsibility) and healing those wounded parts by compassionate communication and other therapeutic means.
  2. Accepting your fallibility. In both the above aspects, notice global evaluations of self and behavior, in order to transform them into observations, feelings, needs, and requests…

Nathaniel Branden’s Questions for Parents (Extended to schools, teachers, relatives, churches, and other institutions)

Punishment Oriented

  • Did your parents treat you with respect? Were your thoughts, needs, and feelings given consideration? Was your dignity as a human being acknowledged? When you expressed ideas or opinions, were they treated seriously? Where your likes and dislikes treated seriously? (Not necessarily agreed with or acceded to, but nonetheless treated seriously?) Were your desires treated thoughtfully and respectfully?
  • Did you feel free to express your views openly without fear of punishment?
  • Did your parents deal with you fairly and justly? Did your parents resort to threats in order to control your behavior–either threats of immediate punitive action on their part, or threats in terms of long-range consequences for your life, or threats of supernatural punishments, such as going to hell? Were you praised when you performed well? Or merely criticized when you performed badly? Were your parents willing to admit it when they were wrong? Or was it against their policy to concede that they were wrong?
  • Was it your parents’ practice to punish you or discipline you by striking or beating you? (Four in five Americans believe spanking their child is sometimes appropriate).

Assaults on Self-Esteem

  • Did your parents communicate their disapproval of your thoughts, desires, or behavior by means of humor, teasing, or sarcasm?
  • Did you feel loved and valued by your parents, in the sense that you experienced yourself as a source of pleasure to them? Or did you feel unwanted, perhaps a burden? Or did you feel hated? Or did you feel you were simply an object of indifference?
  • Did your parents project that they believed in your basic goodness? Or did they project that they saw you as bad or worthless or evil?
  • Did your parents project that they believed in your intellectual and creative potentialities? Or did they project that they saw you as mediocre or stupid or inadequate?
  • In your parents’ expectations concerning your behavior and performance, did they take cognizance of your knowledge, needs, interests, and circumstances? Or were you confronted by expectations and demands that were overwhelming and beyond your ability to satisfy?
  • Did your parents’ behavior and manner of dealing with you tend to produce guilt in you?
  • Did your parents’ behavior and manner of dealing with you tend to produce fear in you?
  • Did your parents project that it was desirable for you to think well of yourself, to have self-esteem? Or were you cautioned against valuing yourself, and encouraged to be humble?
  • Were you encouraged to be open in the expression of your emotions and desires? Or were your parents’ behavior and manner of treating you such as to make you fear emotional self-assertiveness and openness, or to regard it as inappropriate?
  • Were your mistakes accepted as a normal part of the learning process? Or as something you were taught to associate with contempt, ridicule, punishment?

Links and Resources

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5 comments
  • Kelly

    Hi, the way your podcast is displayed on the website is confusing. It’s hard to see the progress in the orange rectangle. I also thought the podcast was over just after the speaker defined abuse terms, when the Axel Rose song started playing. I clicked on the bar and found the next place it started. Good podcast!

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi Kelly,

      It should tell you how many minutes are remaining. I like producing the podcast so that it’s more than just talking, which is why there is bumper music. It’s growing to be a more common style in podcast production, so if you listen to a lot of podcasts you’ll probably encounter it often.

      Thanks for the feedback 🙂 Also, the best way to listen to podcasts is not via the website. We recommend iTunes or Stitcher on your phone or tablet.

  • Ana

    This is a great podcast.
    I don’t use iTunes. I’d never heard of Stitcher before. I don’t listen to podcasts on my phone. I’m happy to listen to them here.

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How You Talk to Your Child Becomes Their Inner Voice (with W…

by Kevin Geary time to read: 6 min
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