Self Help Ideas and Exercises: Part 3

by | September 01, 2019

Dr. Zwig Inner Work Exercises and Contemplations

Psychology has it wrong by viewing the inner critic as a purely negative feature of the psyche, something to get rid of by silencing it.

Nowadays there are a 101 techniques for trying to make it go away.

But your critic is the voice of your subconscious trying to wake you up in your process!

Even though it makes you suffer that’s not its goal.⁣

It’s trying to bring your attention to the changes that need to happen in your life.⁣

It’s an unconscious energy and therefore doesn’t know what it wants; it’s simply driven to irritate you.⁣

Think of it as a child trying to communicate something without being conscious of what it needs.

You’re the parent who has to decipher the meaning.⁣

To do this you have to engage with the critic, not try to zap it away.

Start by distancing yourself from your self critical thoughts by imagining them being spoken by another person.

Visualize this figure.

Then, talk back to it.

If it’s mean and hurtful, fight it! Tell it to shut up!⁣

But don’t stop there.⁣

Go further into the dialogue and try to determine if the critic has any kind of valid message.

Search for what’s motivating it, and explore what it really wants from you.

Is it there to provoke you to step into your power by fighting its power?

Is it there to show you what you need to improve about yourself?

Is it a fearful part of you that criticizes as a way to get your attention and hopefully your help, guidance, and reassurance?

Is it putting the spotlight onto a specific issue you need to process?

For example, if your critic says “You’re behind everyone” (career, relationships, having children, accomplishments, etc), don’t just let this beat you down.

Take it as a sign that you need to wake up about something in this area of your life.

You may need to take more action toward your goals, or you may need to get stronger in standing against ideas of what you should do that are wrong for you.

Your critic is simply an obnoxious, ignorant sage poking you where you need to grow. : )

Its words are hurtful but the underlying process contains gold!

Dr. Zwig Inner Work Exercises and Contemplations

Are you in a relationship in which your issues get triggered repeatedly?

Do you wonder why you’re in this kind of partnership?⁣

The reason is that the other person fills a need for you by allowing you to live within a familiar dysfunctional pattern.

Doing so can feel easier than having to confront and work through your own issues.

But this situation can be a gift if you use it to wake yourself up and transform these issues.

To begin this work ask yourself who your partner represents in your life—a parent, grandparent, teacher, other authority figure, sibling, friend, ex partner, etc.

Then, either with a therapist, or on your own if you think you’re able to, process this person as an inner figure—a part of your psyche that injures you in some way.

If you aren’t yet aware of this part of yourself, playact your partner and meditate on it until you can identify it as something in your past or your inner life.

This part of you gives you thoughts and emotions that hurt rather than support you.

Observe how this happens, and notice how you react.

Also notice and amplify the parts of you that provide solutions and changes–new ways of thinking, feeling, reacting, perceiving, and being.

After making some progress you can decide if the relationship is still right for you.

Pursuing a healthy relationship can be scary because it requires you to open up to your own inner process.

On Sept. 3rd I launch my podcast where I’m going to share lots of methods for working on yourself and your relationships!

Dr. Zwig Inner Work Exercises and Contemplations

I find it disconcerting that many so-called mental health “experts” offer no tools for processing depression and anxiety.⁣

They relate to these problems as if they’re viruses or bacteria to get rid of.⁣

Their methods aim to make you “feel better” in the moment by trying to get you out of your bad state of mind, but they don’t address the underlying issues at all!⁣

People speak of “managing depression,” and “reducing anxiety,” as if these are pathologies one is stuck with.⁣

There’s almost no focus on why one has this issue, and how it’s trying to awaken them in their personal growth.⁣

The emphasis is on relieving one’s immediate discomfort, instead of on making true change.⁣

But it’s misguided because depression and anxiety aren’t pathologies; they’re meaningful processes that are sending you a message, albeit a difficult one to decipher.⁣

Just trying to get rid of the experience misses the whole point.⁣

It’s like not attempting to understand what motivates an unruly child; the child’s communication is disturbing but for good reason—she’s trying to express something important.⁣

Depressed states of mind, anxious moods, and panic attacks are like this trouble-making child—they’re messing you up in order to wake you up!⁣

Instead of putting all your focus on suppressing the experience, aim to uncover its message.⁣

Experiment with this idea:⁣

If you were the spirit of “depression” or “anxiety” attacking your everyday self, what do you imagine the reason would be?⁣

What would you want yourself to wake up about?⁣

Would you want your everyday self to step into her power? Connect with her spirituality? Kick the crap out of her inner critic?⁣

There’s a meaningful, purposeful process in bad states of mind; explore them to unpack and unfold their message.⁣

Instead of just suffering your problem and trying to manage it, take the viewpoint of the problem itself, and imagine how IT views you, what IT wants from you–how the child needs you to change!

Dr. Zwig Inner Work Exercises and Contemplations

Many self help methods are overly simplistic solutions for complex issues.⁣

We live in a quick fix, can-do culture that offers an immediate answer to every dilemma.⁣

Interventions usually take the form of prescriptive behavior which aims to counteract your issue— “Think these thoughts,” “Put yourself into this state of mind,” “Say this,” “Do that,” etc.⁣

The philosophy behind this approach is the same one that envisions a society where there’s a pill for every problem.⁣

It views your life issues as meaningless, pathological events without a purpose that we need to eliminate immediately by zapping them away with mind tricks.⁣

But it’s ineffective because your problems aren’t meaningless; they contain meaningful information that’s trying to guide you in your life.⁣

Just trying to get rid of them by changing your state of mind actually represses your process because it throws away essential information about what’s going on in your psyche.⁣

It makes you feel better in the moment at the expense of furthering a long-term problem.⁣

It also commits the numero uno error in psychology—the one-size-fits-all approach.⁣

The fact is, each one of us is utterly unique in what we need for our healing and growth at a given time.⁣

When a coach, therapist, or spiritual teacher offers a solution she uses on everyone she misses the process—YOUR process.⁣

Using pre-programmed fixes is a hit-or-miss approach.⁣

So, how do you know what to do with your problem?⁣

You have to explore the problem itself as the guide; it contains it’s own unique solution.⁣

The methods are within you!⁣

I’ll show you how to do this in my podcast starting September, 2020!

Dr. Zwig

©2022 Dr. Adam Zwig

Meet Dr. Adam Zwig—psychologist-musician, educator, and author. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology, has had 9 Top Ten hit singles on the U.S Adult Contemporary charts, and is an internationally renowned workshop leader and lecturer. He has been featured on Billboard, SiriusXM Radio, CBS Radio, and many other stations, and in People Magazine, SPIN, Pollstar, and many other publications. Dr. Zwig has released 7 albums, has songs on NBC, Fox, and Fuel TV, and has garnered over 150 million views on YouTube. His forthcoming book, Music in the Mayhem: Tales of Total Transformation from a Rock n Roll Psychologist, shows how life problems are not pathological but rather personal growth processes trying to happen. His podcast, The Dr. Zwig Show, posts new episodes every Wednesday.

DISCLAIMER: The content contained herein is for inspirational, educational, and entertainment purposes only. Nowhere in this Blog does Dr. Zwig diagnose or treat a viewer with any kind of psychological, mental, emotional or physical disorder as might be diagnosed and treated by a personal psychologist or other professional advisor. The content is not intended to be a substitute for working with a therapist but is for the purpose of educating the viewer about new approaches to working on personal problems. Viewers should use this Blog at their own risk, with the understanding that Dr. Zwig is not liable for its impact or effect on its users. Viewing this Blog does not form a practitioner/client relationship between the viewer and Dr. Zwig. Dr. Zwig is not responsible for any action taken by a viewer based upon any information in this Blog. Never disregard professional medical advice or stop taking psychiatric medication based on something you have read on this Blog without a doctor’s supervision and ongoing therapeutic support. Dr. Zwig is an educator, author, and life coach in the U.S., and a psychotherapist in Switzerland. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology. He is also a rock n roll musician.