In our last essay we wrote about the “Many Faces of the Persecutor.” In this essay we are tackling the most difficult of all the Persecutors—the voice inside your head that we call your “inner Persecutor.”
Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have. How you relate to yourself will have a big impact on how you relate to others.
Freeing yourself from the influence of the inner Persecutor begins when you realize that you are not the voice of your inner Persecutor. You are a Creator who is aware of the inner Persecutor’s voice, and knows it is not your true self.
Your inner Persecutor may have gotten started by re-channeling critical voices you heard as a child. But you don’t have to have a tough childhood to develop a harsh inner critic.
Your internal operating system is geared to protect you from danger, so your biological systems focus on keeping you safe above all other instincts. Our ancestors worried about their next meal, a warm shelter and safety from life-threatening situations, so their minds and internal chatter were fixated on survival in the external world.
Living and working in today’s world is less about protection from such threats—at least for most of us. Therefore, your brain has shifted its focus from external forces to the internal working of the mind. Now the voice that wants to keep you safe gives its attention to your inner fears, insecurities and destructive personal habits. As a result, the major struggle that many people face today ends up being their own inner Persecutor.
We have coached hundreds of leaders who, by all accounts, are successful outwardly. But when asked about what they say to themselves privately, it is amazing how harsh they are on themselves.
Your inner Persecutor might “keep you safe” by telling you to not speak up when you have something important to say in a meeting. It might say: “You haven’t thought this through, so don’t say something and look stupid.” Or the voice might limit what you want to create and demand: “It would be selfish to go back to school now, you have a family to feed.” The possibilities for the intrusion of this voice are endless!
Stepping into your true self, the “inner Creator” in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™ sometimes requires you to be brave, even courageous. Calling forth your dreams can feel risky, and subject yourself to criticism or even rejection. Your inner Persecutor thinks it is protecting you when it criticizes and causes you to doubt yourself and tells you to play it safe.
Here is an exercise we recommend: During the next few days listen to what your inner Persecutor has to say. If you are like most people, what you hear may be reoccurring old criticisms and self-doubts. Simply take note and listen to the voice.
You don’t have to win the argument with your inner Persecutor. In the place of fighting with your inner Persecutor, welcome it and continue to listen.
Now consider: If this “voice” was your best friend, would you take advice from her/him? If this inner voice was your accountant or doctor, would you seek their opinion? Probably not—–but our hunch is you listen to it all day long.
Here’s the thing. Many people do not realize this inner Persecutor is running in the background of their consciousness. When you start to listen, you can simply welcome it and listen. Gradually you will notice it calms down. The more you bring your inner Persecuting voice into conscious awareness, it will loosen its grip and you can then make empowered choices.
It’s thrilling to witness this transformation take hold. You will feel a lot more positive energy and joy when you learn to silence your inner Persecutor and allow your inner Creator to emerge.