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Excerpted from The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne. Copyright © 2005 by Edmund Bourne. Excerpted by permission of New Harbinger Publications.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Iíve outlined four of the more common subpersonality types that tend to be prominent in people who are prone to anxiety: the Worrier, the Critic, the Victim, and the Perfectionist."

  Edmund Bourne,
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook,
Part 3

Types of Negative Self-Talk

Not all negative self-talk is the same. Human beings are not only diverse but complex, with multifaceted personalities. These facets are sometimes referred to as "subpersonalities." Our different subpersonalities each play their own distinct role and possess their own voice in the complex workings of consciousness, memory, and dreams. Below Iíve outlined four of the more common subpersonality types that tend to be prominent in people who are prone to anxiety: the Worrier, the Critic, the Victim, and the Perfectionist. Since the strength of these inner voices varies for different people, you might find it useful to rank them from strongest to weakest in yourself.

The Worrier (promotes anxiety)

Characteristics: This usually is the strongest subpersonality in people who are prone to anxiety. The Worrier creates anxiety by imagining the worst-case scenario. It scares you with fantasies of disaster or catastrophe when you imagine confronting something you fear. It also aggravates panic by reacting to the first physical symptoms of a panic attack. The Worrier promotes your fears that what is happening is dangerous or embarrassing ("What if I have a heart attack?!" "What will they think if they see me?!").

In short, the Worrierís dominant tendencies include 1) anticipating the worst, 2) overestimating the odds of something bad or embarrassing happening, and 3) creating grandiose images of potential failure or catastrophe. The Worrier is always vigilant, watching with uneasy apprehension for any small symptoms or signs of trouble.

Favorite expression: By far the favorite expression of the Worrier is "what if . . ."

Examples: Some typical dialogue from the Worrier might be: "Oh no, my heartís starting to beat faster! What if I panic and lose complete control of myself?" "What if I start stammering in the middle of my speech?" "What if they see me shaking?" "What if Iím alone and thereís nobody to call?" "What if I just canít get over this phobia?" or "What if Iím restricted from going to work for the rest of my life?"

The Critic (promotes low self-esteem)

Characteristics: The Critic is that part of you that is constantly judging and evaluating your behavior (and in this sense may seem more "apart" from you than the other subpersonalities). It tends to point out your flaws and limitations whenever possible. It jumps on any mistake you make to remind you that youíre a failure. The Critic generates anxiety by putting you down for not being able to handle your panic symptoms, for not being able to go places you used to go, for being unable to perform at your best, or for having to be dependent on someone else. It also likes to compare you with others, and usually sees them coming out favorably. It tends to ignore your positive qualities and emphasizes your weaknesses and inadequacies. The Critic may be personified in your own dialogue as the voice of your mother or father, a dreaded teacher, or anyone who wounded you in the past with their criticism.

Favorite expressions: "What a disappointment you are!" "That was stupid!"

Examples: The following would be typical of the Criticís self-talk: "You stupid . . ." (the Critic relishes negative labels). "Canít you ever get it right?" "Why are you always this way?" "Look at how capable is," or "You could have done better." The Critic holds negative self-beliefs, such as: "Iím inferior to others," "Iím not worth much," "Thereís something inherently wrong with me," or "Iím weakóI should be stronger."

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