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Peter J. Pizor, Ph.D. C.H. 
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Healing the Roots of Self-Hatred


Dr. Peter J. Pizor, C.H. 

We've all heard it. That nagging inner voice that says, “You can’t.” or “Your not good enough.” The inner voice of self-criticism, let’s call it The Critic, is a common and unfortunate constant in our inner lives. This Critic assumes the tone and language of your mother, father, religion or your society. Whenever we take one step forward, out it pops doubting or damning our choice.


But for many people, “critic” is much too mild a word. The voice they hear is relentless, a vicious screaming that cripples and controls. They might call their voice the “Self-Hater” or the “Killer Critic.”


Not everyone hears self-hatred as a voice in their heads. Sometimes, it’s a way of being that manifests in myriad forms, including:



  • sabotaging healthy relationships or good jobs, 


  • pushing away people that we really want to get closer to

  • attempting to prove worthiness by being perfect or through high achievement,

  • being drawn time and again into abusive situations.


Where Does the Critic or Self-Hater Come From?


A Protector

In Embracing Your Inner Critic, Hal and Sidra Stone write that in order to protect us from the pain and shame of always being found “less than,” a voice develops within us “that echoes the concerns of our parents, our church or other people who were important to us in our early years.” That voice criticizes us before anyone else can.



Cheri Huber, author of There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate, sees the culprit in childrearing practices based on punishment. These practices, she says, teach us that we need to be punished in order to be good. Because we believe that punishment is the path to goodness, we continue to do it to ourselves as adults.


Internalized Shame

Internalized shame from having been molested, neglected or abused as a child can create the most vicious forms of self-hatred. David was molested by his mother and lived constantly with a voice in his head that told him he was unworthy of life. He used to silence that voice with alcohol and drugs. “Only when I was high,” he says, “did I have any peace.”


Three simple steps to Get It to SHUT UP?

Understanding where the Critic originates is helpful, but then you have to ask, how can I get this voice to leave me alone? Many who have tried to argue or fight with or ignore it would attest to the futility of those tactics. Here, instead, are three strategies that have helped others.


Meditation. In There Is Nothing Wrong with You and its follow-up When You’re Falling, Dive, Huber lays out a process in which you learn to listen to and then disbelieve the voice—to unlearn the lie that something is wrong with you. When Crystal started listening with detachment, she was shocked to discover that her crushing voice thought it was helping her become a better person by screaming her “flaws.”


Hypnotherapy. Skilled facilitation can be crucial for healing the childhood traumas that often give rise to the Self-Hater. David, not his real name, found relief and detachment from the voice and realized that his self-hating voice jump-started his depression and addictions. Through therapy, he’s gradually coming to accept himself just as he is. He still hears the voice, but it doesn’t drive him to despair.


Being mindful. Start by being deeply aware of what is going when the critic speaks. Take time to understand what it is trying to communicate. Frances, again not her real name, tried this approach in her journal. She wrote out each of their parts, as though they were having a conversation. She discovered that the voice that always called her stupid was afraid that if she made a mistake she would lose her job. She still hears the voice, but now considers it a call for help to which she responds with compassion and curiosity. When it starts calling her names, she asks what it is afraid of, thus defusing its previous power over her and sometimes gaining useful information. As Thich Nhat Hanh writes, hold on to that inner fear and cradle it as a mother would cradle a little baby and gradually its fears and cries would give way to peace.


The goal in these strategies is not to silence the Critic or Self-Hater, but to transform it by disbelieving its slander, facing the traumas that empower it and understanding what it really fears, as well as the needs from which it may spring. You may never silence the voice completely, but it is possible to lessen its impact, and find relief and healing.


Take the first steps today and contact a competent and experienced healer. You are worth it.



Author’s content used under license, © 2009 Claire Communications

Accessing the Power of Gratitude to help your resolutions work for you.


by Peter J. Pizor, Ph.D.



Ready for a change? The practice of gratitude has been a hidden tool for finding and growing your personal happiness. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, better health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and even a faster rate of recovery from surgery.


The evidence is overwhelming. Gratitude works. It still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a once a year word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a grove in a new habit. Here is the secret to bringing in this powerful and positive habit into your life.  


Start by practicing gratitude.  When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to discover all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.


Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.


There are many things I am grateful for: beautiful surroundings, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, my favorite foods, warm jackets, songs we love, the ability to read, roses, our health, biking in the desert. What’s on your list?


Some Ways to Practice Gratitude


•  Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.


•  Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.


•  Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.


•  Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.


•  When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.


•  Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.


As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how comfortable and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.



Author’s content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Ten conflict resolution strategies we learned as children that are just plain wrong.

Ten conflict resolution strategies we learned as children that are just plain wrong.

We have learned how to fight--but for most of us--our skills were highly shaped by our childhood sense of competition and cooperation. What we learned was mostly wrong.

If I win, you lose.

This concept was disproved years ago with the introduction of game theory. Game theory illustrates that there are infinite range of positions between winning and losing. An early example of this is prisoners dilemma, where people pursue the winning strategy, and in the presence of limited communication find themselves in a worse position.

If I shout louder, I will win.

Although this seems to be the reason thinking underlying many political adversarial shows, increase in volume usually denotes a decrease in thoughtful alternatives. This is clearly evident from studies in the neurophysiology of the human brain. Under stress, or functional intelligence decreases; as do our abilities to formulate additional alternatives.

If I am stronger,  I will win.

This is the belief that leads to arms races. The race to have more nuclear weapons than other nations has led to financial strains on economies in a number of countries including the former USSR. The essence of the strategy was lampooned when the nuclear arms race was given the acronym, MAD or Mutually Assured Destruction.

If I am more moral, I will win.

In spite of Hollywood movies, the most moral side does not always win. Individuals, tribes, and nations that have staked a claim on moral authority have certainly suffered — at least in the short run. Poignant and powerful examples are the destruction of native peoples in many countries, and cases of genocide.

If I just absorb what the other person is dishing out, the conflict will go away.

Silence in the face of injustice reinforces the prevailing power. The power of a single voice can have profound impacts on conflicts. Mohamed Bouazizi, the street seller who lived in the relatively small town of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, set fire to himself to protest the corruption that he saw around him. His actions led to a change of government in Tunisia, the fall of dictator in Egypt, and an overthrow of government in Libya. In a similar fashion, Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus and inspired a profound change in civil rights in the United States. We create peace not by avoiding conflict, but by taking appropriate non-violent actions.

Nice people don't fight.

This can also be phrased as "I don't want to be a troublemaker". To maintain order in preschools, the teachers have long learned to teach the children not to hit. Those were caught hitting are usually sanctioned. At the very least, they are labeled as not being nice. This may make sense in the simplistic world of others competing for the same toy. The problem with this approach is that it tends to become generic and separated from the situation. Fighting unjustly is certainly wrong. When there is injustice the question of the most appropriate means of resistance becomes significant. The founders of nonviolent protest, including Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. certainly knew how to organize protests. And in so doing, they were willing to step outside of the boundaries of being "nice". Instead, their goal was to increase political participation with the goal of increasing political equality.

People are naturally violent; war is simply a reflection of our basic biology.

Harvard biologist, Steven Pinker, has reviewed the number of incidents of violence over the last 2000 years. According to his research, each century for the last 20 seen a decrease in the amount of violent death. The evidence demonstrates that while we focus on violence, it has been decreasing for centuries. A more relevant part of our biology is our surprisingly high level of compassion.

There are two sides to every issue.

Absolutely not. When issues are deconstructed in view in their smallest components it turns out that they are invariably multifaceted. Indeed, one of the strengths of those who are able to work in mediation, conflict reduction, and peacemaking is their deep strength in finding numerous aspects. Once identified, these can be rearranged, reshaped, re-organized, and negotiated individually, all towards the purpose of clarifying the process of reaching a more just outcome.

What people object to is what they are concerned about.

A great deal of recent research into how our brains process conflict shows that many people are not in touch with their feelings. When people feel strong emotion, they say something. But what they say initially may be more indicative of their level of emotional engagement than an insight into the cause of their distress. This is a good time to engage with them as human beings. Underneath the intensity of that initial outburst there is often an underlying rationale. Taking time to walk down through the emotional fires is one of the critical tools and peacemakers’ workshops.

Winning will be good for me in the long run.
In my classes, I like to play a game called "why did this for start?" This is an instructive exercise. Take any war at all and see what the immediate causes were, then look beyond those the intermediate causes, and the longer-term causes. It soon becomes apparent that when we look at this pattern called war that most wars were caused by earlier decisions which seemed appropriate at the time, but contained the seeds of later conflict. For example, World War I was called "the war to end all wars". In striving to come up with a peace that would ensure lasting tranquility, high priced reparations were used by Adolf Hitler as a pretext for exploiting discontent within the German population. What caused the Second World War? The First. This chain of causation is endless. Winning is not a stable goal. To made a significant difference we need to focus on creating positive peace.



Creating peaceful preschoolers: how to avoid temper tantrums

My youngest child is three years old. After dinner, when it was time to pick up the toys and get ready to go to bed, he became frustrated and hit his mom. She said, "that's it. Turn it off now." As you might expect, he burst into tears and ran to me for comfort.

I told him the following story. Once upon a time there was a peer who lived in the woods then he was good friends with a dear. One day the pair hit the deer. Then I stopped and asked, "how do you suppose the deer felt?"

"The deer felt terrible."  

"So how do you suppose your mom felt?"

"she probably felt bad."

"So what do you think you should do?"

"I'm going to go give her a kiss." And then he ran over and gave her a hug, and said, "I am sorry."

When we are little, we learn about creating peace through modeling from our parents, from stories, and from observing the results of actions.

In my son's case, there was a war between different parts of his little brain. One part wanted to continue playing; perhaps in the hope of never having to go to sleep again. That was the part that struck out at his mom.

the whole scenario played out quite well, thanks in a large measure to a brilliant book by Daniel J Siegel, M.D. , and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. in simple language and with delightful illustrations they provide a dozen easy to implement strategies to help children grow to maturity with an integrated thinking process.

What is even more effective is that they are able to explain the high-powered concepts of contemporary neurophysiology in a language that any parent can use with any preschooler.

For example, instead of using the technical lingo they help make the brain understandable even to children. One of their examples is to divide the brain into an upstairs and downstairs segment. To our little ones, we can say, "that was the downstairs part of your brain working." Then, as they put it, "Engage, don't enrage" Instead, they recommend appealing to the "upstairs brain". 

Are you ready to be done with temper tantrums? Read this book, and introduce connected communications in your household.  You can find it online at