The Accuser is the inner voice that tells us that we have failed, that we are inadequate, that we have made the wrong choices, that we are unworthy, or that we are not attractive enough. Freud called this the superego. This voice is also called the inner critic.
When the accuser takes over, its effects can be felt by becoming aware of how we feel. It could show up in our slouching shoulders, restlessness, tightness in the stomach or we may begin to daydream.
The accuser usually manifests itself in two forms:
- Diminished self confidence
- Deep-seated regret about choices we made and opportunities we missed
According to Timothy Butler, people in their twenties and thirties are more prone to lack of self confidence. People over forty are more susceptible to reproach themselves for insufficient accomplishment or to devalue the very real contributions they have made to their families, their communities and their professions.
Eugene Gendlin in Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy lists out five strategies to counter the accuser’s attack:
- Disrespect the superego by noticing how unreasonable, negative, stupid and repetitious it is
- Remember to NOT believe the message. You could find an accurate account of what happened by talking to friends, family or colleagues who were present
- Go back to what was happening just before the superego attack. The critic often attacks just as we are about to take a new step forward. Going back shows us what the new step is.
- Wave the superego off. Do not listen to it.
- Use humor! If we stand far enough back, this boring repetitive act becomes comical.