Voice Dialogue Tips Newsletter
Issue 1 October 2002

Hal and Sidra Stone

The Inner Critic is the voice in us that tells us bad things about ourselves. The Inner Judge is that voice in us that feels critical of, or who criticizes, other people.

The Inner Critic is born very early in life, when we first integrate rules about how we should feel, think, or behave. The moment that we have a rule with which we identify, that is the moment that the Inner Critic develops; its job is to enforce that rule.

How do these rules develop in us? They begin to emerge in our very earliest years in response to both verbal and non-verbal cues that we get from our surroundings as we grow up.

Let us say that you grow up in a family where you learn that it is important to be nice. You are rewarded with love, attention, and perhaps even praise when you are nice. You are punished by the withdrawal of affection, or actual verbal or physical punishment, when you are not nice. “Being nice” becomes one of your basic rules of living. It becomes the foundation of how you relate to others. Being nice helps you to avoid pain and humiliation; it earns you love. You don’t know that it is a rule because it is so natural to you. Your experience is simply that this is the way you are.

As you identify with this rule or requirement for living, your Inner Critic steps in to perform its job. The Inner Critic’s job is to enforce the rule. If you behave badly or have a bad thought, then the job of the Inner Critic is to criticize you for that behavior so that you will be good. It punishes you for deviating from any of the rules that you have adopted as your own – rules that you have learned from your parents, extended family, secular and religious teachers, friends, and any other people or teachings that impacted you in growing up.

Why does the Critic punish you in this way?  This is the really strange part. The Inner Critic punishes you with its criticism in order to protect you and keep you safe. In your family you were punished and shamed when you were ‘bad’ This is very painful to a young child. The Inner Critic remembers that pain. It stands very close to the sensitivity and pain of your Inner Child. By criticizing you for bad behavior or bad thoughts, it is trying to help you avoid the pain that it knows will come to you if you act against these primary rules.

You might think of the Inner Critic as a policeman who stops you when you are violating ‘the law’ The more rules or laws, the stronger the Inner Critic or “the police”. The deeper, the more black and white, the more unconscious the rules, the stronger the Inner Critic.

The lesson for all of us here is to commit ourselves to what we feel is the number one job of consciousness work ú the discovery of the rules/laws/primary selves that control our lives without our knowledge. As we discover these rules and learn to balance them with whatever self or group of selves that are are on the other side, then the Inner Critic goes on a weight loss regime that is more effective than any diet on the market today.

One of the greatest rewards for doing the work of learning about our own rules, separating from our primary selves, and evolving a more Aware Ego is this mastery over the Inner Critic.

Hal and Sidra Stone
Albion, California
September, 2002


Issue 2 December 2002

Hal & Sidra Stone

When a woman is having difficulties in her life – particularly in areas having to do with her relationships, her power, her sexuality, and her ability to set and hold boundaries – ask her the following questions: “How would you act in that situation if you were a man?” or “How would you feel about that if you were a man?” The answers to these two questions lead directly to the discovery of the woman’s Inner Patriarch.

Listen to the answers you get – usually given smoothly and easily — and often with a smile:

“I wouldn’t worry about the relationship. It’s basically the woman’s job to see that the relationship works.”

” I’d go ahead and take the chance.”

“I’d know I was entitled to ask for it, so I would. After all, I deserve it and I’d get it.”

“I wouldn’t worry about what people think.”

“I’d go for the top position without a second thought.”

“I’d never even think of assuming that kind of responsibility for someone’s feelings.”

There you have him! The Inner Patriarch is an old-fashioned kind of guy a guy with a well developed double standard – who likes his women to be women and his men to be men. He has strong opinions about what this means, and lots of rules to make sure that the difference between them is preserved. As a matter of fact, he’s one of the biggest rulemakers we’ve come across. And he’s operating underneath – in the shadows – in just about every relationship we’ve seen. That’s why Sidra called him the “Shadow King” on her book.

The Inner Patriarch isn’t totally bad. Just like the Inner Critic who originally developed to help us to avoid shame and pain, he developed to help women live in a patriarchal society. He truly believes that they need his advice – as a man – to help them deal with the men in their lives. And he’s not completely wrong.

He has rules about how a “real” man should be and how a “real” woman should be. He has rules about women and power, women and sexuality, and a surprising number and variety of rules about how men and women should behave in relationship.

If you ask any self-respecting woman whether or not she has an Inner Patriarch, she will most likely answer no. After all, the patriarchy is a clear
force on the outside, a force to be consciously – and conscientiously – resisted. It is a force that a woman must no longer allow to dominate either her thinking or her life.

But the need for consciousness raising and the struggle for “women’s liberation” has moved form the outer battleground to the inner. As women vigilantly look outside for the challenger, he creeps up from below. We can assure you that the patriarchy is alive and well within. Women’s lives, careers, sexuality, and relationships are deeply affected by the Inner Patriarch.

As we’ve said, the Inner Critic works hard to enforce the rules. The Inner Patriarch gives him or her plenty of rules to enforce. The more rules you become aware of, the more choice will be available to you, and the freer, more loving, and more spontaneous your relationships will become.

So start looking for your Inner Patriarch. The signs are usually subtle, but they’re there!


Issue 3 Febuary 2003


Hal & Sidra Stone

As we grow up, we gradually learn to identify with a set of rules and certain ways of thinking and behaving that increasingly define who we are in the world. These determine both how we see ourselves and how other people see us.

We have discovered that these primary ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving – which are related to the rules that govern our life – are a function of a group of selves. We have named these the “primary selves.” This simply means that they are the selves within us that are dominant – they are the ones that determine how others (and we, too) experience who we are.

The really strange thing about all this is that most of us don’t know that we are identified with these primary selves. They feel like just who we are. These primary selves are very important to us because they are what give us the strength and focus to be successful in the world in particular ways. A Pusher for example helps us to get things done. A Perfectionist makes sure that we do them right. A Responsible Self helps us to behave responsibly in the world. A Power Self keeps us in charge.

On the other side of the coin, if selves that are more relationship-oriented are primaries then we have the equipment to be in relationship in an enjoyable way but we may lack power in the world. A Pleaser helps us to sense what people need and want and it knows how to make relationships pleasant. It protects us from people’s displeasure by not letting us react too strongly to them. But a Pleaser cannot take power directly; others always come first.

If the Vulnerable Child is a primary self then there is a danger that we might become victims in the world because although vulnerability gives us sensitivity and the ability to connect deeply with others, it doesn’t give us power.

Where things really get interesting is that when we grow up with a primary way of being in the world, that self – or group of selves – colors the way we see the world. It determines what we like and don’t like; what we judge and don’t judge. For example, let us say that you are a man who has grown up with a very strong Pusher energy that drives you mercilessly towards success and achievement. You meet a woman who is very much the opposite of you. You like her and feel attracted to her but – at the same time – you feel heavy judgments towards her because she is so laid back, so lacking in ambition. Instead, she is interested more in her creative process.

As a man you have quite a dilemma now until you realize that your judgments, that all judgments, come from your primary self-system. If we talk to your Pusher and your Achiever we discover that it is they that have the judgments. When you are able to separate from these selves and have the ability to use them in a conscious way, then your judgments begin to disappear.

If you are identified with responsibility and you meet someone who is irresponsible, one of three things can happen. You may be irresistibly and mysteriously drawn towards this person; you may be filled with judgments, even hatred, towards this person; or you may feel both the attraction and the judgment simultaneously. You might even marry this person because of the attraction and then spend your life alternating between judgment and attraction/ love.

The basic teaching in all this is very simple. Whenever you feel a judgment towards another person, pay attention to the particular trait or traits that you are judging. If you feel that someone is untrustworthy and every time you think of him or her you get angry, ask yourself what the actual personality qualities are that push your buttons. You might find that your friend is selfish and self-serving and always puts himself first. It these are the traits that you resent then you have a remarkable gift coming because you are being given the opportunity of learning about selves that you have that are unconscious or disowned. What a gift this can be to you!.

Remember too that judgment and discernment are not the same thing. You may make a discernment about someone without having a judgment. Judgments are always more visceral. You feel them in your body whereas discernments tend to be more objective.

Most people like to think that they are discerning rather than judgmental because judgments seem to be a bad thing to have. This prejudice against judgments is there because most of us haven’t learned yet how to use them creatively, how to make friends with them, and how to learn from them about our many disowned selves.

So, pay attention to your judgments and use them constructively. Welcome to the world of creative judgment. Enjoy!


Issue 4 April 2003

Hal & Sidra Stone

Did you ever wonder why you felt alone even when you were with somebody else? Have you had the experience – in the middle of a conversation – of suddenly feeling as though the other person wasn’t listening to you even though, when you challenged him, he could repeat back to you exactly what you had just said? Have you ever thought that your partner was more attached to the computer than to you?

All these are examples of what we call a loss of energetic connection – a loss of linkage. Our relationships have mental, emotional, and spiritual components – but they also have an energetic component – and it is this energetic component that we are now addressing.

There are many ways to communicate or connect with others. We usually think of communication as verbal; we talk to each other. Another way of communicating is through our “body language”; we signal each other with recognizable signs of interest – like affection, caring, or sexuality – or conversely, we signal with recognizable signs of our lack of interest – like boredom, irritation, anger.

Many people are sensitive to this kind of communication. For instance, they know that when we “can’t look them in the eyes”, we are probably not telling the truth, or when we cross our arms, we’re probably disagreeing with them even if we don’t say anything, or when our hands are cold, we’re feeling anxious even tough we are speaking confidently. Each of us has our own set of signals that can be read by others. And the others – particularly our significant others – are often happy to tell us just what our particular signals are.

But energetic connection is something different. It is subtle. Each of us has a body energy field that extends beyond our physical body – a set of vibrating energies that is finer than those that make up our bodies. This has always been known by people involved in energetic healing and by many indigenous peoples, but now it is being measured and photographed in the laboratories.

Most of us don’t know about these fields. But they exist, they play an important part in our relationships, and they affect our feelings of wellbeing. When we don’t know about them, we control them automatically. For instance, when we are out in a crowd, we might contract our energy fields so that we are not so available to others. When we are thinking rather than feeling, our fields are cooler – the connections we make are cool and fairly impersonal. If we are feeling loving, our fields are warmer – the connections we make are warmer and our fields are likely to blend with others’ energy fields.

Our energetic availability often does not match our verbal communication. We can say we’re listening, and we may hear the words, but we are not truly present in an energetic sense. As for body language, you can’t always point to a clearly observable specific physical change that correlates with a change in energetic connection. Some people know how to smile and maintain good eye contact while – at the same time – they withdraw their energies completely. Conversely, we say (or even believe) that we are not trying to intrude but energetically we are actually moving our energies into the other person’s field.

This is a new way of looking at connections and communication that we find particularly fascinating. Once you know the reality of these invisible, subtle energetic connections, you have available an entirely new kind of information about relationships and – most particularly – your feelings of connection or intimacy..


Issue 5 August 2003

by Hal Stone, Ph.D. and Sidra Stone, Ph.D.

We have always been fascinated by the dream process. We enjoy following it as it weaves between the sacred and the profane and between the conscious and the unconscious with great ease.  It has played- and continues to play – a major a role in our own personal relationship and in our professional work. Dreams often give us information, inspiration, and healing that are not available to us in our waking lives.

In the Voice Dialogue video series, we spend two hours discussing the dream process with Michael Rowland.  In our most recent book, PARTNERING, we devote a chapter to discussing the different kinds of dreams that are commonly seen when people begin to pay attention to their dreams.

In most of our current training programs, participants receive each other’s email addresses and are encouraged to send their dreams to one another even before the training begins.  The participants, themselves, respond to these dreams if they feel so inclined.  This process begins a few months before the program, continues during the program, and usually goes on for a few months afterwards.

The result is a rich tapestry of material from the unconscious; everyone is able to see the remarkable changes in personality that occur in relationship to these dreams and the work that has been done.

In a recent program one of the participants sent to us a copy of a very powerful dream that she had – and she told us of a very powerful experience that went with it.  We were very moved by this dream and wanted to share it with you because it demonstrates the healing power of the unconscious when this deeper part of our spiritual nature becomes activated.

The dreamer was in her mid forties. Her daughter had died the year before at the age of 21. Needless to say, this was a crushing experience, and in the year that passed she had grieved this death very deeply. It seemed at some level to be an unsolvable grief.  She sent us the following dream.  (We have made some minor changes because English was her second language.)
I had this dream when I was sleeping alone in Maria’s bed (my daughter who died in 2001 of cancer ).   I felt the need that night to sleep separately from my partner because I felt a strong need to be alone and have my own space.  So I moved over to the room where my daughter had slept and went to sleep in her bed.  In the night I had the following dream.

Maria is sleeping in this bed that I am also lying in. I see her breathe and her breathing is very quiet and peaceful. Suddenly I realize that I am inside Maria’s body. I can feel what she feels. She is sleeping very quietly and peacefully and I could feel and taste this quiet energy. I see that this energy is very big in her  — a big and wonderful and peaceful energy. I see wondrous things through Maria’s eyes. I can’t find words to describe this experience I was having. In the dream I am feeling what she feels.

Then I realize that Maria is going towards Source.  She finally is finding what she expected to find all the time in her life.  Then I am out of her body watching her again and I realize that she has really died.  I realize that she is at peace and with Source at the same time. I wake up at this point and feel both frightened and full of wonder at what has happened to her and to me.

One can only stand in awe at the power of the unconscious, the wondrous nature of the Dream Master who rules our sleep and dreams.  God works in many different ways and along many different paths. In dream work we watch this intelligence of the psyche at work, moving us always to a deeper sense of ourselves. How else could such a deep tragedy be resolved than to be given the chance to experience with and within your child the peace of death as the newly packaged energy system moves towards the light and source of the universe.

It is our job to become aware of the selves that populate our inner world. We must become aware of them and learn to use them from a new place within us.  Invariably out of this process the dream process become clearer and more understandable in a much shorter period of time than we could possibly imagine. All dreams aren’t as dramatic as this one, but once this Intelligence is activated inside of us, the hand of God is most assuredly at work.