Psychologist Edmund Bourne identifies the four most common negative self-talk “personas” related to anxiety. Do you recognize any of these four anxiety-provoking personas in yourself? Or maybe you’ve acted out ALL of them, at some point in your life.

The Four Anxiety-Provoking Personas are:

  1. The Worrier
  2. The Critic
  3. The Victim
  4. The Perfectionist

The worrier: You may relate to this one all too easily. The worrier is preoccupied with what could happen or go wrong. Worry is a largely unproductive thought pattern, yet we (as humans) are addicted to it. In many Buddhist and Eastern traditions, worry is seen as one of the roots of suffering. I would have to agree.

The critic: Ah yes, the critic. I have had some hard talks with my inner critic over the years. If you have a strong critic, you know that it likes to steal the show (and your happiness along with it). Nothing is ever good enough for the critic. Sometimes the critic and the perfectionist walk hand-in-hand (read about the perfectionist below).

The victim: The victim is pretty self-explanatory. If you don’t personally identify with the victim persona, I’m guessing that you can quickly think of someone who does. The victim is a part I found myself playing a lot in my younger years. It takes a lot of work to shift from the victim into the empowered adult.

The perfectionist: Oh yes, my favorite! The perfectionist is a sneaky one. Often times, people with a perfectionistic mindset are unaware that this persona is in action. They may easily recognize the other personas within themselves, but the perfectionist remains hidden. This is because perfectionists see doing things ‘just right’ or ‘exceeding expectations’ as the norm that everyone should strive for. The perfectionist believes your sense of self-worth must be earned and reinforced. Doesn’t everyone feel that way? (Thinks the perfectionist).

It’s easy to see how these personas contribute to anxiety. When you often have catastrophic or critical thoughts, it’s not easy to be emotionally balanced. These pervasive personas may be continually robbing you of joy, happiness, and peace of mind.

The good news is: with awareness, you can identify, name and change these pesky parts of the psyche. You can move forward with your life, and experience freedom from anxiety.