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“The easiest person to deceive is one’s own self.”
Edward Bulwer-Lytton

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."
– The Wizard of Oz


We’re versatile. We’re complex. And sometimes we do things that leave us looking back and shaking our heads wondering, "What was I thinking?"

Each of us has a cast of "Inner Characters" – aspects of our personalities that seem to step in and take over from time to time. Sometimes subtle, other times like a bull in a china shop, Inner Characters can help you through the day or they can trip you up. Of course, these are not real characters in a clinical sense. The term "Inner Character" is merely a lighthearted way of describing styles of behaving that sometimes get in our own way. The book Secrets You Keep From Yourself describes several Inner Characters. Here are a few:

  • Moviemaker: Entertains you with Hollywood-style fantasies
  • Indulger: Distracts you with escapist activities
  • Persuader: Explains away uncertainty or rationalize aims and behavior
  • Mini-Me: Seeks safety by becoming inconspicuous
  • Capt. Superior: Seeks validation through perfectionism or putting others down
  • Escape Artist: Avoids demands by procrastinating, spacing out, or giving up
  • King Kong: Sidesteps your conscience and gives in to impulses

How to Spot Each Character in Action

Detect Characters in Yourself
 

Portraits of the Inner Characters

Character

EXAMPLE #1

You're asked to do something you don’t want to do.

You respond by doing something like:

EXAMPLE #2

You want someone to do something for you but you're afraid to ask.

So you do something like:
PATRON SAINT
MOVIEMAKER Fantasize about different ways you could say no Mentally rehearse asking to the tune of imaginary background music Walter Mitty
INDULGER Take the rest of the day off Go for ice cream Bacchus
PERSUADER Agree even though you can’t possibly do it Assure yourself that they'll realize what you want without your having to ask P.T. Barnum
MINI-ME Tell them that you’re feeling too tired to do anything Avoid them Henny Penny
CAPT. SUPERIOR Tell them how it should be done Begin by telling them that they owe you a favor Dr. Laura Schlessinger
ESCAPE ARTIST Agree, then forget about it Tell yourself that they’d probably say no, so why bother asking Harry Houdini
KING KONG Bite their head off Contemplate the threats you’ll use if they say no King Kong

From Secrets You Keep From Yourself published by St. Martin's Press
Copyright
© Dan Neuharth, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.  www.SecretsWeKeep.com

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Inner Character Detector

This chart can help you spot when Inner Characters are present in yourself or others

Instructions: Think of a specific situation that troubles or puzzles you.. Go down each column and note any applicable behaviors and feelings. Rows with the most number of items noted may indicate that Character was present. More than one Inner Character can be present at the same time.

You’re OVERDOING one or more of the following behaviors: You want to avoid feeling: You want to feel: Your Inner Character
  • Fantasizing
  • Daydreaming
  • Wishful or magical thinking
  • Getting lost in memories
  • Having an "active" imagination
  • Bored
  • Entertained
  • Distracted
Moviemaker
  • Shopping
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • TV viewing
  • Computer games or web surfing
  • Other escapist activities
  • Stressed
  • Deprived
  • Gratified
  • Satiated
Indulger
  • Rationalizing
  • Exaggerating
  • Underestimating odds or risks
  • Oversimplifying
  • Overanalyzing
  • Focusing selectively
  • Viewing life in all-or-nothing terms
  • Smooth-talking yourself
  • Uncertain
  • Invalidated
  • Justified
  • Validated
  • In-the-know
Persuader
  • Eliciting excessive caretaking
  • Hiding behind a facade
  • Avoiding attention
  • Being a people pleaser
  • Failing to assert yourself
  • Becoming dependent on others
  • Exposed
  • Scrutinized
  • Safe
  • Inconspicuous
Mini-Me
  • Interrupting others
  • Being arrogant
  • Being perfectionistic
  • Having a know-it-all attitude
  • Winning at all costs
  • Putting others down
  • Being compulsively organized
  • Flawed
  • Inferior
  • Special
  • The "Best"
Capt. Superior
  • Numbing or zoning out
  • Living half-heartedly
  • Feeling apathetic
  • Avoiding commitments
  • Being forgetful or easily sidetracked
  • Procrastinating or stalling
  • Being indecisive or unable to initiate
  • Pressured
  • Trapped
  • Stress-free
  • No Demands
Escape Artist
  • Obsessing or becoming fixated
  • Acting impulsively
  • Emotionally regressing or "losing it"
  • Self-depriving or self-criticizing
  • Ignoring long-term consequences
  • Taking unwise risks
  • Avoiding responsibility
  • Small
  • Irrelevant

 

  • Big
  • Powerful

 

King Kong

From Secrets You Keep From Yourself published by St. Martin's Press
Copyright
© Dan Neuharth, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.  www.SecretsWeKeep.com



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Home Assess Yourself Obstacles to Happiness Inner Character Detector Self-Sabotage Top 20 How We Fool Ourselves Find the Authentic You Live Your Best Life Links and Resources Helpful Books About the Book