With the fast pace of life and distractions all around, it’s easy to spend our days on autopilot. But when we take a step back or a moment to sit still, our critical inner voice arrives. The critical voice is something that most everyone experiences. It’s the part of our mind that thinks statements such as “You don’t look good in that shirt”, “don’t try because you’re not smart”, or “if you don’t make this person happy, you’ll never be good enough”. These are just a few examples of the mean statements that a person can experience, due to their inner critical voice.
Why would anyone have an inner critical voice that pushes self-deprecating and hateful thoughts towards their-self? Good question! Since the time we are born, our brains are taking in information. Who’s safe, what behaviors are appropriate, the list goes on and on! During the first few years of childhood, all of the information we take in during early childhood conditioning results in underlying belief systems composed of our core beliefs. These can vary, but all have one thing in common; the inner critical voice.
The inner critical voice is linked to worry, controlling tendencies, people-pleasing tendencies, perfectionism, and lack of self-compassion and self-assurance. An inner critical voice is a part that tricks you into believing everything the inner critic says is true. Due to the deeply ingrained nature of an inner critical voice, it can take time to separate your own, realistic, and self-compassionate view of yourself, from the critical view. And while it can take time, it is doable.
Steps to take to separate from your inner critical voice:
Identifying your critical inner critical voice
First things first, the inner critical voice has to be identified. Since it’s ingrained, it can be challenging at first, especially if you are living on autopilot or survival mode. A way to begin to identify the inner voice requires that we sit still, and quietly observe our own thinking. For example, sit still in a comfortable position, and close your eyes for 3 minutes. Notice what thoughts come to mind. They might be “gosh three minutes feels like a long time” or “you’re wasting time during this when you need to be going to the gym”. Eventually, you will be able to identify your inner critical thoughts. Not every inner thought is critical, which helps with identifying the critical voice. Some people identify their inner critic as a harsh family member, a past abusive partner, or their own voice, for example. Once the inner critical voice is identified, then we can further begin the separation process.
Name and visualize your inner critical voice
Now is when we get to be creative. You get to name and visualize your inner critic. The name can be anything you want, whether it be a name that makes you laugh or a formal name. It’s totally up to you! When visualizing your inner critic, it can differ depending on if you engage in a specific meditation, however, this is specific for day-to-day use. An inner critical voice can be visualized as anything; an animal, a younger version of yourself, someone from your past, or a public figure. It’s whatever feels best to you. During this time of visualization, remember that the inner critic is a part of you, but not all of you.
When working with separating from your inner critic, it’s important to remember to affirm your own experiences and approach yourself with self-compassion. These can be simple statements such as, “I am” statements. For example, “I am not my inner critic”, “I am loveable and worthy of others”, “I hear my inner critical voice, and meet myself with compassion”.
While spending time separating from your inner critic, remember that these critical thoughts come from your internal belief systems. By doing this, you can further your experience in therapy or engage in your own inner work, and begin to change the foundation of your core beliefs. While this type of inner work can be challenging, remember this: We have the power to choose to not believe everything our inner critic says.
If you would like to speak to someone about conquering your inner critic, give Tx Harmony Counseling a call at (832) 352-1600 or contact us here.