Turning Down the Volume of your Inner Critical Voice
How familiar are you with your inner critical voice?
You know, that voice that makes snide comments when you make a mistake.
Or makes an appearance at 3am berating you for something you said or did the day before.
The voice that may become louder when you are alone. The one that makes you keep yourself constantly distracted and busy so that you don’t have to listen to it.
Or that you try to drown out or numb by overeating or drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
What if I told you that your inner critical voice isn’t part of who you really are?
That it’s an echo of the influences and conditioning of your upbringing.
Maybe your caregivers were disappointed or critical when you didn’t get straight A’s, or were not sporty, or displayed anger, or tears or didn’t fit their ideal.
Maybe you were bullied or given a hard time by siblings, teachers or classmates.
These messages may have not been obvious at the time. They may have been quite subtle. But as children, we are hypersensitive to any behaviour that may affect our survival and need to fit in.
The more you experienced criticism or disappointment or abuse in any form, the more you may have taken on the belief that “I’m a failure” or “I’m not good enough”. And in turn, this increased the volume and the intensity of your inner critical voice.
So, if you make a mistake. Or unfavourably compare yourself to others. Or fail at something, your internal critic gets on it’s soap box and starts berating you.
These childhood messages and belief systems follow us into adulthood. They shape who we are, our life choices and how we allow ourselves to be treated.
Which can lead to feelings of anger, depression, anxiety, low self-worth and isolation.
The good news is that once you become aware that your inner critical voice isn’t part of who you are, you can change it.
You can become its master rather than its slave.
If you have an inner critical voice that needs taming, try the following…
Step 1 – Become aware of it. Really tune in to how it speaks to you. What language does it use? How often does it speak to you? How strong is the message? Become curious. Don’t judge it. Don’t criticise it. Just observe it with curiosity and note what it is saying. The more you can become aware of it, the less power it will hold.
Step 2 – Reflect on where the critical voice originated from. Think back to childhood experiences that may have developed it. Whose critical voice is it? Often, it’s not your own voice but someone who influenced your childhood.
Step 3 – Give it a name. This may sound odd, but by giving it a name and identity allows you to separate yourself from it and see it for what it is. A product of your upbringing that no longer serves you. Call it ‘Charlie the Chimp’ or ‘Desmond the little devil’ or ‘Pete the parrot’ or whatever works for you.
Step 4 – Have a conversation with it. When it starts criticising or putting you down for making a mistake, explain in a kind, gentle way that you were doing your best. That everyone makes mistakes in order to learn. That no one’s perfect. Talk to it as you would a friend if they had made the same mistake. Replace your virtual stick with a virtual hug!
It takes time and patience, but by consistently following these steps, over time you will notice that the volume of your inner critical voice decreases. And it will be eventually replaced with a kinder, more nurturing voice which is what you deserve.
And all of this will result in you living a happier more fulfilled life!
To learn more
Call: +44 (0)7767 658568
Marie is a BACP qualified counsellor and psychotherapist whose mission is to help you live a happier, more fulfilled life. If you would like to learn more, or are wondering if therapy is the right choice for you, please get in touch for a free 30 minute free telephone consultation.