We have an inner voice that speaks to us consciously and unconsciously all the time. Our self-esteem and self-image are developed by how we talk to ourselves. When our inner voice becomes critical, it drags us down until we cannot have adequate love or esteem for ourselves.
How we speak to ourselves directly affects how we react to any negative situation. Take Covid 19 as a current example. If we create a positive inner voice, we will respond more positively, and this will allow us to handle the situation more effectively.
Our inner voices are embedded in our earliest childhood experiences and are reinforced throughout childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood.
“We are what we think about all day long.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Everyone has an inner critic. All of us have conscious and unconscious memories of all the times we felt bad or wrong – they are part of the unavoidable scars of childhood. This is where the critical inner voice gets started.
An internal voice may remind us of past failures, sorrows or disappointments, torture us with criticism or verbal abuse, describe frightening or unpleasant futures, or disturb us in other ways.
The critical inner voice is the part of us that is turned against ourselves. It is the defended, negative side of our personality that is opposed to our on-going development. It is a hostile, judgemental advisor.
Effects of the Critical Inner Voice:
- It creates a negative, pessimistic picture of the world.
- It undermines our ability to interpret events realistically.
- It attacks our mood, psychological state of mind, attitudes and prejudices.
- It damages personal relationships and style of relating to others.
- It affects the choice of school or career and work performance.
- It consists of the negative thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that oppose our best interests.
- It encourages and strongly influences self-defeating and self-destructive behaviour.
- It warns us about other people, promoting angry and cynical attitudes toward others.
- It triggers negative moods and sabotages our pursuit of satisfaction and meaning in life.
- It leads to a sense of alienation; a feeling of being removed from ourselves and distant from others.
The critical inner voice exists to varying degrees in every person. It is not an auditory hallucination; it is experienced as thoughts within your head. If we hear its destructive point of view and believe what it is telling us, we will fail to challenge it and instead we will act on it. This process has a seriously negative consequence on our lives.
The critical inner voice is not a conscience or a moral guide. What most distinguishes the inner voice from a conscience is its degrading, punishing quality. Its demeaning tone tends to increase our feelings of self-hatred instead of motivating us to change undesirable actions in a constructive manner. You don’t have to look far to find your critical inner voice, for example:
- It is there when you go to a job interview: “Why are you wasting your time? The other applicants are more qualified for this job.”
- It is there when you express a point of view: “You idiot, why did you say that? Now everyone will think you are stupid.”
- It is there when you make a mistake: “Can’t you do anything right? You are embarrassing yourself!”
- These thoughts can be cruel and berating: “Who do you think you are? You’ll never succeed. You’re not like everyone else. No one will ever care about you.”
- These thoughts can also be deceptively calm and soothing: “You’re just fine on your own. The only person you can rely on is yourself. You should reward yourself with one more piece of cake. Just have one last drink; it will make you feel better.”
We can observe this voice at work in various areas of our lives; it tells us not to get too close in our relationships or go too far in our careers. Whether cruel or soothing, these thoughts often hold us back from going after what we want and lead to our acting in ways that hurt us.
Giving in to the voice and acting on its advice only creates more attacks – the voice that told us to have that extra piece of cake is now ridiculing us for having no self-control.
The critical inner voice reveals itself in those little everyday thoughts that flit through our consciousness, which are here and gone before we are even fully aware of them. Though sometimes hard to pinpoint, the inner voice is often experienced as a running commentary that attacks and criticises our actions and interactions in everyday life.
“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” Steve Jobs
If we all listened to these negative people, then some of the greatest life stories would never happen. Take this for example:
George Lucas spent four years sending the script for Star Wars around to the various studios and collecting numerous rejections in the process. If he’d let his negative inner voice get to him, he would never have ended up having the highest grossing film of all time. Think of all the great Lucas movies we might never have seen if he’d let those rejections get to him.
Developing a Positive Inner Voice is vital to developing Mental Resilience – without commanding positive self-talk it is not possible to be positive and happy.
Thoughts for the week
- Are you aware of your Inner Voice?
- This week bring your attention to your thinking and observe how often it’s negative.
- Once you are aware of your inner voice you can start to do something about it.
- Whenever you notice yourself thinking negatively change to a positive thought.
- If you would like a free copy of my Developing a Positive Inner Voice Worksheet, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s it for this week have a wonderful weekend and stay Positive.