The Critical Inner Voice
Do you often hear another voice in your head conflicting with your hopes thoughts and feelings? It might sound odd that there is another voice in your head apart from your own, but trust me its normal.
Many of my clients tell me of a voice, almost debilitating and deafening at times, filled with self-doubt, criticising their every move and self-damming of their thoughts, feelings and actions.
Typically the voice might say something along the lines of, “Don’t speak up in a social situation as you will definitely embarrass yourself” or “You are not good enough to get that promotion at work so don’t even try”.
We can see just how the critical inner voice can colour the way we act, think and feel throughout their lives. leading to feelings such as anxiety and depression; in turn, affecting how we see the world and our happiness in general.
Many of my clients, ask me how to combat this voice so they can live a happier, more stress-free and self-assured life.
Where does the critical inner voice come from?
The critical inner voice stems from our childhood experiences and the way we are taught to deal with them by authoritative figures in our lives, such as close family, teachers or even society at large. As we continue to live in the world the way we internalise and deal with events start to leave a mark on us, this impacts our emotions and determines the ways in which we interpret, conceptualise and act within the world.
What is the critical inner voice trying to tell you?
The critical inner voice is a way of verbalising the emotions associated with the underlying negative impact of our past experiences of the world. This verbalisation asks us to exhibit self-limiting behaviour, a way of protecting us from the emotional impact of perceived negative events, akin to the way your primary care givers protected us as children. I would argue however that no two circumstances are the same and a lot has changed from our early childhood.
Thinking about the previous example, just because you were told not to talk to strangers as a child, it doesn’t mean you should avoid meeting new people as an adult. Essentially these views we have internalised may have worked for us in a past situation but how beneficial or indeed relevant are they now?
How does the critical inner voice manifest and affect your life?
When clients come to see me they often tell me about thoughts, actions and points of view which they see as self-limiting but true. Most importantly however many do not know the difference between their critical inner voice and their own internal voice. As a result, they feel at the mercy of these thoughts and not able to live the way they would like to.
Through discussing and challenging these thoughts, feelings and behaviours my clients are able to establish their own point of view within their mental process, finding that they have been giving their critical voice unchallenged authority within the life whilst realising that there is another way to think act, or, most importantly feel about that situation.
Establishing that the critical inner voice provides a statement which is NOT necessarily a true representation of reality.
Without us acknowledging and discussing what the inner voice is telling us we could start exhibiting self-destructive behaviour, such as addictive tendencies, job and relationship issues due to feelings of being powerless, frustration and even depression.
How psychotherapy helps
The first step I ask my clients to take is to conceptualise their inner voice. To see it as a different entity from themselves so as to grasp how they have been held back throughout their lives. This opens up new ways of us relating to the world, others and most importantly ourselves so we can fully grasp what we truly want from our lives.
Psychotherapy allows you to:
- Understand where your critical inner voice stems from within your unique life story
- To know the difference between your voice and that of the critical inner voice
- Identify, listen and understand what the critical inner voice is telling you
- Understand that the voice is a statement but NOT necessarily a true representation of reality
- Challenge those thoughts feelings and actions to see if they are helping or hindering your life and world views
- Discussion on the way we can change our thoughts, actions and behaviours
This leads to:
- An awareness of the critical inner voices motives so as to see it as one of many options you can choose from.
- An insight into ways to change your thoughts and behaviours so as to be less restrictive, less self-damming and see the world with a new fresh outlook.
- Discover who you really are and what you want from life
- Leading to an insightful self-reflective and happier you
You do not need to be at the mercy of your critical inner voice. By understanding it through psychotherapy you can allow yourself to live a happier insightful and more rewarding life.