The Critic Within Us

We all have an inner voice. You know the voice- the one who tells you the person across the table, looking at you, seems happy. The inner voice who tells you that you’re not good at something, perhaps even tells you that you need to lose weight, or quit something.

Sometimes this voice tells us good things about ourselves. It may say, “I’m good at this,” or “I look good today.” At other times, the voice is not complimentary.

Worse yet, some of us maintain an inner “audio tape” or group of messages we tell ourselves in which our inner voice belittles, berates, or beats us down. We sometimes tell ourselves things we would never say to our friends, especially those we love.

Yet, we tell ourselves messages about ourselves, our worth, our talents which breakdown our self-esteem and self-worth. In this way, we are on the verge (if not actually) emotionally abusing ourselves via these inner monologues.

Our self-talk is arguably one of the most important aspects of our inner life. What we tell ourselves effects what we think about ourselves, as well as our ability to thrive, our perspective of others, and our beliefs about life -just to name a few.

It’s easy to see the impact this inner voice may have on our psychological health. So how can we silence or replace these potentially unhealthy inner dialogues?

The first step in ridding ourselves of these hazardous inner dialogue tapes is to realize we have them. The next time you do something you wish you hadn’t, notice what you say to yourself about it. Were you kind and understanding to yourself the way you be to a friend? Or did you berate yourself, maybe even call yourself names like “stupid” or “dumb?”

If you find that you’re unkind or demeaning, finding ways to shut down that negative self-talk is essential. Once you realize the harsh or harmful way you are talking to yourself, the next step is to attempt to stop those messages.

Cessation of the negative self-talk may be more difficult than it sounds. After all, the inner voice has been with us for a long time and is influenced by our parents, previous and current environments.

However, replacing the negative self-talk may be accomplished through the intentional practice of positive mantras and kind words. For example, repeating mantras “I am capable” or I have this” or “I deserve to be happy.” These mantras may help us rise above our circumstances and into a more beneficial mind space. In fact, retaining positive self-talk may change your attitude and the tone of your day.

Allison Wray, LAPC

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