"The critical inner voice reveals itself in those little everyday thoughts that flit through our consciousness. They zing us and are gone before we are even fully aware of them. These thoughts are part of a menacing internal dialogue, a harsh and judgmental way that we talk to ourselves. Though sometimes hard to pinpoint, the inner voice is often experienced as a running commentary that attacks and criticizes our actions and interactions in everyday life. Unfortunately, this destructive thought process influences us to make decisions that are against our best interests and to take actions that negatively impact our lives. In order to challenge this internal enemy, you must be able to identify your critical inner voice. Once you have become aware of its negative guidance, you can make a conscious effort to not act on its destructive advice.
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 ongoing development.
The voice consists of the negative thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that oppose our best interests and diminish our self-esteem. It encourages and strongly influences self-defeating and self-destructive behavior. The critical inner voice is a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts toward ourselves and others. The nagging “voices,” or thoughts, that make up this internalized dialogue are at the root of much of our self-destructive and maladaptive behavior.
It has been defined as an integrated system of thoughts and attitudes, antithetical toward self and hostile toward others that is at the core of an individual’s maladaptive behavior.
How you perceive yourself in your present life, whether in your job or in your closest relationships, is often based on projections from old feelings from childhood interactions. Even the best of parents can’t be perfectly attuned to their children at all times.
Unfortunately, it is when parents are at their worst, in moments when they lose their temper or ignore a need, that they have the strongest influence on their children’s negative attitudes toward themselves. When people grow up, they can only get to know themselves by getting to know this critical point of view that lives inside them. When we project scenarios from our past onto our current life, we not only alter our own way of thinking but our way of perceiving others. To catch on to these patterns, it helps to think of a moment when your mood changed for no apparent rea son or your attitude toward something shifted significantly. It’s important to look back not only on what happened but what you were telling yourself at the time. Ask what might have triggered these reactions. You may begin to notice how these negative thoughts infiltrated your way of thinking.
Identifying what our inner critic is telling us about ourselves and other people enables us to become conscious of the unconscious influences from our past. To break from our own destructive patterns, we must gain an understanding of the defenses we formed as children that once helped us deal with hardships but now hold a negative influence on our lives. For instance, if someone grew up with a negligent parent, they may have an inner voice that tells them, “You are fine on our own. You don’t need anybody.” This thought may have made them feel secure when they were young, but as an adult they may not trust easily and actually push away people who show them love and kindness. Unfortunately, our critical inner voice is so well integrated into our thinking that it not only affects how we act but also facilitates how we are treated by others. If we shut ourselves up and refuse to be social, people may perceive us as timid or unfriendly. These actions not only influence us but help shape our relationships. Like an internal enemy, this voice is driven to keep us from our goals and divert us from our destiny.
These critical inner voices and the feelings of humiliation that they foster can be more painful to us than the threat itself. They can also be more real. This negative self-coaching accompanies us into our personal relationships and instills in us a level of doubt and criticism that keeps us from perceiving ourselves as truly lovable. It reminds us to be suspicious with thoughts like, “She doesn’t really care about you” or “You can’t trust him. Just keep him at a distance.”
While real rejections do hurt, long-term harm is primarily caused by how our critical inner voice continues to criticize and influence us long after the incident is over. When we listen to destructive self-coaching that fuels our insecurity and distrust, we risk acting on our emotions to a degree that hurts both us and those close to us. Over time, we become less like the person we really are and more like the person our critical inner voice is defining us as.
Why is this? Because no matter how painful or unpleasant our past experiences may have been, we adapted to them, and they became familiar and comfortable, even in their negativity. If we grew up feeling like a loser, we continue to tell ourselves that we will fail throughout our lives. Recognizing this enemy helps us understand our behavior and make sense out of bad choices, while comprehending the source of outbursts and over reactions.
Often, it is at those times when we are faced with the greatest opportunities that this fear is strongest, intimidating us with thoughts that we are not good enough or the threat that we will not succeed. What many people are unaware of is that these thoughts are part of a negative internal defense system known as the critical inner voice.
Millions of self-critical thoughts circle our minds everyday, leaving us miserable, discouraged and held back from going after what we want. Identifying these thoughts as mean-spirited, external points of view can free us from that destructive critical inner voice. Robert W. Firestone-Critical inner voice (click here)
Identifying your critical inner voice. You can take power over your critical inner voice. When you become conscious of what it is telling you, you can stop it from running your life. The challenge is to identify and ‘flush out’ this internal covert operation. To do this, be on the lookout for when you slip into a bad mood or become upset. Investigate: what caused the shift? What happened and, most importantly, what did you start telling yourself after the event? The fact that your mood shifted from feeling optimistic or relaxed to feeling down or irritable is probably a sign that you are interpreting the event through your critical inner voice. We can reject attitudes that oppose our best interests and diminish our self-esteem. We can stop self-defeating and self-destructive behavior. We cannot tolerate angry, cynical attitudes toward others that turn us against people."
( Source:Dr. Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., )