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Recognizing and Stopping Cognitive Distortions in Thoughts

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 behaviour.

The critical inner voice is not an auditory hallucination; it is experienced as thoughts within your head. This stream of destructive thoughts forms an anti-self that discourages individuals from acting in their best interest.

How Does the Critical Inner Voice Affect Us?

The critical inner voice is an internal enemy that can affect every aspect of our lives, including our self-esteem and confidence, personal and intimate relationships, and performance and accomplishments at school and work. These negative thoughts undermine our positive feelings about ourselves and others and foster self-criticism, inwardness, distrust, self-denial, addictions and a retreat from goal-directed activities.

What Are Some Examples of Common Critical Inner Voices?

Some common voices include thoughts like “You’re stupid,” “You’re not attractive,” or “You’re not like other people.”

Some people have voiced about their career, like “You’ll never be successful,” “No one appreciates how hard you work,” or “You are under too much pressure, you can’t handle this stress.”

Many people experience voices about their relationship, such as “He doesn’t really care about you,” “You’re better off on your own,” or “Don’t be vulnerable, you’ll just get hurt.”

Where Do Critical Inner Voices Come From?

These inner voices usually come from early life experiences that are internalized and taken in as ways we think about ourselves. Often, many of these negative voices come from our parents or primary caretakers, as children, we pick up on the negative attitudes that parents not only have towards their children but also toward themselves. Our voices can also come from interactions with peers and siblings or influential adults.

How is the Critical Inner Voice Different From a Conscience?

Many people think they will lose touch with their conscience if they stop listening to their critical inner voice. However, the critical inner voice is not a trustworthy moral guide like a conscience. On the contrary, the critical inner voice is degrading and punishing and often leads us to make unhealthy decisions. These negative voices tend to increase our feelings of self-hatred without motivating us to change undesirable qualities or act constructively.

How Can I Conquer My Critical Inner Voice?

To take power over this destructive thought process, you must first become conscious of what your inner voice is telling you so you can stop it from ruining your life. To identify this, it is helpful to pay attention to when you suddenly slip into a bad mood or become upset, often these negative shifts in emotion are a result of a critical inner voice. Once you identify the thought process and pinpoint the negative actions it is advocating, you can take control over your inner voice by consciously deciding not to listen. Instead, you can the actions that are in your best interest.

Hypnotherapy and the Inner Critic

This inner critic is a part of many people’s lives and can be helped with hypnotherapy. This is not to say that we should not give ourselves constructive criticism, but rather it is when the criticism is insulting and hurtful. When I work with clients, I endeavour to get them to agree that they will not say anything to themselves that they would not say to someone else. Hypnotherapy can then be used to help manage the critical side of their personality and help the client to get a sense of being good enough at this moment without feeling they need to be something that they are not.

How To Respond To Your Self-Criticism Identify your Strengths: Managing self-critical thoughts is not something that can be cured overnight. However, identifying and reminding yourself of your strengths can help you regain your confidence. For example, “I am a good mother, father, daughter, son, friend, spouse, parent.” “I am a kind person.” “I feel empathy for others.” “I work hard.” “I never give up.” “I am learning how to be more kind to myself.” “I am doing the best that I can right now.”Look for Evidence: Do you really have good evidence to support your self-critical thought? For example, let’s say you didn’t do as well on your exam as you thought you would. You wanted an A-, but instead, you got a B+. Do you have real evidence to tell yourself, “I did horribly, now I’m going to fail this class”? Most likely, the answer will be NO! Remember, your mind often tells you lies.Replace Self-Critical Thoughts:Once you’ve identified you don’t have evidence to support your self-critical thought, try replacing it with a more realistic one that is focused less on criticism and more on improvement. For example, “I didn’t do as well as I thought, but a B+ is still a decent mark. I still have many opportunities to do well in this class.”Fight the Tough Thoughts:Some self-critical thoughts are harder to manage than others. For example, “I am ugly.” “I’m not good enough for x.” “I am a terrible person.” “I will always be alone.” “I am a failure.” For these kinds of thoughts, it may be helpful to think about whether they serve a real purpose for you. Do they help you achieve your goals, or do they make you feel worse about yourself?Self-Compassion: When you have a self-critical thought, try thinking about how you would respond to a friend if they expressed this negative thought to you. Would you talk to a friend this way? We often forget to be kind to ourselves and practice Self-Compassion. Mindfulness: Practising Mindfulness allows you to acknowledge self-critical thoughts as they appear without judgment, and then let go of those negative thoughts. In practising mindfulness, you will naturally learn to focus on the positive aspects of yourself. Mindfulness also helps us realize that we are all humans who are sometimes self-critical, which makes us feel less alone.CBT?

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy, which integrates traditional Hypnotherapy with a form of Psychotherapy known as CBT We use CTB with the integration of hypnotherapy, which is more effective than using CBT alone. The self-awareness that CBT offers renders it a highly successful way to quickly eliminate negative thoughts, emotions and limiting beliefs that are holding you back from fulfilling your full potential in any area of your life.


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