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Understanding Stress Unrealistic Self-critical 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, our personal and intimate relationships, and our performance and accomplishments at school and work. These negative thoughts affect us by undermining our positive feelings about ourselves and others and fostering 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

Different Than a Conscience?

Many people think if they stop listening to their critical inner voice, they will lose touch with their conscience. 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?

In order 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.

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.


Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy, which integrates traditional Hypnotherapy with a form of Psychotherapy known as CBT this addresses your current thoughts, feelings, and behaviour in a powerful way where you can visualise change for the better. The idea behind CBT is that our thoughts and behaviours influence each other. The premise is that, by changing the way we think or behave in a situation, we can change the way we feel about life. The therapy examines learnt behaviours, habits and negative thought patterns with the view of adapting and turning them into positive ones. CBT is rooted in the present and looks to the future.


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