100 West Lucerne Circle, Suite 100-T, Orlando, Florida 32801-3763

The Inner Critic What Does It Say To You?

The Inner Critic

What Does It Say To You?

The Inner Critic

What Is The Inner Critic?

The inner critic is the voice inside your head that beats you up and puts you down.This part of you believes that you are not good enough, talented enough, attractive enough- the list goes on. This often sounds something like, “I should….” For example, “I should be a better friend”, “I should have thought of the right thing to say,” or “I should stop being so lazy.”

This is sometimes referred to as “shoulding all over yourself.” It can create a great deal of despair. This perfectionistic voice within is associated with poor mental health outcomes such as depression and anxiety. It is often helpful to remove the word, “should,” and instead replace it with “want” or “choose.” For example, “I want to be a better friend” is more helpful as it encourages rather than discourages the listener.

Why do you have it?

Everyone has an inner critic to one degree or another. Often, this voice is partly a result of critical parents or caregivers. For example, when a child experiences praise for earning 100% on assignments, yet receives criticism when the grade is anything less, they may learn that anything short of perfect is simply not enough. This way of parenting can extend to various situations (e.g. sports performance, chores, etc.) all with the same detrimental effect.

Although our upbringing may contribute to self-judgement, it is up to you to take responsibility for your current mental health. Other contributing factors to perfectionistic beliefs include your current environment at home, work, or school, society’s expectations, and negative thinking patterns.

Are your expectations healthy or unhealthy?

Unrealistic expectations of oneself lead to low self-esteem. This thirst for personal perfection is associated with fear and self-doubt. On the other hand, having high expectations of oneself is not always a bad thing. When you can focus on the process and celebrate the victories along the way, holding high standards usually leads to great successes.

Healthy expectations include a sense of flexibility, where it is not too upsetting if you do not meet your goals. The key is to be kind to yourself, and to maintain courage to persist in the face of failure. Healthy expectations must include the acceptance of imperfection.

What can you do if you’re experiencing a relentless inner critic?

Individual therapy is a great option to explore the critical voice within.
Some specific forms and techniques of therapy included below may be especially helpful to you:
  • * CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is a form of therapy where you and your therapist collaborate to identify negative thinking patterns. You will better understand the link between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which in turn gives you the power to choose different ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
  • * Mindfulness-based CBT is a specific form of CBT that integrates mindfulness, or non-judgmental awareness, into therapeutic work. In MBCT, you are instructed to pay attention to thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without making judgments.
  • * Self-Compassion is the practice of being kind and gentle with yourself, similarly as you would treat a good friend. You may cultivate compassion for yourself through various exercises, such as, meditation, journaling, and working with a therapist. By practicing self-compassion, you exercise being open to feeling your own emotions without harsh criticism and accepting imperfection.

The inner critic doesn’t have to rule your life. You can learn how to silence that critical voice and develop an inner cheerleader instead. With the help of a counselor it really is easier than you think. You will quickly learn that your inner critic doesn’t have that much left to say anymore.

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(407) 592-8997

100 West Lucerne Circle, Suite 100-T
Orlando, Florida 32801-3763
Heather Oller

Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.

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