Life Coach Magazine

Taming Your Inner Critical Voice

By Kristin Davin @kristindavin

We all have an inner critical voice. Sometimes it creeps up on us and catches us by surprise. Other times, it gnaws at us, relentless and tireless in its effort so that even on our best days we cannot escape. Like a negative, running commentary in our mind, it can keep us up at night, distracted during the day, with an uncanny ability to mask any positive voice that we may have, and keep us stuck in a negative mindset.

We all know that it is a critical voice and that technically we shouldn’t be listening to it.  Emotionally, however, is a whole different ballgame. We listen to it and most importantly, believe it.  “Like an internal enemy, this voice is driven to keep us from our goals and divert us from our destiny. 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” (Firestone, L).

I understand when people tell me how their inner critical voice deeply affects them and how they really want it to change, they just are unsure how to make that happen. My own struggle with being a perfectionist over the years has allowed my inner critical voice to, at times, wreak havoc in my life.   I have discovered through a constant conviction to make changes, and belief in myself that I have changed.  I tell people they can change too, but I warn that it is a time consuming process.

Strategies to Tame

Research conducted by Drs. Lisa Firestone, PhD and Robert Firestone, PhD, has resulted in strategies to overcome your inner critical voice.

1.) Reverse your role with your inner critical voice. Instead of allowing your inner critical voice to say, “I am dumb, I am stupid”, reverse your role with the inner critical voice.

2.) Examine the genesis of the inner critical voice. By understanding where and with whom your inner critical voice started will help develop more self-compassion.

3.) Respond to your inner critical voice. Change the words that are spoken.  Begin to make rational statements about yourself and the world and other people living in the world.

4.) Create awareness. Recognize how your inner critical voice influences your behaviors. Once a person starts to make changes, they want to figure out how their inner critical voice has not only influenced their past, but how continues to affect their present, in hopes of making long lasting changes in their future.

5.) Change your self-limiting behaviors. Work towards not engaging in self-destructive behaviors that results in a continued inner critical voice.

In the end, remain committed to your convictions about changing. Remember it’s a process and change takes time.  Change also brings discomfort. Recognize this for what it is and just as importantly, what it is not. Change creates anxiety, but over time, through greater self-compassion and understanding, coupled with small changes, an increase in positive feelings towards yourself will prevail and your inner critical voice will have dissipated.


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