The Inner Critic

Our thoughts influence our feelings, which in turn influence our behavior. It is normal to believe that negative self-talk, known as the inner critic, will motivate one’s behavior positively. However, the private conversations we have with ourselves can be powerful when it comes to someone’s sense of value and worth, leading to toxic thoughts that reinforce an inner critic.

Contrary to widespread belief, your inner critic is not you, your inner voice is. This critical inner voice is formed out of painful early life experiences or trauma in which we experienced hurtful attitudes toward us or those close to us. When we fail to identify and separate from our inner critic, we allow it to impact behavior, shaping the direction of our lives. This persistent inner critic keeps us stuck in our ways.

Overcome Your Inner critic

  1. Acknowledge the Inner Critic
    • To be able to overcome your inner critic, it is important to acknowledge that it exists and be able to notice when it is the inner critic making you think negatively. When you start to hear these negative thoughts, continually tell yourself that this voice is not you and that they are wrong. Some questions you can ask yourself are: “What is this about? Why do I feel this way? What would be the most helpful thing for me to do with this information?”
  2. Stay Consistent
    • It requires consistency and repetition to be able to overcome your inner critic. Just as these inner critic messages were repeated over and over before you began wrongly buying into them, unlearning these messages does take time, consistency, and repetition.
  3. Learn Your Triggers
    • If you have experienced trauma, it may be easier to become triggered and emotionally lash out when feeling threatened. These situations can negatively reinforce your inner critic, making it important to recognize what situations or people “trigger” a trauma response. Take time to notice the tone of voice of your inner critic – is it hostile, angry, frightened?
  4. Change Your Perspective
    • This can be exceedingly difficult for most people, but after practicing some of the other methods above to overcoming the inner critic this can be done. Practice separating yourself from your inner critic by writing your thoughts down as “you” statements and respond with a more rational and compassionate statement. This in turn helps to separate our sense of Self from any negative inner critic thoughts. By practicing this change of perspective, you gain insight and awareness into how to dismantle these messages by pausing and challenging the messages received.


Healing from the Inner Critic

If you really want to find the underlying cause of this and change your inner critic, you need to dig deeper and do some trauma work and self-analysis through therapy. By working on yourself you can learn to deal with your inner critic finally and learn self-love, self-empathy, and self-care.

If you or someone you know is impacted by trauma and dealing with their inner critic, our therapists at Illinois Healing Center are here to help. For support, visit our website at or call us at 773.570.0770 to schedule an appointment.