How do you speak to yourself? What do you say? What does it sound like? Is it kind, supportive and encouraging or is it harsh, demanding and critical?
So many of us have an internal dialogue, a part of us telling us what we should have done or should do - often we believe if we listen to it we will improve and make changes.
Yet the reverse is often the case; we feel disheartened, flattened and often carry a shame around with us that we’re not enough as we are. The result? We feel lost, empty, useless and unable to make the grade that we feel we should achieve.
There are many reasons why an internal critical voice develops. Therapy can help to unpick the history and the pattern of thoughts, behaviour and the often underestimated emotional impact an internal critic can have. You may recognise some of the words and even the tone but we can deny the emotional impact in order to protect ourselves or we believe we deserve the pain and hurt it causes. With the support of a collaborative and supportive therapeutic relationship to help us delve a little deeper into the emotions we can build a different relationship with our internal critic.
As humans we have a tendency to see the worst, fear the danger and often we catastrophise, going to the worst scenario or outcome.
Humans have evolved and developed through coping with threat and danger—survival of the fittest. We have a complex yet, very simple threat system that comes into play when we are in danger and in part that is where our internal critical voice begins. It believes it’s keeping us on our toes - looking for the danger we might find if we don’t try harder, don’t work more or if we allow ourselves to feel good about something.
Once we understand this sense of danger and our response we can begin to look at ways in which we can support ourselves, changing our internal dialogue into something more supportive and encouraging.
Humans have evolved into more sophisticated beings and along with that we have developed cognitive skills, we have an ability to plan, to make choices and decisions. When the internal critic takes over we lose this part of us and we can become very stuck in a cycle of internal conflict and self-loathing.
Beginning with developing self-awareness we can build a more supportive relationship with ourselves. A supportive relationship with a therapist can be invaluable you as you look to understand your inner critic, to become more aware of the emotional hold an internal critic can have and begin to develop more self compassion and to trust yourself.