Your Critical Inner Voice is Sabotaging You

The importance of shifting our inner critic to a more compassionate mindset. 

“Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the same awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.”

Tony Robbins

Your Inner Voice has more power than you might think. It is the lens through which you see the world, and it affects how you see yourself as well as others. Your professional critical inner voice can become a saboteur rather than a friend, negatively influencing how you show up and experience the world around you. 

A healthy inner voice inspires compassion but a critical inner voice passes judgement, and this affects you and the people around you more than you might realize.

Your Critical Inner Voice is Not Your Friend

When your inner voice becomes overly critical, it acts as a judge, a saboteur, or a bully that tries to convince you that you are not worthy, capable, or deserving. It views the world from a space of scarcity rather than abundance and casts a negative light on any information you take in. It creates a story that might not actually be the truth and treats it as fact rather than fiction.

The voice in your head can wreak havoc either for you or for others by framing situations in a needlessly negative light. This inner critic can shut us down with a simple whisper of, “Really? I can’t believe you just_______.” or “Now, look at what you did.” This is harmful judgement, not helpful compassion. 

My Inner Critic wears an old 1970’s suit, with her hair pulled back in a tight bun. She LOVES to shake her finger at me, constantly nitpicking my every decision and criticizing not only me, but everyone around me. Nothing is ever good enough for the inner critic. Nobody can thrive with someone like that in their head, so I gave her a name to tell her to shut up. 

Once I shut up my inner critic, I created a new inner voice that reminds me of my favorite Starbucks barista. She is kind, welcoming, and knows exactly what I need when I walk in the door. She leaves me feeling confident and brave. The inner voice I chose to replace my critic with tells me I have everything I need, and that “I am creative, resourceful, and whole, and so are the people around me.”  

It’s important to create an inner voice that is your friend, not your bully. Think of it this way, if someone were to walk around muttering all the things your inner voice says to you throughout the day, would you want to be friends with that person? If the answer is no, you have an inner critic on your hands. 

How a Critical Inner Voice Affects You

Your inner voice comes from what you believe about yourself and the situation you are in. Believing negative thoughts about yourself is the quickest way to self-destruct, because our thoughts motivate how we behave and control what we can accomplish.   

A critical inner voice causes you to label yourself in a way that makes you feel limited. If you tell yourself “You’re so disorganized, this is why you always lose things” then you will continue to live out this false narrative your critic created. Instead, a helpful inner voice might say “This is a bit messy, but we can fix that!”  

The blame and guilt from an inner critic do not fix the situation, they just drain our energy and leave us feeling stuck. Encouragement from a healthy inner voice reminds us that we can do whatever we need to do and that we are good enough to accomplish anything. The inner voice has a lot of influence on our potential, and this is why you owe it to yourself to replace a critic with a friend. 

How a Critical Inner Voice Affects Others

“OMG, did he just say that?” “Wow, she really needs to think before she speaks.” “Here we go again, I should just do it myself.” 

When your inner voice turns on others as a judge or saboteur, it impacts how you engage with them. Your inner critic can limit the potential of others just like it limits your own potential. With an inner critic, you unintentionally devalue the people around you, which impacts your relationships and your ability to collaborate. You unintentionally create pain and frustration for yourself and for others, and this is not helpful. 

When your inner voice is healthy, you lead with compassion rather than judgement.

Replace Critique With Compassion

Susan Brady, author of Mastering Your Inner Critic, states that there are three main types of inner voices. 

1 – Grandiosity   

  • Definition: Focus on Criticizing others. Your critical inner voice puts others down, leaving you feeling like you can’t rely on them or that you have to do more than everyone else.
  • Examples: “I know more than everyone else.” “They need me to solve the problems for them.” “I am right.” (Which means someone has to be wrong.)

2 – Blame and Shame

  • Definition: Focus on Self Criticism. Your critical inner voice tells you that everything that is not perfect is your fault. This leads to diminished self-worth and unnecessary stress. 
  • Examples: “Everyone else is doing much better than me.” “I can’t do anything right.” “I have to fix this, I shouldn’t have messed up in the first place.” 

3 – Compassionate Center

  • Definition: Focus on believing in yourself and others. This is the foundation for trust and respect. This inner voice reminds you that everyone brings unique value, and that together these gifts result in stronger collaboration.
  • Examples: “I am not the best at this task, but ____ is great at this!” “That didn’t go the way I thought it would, but it’s all part of the process.” 
You May also like:  10 Inner Critic Examples for Professionals

So why is being compassionate to ourselves and others so important? 

Without compassion, we create stories that limit our ability to connect, collaborate, and build trust. Self-criticism can silence our voice, impede our confidence, and erode our ability to be an inclusive and influential  leader. If you notice your inner voice speaking from a place of grandiosity or blame, try to reframe what is being said with compassion. 

 

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