My Inner Voice is Controlling My Life

Inner Critic Takes Over

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Many researchers and writers over the centuries have been captivated with writing and investigating the “inner voice" or "self talk in one's head”. Everyone has chatter in their head that they listen to. If it is negative then we might think bad of ourselves or that we are crazy.

First of all studies have found an internal voice is normal. The studies found that our inner voice helps us to determine how we respond to ourselves. Self talk determines how we think about ourselves, make our decisions and aid us in determining how we will react to situations and others in our lives.

An interesting result of all researchers efforts was that they discovered after experiencing a major life experience the internal voice may become meaner, more critical, judging and shaming rather than supportive depending on how we responded to the experience.

Survivor's Testimonial

“I know everyone has a self-critical voice in their head, but since my rape two years ago. It has deepen my hatred for myself that I had since the rapes. My inner voice became meaner and downright more destructive with every day. My inner voice has become so overwhelming that it is almost impossible for me to function in my life. - Survivor

Abuse and Trauma Inner Critic Effect

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Beating Yourself Up Worse After Trauma Is Normal

After surviving acts of abuse or trauma, as well as natural disasters, it is widely known that a survivor of such experiences the survivor's inner voice intensifies and attains a greater degree of influence on his or her thoughts, emotions and attitude toward self. That is due in part to not feeling safe again after the event but also the event alters his or her negative core beliefs that formed during the traumatic experience.

Self Experience

I always thought it was normal for people to put themselves down if something went wrong his or her life. I began to believe that something was wrong with me. After my childhood abuse and growing up as a survivor, I would mentally and emotionally beat myself up from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep. I thought that was normal for everyone.

I would slash myself into little pieces with my own internal voice … even when things were going right or good things were coming my way. I became extremely compliant and loyal to what my self-critical voice told me about me. I let my self talk dictate what to do and how to react. Over time, I learned that this self-flagellation voice never did anything good for me, except to spiral me down into a very dark place. It caused me to loathe myself even more. I lost my confidence, self-esteem, self-worth and relationship with myself. I experienced more episodes of dissociation in order to not listen to all that harassment in my head. Each time I obey or believed my inner voice, it became harder and harder to crawl out of my self-imposed deep emotional hole.

Truly my own internal voice was like having my own emotional and verbal abuser in my head.

Not My Fault

As I grew older, I learned that the critical content of my inner voice resulted from statements made to me by my abusers, and embedded into my subconscious mind due to the emotional charge caused by the terror I experienced.

What I didn't understand was that inappropriate emotional attachment caused by the perpetrators allowed negative beliefs about myself to form. What emotionally bonded me to them was the heightened emotions of fear, hurt, pain, and terror which my abusers created during the abuse. It was these sharp intense negative emotions that allowed those criticisms, judgments, shame and blame to bypass my perceptual filters (my defenses) and embed straight into my subconscious mind as mind code. See … it is power of the emotions (whether negative or positive) that allows critical messages to enter my head unchanged, unfiltered and unchallenged. More importantly, these accepted criticisms became the content that formed my core beliefs about myself and determined my thoughts. These core beliefs then became the content of my critical voice that tortured me daily. Statements like “you’re nothing,” “you caused this to happen,” “you have no value,” and “you’re damaged.”

As I grew up, I heaped on myself tons of self-doubts, blame, shame, judgment and negative beliefs about me onto myself, not my perpetrator. The critical messages strongly influenced all my thoughts. They affected my relationships not only with myself but also with others around me and my perceptions of the world.

When I felt strong and my PTSD symptoms were not as active. I was able to ignore my self-critical messages and accomplish things in my life. At other times, I couldn't ignore those messages, and I had no power to stop them. These self-critical messages, besides being verbally damaging, came with very strong emotions. Those self-critical messages governed all my responses … or lack of response. Now that I am older, I have learned this critical self-talk in my head is the result of having experienced abuse and trauma. It is normal to all survivors. Actually, it is normal to everyone, just not as intense. I finally found a name for this self-critical voice - inner critic.

Inner Voice Crushes Self-Confidence

A side effect of listening to the self-critical voice in my head was a crushing blow to my self-confidence, self-value, self-loyalty and self-love. I blamed myself for what happened even though it was not my fault. I felt disconnected from my core self, and I constantly shamed myself. The more I listened, the more I hated me. My emotional suffering increased as I allowed my critical inner voice to gain more power. My inner voice also influenced all my thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, My self talk also governed how I reacted toward others who I loved and interacted with.

15 Signs that your inner self talk is in charge of your life

Your inner self voice is in charge when it tells yourself you:

caused it.

are to blame for all wrongs

are a failure.

are a loser.

are defective.

are undeserving of love.

are different than others.

will never be happy.

will never be success.

are not allowed to feel good about anything.

are fat.

are ugly.

will amount to nothing.

are a bad person.

are not worthy.

are not good enough.

I was not alone

Now, after years of attempting to heal, as well as helping others as a therapist and now a life coach, I have gained respect for my inner critic, but that does not mean I always agree with it or like it. I have grown to understand every survivor has a very harsh and cruel inner critic. Whew!! I am not alone, not damaged, not insane, nor defective, and most importantly, it wasn't my fault for the content in my inner critic.

My inner critic is that inner judgmental part that carries the damaging statements from my perpetrators. My perpetrator’s acts and statements caused my mind to form negative core beliefs about me which directly influenced and distorted my view of my character and how I perform.

The negative “you” statements which my perpetrators said to me, in time, became “I” beliefs in my head. For example, “you're nothing,” over time became “I am nothing".

Through my years of coaching others, I found that my clients really identified with the term “inner critic”. I gave each client the assignment to write down all their inner critic statements. My clients submitted page after page of nasty comments which they heard in their heads. Survivors always had harsher and crueler lists, and their lists were much longer.

What is the tone of your Inner Critic?

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Self Help Books

The Joe Torre Story

I recently watched a story on Joe Torre. He grew up in an abusive home with an abusive father who harshly criticized him all the time. Even with that dark past, he worked hard in sports and achieved many awards. He attained MVP as a player 8 times, 9 times all star player and one MVP batting title.

Joe went on to become one of the most successful coaches in the history of baseball. He won 2,326 games, and 4 World Series.

He stated that the most important aspect of coaching was to make sure his players respected him. What I learned from his story is if you challenge your inner critic, you can beat it, nullify its content, and turn the negative self-talk into positive self-talk.

15 Signs Your Inner Critic is in Charge

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How to change your inner voice to positive

Even with critical content embedded in your mind from childhood you formed about yourself, you retain editing power. You can triumph and over rule its content. You do not have to listen and live with the negative content of your inner voice. You inner critic content is false and skewed because it is based on false core beliefs.

Change can be had. You have the power to construct new content, believe it, practice it, and most of all, attach a positive emotion to them. All you need is the right tools. You can alter the content of your negative inner critic and change the content to be positive.

In order to take back your power. You have to create whole new set of inner voice content to replace the negative ones. Create new content, own them, feel them, believe them, and then live them as your truth.

In other words, you can change your inner voice content by recognizing the old self-talk, denying those messages and ideas as your truths and beliefs. Then author new self-talk content. This will change the tone of the content and your mind code immediately. Once you shift your inner talk to positive, your inner voice should be more lighthearted and supportive which will create a positive mental environment. This environment should allow you have some breathing room and be more flexible to grow, expand, risk and explore life’s possibilities.

Through this method, I was able to create new self-talk content to replace my old inner critic content. Then I was able to love, motivate and support myself with my own words. You can do it, too.

What is Motivating You?

6 Ways to Take back your Power from Your Inner Critic

I want to share with you a few specific suggestions on how you can quiet your inner critic. If you are diligent with these suggestions, you can replace your inner critic’s content, which will result in changing your inner thoughts to be positive and supportive.

1. Get to know your inner critic, its tone of voice, and its intentions.

Activate your observer self and listen to what is being said in your head. Listen from a third party perspective as if you are hearing it on the radio. Write each statement down. Recognize that each statement is an old criticism and an outright lie which was said to you at some point in your life by people close to you and society.

The most impactful criticisms came from your closest family to whom you were emotionally attached. Understand some of the criticisms were meant to ensure your emotional and physical safety or make you a “stronger person.” Know that your mind does not have or express feelings, it just records the words and repeats them back through your inner critic. The replay is always automatic.

2. Take some time to evaluate each inner critic statement; go deep inside.

Explore each critical statement and determine if you truly deserve the negativity, doubt, self-limiting thoughts or criticism. Let your mind help you validate whether the content of your self-critical voice is true or false. Then note next to each critical statement who in your life said it and the situation or event where it occurred. The more you know the less power the critical content has. Find proof of why the criticism is wrong and unfounded. When you find the real truth, you will create a crack in that thought pattern and dissipate its power and influence, but that alone is not enough to achieve mental freedom.

3. Make a realistic plan to correct your inner critic.

List one new positive statement to counteract each bit of critical content that would increase your self-worth and value.

It can be as simple as creating new content statements…“I deserve to be something” or “I deserve to look at myself in the mirror and love myself.” Once you have created these new statements, repeat them to yourself ten times a day for 90 days.

The trick to success in your plan is that these new content statements need to be specific, measureable, time lined and feel doable to you. Once you develop your new content, it becomes your action plan, and you need to give it life.

4. Stick with the program.

Accept and feel a deep obligation for your action plan. Follow through daily for 90 days. You need to now accept that you are in charge of how you think about yourself, what you believe about yourself, what you are capable of, and how you will perform successfully.

I find that I get the best results and most success when I keep track of these activities. Track yourself by keeping a journal of your progress. That way you will be able to see your commitment, day by day for those 90 days. Keeping track of what I do daily helps me to recognize when I fall off my action plan and motivates me to get back on track.

5. Hang out with people who think positive and are supportive to you and make you feel comfortable.

Be around people who see and experience you in a positive light, support you and know you as you really are. Let people who love you reflect the real you back to you. Start hanging out with people who could use support and reflect back to them how you see them in a positive light. Practice the balance of receiving and giving positive content about each other.

6. Realize that you have the power to earn respect from your inner critic.

Understand that your inner critic has been attempting to protect you, be it through doubt, negative or critical statements. But don’t let your inner critic influence your life or direct your thoughts. Earn respect from your mind by forming your own thoughts. You have that power. Once you decide this, the rest is pretty much practice and patience.

If you follow these suggestions, you can alter the content of your inner critic and, therefore, be more positive and successful in your thoughts … and that will manifest in your life.

Stop your self-limiting, self-sabotaging and self-defeating self-talk fast at home?

You, too, can change your mind code that feeds your inner critic and stop your self-limiting, self-sabotaging and self-defeating self-talk with the 30 Day Challenge in just one month. Start today!

Learn More

And don't forget to keep up on all my blogs and self-improvement tips. http://positivechangewithdrbill.blogspot.com/ for Life Coaching and http://www.williamtollefsonvalues.blogspot.com/ for Trauma Issues.

Please leave a comment and share your ideas on this blog.

Please pass on this HUB article to others you think it will benefit from it in your blog and posts.


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Comments 18 comments

denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

Although I did not experience trauma or abuse, I grew up in a home where criticism was and still is the norm. It left me with an inner critic that was a die hard perfectionist. It took me going through mental health treatment to do what you talk about in this hub. I now consider myself a "recovering perfectionist" and still have to tell my inner critic to "put away the sword" on occasion. To keep myself from falling backwards, I find others that need uplifting and strengthening.


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 2 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Dear denise.w.anderson,

I want to thank you for your comment on inner critic. Yes, everyone has an inner critic. Life experiences cause our inner critic to take on different styles of self-feedback. One style is the "perfectionist judgment", like "you are not doing things perfect enough" or "you should have done it better". I hope you discovered from my HUB that you can gain command over the content of your inner critic and that way is to change your core beliefs. I have another HUB article on core beliefs if you would like to learn more -http://hubpages.com/health/Open-Your-Mind-Heal-You...

It is within you power to change yourself feedback. You do not have to fall backwards anymore.

Thanks again for your comment.

Dr Bill


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 2 years ago from South Carolina

Hi Dr. Bill,

This is a great article about trauma's effect on our inner critic and, more importantly, steps we can take to reverse those effects and empower ourselves by replacing negative beliefs with positive beliefs.

As always, you've included great links and resources.

Am voting this hub up across the board except for funny.

Am also sharing this on Facebook and with followers.

Hugs,

Gail


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 2 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Hey Gail,

Nice to hear from you and thanks for your comment on this HUB. Inner critic is in all of us. It affects us more if we have experienced trauma. Thanks for the positiveness and think it will be beneficial to the readers.

I am so glad you shared it with all you followers on Facebook. You are my number 1 follower as I am yours.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2014.

Blessings, Dr Bill


DrEricaG profile image

DrEricaG 2 years ago from Deerfield Beach, Florida

Very informative and helpful article. Sometimes, the inner critic can push us to levels of success beyond what others achieve. But that same driving critic can cause us intense anxiety, fear and eventually lead to our downfall. So much better to think caring and supportive words about yourself - who you are, what you are doing and what you are capable of doing and being. If you can't do it alone, seek help from a qualified counselor or therapist to change that inner voice.

Warmly,

Dr. Erica


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 2 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

DrEricaG

Nice to hear from you and I really appreciate your positive comments on the HUB. I am glad you found my HUB helpful. I am also pleased that added your ideas, because your ideas are so strong and useful.

Keep following. Blessings, Dr Bill


Casey Kramer 2 years ago

Hey Dr. Bill,

Inner Critic has been killing me lately. So far down that I don't know how to just get stable or okay. Glad to read your page and appreciate you sharing. Could really use a tune-up or a refresher course. Good to read the reminders now and then. Thank you for posting them.


Heaven Long 2 years ago

Thank you for sharing this Dr. Bill! It's a nice reminder and a nice thing to think about and work with.


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 2 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Heaven - You are welcome and glad you got something out of it. Keep moving forward.


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 2 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Hello Casey,

I really appreciate you reading this HUB and making a comment. Would be glad to give you a refresher course. I have grown so much and know so much more than even 4 years ago in WiiT. Contact me and I would love to talk about it with you.

Thanks again and good to hear from you


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

Very useful. Sometimes, it helps to know whose voice the inner critic is speaking with--


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 2 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

Audrey Howitt,

I appreciate your comment. The nice thing is you cannot only understand that it is your voice but if you change the negative content of your inner critic to positive. Take action, don't just accept the way it is.

Blessings, Dr. Bill


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 2 years ago from Los Angeles

It is so hard to quiet the negative inner voice and turn things around, but recognizing it and acknowledging the damage it does are the first steps. I've come a long way and now nip it in the bud when I catch myself in a frustrated moment. I've often wanted to share the techniques w/ those in that self-crippling downward spiral but need some guidance. Thank you for this- so helpful!

Cat :)


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 2 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

cat on a soapbox,

Thank you for your comment. Million of people suffer from an overactive and highly negative inner critic. I that it would be important for you to share your story with other on how you tamed your inner critic.

Yes recognition is the first step. It is possible to change your inner critic's content and you validated it.

Thanks,

Dr Bill


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi Dr. Bill - Thank you for writing this hub and sharing your thoughts and experiences. You are right that we must be strong and think positive thoughts. Sometimes your brain gets on overload and it is more difficult to think positively. I like your ideas, and also enjoy staying in the moment, and putting negative thoughts in the back of my brain. I plan to read more of your thought provoking and helpful hubs. Sharing, Audrey


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 2 years ago from Southwest Florida Author

brakel2

Dear Audrey, It is very nice to read your comments on this HUB. I think we put too much effort into fixing things that go wrong in our lives and fixing other people rather than concentrating on thinking positively and having peace in our minds and bodies. Glad you found this HUB beneficial.

Blessings, Dr. Bill


Caer Weber 21 months ago

I don't agree with the approaches towards dealing with that inner voice. I don't think we have to shut it up but rather we need to understand what that voice really is getting at. that voice comes from fear deep inside ourselves that we are not good enough. but we can turn that critic around and get them help us problem-solve, help us find solutions to our felt inadequacies. I have multiple personality and I have had many critical personalities. I did not get rid of them but rather learned to listen to them and what it was they were after. eventually these "inner critics" became some of my best allies in healing. they pointed out what I truly wanted to become in life and how I might get there. the inner critic is a frightened child essentially and needs to be dealt with compassion as well as firmness. we need to tell it that this is not the way to deal with things and we need to get it's help rather than banish it.


Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

Dr Bill Tollefson 21 months ago from Southwest Florida Author

Caer Weber,

I really thank for your comment. I really was not referring to multiple personalities, but that self voice in all of us. I support than you should never get rid of your multiple personalities. You cannot get rid of them because all them plus you are you whole.

I appreciate your opinion.

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