As noted last week, we will be focusing on developing skilled communication over the next few weeks. It is vital to good relationships to communicate with clarity, compassion, and understanding. Once learned and utilized, communication skills can improve one’s home life, love life, and career; we will be exploring the “nuts and bolts” of communication and good conversation throughout.
However, before we get into the skills and drills aspect of interpersonal communication, we will discuss the conversations we have with ourselves. Having healthy inner-dialogue is as important as talking to others, arguably more so because what we tell ourselves filters out and color our interactions. Many of us have negative inner-voices that limit our potential and steal joy. This negative voice is often called, The Critical Inner Voice . This post will explain what the inner-critic is. Later on, we will work on ways to tame the negative verbal loop we sometimes fall prey to.
“The critical inner voice is a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts toward ourselves and others. The nagging “voices,” or thoughts, that make up this internalized dialogue are at the root of much of our self-destructive and maladaptive behavior. The critical inner voice is not an auditory hallucination; it is experienced as thoughts within your head. This stream of destructive thoughts forms an anti-self that discourages individuals from acting in their best interest.” (online 2019 https://www.psychalive.org/critical-inner-voice/)
Put more simply, the inner critic is that voice that tells you such things as, “You always mess things up!” or “You’re unattractive.” And on and on. The inner critic generally comes from life experience, comments, and actions from our primary care-givers early in life. Social factors, such as media, cannot be overlooked because they foster comparison. Once internalized, it can be difficult to disrupt the stream of hurtful dialogue. Many of us say horrible things to ourselves, few of us would speak that way to others! It is also important to understand that the inner critic is not our conscience.
We will explore The Inner Critical Voice more deeply in future posts. The first step is recognizing when our inner voice is active; we will look at that and some tools to interrupt the negative thought stream. For now, when a negative self-directed thought shows up, ask yourself for the evidence. I like to imagine pushing a big, red button that says STOP!
Ask that pesky mean person to show you the evidence! Be well.