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What Is An Inner Critic and How Can We Silence It

Mary-Lauren O’Crowley, NCC, LPC 

The inner critic is an opinion or inner voice, that has a negative and critical pattern of thoughts about ourselves and others. Inner critics are the distressing and disturbing thoughts or voices that lead to self-destructive and maladaptive behavior. Inner critics are like dialogues in head that only criticizes and notices faults of own self and others. The gushing of self-damaging thoughts makes an anti-self that demoralizes and disheartens the individual from giving his best potential.

The inner critic is a term concept in psychotherapy in which an individual degrades and demines a person.

How does inner critic affect us?

The inner critic is a part of our soul or psyche that condemns and censures our efforts, makes us unhappy, and even sometimes bullies us into assuming that we are not adequately good. The inner critic is continuous judgments that negatively influence our lives and affect our accomplishments. It often leaves an immobilized and degraded impact on us.

The inner critic has a damaging effect on our lives as it decreases our confidence and self-esteem badly. It negatively influences our personal life and also affects our performances and achievements in our profession. These negative distortions impair and diminish our ability to think positively and arise feelings like self-denial, distrust, self-criticism, and low self-esteem, which also retreat from goal-directed activities.

The concept of inner critics is similar to the Freudian superego, which is negative Jungian animus or inhibiting sensors. The inner voice that affects a person negatively is that he is inadequate, incapable, and worthless of doing things.

Bonnie Weiss and Jay Earley have categorized seven kinds of inner critics

  • The perfectionist
  • The taskmaster
  • The inner controller
  • The guilt tripper
  • The destroyer
  • The underminer
  • The molder

Understanding the Inner Critic

Understanding the Inner Critic is an effective technique to increase cognizance of inner critics and their impact on cognition and performance. It helps to observe, identify, and recognize the inner voice and how to make it less effective.

Compassionate Chair Work

This exercise involves three chairs which are used as a buttress. The first chair personifies self-criticism, the second chair represents judgmental feelings, and the third characterizes a sympathetic and intellectual friend. We have to pass between the chairs, articulating the different points of view related to the situations and consciously experiencing the emotional and physical sensations that come with it.

Identifying Limiting Beliefs About Strengths 

In this method, we should observe how we think about our strengths. This technique may seem illogical or feel uncomfortable. We are not utilizing our abilities and talents, and sometimes we feel embarrassed by embracing them. Our inner critic has a strong influence on our thoughts as well as behavior, as it converts our strengths into something dishonorable. This method helps us to recognize our strengths, how useful these strengths are, and how to utilize them appropriately.

Acceptance and commitment therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy is a different way to tackle inner critics. It doesn’t much emphasize changing negative distortions and cognitions. It commends on accepting negative thoughts and try to let them go. It is a way of disempowering inner critics to make them less effective. We accept inner critic by identifying and recognizing how its ensigns our thoughts and forms our emotions. We disparate our true self and inner critic this way. 

Using Self-Compassion and Meditation

Another effective way to deal with the inner critic is to exercise self-compassion, usually based on self-care exercises. Mindfulness meditation can be a helpful technique to silence our inner voice, which disempowers us. Mindfulness inspires us to focus on our cognitions and does not judge them.

If you or someone you know needs help in silencing their inner critic, please reach out to the intake specialists at Symmetry Counseling today! 


The inner critic on the move: Analysis of the change process in a case of short-term client-centered/experiential therapy by Nele Stinckens

“Steps to overcoming your critical inner voice” Firestone, Lisa A. (21 May 2005). 

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