We are constantly being told what success should look like by friends, family, advertisements and social media. While the opinions of others are always there, for those struggling with addiction the loudest and most scathing voice often comes from within.
Our greatest adversary can be our critical inner voice which knows all of our flaws and what hurts us the most. Negative ideas from the critical inner voice quash positive emotions and generate self-doubt, distrust, and frustration. So how can you quiet your inner critical voice?
Where does the inner critical voice come from?
Your inner critical voice may not always feel like your own. The part that tells you what to think or feel doesn’t come from intuition or your conscience but rather beliefs you developed from experiences, most often in early childhood.
For example, if a child has heard one of their parents criticise their appearance, the child may emulate that behaviour and criticise their appearance too. Our brain’s malleability is extraordinary when we are young, and the messages we hear affect how we form our beliefs.
For someone who is struggling with addiction, the inner voice might be a manifestation of low self-esteem and self-worth. These symptoms might appear long before the drug use itself does.
How do we silence this harsh voice?
Your critical inner voice will find ways to test you, to make you feel threatened, to cause feelings of shame or embarrassment when things aren’t done ‘right’. The critical inner voice has great power over the person who doesn’t know how to stop it. Tools learned at rehabilitation can help you drain away the sound of the critical inner voice.
Other processes to help with the critical inner voice include:
Be conscious of your thoughts
When your critical inner voice is activated, try and take a moment to pause and ask yourself if those thoughts are true. Are they facts? Do they have evidence to back them up? Is there another way of looking at this problem?
Realise what makes your critical inner voice start talking
The more you find out about yourself, the easier it will be to understand your inner voice. Is your inner voice sensitive to your appearance? Does it snap at you when you try to hand in a work assignment? Asking these questions can help you discover where your critical inner voice is coming from.
Face the thoughts head on
It’s important to check in on yourself from time to time through journaling or talking through your thoughts with your support network. Using these techniques to express how your thoughts make you feel can help remind you that you have power over what goes on inside your mind.
Imagine your life if the thoughts were true
Taking stock and fact-checking your thoughts is important. If you were really incapable at your job then you wouldn’t be where you are today. This helps you to differentiate between your life and the fictional world being created by your inner critical voice.
Repeat positive affirmations
Drown out the negative thoughts of your inner critic by reminding yourself of the positive ideas that are opposite to your critical voice. Repeat these positive affirmations to yourself every day to help silence your inner critic.
The critical inner voice can be a powerful force in our lives, and it is important to understand how we developed this way of thinking in order to counteract it. If you feel like your critical self-talk has been holding you back from making healthy changes in your life, try some of the tips listed above. By silencing your critical inner voice, you’ll find yourself doing better at work or school, overcoming fears, and strengthening your relationships.