Your Critical Inner Voice and Past TraumaAug 30, 2021
Let's talk about how trauma impacts our inner voice and why it's important to change our relationship with that voice.
Our critical inner voice is something we will always have to deal with being human.
But let me tell you one thing:
The power your critical inner voice ultimately stems from the relationship you have with yourself.
When we want to conquer our inner voice, we have to first address the relationship with have with it.
How do we do that?
I'm going to tell you more throughout this post.
The goal is to change the relationship we have with our inner voice so that it will be less noisy, demanding, and painful. By doing this, we can feel more confident in our own skin, have greater power over our life, and have a more fulfilling relationship with ourselves and others.
But first, let's talk about what a critical inner voice even is.
What is a critical inner voice?
A critical inner voice is the voice in your head that makes you feel bad about yourself. It's the voice that tells you that you are not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or loveable enough. It reminds you of all the things you have done wrong and creates feelings of shame. It makes you feel bad for past mistakes and reminds you of all the ways you have failed.
We are always taking in messages from the environment, and our critical inner voice stems from the messages we receive. Influences from family, friends, social media, and even school, all give us ideas about who we should and shouldn't be.
And our inner voice likes to remind us of those messages.
Some of the most powerful messages we remember and internalize are the painful ones. And those messages keep coming back over and over again through our critical inner voice.
But do you know what that voice is?
It's just a voice, just a thought, and nothing else.
And while you can't always stop the mean voice from popping up, you can refuse to let it take over your life.
You can choose that you won't allow it to run the show.
We must be very aware of the relationship with have with this inner voice. Approaching our inner voice in the wrong way can be even more damaging to our wellbeing.
There are a few ways this can happen, but most people revert to trying to silence it. But there's a problem with this approach.
Silencing your inner voice can actually lead to more criticism, more meanness, and more hurt!
Think about a child who bullies others on the playground. Some teachers will get upset with the child. They will send him to the principal's office. And they try to force him to be nice by threatening to suspend him.
And what usually happens?
The boy becomes more mean. He continues to act out and rejects the adult's threats to stop.
Now, think about if we approached this boy in a different way.
What might happen if we sat this boy down to talk about his feelings?
What if we worked with him to help him get the support he needs?
There's a good chance that this boy is a bully because he struggles with his own painful emotions. After all... hurt people hurt people.
Support, validation, and feeling seen will help the child understand that he doesn't need to bully others to get attention.
Similarly to a mean child, this inner voice will only become meaner the more we silence and threaten it.
So how can we change our approach?
Learn how to have a healthier relationship with your inner voice.
Think about your cruel and critical inner voice.
How do you respond to it when it arises?
In the past, I would match the cruelty of my inner voice. I would respond by saying things like, "Stop! Shut up! Leave me alone!" Another personal favorite was to open up a book, pour a big glass of wine, and drown out the voice altogether.
But there's a problem with this coping mechanism. By tuning the voice out, or forcing it to stop (just like the little boy), the underlying problems will still be there. And the voice will show back up with a vengeance to tell us even crueler things.
Because when you drown out or turn away from this inner voice, you are turning away from YOURSELF.
Remember that this cruel inner voice is all of the parts of yourself that have experienced pain. It is only saying hurtful things to you because it is feeling hurt, fragile, and sensitive itself.
Next time you hear your harsh inner voice, turn towards it.
This DOES NOT mean that we have to believe the nasty things it says, but we must be willing to give it the love and attention it's demanding.
So, how can you validate the mean inner voice and give it the love it needs?
Instead of scolding it and forcing it to go away, turn inwards and be kind to it.
Next time it arises, look at it with compassion.
What if you said something like: "I hear you. You must be in a lot of pain. I know what you are saying is all just messages you heard from others in the past".
Doesn't that instantly make you feel better? Doesn't it create a shift in both your approach and your relationship with this voice?
Instead of fighting, silencing, and turning away from the voice, turn towards it.
Try to understand why this pain exists and give it some love.
The ultimate goal is to be kind to the parts of ourselves that are hurting. Turn towards this voice and be aware of the pain it carries. Reflect on the many nasty things you have been told that has caused this voice to be so loud.
Put a hand on your heart, send loving thoughts to it, and take soothing breaths.
Remind yourself of who you truly are. Tell this voice that you hear it, but that you lovingly disagree.
By doing this, the voice will feel validated and won't feel the need to be so mean and critical.
And most importantly: Loving and validating your critical voice ultimately means loving and validating yourself.
Is your inner voice causing you pain in your intimate relationships?
Maybe you've noticed that your inner voice is telling you that you're not good enough?
Maybe it tells you that no one will love you?
Perhaps it's constantly trying to remind you that everything is your fault in your relationships?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you would be a great fit for my Shifting Love program!
My Shifting Love Program helps women with past trauma have the healthy, safe, & loving intimate relationships they've always wanted.
It's a 12-week program that helps you move through all of the different obstacles that past trauma is getting in the way of finding and keeping true, fulfilling love.
This includes things like:
- Befriending your critical inner voice
- Attachment styles
- Navigating triggers
- + so much more!
If you're ready to heal from trauma and take your intimate relationships to the next level, this program is for you!
Want to learn more about the program?
Book a free 30 min call with me and let's see if you're a good fit!
Want to create healthy, safe, & loving intimate relationships after trauma?
Take this Trauma-Informed Relationship Assessment!
Download the FREE Trauma-Informed Relationships Assessment to discover the 5 different areas that past trauma has impacted your intimate relationships.
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