How To Banish The Joy-Destroying Force That Stands Between You & True Happiness

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What do you do when your inner critic becomes so aggressive and unreliable that every decision you make for yourself feels like it was made by your worst enemy? 

The harsh influence of the inner critic appears in many forms: 

  • Not pursuing a dream because that voice told you that you couldn’t do it. 
  • Staying in a relationship that’s far from healthy because you think it’s the best you deserve.
  • Keeping toxic people in your life because you “think” you “need” them — regardless of how terrible they make you feel.
  • Not speaking up for yourself when you know that your employer or team members take you and your contribution for granted.

And once you get lost in this cycle of fear and self-hatred, you forget you have a choice. 

Can you remember the last time you had complete control over your mind? Now it’s time to take charge of your self-defeating thoughts — and vanquish the inner voice that just might be lying to you.

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The toxic source of your unreliable inner voice

Our minds are powerful things — but choosing which version of “you” will have the power is something you can control. 

For some strange reason, most people tend to allow people from our past to take up residency in our heads. This is especially true when one is exposed to toxic, overly critical people and situations that deposit self-defeating thoughts and behaviors in our psyche. 

Those ingrained thoughts and behaviors become the voice of your inner critic.

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Over time, their judgment of you and your self-defeating thoughts about yourself become one and the same. This is particularly the case if you seldom or never experience the opposite through the use of evidence and research-based approaches.

As a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and ICF Credentialed Master Certified Coach, I have found that confronting one's inner critic is the most effective way one can become self-actualized and grow into the most successful and content version of one’s self.

Though this doesn’t happen overnight. Working consistently with the intention of self-mastery will bring your inner adversary to light. 

Only when you identify and confront the enemy within can you defeat it.

RELATED: 6 Ways To Shut Down Your Awful, Lying Inner Critic (To Focus On Positive Thoughts)

How does the inner critic form?

Simply put, your inner critic is an accumulation of messages from toxic, broken people and harmful experiences that once contributed to the formation of your ideas about yourself and your worth.

If you experienced constant criticism from an authority figure, caregiver, or family member and/or if you were bullied by your peers in your neighborhood or at school, this became the source material for the inner critic. Neither you nor that person(s) may have realized how this was sabotaging your self-confidence at the time. 

Seldom do we grasp the debilitating effects that such messaging has on your self-worth. Moreover, if left unchecked, this form of psychological abuse can far outlast the physical presence of those who initially victimized you earlier in life.  

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How to push back against your aggressive inner voice

While you shouldn’t accept everything your critical inner voice tells you, there’s value in analyzing your negative thoughts and where they come from. 

If you don’t confront your adversary — in this case, your own mind — how could you ever take dominion over it?

When the primary saboteur in your life is with you 24/7, you have to find a way to quiet or counter that voice. The first step is thinking about where that voice is coming from and why it’s telling you things that aren’t necessarily true. 

This is the critical step in reconciling the trauma that birthed your inner critic — and thriving in spite of it. 

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Finding and taming your inner critic

Some people never become aware of their inner voice. As a result, it battles them their entire life and prevents them from going after goals well within their reach. 

But if you dedicate time and energy toward exploring your relationship with this voice, you can fight back.

Let’s start with two steps encompassing awareness and mindfulness. 

First, give your inner critic some credit for protecting you from decisions that may not be the best for you. 

It can be helpful when it tells you to look before you leap. Sometimes it’s the only thing reminding us to measure twice and cut once, to deeply consider decisions before we make them. 

But when the critical voice dominates you and your choices, it becomes a problem.

It’s essential to befriend and learn how to harness your inner critic — rather than defeat it completely. 

Second, when you find yourself at a crossroads, write down how and why you feel a certain way about the decision. Take a moment to explore what is your perception based on.

You might find your biggest fears are either highly unlikely or less extreme than you thought when you see them on paper. 

By taking the time to be a bit more objective you will also identify harmful patterns where you self-sabotage or engage in activities that don’t serve your development. When you identify and pick apart these patterns, you’ll be able to form healthier patterns that contribute to your growth. 

RELATED: 5 Strategies To Outsmarting Your Inner Critic & Silencing Negative Self-Talk

Winning the end game against your inner voice

Overcoming becomes possible once you become aware. How can you do that? Follow these three steps.

3 steps to help you replace your inner critic with a supportive inner voice

1. Choose the better angel

Once you start to see through the lies your inner critic is telling you, you can find ways to encourage your supportive inner voice.

It’s like having an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Ultimately, it’s your shoulder, and you have the power to choose which one to listen to. 

If you have a passion or talent for something — reinforce it. Pursue education, participate in training, and surround yourself with like-minded people. Directly challenge your inner critic by doing the things it doesn’t want you to do — out of fear of failure or embarrassment. 

RELATED: 3 Ways To Quiet Your Inner Critic & Find Your True Self

2. Seek guidance from a certified professional

Work with a credentialed coach to help you get to the root of your inner conflicts.

Sometimes we are too close to the situation to see things clearly. When your own mind is defying you, it helps to work with someone who is trained in unearthing the root causes of your conflicts — internal and external. 

An ICF-certified coach can help you identify patterns and recognize situations that trigger your destructive inner voice. 

RELATED: 10 Signs That Tell You It's Time To Go To Therapy

3. Eliminate potential triggers from your life

Remove yourself from harmful situations and people who trigger your inner critic.

Go where you are celebrated. Remove people from your life who want to see you fail.

Those who are jealous of you or who use you for their own gain aren’t worth keeping around.

Find the people and activities that light a fire under you. Those that feed your supportive inner voice. 

RELATED: The Surprises You Might Discover When Peeling Away The Layers Of Trauma

Show your inner critic what’s what

If you feel like you haven’t reached your potential or you’re holding yourself back from pursuing your purpose in life — it’s time to acknowledge that you’re the only one who has control over your decisions. Only when you take full responsibility for your actions will you benefit fully from them. 

Acknowledge your hyper-critical, unreliable inner voice, analyze its origin and intention, then over-rule its aggressive negativity with your own deliberate, well-informed sense of self-worth.

RELATED: 4 Types Of Self-Criticism That Damage Your Confidence And Sabotage Your Happiness

Dr. D. Ivan Young is an ICF Credentialed Master Certified Coach, Certified Professional Diversity Coach, National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach, and a Certified Master MBTI Practitioner.