Mitu MindBody Psychotherapy

Registered Psychotherapist

Serving the Greater Toronto Area

Our Harsh Inner Critic and the Inner Commentator


Have you noticed your ‘inner commentator’, it is a constant conversation that we have in our head that gives us feedback about ourselves. When that voice is not nice we call it the ‘inner critic’. Our inner critic can be strong and harsh sometimes. How do you know when it’s operating? A very loud inner critic actually makes us feel defeated, doubtful, guilty, shameful, depressed, sad, anxious, unlovable, not good enough and low- self worth. Does this feel familiar to you? We all go through these emotions at least once a day, but the key here is to learn how to no longer be a prisoner of the inner critic.

So how can you reduce the volume of this inner critic and retrain it? The answer is in first developing a deep level of understanding and awareness how this inner critic operates within you. The second step is cultivating the compassionate voice.

STEP 1: Operation of the Inner Critic:. The key is to become aware that we have this inner-critic and know when it is dialoguing, like a cat watching a mouse. With this awareness we will be able to know what messages our inner commentator is giving to us us moment by moment, and to finally stop ourselves from being a victim of our own harsh treatment.

So how do we do this? Here is the inside scoop: sometimes we actually don’t hear a clear voice or message from this inner critic, rather, we are just left with certain feelings and sensations, like discomfort in our body, tightness in our belly, lump in our throat, or anxiety, sadness, self-doubt, bitter moods etc.

How to take notice of the inner-critic: When the discomfort and negative mood states start to arise, the task is to ask yourself “what kind of message or thought would make me me feel this way, emotionally and in my body”. Then start to simply state out load negative statements towards yourself, as if giving a louder voice to this inner critic. This may seem counter intuitive, but as you do this, you will find the statement that resonates with the emotion and sensation you are feeling. Like a click, you will have found the critical belief and thought that has given rise to disempowering feelings and tensions your the body.

What you are actually doing here is making the unconscious belief systems and automatic thoughts, conscious to yourself. Once you are able to really hear what the critical parts of you has been feeding you, you can work towards quieting down that harsh inner critic. Here are some of its common statements that it may say: ‘you are doing it wrong, you need to push harder, you need to be better and more perfect, you are going to fail, you are not worthy, un-loved’. What critical voice statement do you find most frequently operates in you? What is your theme, and what feeling are you most often left with? Know your Shadows to transform your Shadows. What we resist persists.

STEP 2: We reduce the volume of the inner critic by increasing the volume of our compassionate voice. This is the dialogue between the critical voice and the compassionate voice. As you make deeper contact with the inner critic and really feel the feelings that are arising (by applying the method discussed above), pause and ask yourself,

‘what would the voice of love say to me now?

Recall a time when you were able to speak from the voice of love and compassion, it may have been towards a friend, child or family member who was experiencing the lash of their own inner critic, or even yourself. Then step into this part of you that has the ability to BE the compassionate voice. Begin to have that dialogue between this compassionate voice and the inner critic.

See this inner critic as a wounded child, or some part of you that is in pain and fear. Externalize it so that you can look at it. The harsh inner critic is not entirely you, as you have many parts and voices within you. Your reality becomes the voice you choose to identify with most and put your belief in. When you choose to step into the voice of compassion and love for yourself you no longer identify with or are attached to the negative thoughts and beliefs. As you do this more and more you will begin to step into your true authentic power. As you cultivate and step into your voice of compassion and self love you become the best version of yourself for yourself.

How do we refine the art of developing this inner compassionate voice, so its turn on more quickly, effortlessness and effectively? Read the third blog: Powerful Exercise to Strengthen Your Compassionate Voice.

Recommended book: ‘Lovability’ by Robert Holden.

I absolutely love this book, it has touched upon the deepest original wounding within humanity, the feeling that at our core we are not lovable. This original pain actually gives rise to all our so called inner conflicts and challenges: self-doubt, guilt, shame, anxiety, fear, depression.