The 7 Types Of Inner Critic
Deep within all of us resides a harsh and critical voice. A voice that can talk down to us, make us feel bad about ourselves and undermine what we do. This is in the voice of the inner critic. In therapy, often what we are working to do is to identify this inner critic voice and then work to nurture a more compassionate internal voice instead. When we are harsh and mean to ourselves in our own heads, we tend to feel bad about ourselves and when we can be more kind and compassionate to ourselves our mental health and wellbeing tends to improve as a result.
What this inner critic sounds like for each of us will be very different. Psychologist Jay Early has actually suggested that there are 7 different types of inner critic that can reside within us. Which of these critical voices sound most like the one you sometimes hear in your own mind:
1. THE PERFECTIONIST
This inner critic wants you to achieve "perfection". It can often set unrealistically high standards for you to meet and is always pushing you to work harder or to do better even when this drives you to the point of unhappiness or exhaustion. This inner critic may tell you that you aren't good enough for not achieving your unrealistically high standards and it will want you to always try hard to fit in, ensuring that you aren't rejected or judged by others.
This voice may say things like:
""You need to do better than that - that just isn't good enough"
" You weren't planning on just leaving it like that were you - you should try harder and do more"
"Your work just isn't good enough"
2. THE INNER CONTROLLER
This is a voice that aims to monitor and control impulsive behaviours such as eating, drinking, shopping and gambling. This is the voice that can often really surface when someone is struggling with an unhelpful relationship with food or an eating disorder. It can be a very harsh and shaming voice aiming to moderate your behaviours and it is a voice that wants you to be accepted by society. The inner controller is often battled by the voice of an Indulger, which is the voice of an addict who worries that it will be out of control and succumb to its impulses in any moment. Binge-eating disorder and bulimia is often characterised by an internal battle between the Inner Controller and the Indulger. Anorexia and orthorexia tends to involve a very dominant Inner Controller voice.
The Inner Controller voice may say things like:
"You are so fat and unattractive, you need to just stop eating and starve yourself"
"You ate all of that - you are such a failure"