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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:


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"


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"

"You just have no willpower - you are so weak"


This is a critical voice that pushes you to work harder and harder. It worries that you will be a failure if you don't keep pushing yourself to work more. Sometimes this extreme pushing can end up driving procrastination or some form of rebellion against working so much and so hard.

This critical internal voice may say things such as:

"You are so lazy - you should be doing so much more"

"You can sleep when you are dead"

"You shouldn't rest or take this time off- you should be working harder"


This critical voice aims to ensure that you won't take risks by undermining your self confidence. It tells you not to be too visible or too big in an effort to protect you from failure and the negative judgement of others. It focuses on your flaws and attacks your self worth so that you don't take chances and do things in life that involve change but may be very good for you long term.

This voice may say things like:

"Theres' no point in even trying - you are going to fail anyway"

"You can't do any better than this anyway - so you might as well just settle"

"Other people will think so badly of you if that goes wrong - don't bother even risking it"


This voice can be the harshest and most critical. It makes very direct attacks on your sense of self and self-worth. It makes you feel very flawed and as though you do not deserve to be valued, to be loved or to be respected. It is often motivated by the belief that it is safer not to exist than to continue living. The origin of the voice can often be early-life trauma or deprivation.

This very harsh inner voice may say things such as:

"You are worthless and completely undeserving of love or respect"

"You are such a failure"

"You shouldn't even have been born"


This inner voice is very focused on the past. The voice will focus a lot on past mistakes and spends time beating you up for things you have done or people you have wronged. In an effort to try and stop you from repeating past mistakes, it spends a lot of time focusing on those mistakes and punishing you for them. This voice also is very concerned about the behaviour standards prescribed by your family, culture and community. It wants you to have good relationships and so is always seeking to ensure that you are complying with those behaviour standards imposed by family/culture/community.

The guilt-tripper may say things such as:

"You never should have done that - you will regret this forever"

"She will never forgive you for that"

"Why did you ever say something like that"


This critical voice is very concerned with ensuring that you fit in with those around you. Its intention is to ensure that you are liked and respected and won't be rejected by your peers, family, community or friends. This voice can drive you to do things that don't feel best and right for you, just so that you can fit in. The Conformist voice is very worried about the voices of the Rebel and the Free Spirit within you which may drive you to do things that those around you wouldn't do. Therefore this voice may stop you from being in touch with your own thoughts, feeling and instincts.

This voice may say things such as:

"What would others say or think if you did that"

"Don't make a fool out of yourself, you are going to look so silly if you do that"

"Just do what you are told to do"


If you would like some help to turn down the volume of the inner critical voice and to turn up the volume of the more compassionate internal voice, please get in touch with us at to book in a 20-minute free consultation.

“We are harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else.” Anne Burton


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