This post contains some of the best inner voice quotes.
What Is Inner Critic?
The inner critic, like the inner voice, is an internal dialogue that we have with ourselves.
However, unlike the inner voice, the inner critic tends to be negative and critical in nature. It is the voice inside our head that constantly judges, condemns, and evaluates us.
The inner critic can be very damaging to a person’s self-esteem and self-worth. It often focuses on our weaknesses, flaws, and mistakes, and can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and inadequacy.
It can also cause us to question our abilities, second-guess our decisions, and undermine our confidence.
The inner critic can be influenced by many factors such as past experiences, societal expectations, and perfectionism. It can be particularly strong in individuals who have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect.
One way to overcome the negative effects of the inner critic is to become aware of when it is happening.
By noticing the unhelpful thoughts and patterns of this inner voice, we can challenge its validity.
We can ask ourselves, “Is this thought really true?” or “What evidence do I have to support this belief?”
Another effective strategy is to practice self-compassion. This involves treating ourselves with the same kindness, concern, and understanding that we would offer to a good friend.
By acknowledging our imperfections and embracing our humanity, we can learn to accept ourselves for who we are.
Inner Critic Quotes
1. “A person raised by nurturing, supportive parents normally develops an inner critic who represents internalized rules and consequences. This inner critic causes him to feel “signal anxiety” when contemplating an action that goes against his value system, as well as guilt and sometimes depression if he actually transgresses. In this way a healthy inner critic provides self-imposed punishment that keeps a person’s behavior under the control of his or her system of morality. But anxiety, guilt, and depression are kept within reasonable bounds, because his conscience is modeled on his parents’ reasonable attitudes.” – Beverly Engel
2. “All children retain conscious and unconscious memories of those times when they felt wrong or bad because of the loss of their parents’ approval. This is where the inner critic gets his start.” – Beverly Engel
3. “Although the Inner Critic is also known as the inner critical voice, you may not detect its presence by actually hearing a voice. The Inner Critic can be sneaky, working to avoid detection by trying to appear as your native thoughts. So familiar as to be invisible, your Inner Critic reflex may be so automatic that you may not even register the thoughts.” – Denise Jacobs
4. “Compassion is the greatest antidote to the poison of your pathological inner critic.” – Byron Brown
5. “Having a strong inner critic is another factor in creating low self-esteem, and it usually goes hand in hand with low self-esteem.” – Beverly Engel
6. “However, the Inner Critic often does not know when to stop. It does not know when enough is enough. It has a tendency to grow until it is out of control and begins to undermine us and to do real damage. Its original intent gets lost in the sands of time.” – Hal Stone
7. “I know that the Inner Critic is the largest block to creativity that exists.” – Denise Jacobs
8. “If you do not detect its presence, you’ll most likely recognize the Inner Critic through the habitual negative self-talk that directly influences your behavior.” – Denise Jacobs
9. “If you were emotionally abused as a child, the chances are high that your inner critic is undermining your self-worth every day of your life. Its voice is so insidious, so woven into the fabric of your very being, that you seldom if ever notice its devastating effects.” – Beverly Engel
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10. “In order to reconnect with your essence, you may need to go beneath the negative parental messages you received, beneath the inner critic, and beneath your own self-judgment.” – Beverly Engel
11. “Once the Inner Critic has reached this level of authority, it is not uncommon for people to be required to eat, smoke, drink, or use drugs, sex, or exercise in a compulsive way in order to cover up the bad feelings that come from these Critic attacks.” – Hal Stone
12. “Once you understand that this is the voice of your Inner Critic, that radio station KRAZY is playing, then you have choices and it is possible to begin to take greater control over this area of your life.” – Hal Stone
13. “One of the most powerful ways of quieting and countering your inner critic is to talk back to him or her. Literally. Just as you would not allow a bully or tyrant to relentlessly criticize you or put you down, you cannot allow your inner critic to continue to wear away at your self-esteem.” – Beverly Engel
14. “Our inner critic’s function is to maintain the status quo in two ways: It keeps us away from what it considers to be dangerous or unmanageable parts of ourselves. And it directs us toward whatever ideals it feels will make us an acceptable, successful person. It constantly admonishes us with comments like “Don’t do that.” Its demands are never-ending and the actual feeling we are left with is “I am not good enough and I never will be.”” – Beverly Engel
15. “Parental emotional abuse creates a negative internal judge or pathological inner critic.” – Beverly Engel
16. “People who were overly controlled or tyrannized tend to develop a particularly powerful inner critic. Because you were so controlled and tyrannized, you had no choice but to internalize your parents’ critical voices.” – Beverly Engel
17. “The constellation of our fears manifests as the Inner Critic. This psychological construct can trick us into believing the very worst about ourselves and our ability to create or do anything else of value in the world.” – Denise Jacobs
18. “The Inner Critic can make you depressed. If your Critic is running your life without any balance coming in from elsewhere, its constant barrage of criticism can be extremely debilitating and discouraging. This can lead to physical and psychological exhaustion and depression.” – Hal Stone
19. “The Inner Critic has been with us since we were small children. It was born early in our lives in an attempt to protect us and keep us safe. What is important for us to realize here is that the Inner Critic has been broadcasting like a radio station since we were small children, announcing all the things that are wrong with us.” – Hal Stone
20. “The Inner Critic is a self (or subpersonality) that develops to protect us from being shamed or hurt. It is extremely anxious, almost desperate, for us to succeed in the world and to be accepted and liked by others. It is not the only self that lives within us.” – Hal Stone
21. “The Inner Critic is a source of shame. It finds every aspect of the natural “you” unsatisfactory, and it is relentlessly trying to change everything. There is no part of you that can avoid its piercing gaze—even the depths of your feelings, dreams, and impulses that you might be able to hide from the outside world.” – Hal Stone
22. “The Inner Critic is like the bit of mirror that makes us see a distorted picture. It is that inner voice that criticizes us and speaks about us in a disparaging way.” –Hal Stone
23. “The Inner Critic kills your creativity. How can you possibly try anything new or different when you know that you will do something wrong?” – Hal Stone
24. “The Inner Critic really wants you to be okay. It really wants you to make it in the world, to have a good job, to make enough money. It really wants you to be loved, to be successful, to be accepted, to have a family. It developed in your early years to protect your vulnerability by helping you to adapt to the world around you and to meet its requirements, whatever they might be.” – Hal Stone
25. “The Inner Critic uses words in powerful ways. One its favorite words is mistake. It dearly loves this word. “That was a mistake. I should not have gone to lunch. I should not have sent that letter. I should not have eaten that sandwich. I should have said yes to that invitation.” Behind all these “should nots” and “shoulds” is the basic assumption that we erred, that we made a mistake. A mistake is unacceptable and we feel miserable whenever we think we have made one.” – Hal Stone
26. “The Inner Critic, on an inner level, is the source of low self-esteem. How can you possibly feel good about yourself when you have a voice inside of you that is telling you nonstop what is wrong with you?” – Hal Stone
27. “The judge or inner critic specializes in attacking us for feeling our pain with messages like “What good is it to feel pain? It won’t change anything!” “You are such a crybaby,” and “Watch out, you might lose it and then you’ll really be in a mess!” But unless you are willing to acknowledge and feel your pain at being emotionally abused, you will find it difficult to experience compassion for yourself or others.” – Beverly Engel
28. “The next time you hear your inner critic chastising you about something you did or did not do, counter this negativity by telling yourself something like “I’m doing the best I can,” or “Given my circumstances, this is all I am capable of at this time.” Learning to be compassionate toward yourself will also help you make contact with your sense of self-worth.” – Beverly Engel
29. “The normal experience of having an inner critic is that its negative messages can cause us to modify our behavior, but the negative introject or saboteur is indifferent.” – Beverly Engel
30. “The things that make you dissatisfied with yourself reflect the judgments of your Inner Critic. We have found that many people have an easier time catching hold of the Critic if they record its comments in a notebook.” – Hal Stone
31. “There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself; everyone suffers from time to time with self-critical thoughts. But some people have such low self-esteem that they are never satisfied with their achievements, their physical appearance, or their performance. They have a relentless inner critic who constantly tears them down and robs them of any satisfaction they might temporarily feel when they have reached a goal.” – Beverly Engel
32. “Unfortunately, you cannot permanently quiet your inner critic’s or saboteur’s voice by challenging him or telling him to shut up. This helps at the time, but eventually his voice will return. What you need to do is replace his voice with another voice—a nurturing inner voice that will substitute the critic’s negative messages with positive ones.” – Beverly Engel
33. “What do our inner critical thoughts have in common at their core? One word: Fear.” – Denise Jacobs
34. “What drives the Inner Critic? The desire to protect ourselves. Our emotional minds developed the Inner Critic as a protection strategy against situations in which we could be judged, rejected, or criticized.” – Denise Jacobs
35. “Whenever you make a mistake or fail to reach a particular goal, instead of letting your inner critic take over and chastise you mercilessly, tell yourself, “I did the best I could” or, “I’m only human and humans make mistakes.” This is not the same as making excuses for your behavior; it is just a compassionate acknowledgment that we can all fail, even when we try our hardest. You will be far more motivated to try harder the next time if you talk to yourself in a kind, understanding way than if you tear down your self-esteem.” – Beverly Engel
36. “With your Inner Critic watching your every move, you become self-conscious, awkward, and ever more fearful about making a mistake. You may even stop trying because the Critic tells you that you are going about things all wrong and will undoubtedly fail. Although, underneath all of this, the Critic may want you to be so perfect that you will not fail, its effect is to block any attempts you might make.” – Hal Stone
37. “Your inner critic is formed through the normal socialization process that every child experiences.” – Beverly Engel
38. “Your inner critic may be experienced consciously as a thought or a “voice,” but most of us are unaware of its habitual activity. Usually we only become aware of it during stressful situations when our shame is activated.” – Beverly Engel
39. “Your inner critic often appears as your own voice, making it seem as if you are the one who has these notions about what is right, what is necessary, or what things mean. But make no mistake about it: the voice you hear is not yours; it belongs to someone who lives inside you, someone you’ve brought along with you on your life’s journey.” – Beverly Engel
40. “Your inner critic would have you believe that you have no intrinsic value, that we are born empty with only the potential for becoming someone worthwhile. But you were born with a tremendous amount of goodness, wisdom, and strength.” – Beverly Engel
- Portions of this article were adapted from the book Healing Your Emotional Self, © 2006 by Beverly Engel. All rights reserved.
- Portions of this article were adapted from the book Banish Your Inner Critic, © 2017 by Denise Jacobs. All rights reserved.
- Portions of this article were adapted from the book Embracing Your Inner Critic, © 1993 by Hal Stone. All rights reserved.
Hadiah is a counselor who is passionate about supporting individuals on their journey towards mental well-being. Hadiah not only writes insightful articles on various mental health topics but also creates engaging and practical mental health worksheets.