There’s that inner voice again. You know it. The one that tells you nothing in your closet looks good on you. The one that tells you you’re going to fail at whatever you try. The one that whispers “he really doesn’t like you” when you meet someone interesting. Just when life starts to look interesting or exciting, that voice creeps in and ruins things.

You’re not alone. Everyone has inner voices that provide commentary and what sometimes passes for guidance. Those inner voices are the product of our own self-doubts and the negative things people have said to us over the years. From your older brother calling you ugly, Mom saying you weren’t very smart, that boss who insulted you at every opportunity, and that fair-weather friend who always delivers backhanded compliments, all those messages collect in your brain and become the inner critic that tries to convince you that you can’t do any better.

There is a better way. With help, it is possible to uproot the mental chatter and replace it with truthful messages. It takes developing two skills — the first is self-acceptance, and the second, self-compassion. Self-acceptance involves learning to accept who you are, becoming comfortable with the good parts and the areas you may need to work on. Self-compassion is all about being able to treat yourself as you would a friend who was upset. You may have had some bad moments or made decisions you regret, and self-compassion is telling yourself that was okay, but now it’s time to move on.

Those critical inner voices can do a lot of damage. By chipping away at our self-confidence, they can hold us back from accomplishing what we’re capable of. By convincing us we’re not worthy of love, they may lead us to sabotage relationships. And we forget they’re just fragments of bad memories coming back to haunt us.

It isn’t easy to silence those critical voices, but a trusted counselor can help you find the method that works best for you. A counselor will help you see where those voices originated and how you can replace them with an inner cheerleader who will support your goals and strengthen you instead of tearing you down. If you’re tired of listening to those messages, why not set a time to talk with one of counselors? We’ll help you shut those voices down for good.

Ifen Donovan is one of our students at Care to Change, and under the supervision of a licensed therapist. She plans to graduate by the end of this year and will specialize in seeing women, families, and those affected by trauma.

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