Critical Inner voice and self-loathing is that underlying feeling that we are just not good: not good enough, not good at this, not good at that, not good at – or for –much of anything. It can be subtle, we may habitually compare ourselves to others, for instance, constantly finding fault with ourselves and putting ourselves down, with no real awareness that there is anything amiss. Or, we may listen intently to our critical inner voice while it scolds and berates us, telling us how embarrassing, stupid, or insensitive we are; refusing to challenge it even while we suffer from it.
According to Dr. Lisa Firestone and Joyce Catlett in the book Conquer your Critical Inner Voice, the causes of self-loathing lie in the past, when, as children, we were trying to cope with our lives in the best way possible. They explain: The nature and degree of this division within ourselves depends on the parenting we received and the early environment we experienced.
Parents, like all of us, have mixed feelings toward themselves; they have things they like about themselves and they have self-critical thoughts and feelings. The same negative feelings that parents have toward themselves are unfortunately often directed toward their children as well… In addition… if a parent has unresolved feelings from either trauma or loss in his or her past, this will impact his or her reactions to his or her children.
The point here is not to blame parents. However, it’s important to realize that no parent, or person for that matter, is perfect. Parents face a difficult struggle when they have children, as painful feelings arise from their own past. They may therefore react inappropriately or critically toward their children in moments of stress. Moreover, the critical feelings parents have toward themselves often come across to their children and are then internalized by the child.
No matter what circumstances you find yourself in, a nasty point of view toward yourself is never warranted. It is never in your self-interest. The proper viewpoint toward yourself should be one of friendship. Think about yourself and treat yourself as you would a close friend; respectfully and with affection. With understanding and empathy. And maybe most importantly, with a sense of easiness and humor.
Counselling can help you overcome the darkness of depression and self-loathing and help change your perspective.
“When I began seeing my counsellor she was amazing. She was the first person to tell me that the reason I had all these awful thoughts about myself in my head was because those were the words spoken over me so often. I began to understand that the reason I felt so worthless was because I had been told things that simply weren’t true (but at the time I believed and internalized them). In addition to those thoughts, I had also treated others poorly and I learned that also came from things done to me in my past. I had attachment issues and learning this was so eye-opening for me. I had spent so many years thinking I was less than nothing and I found out that it was a belief system I had bought into through experiences in my past and what I was told. If I could believe those awful things and be so critical about myself, maybe I could choose to believe something different. Maybe there was hope. So, I continued on…I went to therapy — a lot. I read as many self-help books I could get my hands on. These books taught me how to replace negative thoughts I had repeated in my head for so long with positive ones. It took some time to work through all my feelings and think of realistic alternatives, however therapy helped me see that I had choice over my beliefs and delusional thinking which is fixed and false personal beliefs that are resistant to change in the light of conflicting evidence. These beliefs were obsessive and the cause of my emotional distress.
After feeling let down from the NHS, I decided to pay privately and see a private counsellor each week who offered support. I am finally beginning to accept and understand how I feel and no longer feel ashamed of feeling my own hurt and own my story”.
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