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Do You Have an Inner Critic? : The Cause of Anxiety, Depression & Low Self-Esteem


In my work as a therapist, I’ve met so many people who struggle with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. With this experience, I’ve learned that a root cause of these issues is often the voice of the inner critic.


Have you ever heard this voice?


To some people, the inner critic speaks loudly and clearly

“You’re never going to be smart enough.”

“No one wants to be your friend.”

“You’re a burden to others.”

“They all think you’re weird.”

“No one will ever love you.”

“You’re not good enough.”

“You can’t make any mistakes.”

“No one wants to hear about opinions.”

“You’re not special.”


Does this sound familiar?


There are many reasons “why” the inner critic might be present in your life. However, I won’t get into them here. Check back with my blog to read that at a later date. In the meantime, you can check out my blog post about Childhood Emotional Neglect – a common reason why people develop an inner critical voice. Click here to read!


If left unaddressed, the inner critic can wreak havoc on your mood and self-esteem. How does this happen? Read below to find out!



The inner critic can create intense worry and fear. It can make you dread even the smallest mistake. Many clients have told me that this critical part of them demands perfection, and pushes them to “do their best” in every part of life. Sometimes, this drive to do well does help you achieve excellence in your career, at school, or in other ways. BUT the inner critic always takes this type of high performance to an absurd level. This leaves you feeling like  you’ll never be good enough no matter how hard you try. And your need to “do well” turns into performance anxiety. In reality, perfection can never be attained because we live in an imperfect world. Therefore, your inner critic will always have something to criticize you for!



Most clients who suffer from an inner critic also tell me that they have low self-esteem. This makes perfect sense to me, considering that the voice of the inner critic is harsh and unforgiving. There is no kindness and empathy in the critical statements and accusations of this critical voice. According to the National Association for Self-Esteem, healthy self-esteem is founded on the basic building blocks of personal worth and personal competence. Personal worth is the sense that you matter – you have dignity and value as a unique human being. Personal competence is the sense that you have the ability to influence your life, and make changes in the world around you. Unfortunately, the inner critic specifically targets both of these important components of self-esteem! (See the above statements.) It is no wonder that you feel ashamed of yourself, and have little hope for a bright future, when the voice of the inner critic rages inside of your head. 



It comes as no surprise that the inner critic can also depress your mood and overall functioning. If you take a look at the statement examples from earlier, you will notice that the voice of the inner critic creates a sense of hopeless and helpless. This critical part of you has a limited vocabulary of words that negative, condemning, unforgiving and inflexible. Just hearing these words and phrases can begin to lower your mood and put your mind in a terrible place. Besides feeling harassed by this critical voice, you can also experienced impaired functioning. Why? Normal life presents challenges and problems on a regular basis. In order to address these issues effectively, and achieve successful outcomes – you need flexibility in behavior, a creative mindset, and an optimistic attitude. Unfortunately, the inner critic’s words are the opposite of these important aspects of a healthy person. And listening to it will bring you further away from the healthiest parts of yourself – leaving you feeling completely uninterested in LIFE. 

After reading this, if you’ve come to realize that you’ve been suffering from a critical voice – please know that you’re not alone. There are many other people in the world who are going through the same thing. I sometimes say, “Inner critics don’t discriminate. They go after everyone – no matter how old or young, successful, educated, experienced.”


I would also like you to know that there are very effective ways to overcome the voice of the inner critic in your life! Even thought it might feel impossible or hopeless at times – that simply isn’t true.


Take it from me. For years, I’ve worked with clients who are incredibly depressed, anxious, and feel like they are completely “stuck”. But with consistent counseling and effective interventions – change happens!

A client might come to a first session crying tears of shame and fear – but they will leave our last session together with laughter and joy. This transformation is not always easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

I believe the same can be true for you. If this blog post resonates with any part of your experience, please don’t hesitate any longer to reach out to a trained, licensed professional.

If you would like to work with me – please give me a call or email. I would love to hear from you!

Email me through the ‘contact form’ on this website, or call 630-923-5114.

Until next time,