Toxic Parents - the critical inner voice
The most powerful result of having toxic parents
is that we are left with low self esteem and a strong inner critical voice
that speaks continuously to us of our guilt, our shame and our wrongs.
What is this inner crticial voice?
It is the voice of abuse, of strong, verbal abuse within ourselves.
This inner voice: attacks us and criticizes us, blames us and compares us,
shames us and hurts us, makes us feel guilty
It tells us we're stupid, fat, selfish, ugly, and dumb. It even convinces
us that it knows what everyone else thinks!
This powerful voice came into being when we were children, and works
overtime to undermine our sense of self worth at every turn. It had its
birth during our earliest childhood years when we first experienced
feelings of not being acceptable for who we were by our toxic parents.
The more toxic your parents were, the more toxic the power of your inner voice is.
If you received many messages as a child that you were not ok
for who you were, then your inner critic will be a strong voice,
constantly upbraiding you today in the same way.
If it makes us feel so bad, why do we listen to it?
Mostly because it is so insidious, so much a part of who we are that we hardly notice it. At times it can
even seem reasonable and friendly. After all, we believe what it is telling us and it feels just so familiar and
Often it completely mirrors the sound of our own voice, or that of our mother or father.
It seems to just belong.
But this voice is toxic and astonishingly harmful, constantly blaming, finding fault,
criticizing and judging us.
It speaks to us through words, through pictures and through our
emotions. It dredges up shameful incidents from our past and
plays back old scenes like reruns at the movies.
The inner critical voice can convince you that you are wrong, guilty
and shameful by constantly reminding you of embarrassments, rejections
and mistakes. It feels as though it has a life of its own and that it
is more in control than you are, BUT
this is the biggest illusion of
Positve Self Talk
If you learn to recognize the self talk
of this critical voice, your inner toxic parent, then
you can learn how to turn the sound down, then off altogether, and replace it with a warm, nurturing and
loving voice that tells you of your strengths and triumphs instead.
Learning to recognize
your inner negative voice, say no
to it and
replace it with a clear, firm and consistent voice will change your
guilty thinking into a place of strength.
By learning how to become consistent and loving with yourself, you will also learn how to
be consistent and loving with your children and vice versa.
How do I Learn to Recognise the Inner Critical Voice?
We learn how to recognise the inner critic by consciously listening to it and getting to know it's patterns.
Mostly it rattles on all on its own steam, and you just allow it to
talk at you. But imagine the power if you begin to listen to
it and decide that you don't like what it says to you.
Imagine the power if you can tell it to stop, to shut up and to listen
to you while you argue back.
Your toxic voice will be at its loudest when you are upset by someone,
make a mistake, feel confused, embarrassed or afraid.
So it is necessary for you to recognize when you are feeling upset, anxious, confused and
Acknowledging that you are feeling these feelings
means that your inner critic will start to talk, so it is important
that you tune in to your negative feelings rather than just dismiss
Recognize them as important sign posts to your inner
Learn HOW to Answer Back
Once you have learned to identify the feelings and listen to that inner
voice, you need learn how to answer it by arguing back
Thinking of that voice as the enemy makes it easier for you to argue with it - denouncing its
messages and laughing at it are others ways to argue against
Talking back was something you would have been punished
for as a child, so it can be difficult to give yourself permission to
do it at the start. However you will be amazed at what a
pleasure it can become too!
Think of quick, short, sharp phrases
to use that disarm your inner critic.
One is to call it, "Liar"
.Another is to just yell, "Shut up!"
A very productive method is to
think of the opposite and to say that instead. "You're hopeless", then becomes, "I can and I will
These are powerful
ways of disarming your inner critic - even thought you are doing all the yelling inside your own head!
- Julie told me that her mother's favourite phrase to her as a
child was, 'You'll never amount to anything if you carry on like
that". This phrase sat in her mind as a cruel inner critic. When
Julie began to talk back to it with, "Just you wait, I'll show you", she
explained that it become her catch cry, her war song even, as she rode
into battle. Within a short period of time it had turned her life
Powerful Change Can Happen!
It takes awareness, willingness, determination and courage.
You are not to blame for happened to you as a child - but you can do something about it now.
One of the most effective ways of breaking the ctcle is to make the commitment to be more emotionally available
to your children than your parents were to you.
We all need someone to support us as we make changes in our thinking, especially as
we identify and acknowledge the pain of toxic parents.
I challenge you to find someone supportive to share the story of your
inner critic with, to help you to identify it and to ask for their
support as you make the changes.
Read more articles in this series:
What is a Toxic Parent?
- parents whose own negative behaviour grossly inflicts emotional damage which contaminates their children's sense of self.
Toxic Parenting - Inconsistent Parents
- Inconsistent parenting by toxic parents means that children experience the very negative effect of toxic parenting on their sense of self. This affects us on the very deepest level as we grow up and also affects us as we parent our own children.
Best Books About Toxic Parenting:
I would encourage you to seek professional help if you recognize patterns
from toxic parenting created in your childhood.
The past cannot be changed but the future can!
I wish you courage.