I didn’t know until recently that some people do not have an inner monologue.
Honestly, it blows my mind.
I thought everyone was walking around with a little-me inside their head, constantly babbling away and telling them what to do/think.
I can hardly explain what it’s like to live without one as I very much have a loud and ever-present inner-dialogue going on with myself.
And a lot of the time, that dialogue isn’t always so pleasant.
Turns out, inner-me is also my biggest critic.
I can’t say how those without a monologue deal with self-criticism, but I’m sure they still suffer.
Although an understudied subject, some suggest that those without an inner monologue tend not to engage in destructive self-talk so much.
So whether the little voice in your head is telling you you’re a failure, or you just have an impending sense of being on, here are 8 signs that you’re letting that inner critic define your self-worth too much:
1) It’s telling you you’re never good enough
No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you achieve, no matter how content you actually are…
YOU WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH.
This tiny creature marches around with a loudspeaker in your ear.
God forbid even a sap of happiness enters your soul.
It pushes this back out and demands you return to the real issue at hand (or what it considers to be the real issue).
That being the fact that you are worthless. A failure. A laughable one, at that.
If your inner monologue (or general thoughts, if you lack one) are on the whole constantly telling you you’re not good enough and never will be, chances are this is having a huge impact on your self-worth.
Many of us let our inner demons dictate too much of our self-valuing beliefs, so you’re not alone there.
However, pushing yourself beyond letting your inner critic define your self-worth takes effort and a great deal of self-reflection.
2) It’s pushing you for perfection
But wait a minute – you’re not good enough and never will be, but you sure better be striving for perfection.
It’s a strange contradiction that your inner critic plays.
The mantra of telling you you’ll never succeed, yet still pushing you for perfection.
And beating yourself up about it when perfection isn’t attained (as perfection itself is largely unrealistic).
If perfectionism tapers in your thoughts and despite not feeling hugely worthy, you still try to chase it, your inner critic is again likely taking charge.
It’s pushing you to unattainable limits knowing full well these will never be achieved; thus setting you up for failure.
3) It’s telling you that the chance of failure means it’s not worth trying
Another perplexing contradiction is if this inner self is telling you that you absolutely must strive for perfection…
But at the same time tells you not to go for it, because there’s a really big chance that you’ll fail (being such a failure).
So when it comes to you wistfully thinking about all your hopes and dreams, it pops up like a whack a mole and yells that there is no point in trying.
Somehow even if you’re a perfectionist.
The looming fear of failure it assures you is so great that there’s no point in even getting out of bed.
Why not just linger there and rot instead?
It’s the safer option.
If you exist in such a contradiction where your inner self is punishing you for not achieving perfection, yet also telling you not to risk failure and even try achieving your dreams, you’re also very much not alone.
Whilst a painful thought pattern to exist within, this doesn’t need to be permanent.
Escaping this endless cycle of never feeling worthy yet also being terrified of trying to do better is something you often need a helping hand to achieve.
Gratitude journals, meditation and therapy will all be useful tools.
However, Ruda’s exercises go one step further in teaching you the tools needed to achieve a greater sense of control over little-me.
This also involves healing little-me, or rather your inner child.
4) It’s generally quite pessimistic
You know that one person who just has such a droll outlook on life.
The food is never good enough (it’s too hot, too cold, too salty, too late).
They detest people of all walks of life and never manage an inch of patience or open-mindedness.
They wake up with a grimace on their face and proceed about their days like a Scrooge/Grinch figure; always dissatisfied, forever unhappy.
If your inner voice edges on the pessimistic side of life, chances are it’s taking you for a ride when it comes to lowering your self-worth and seeing everything in a negative light.
It, is after all you.
5) It takes every piece of feedback or criticism personally
Did your boss make a passing comment about how your verbal delivery could have been better?
Did your partner make a very light-hearted joke about your bed-hair?
Did your mother sigh with fondness and remind you that you’re not the best cook the world has ever seen?
And this inner critic, did it hear these statements and go into full-blown panic mode?
No, they cannot be lighthearted comments or constructive feedback.
That’s not possible.
This is WAR.
These people must hate you.
They’re out to get you.
They’re trying to defame you.
Cue a spiral into bristling resentment, silent fury, and self-loathing.
Insensitive comments should never be allowed to fly under the radar, but if you can see a pattern whereby you let minor comments affect you so brutally, chances are your inner critic has far too much power over you.
6) It sneers at compliments
Whilst this inner critic has bat-like ears when it comes to criticism and can hear a mildly accusatory statement muttered a mile away, it seems to completely ignore compliments.
Or rather, it tries to twist them around and turn them into a different form of criticism.
The person probably doesn’t mean it.
It’s backhanded, anyway.
They can’t surely be this nice, they must want something from you.
The inability to accept a compliment with grace suggests insecurity and a lack of self-worth, which your inner self is likely puppeteering.
7) Other people have started noticing
You drop a glass of water. Or a piece of toast.
Now, I’m not discrediting the fact that dropping a fresh piece of toast is incredibly annoying. Especially if it’s freshly buttered.
But if you stomp your feet and cry in frustration, and start declaring how much of a loser you are, other people tend to notice.
If comments like “you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself”, and “hey, you’re not a bad person” pop up in conversations with loved ones – listen to them.
Sometimes it’s difficult to see how much of a toll your inner self is taking on your feelings of worthiness, and it takes that outsider perspective to see what’s really going on.
8) You love others dearly, yet detest yourself
I find the quote “to love others, you must love yourself first” at times problematic since it’s often not so black-and-white.
Being in relationships or friendships can assist in our healing journeys immensely.
But think for a moment: would you take the same harsh and caustic tone with which you criticize yourself and apply that to the people you loved?
Would you tell them they’re a failure for not accomplishing some huge project, or for being rejected by a date?
Would you sneer at them and call them gluttonous for having an extra slice of cake?
Or glare at them and tell them everything about them is downright ugly.
I hope that the answer to the above questions is a no.
(If it’s not no, you sure do have some self-work to do).
But think of it this way: you’d likely never treat the people you love and value with the same nasty, callous tone you afford to yourself.
So as cliché as it may sound, start trying to rewire that little-me, that inner self, and work on loving yourself in the way that you love, and the way that you want to be loved.