How I Learned To Confront My Inner Critic

You’re so lazy.

You don’t try.  Why can’t you just do it, already?  I know you can, so why don’t you?  It must be because you’re lazy.

Why are you so lazy?  What’s wrong with you?


Since I was young, these words have eaten me up, have swallowed me up, have drowned me in their truth.

I didn’t work.  I played video games.  Later, I moved on to pot and some other drugs.  Then gambling.  Then I bounced around all three.

And always, always, the voice inside me was alive, talking to me, telling me: why are you so lazy?


It’s a bizarre experience to have so many voices in your head, as if you’re not just one person, as if you’re composed of these different people, all clambering for attention, all trying to yell over each other.

That voice, about my laziness, has always been really loud.  And for most of my life, I thought that was the only voice inside, or at least the most me voice that lived in my confused head.


8 years ago or so, I sat in my therapist’s room.  He looked at me, sad.  He was one of those therapists, the kind that could actually show his own emotions at times without breaking the barriers of being a professional guide to your emotions and thoughts.

He was sad because I had fallen back into one of my old addictions again (not so old at the time).  I think it was gambling, but it’s hard to remember.  My mind was so mixed up.

He was also sad because he could tell how much pain I was in.  I was squeezing my hands like there was an invisible stress ball inside them.

I had told the story, how I slipped back into it…. a story he was getting used to by now.  That he patiently heard me say over and over…

And then we sat in silence, both sad, both not sure what to say.

And I had one of those moments that I learned to cherish later, the moments in a therapist’s office when you say something that’s been inside of you that you suddenly have words for, that’s suddenly given the space and safety to come out into the open.

“I’m afraid… I’m afraid that… I’m bad… that there’s something… wrong… with me.”

He looked at me silently for a moment, nodding, his eyes thoughtful.

He let the words float between us, gaining their own life, separating from me and becoming an entity to themselves.

Finally after some thought he said, “Who are you?”

I looked at him, confused: “What?”

“I mean, what makes you… you?  You said you might be bad.  Well, I guess it makes sense to first know what defines you before saying you’re bad, right?”

I thought about it.   It was true.  I had never thought about that.  Who am I?  What am I?  What is “I” when I say, “I?”


We went through personality, through emotions, thoughts, ideas, morality.  Every time he’d say something like, “But that changes, doesn’t it?  How can you define yourself by that if one day you feel, think, act, that way, if it’s impermanent?”

No matter what I did, I could not define “I” or “me” or anything permanent about my identity.

Finally, he looked at me thoughtfully.  His eyes less sad than before.

“What if there’s no definition?  What if everything you think is you, isn’t?  What if you’re beyond definition?”

The moment he said that, an image of a sun appeared in my mind.  I still remember that.  A sun as bright and as alive as any time I had looked into the sky.  So bright I couldn’t look at it for more than a moment, so alive I couldn’t grasp it but for a second, so real that it made everything else lose their definition.

It was my soul.

“Yes… yes, I think you’re right,” I said to him after a moment, quietly, but maybe more to myself.

It was true, it was so true.

And because of that, I suddenly understood the voices bouncing around in my head, and especially that voice that was calling me lazy.  Calling me bad, telling me I was broken and evil and wrong in this world.

They were like every other voice.  All the voices.  Not.  Me.


I recently went excavating with my new therapist.  We decided that it was time to delve into my mind, to brush away the dust and bring up the bones of my past.

I had long ago internalized the idea that I was not my inner voices.  And yet, for 8 years, the voice that called me lazy, broken, evil, was still alive.  Still coming out when the worst moments would suck me down into old habits.

No matter how much I knew that the voice was a lie, it would come back to torment me, like my mind was some sort of haunted house, full of ghosts that refused to leave, stuck between existence and death.

So this excavation was no small endeavor.  We were going to dig into my deepest fears, my darkest closets.  My past.  The source of the voices.

We went into college, when I went manic, when the trauma almost broke me.  But that wasn’t the source, it was just what I had been using as the proof.

We went into high school, when I would stay up all night playing video games and failing my classes.  Echoes of the voice were there, almost as real as the original.  In my teachers mouths, or at least their eyes, wondering how I could fail so spectacularly despite my (ugh) potential.  They didn’t know about the hours of video games, all they saw was this kid who never did his homework, who seemed interested in class but unengaged with success.  And they either said it or I said it for them in my mind: “Lazy.”

Still, it was just echoes.  Echoes of something earlier.

It took some hard digging, some truly honest thought, to look within and admit that this voice came from a time that was almost embarrassing to face.

Fourth grade.  A verbally abusive teacher.   A judgmental, angry, voice.  The first voice in my life that told me how lazy I was.  The first voice that told me there was something wrong with me, broken and undeserving.

As I opened up about this, as I told my new therapist in his Brooklyn office, a thousand miles away from where I first saw it, the sun came back into my mind.  Only the second glimpse I’ve ever had of it.

My soul.

It came and went.  And what was left was the realization, just like earlier, of who I really was.  And who I wasn’t.

Being able to see that voice for what it was, an abusive older woman who was almost a caricature of ego (and had perhaps become that, unchecked alive in my mind).

And suddenly the excavation in my mind was a bit exciting, a bit of a discovery process.

I watched my young self, who was devastated by this woman, devastated by the thought that yeah, maybe he was horrible.  I watched him go over to his friend’s house and play video games.  The first time he had ever played video games so obsessively.  He lost himself in those games, suddenly in a world where life made sense, where you worked hard and you succeeded, where you were safe from abuse and anger, and if you failed, you could just start over.

I watched as he did work hard.  He worked so hard, but in a different realm, one that was safe and sheltered.  I saw how much he cared, and how sensitive he was.

He was a fourth grader who was first learning the advantages of addiction, but not knowing he was becoming an addict.  No one else knowing either.

I watched as the more he played, the more this teacher looked down on him, her thoughts about him confirmed, and the voice coming out more and more.  And him, afraid and unknowing what to do, running back to those video games, to that friend, and to a world that made sense, but which made the world around him even harder, even more bewildering.  A cycle of addiction, fueled by insecurity and ego embodied in a shrill fourth grade teacher’s voice.

I watched as the cycle continued as he got older, when he got that computer in his room, and started staying up all night playing ever more immersive games.  I watched him hate himself more and more for it, but how the voice inside of him became louder and louder, making him need to not just hide from the world, but himself.  And so his addiction became worse and worse.

I watched him go to college, and find more addictions, ones that didn’t need to be in imagined worlds, but that could be transferred into the real world.  You can’t play video games in class, but you sure as hell can be high in class.  And everywhere else.  Portable addiction, an eternal escape.

And all the while, this young man’s life kept breakign apart, and the voice get louder and louder, shrieking at times, making him hate himself for failing so bad.

Until his body finally broke in two and he went manic, with a whole new voice overtaking them all.


And then he was transported into that first therapist’s office.  Growing, evolving, developing other voices.  Learning who he really was, seeing his soul.

And finally I was back there, back in my new therapist’s office, we had finished our dig, and he was looking at me.  Calmly.  Thoughtfully.  Like the first one.

We both nodded, the session over.  But we knew we had made a discovery on our excavation.  The voice that had tormented now had a name, and a face.

And it wasn’t me.





42 responses to “How I Learned To Confront My Inner Critic”

  1. Luftmentsch Avatar

    I can understand this. I know where my voices come from. It’s hard to move on, though. Much easier to internalize the voices. My therapist was saying today that she doesn’t know where we go now, unless I can leave my parents’ home, which (thanks to the inefficiency of the NHS and the Post Office) isn’t going to happen any time soon. Lately I just feel so frightened and despairing, I feel I’m this close to being hospitalized… it’s hard to know what to do with those voices, especially when they seem so real.

    1. Rebecca K. Avatar
      Rebecca K.


      I wish I could help you turn those voices off!

      1. Luftmentsch Avatar

        Thanks, I hear you.

  2. kobe shoes Avatar

    I simply wanted to thank you so much all over again. I do not know what I would have sorted out without the actual secrets documented by you on my industry. Previously it was the difficult matter in my opinion, however , considering a specialized strategy you managed that forced me to cry over contentment. Now i am thankful for the work and thus believe you know what a powerful job your are providing training the mediocre ones thru your blog. More than likely you’ve never encountered all of us.

  3. supreme shirt Avatar

    I must express some appreciation to you for rescuing me from this particular predicament. Just after researching through the world-wide-web and obtaining proposals which are not pleasant, I assumed my life was well over. Living without the strategies to the problems you have sorted out through your good article content is a crucial case, and the ones that would have negatively damaged my entire career if I had not discovered your web site. Your primary capability and kindness in taking care of all the stuff was priceless. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not come upon such a stuff like this. It’s possible to now look forward to my future. Thanks so much for your high quality and sensible guide. I won’t hesitate to suggest your web site to any person who requires guidance about this issue.

  4. bape outlet Avatar

    I needed to compose you one bit of observation in order to give many thanks over again for the pleasing ideas you’ve shown here. This has been quite wonderfully open-handed of people like you to provide freely all a lot of people could have sold as an e book to end up making some bucks on their own, precisely given that you could possibly have tried it if you ever decided. Those guidelines additionally served as the fantastic way to fully grasp someone else have similar passion just like my own to see significantly more in regard to this problem. I know there are millions of more pleasant periods in the future for individuals that discover your blog.

  5. goyard Avatar

    I wanted to jot down a quick remark to thank you for those marvelous guides you are placing here. My considerable internet look up has at the end been rewarded with useful details to write about with my company. I would declare that we readers actually are unquestionably fortunate to be in a remarkable site with many wonderful people with very beneficial ideas. I feel somewhat happy to have seen the webpage and look forward to really more amazing moments reading here. Thank you once again for a lot of things.

  6. goldengoose shoes Avatar

    Can I just say what a aid to seek out someone who actually is aware of what theyre speaking about on the internet. You positively know find out how to deliver a problem to gentle and make it important. Extra individuals have to read this and understand this aspect of the story. I cant imagine youre not more popular because you positively have the gift.

  7. jordan official Avatar

    My husband and i got quite glad when John managed to finish off his inquiry while using the ideas he discovered when using the web pages. It’s not at all simplistic to simply find yourself giving out steps that many the rest might have been selling. And we also take into account we need the blog owner to appreciate because of that. These illustrations you have made, the easy web site menu, the friendships you give support to foster – it’s many awesome, and it is aiding our son in addition to our family reason why this subject is thrilling, which is certainly pretty essential. Many thanks for everything!

  8. off-white Avatar

    I together with my friends were found to be viewing the nice ideas found on the website and unexpectedly developed a horrible suspicion I had not thanked the site owner for those strategies. All the young men appeared to be so happy to learn them and have now truly been loving them. Appreciation for truly being very helpful and also for settling on variety of perfect themes most people are really eager to be informed on. My sincere apologies for not expressing appreciation to sooner.

  9. Travis Scott Jordan Avatar

    Needed to compose you a tiny note to finally say thank you again over the spectacular solutions you have documented on this website. This has been wonderfully generous of people like you to make publicly precisely what many people could possibly have offered as an e book to help make some money for their own end, certainly since you could possibly have done it if you decided. These tips also served to become a great way to know that the rest have the same dream like my own to understand significantly more pertaining to this matter. I know there are thousands of more pleasant opportunities ahead for individuals that read your site.

  10. kd shoes Avatar

    I’m just commenting to make you understand of the helpful discovery my cousin’s daughter experienced going through your site. She even learned numerous things, including what it is like to have an incredible giving heart to get a number of people effortlessly gain knowledge of a variety of very confusing topics. You undoubtedly did more than people’s desires. I appreciate you for producing such productive, healthy, explanatory and in addition fun thoughts on this topic to Ethel.

  11. yeezy 350 Avatar

    I would like to show my thanks to you for rescuing me from such a setting. Right after surfing through the online world and finding thoughts that were not beneficial, I assumed my entire life was gone. Living minus the strategies to the issues you have sorted out through your main guideline is a critical case, as well as ones that might have in a wrong way damaged my career if I had not come across your blog post. That understanding and kindness in taking care of a lot of things was priceless. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a step like this. I can also at this point look forward to my future. Thanks for your time so much for the professional and amazing help. I won’t be reluctant to refer the sites to anyone who would like support about this situation.

  12. golden goose superstar sneakers Avatar

    There are some fascinating cut-off dates on this article but I don抰 know if I see all of them heart to heart. There’s some validity but I will take maintain opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish extra! Added to FeedBurner as properly

  13. golden goose outlet Avatar

    I’m often to blogging and i really recognize your content. The article has really peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your site and hold checking for brand new information.

  14. golden goose superstar Avatar

    I was very pleased to seek out this web-site.I wanted to thanks in your time for this glorious read!! I positively enjoying each little little bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

  15. golden goose sabot Avatar

    Hello! I just would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice information you might have here on this post. I might be coming again to your blog for extra soon.

  16. golden goose cheap Avatar

    That is the best weblog for anybody who needs to find out about this topic. You understand so much its virtually exhausting to argue with you (not that I actually would want匟aHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, just great!

  17. palm angels outlet Avatar

    There are some fascinating deadlines in this article but I don抰 know if I see all of them middle to heart. There is some validity however I’ll take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like more! Added to FeedBurner as effectively

  18. birkin bag Avatar

    I discovered your weblog website on google and verify just a few of your early posts. Proceed to keep up the superb operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Looking for forward to reading extra from you later on!?

  19. Travis Scott Jordan Avatar

    Aw, this was a very nice post. In idea I wish to put in writing like this additionally ?taking time and actual effort to make a very good article?however what can I say?I procrastinate alot and not at all appear to get something done.

  20. retro jordans Avatar

    I discovered your weblog site on google and test just a few of your early posts. Proceed to keep up the excellent operate. I just extra up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Looking for ahead to studying more from you later on!?

  21. Avatar

    Your content is nothing short of brilliant in many ways. I think this is engaging and eye-opening material. Thank you so much for caring about your content and your readers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *