Many people are conscious of an inner voice that provides a running monologue on their lives throughout the day and into the night. This inner voice, combining conscious thoughts with unconscious beliefs and biases, is an effective way for the brain to interpret and process daily experiences.
Known as self-talk, this internal chatter can be cheerful and supportive or negative and self-defeating. This voice is useful when it is positive, talking down fears and bolstering confidence. Human nature is prone to negative self-talk, however, and to sweeping assertions like “I can’t do anything right” or “I’m a complete failure."
Negative self-talk often does not reflect one's reality, and can paralyze people into inaction and self-absorption. A critical inner voice may be driven by the desire to protect a person from the shame of failure. Some people even credit their inner critic with pushing them to develop self-discipline, and to recognize their weaknesses before others do so that they can address them head on and push forward. Over time, though, the negativity of a critical inner voice takes an emotional toll.