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  • Christof Zellweger

Listening To Your Inner Voices: How Knowing These 5 Saboteurs Leads to More Clarity & Empowerment

"You're so stupid. You always mess things up."
"You can't do anything right. Why even bother trying?"
"You're not enough. Nobody wants you."
"Life is so unfair. I can't win. Nothing ever goes right for me."

Do any of these sound vaguely familiar?

Ever wondered why our inner voices always seem to show up right around our most challenging situations? Maybe you find yourself caught in a loop of self-criticism, judgment, comparison, or experience feelings of rejection and inadequacy more often than you care to admit.

If so, welcome to the club - you're not alone! This blog post will explore five common types of inner voices – the inner critic, the voice of comparison, the rejection voice, the perfectionist, and the victim – and then uncover how understanding them can lead to deeper awareness, better choices, and more self-empowerment.

In my previous article, I delved into the concept of shadow parts, the aspects of ourselves that we often suppress and keep hidden. Each of these aspects also carries a particular voice that speaks to us in a specific way and tone - just like the examples above.

Today, we are going to shine a light on those internal voices and explore their distinct messages and intentions.


We all know them and we all have them - these inner voices that shape our thoughts, emotions, behaviours and actions. And no matter what we do, it seems that they keep whispering their opinions, passing judgments and suggesting constant comparisons, even when we actively try to not hear them. They often emerge in response to triggering situations and can have a profound impact on our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Below you'll find five types of these voices that seem prevalent for many of us. Knowing about them can support you in making more sense of them and learning how to better listen, embrace and integrate what we've been pushing down for too long, and probably far too often.

The Inner Critic or Inner Judge

Imagine a relentless critic constantly berating you with harsh words. It may sound like

  • "You're so stupid. You always mess things up.",

  • "You're such a failure. Look at how effortlessly everyone else succeeds."

  • "You can't do anything right. Why even bother trying?", or

  • "You always make the wrong decisions. You're such a disappointment."

It's voice is quick to point out your flaws, undermine your self-confidence, and create a pervasive sense of inadequacy. It thrives on judgment and can be very cutting. Getting intimately familiar with inner critic is crucial for building self-esteem and nurturing self-compassion.

The Helpless & Powerless Victim

When the victim speaks up, it can perpetuate a sense of powerlessness and often externalizes responsibility. It comes up with phrases such as these

  • "Why does this always happen to me? I never catch a break."

  • "No matter what I do, I'm always the one who gets hurt."

  • "It's not my fault. Life is so unfair. I can't win. "

This voice convinces you that life is unfair, leaving you stuck in a cycle of self-pity, disempowerment and helplessness. Recognizing your own agency and taking proactive steps to overcome challenges can empower you to reclaim control over your life.

El Perfeccionista (let's also have fun here!)

The perfectionist voice demands flawless performance and sets impossibly high standards. It expects robot-like functionality. It declares

  • "If it's not perfect, it's not worth doing."

  • "I need to exceed expectations in every aspect of my life."

  • "I have to get everything right the first time."

  • "Mistakes are unacceptable. I can't make any mistake."

  • "I must achieve flawless results, always."

This voice keeps you trapped in a cycle of constant self-criticism, anxiety, and a fear of failure. Embracing imperfections, setting realistic goals, and acknowledging your efforts can break free from the grip of perfectionism and foster a healthier mindset.

Constant Comparison

Through social media, the comparison voice has become louder than ever before for many of us. It whispers

  • Everyone else seems to have it all figured out except me."

  • I constantly feel like I'm lagging behind my peers."

  • I'll never be as talented as X."

  • If only I could be as attractive/popular/smart/wealthy as X."

  • They seem to have their lives together, while I'm really struggling."

  • Why can't I be as successful as X?"

It thrives on comparing yourself to others, fostering feelings of envy, insecurity, and a distorted sense of self-worth. Remember, social media often showcases only the highlights of others' lives, leading to unrealistic comparisons. Learning to appreciate your own journey, your unique talents and strengths, and focusing on your own growth can help reigning in this voice a lot better.


The rejection voice echoes deep emotional pain, reinforcing fears of abandonment and unworthiness. It says things like

  • Nobody really cares about me."

  • I'm convinced that people are always judging me. They must find me lacking."

  • I never seem to fit in or belong anywhere."

  • I'm afraid of being rejected so I hesitate to put myself out there."

  • No matter what I do, I always end up feeling rejected or unwanted."

This voice often stems from past experiences of rejection or feelings of being unlovable or unworthy. Building self-esteem, practicing self-compassion, and seeking support from loved ones or professionals can be a helpful step toward navigating these feelings and developing a healthier perspective on your innate worthiness.

Here's a little pro-tip: infuse some lightness and fun into your exploration! It's easy to feel weighed down and overwhelmed when delving into these internal voices. One way to make it more playful is to come up with names for the different inner parts that voice the phrases we discussed above.

A few examples from my own journey are:

  • Cynical Cindy

  • Angry Hulk

  • Shutdown Shlomo

  • Debbie Downer

When we can remember to embrace a sense of playfulness, compassion, and fun throughout the process, we can actually accelerate our progress, make the journey more enjoyable and thus achieve better results.


Recognizing our internal voices is the first step towards understanding their impact on our thoughts, emotions and actions, and thus ultimately on our day-to-day life. When we can start a dialogue and listen to what they have to say, we get to know ourselves, our patterns and our behaviours better, leading to more empathy and compassion so we can embrace and accept them. Acceptance is the first step, and possibly the most challenging.

When I suggest that a key aspect of moving forward involves accepting these (supposed) saboteurs, a common reaction for many clients is resistance. "You want me to do what? Accept that which I've tried to get rid of my whole life? No way!"

And again, I quote C.G. Jung who stated

"We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses."

Through personal experiences and consistent validation from the people I work with, I have found this statement to be truthful. Acceptance doesn't mean agreement. It just means that we are willing to acknowledge and tolerate the existence of these voices, even if they are unpleasant or when they are contradicting our beliefs. Only after acceptance has been reached can we move on and start changing things.

Now that we have a better understanding of what to look out for, what can we do on a practical level to address these voices? Stay tuned for future posts where we will explore simple strategies and insights on how to effectively manage these thoughts and cultivate a more empowering mindset.

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