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How I Learned to Silence My 'Inner Critic' and Trust Myself as a Trauma Survivor

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Editor's Note

If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

What would happen if you trusted yourself completely? If you knew that no matter what life threw your way, you’d be able to deal with it? If you believed that you were strong, capable, and able to overcome and grow from adversity?

If you have gone through trauma in your life, this idea may seem like a fantasy to you. You may think that this could never be achieved, but let me tell you — it can, and you probably can too.

I have gone through my fair share of trauma, from growing up with narcissistic parents to being in an abusive relationship to having to pick up all of the pieces of my past trauma myself. Throughout my healing process, I noticed an underlying theme that seemed to always surface: that I had a relentless “inner critic,” and I did not trust myself. Thoughts about how I was incapable of handling anything right went through my mind. Thoughts about how useless I was and worries about what my future would hold if I didn’t “get my act together” enough to overcome my trauma seemed to consume me. My trauma instilled the belief in me that I was never enough and could never do anything right. It’s fair to say that my trust in myself was non-existent… until recently.

This internal critic criticized everything that I did, made me feel like I was never enough, and convinced me that in the face of adversity, I would always fail. This deceitful voice tricked me into not trusting myself.

I started to realize the voice in my head telling me all of those horrible things was not my own. It was instead a collage of criticism I had received from the toxic people in my life, but I had internalized it as my own thoughts. What gives this voice power and drives it to keep going? The scary thought of, “What if all of the negative things about me that I had been told throughout my life are actually true?” is extremely powerful.

I had been too scared to address this question in the past because I felt like I wasn’t ready to hear the answer, but now, I know I am ready. I am going to answer this question using my own voice this time.

“I am not useless.”

“I can do things right.”

“I am enough.”

“I amnot failure.”

“I am capable of handling adversity.”

“I can trust myself!”

The trauma I went through is not a reflection of me. It is a reflection of the people who caused it.

As trauma survivors, we may want to be compassionate towards ourselves in order to fully heal. It is OK if we have some days when we still believe our “inner critic” or have difficulty trusting ourselves. Quieting this voice is not likely going to happen overnight — it usually takes time.

The author's mandala of self-compassion, colored in shades of red and pink.

Does the idea of trusting yourself completely seem like less of a fantasy now and more like a goal for the future? I hope it does because it can happen! It takes a strong person to survive trauma, and the fact that you clicked on this article shows your determination to live a better life. I believe in your ability to trust yourself!

Getty image by Pheelings Media.

Originally published: April 4, 2022
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