How to Make Peace With Your Inner Critic

Written by on February 27, 2017 in Breaking Barriers, Self-Awareness

Inner Critic

You’ve worked your socks off, but you’re feeling confident, cool and calm because your presentation is finally ready. This is it … you’re going to show everyone you’ve got what it takes to play in the big leagues.

You’ve checked and rechecked the numbers, the visuals and the handouts, and you’ve given yourself the “You got this!” motivational speech. There’s just one little problem.

That knot in your stomach you’ve been chalking up to nothing more than nerves has continued to grow and now you’re not only looking for problems you’re starting to second guess yourself.

“What have I missed? Am I going to end up making a fool of myself? Maybe this is a sign that I should ask for an extension? What made me think I could do this?!”

The opposition force is hard at work in your head, and it instinctively knows just where you’re most vulnerable.

Your inner critic is having a field day.

It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head. ~Sally Kempton

Meet Your Inner Critic

The intensity and frequency of the inner voice will vary for each of us, but we all have one. Often it’s barely a whisper, but sometimes, especially when you dare to step outside your comfort zone, it can become a deafening roar.

It insults, critiques, pokes, prods and questions, repeatedly reminding you that you’re not good enough.

This is your inner critic at its worst and it tends to fall into one of two categories, “bad self” or “weakness.”

The bad self is rooted in shame and can stem from feeling you’re unlovable; flawed; undesirable; inadequate or incompetent.

The weak self stems primarily from fear and anxiety. It may result from worry over perceived lack of control, vulnerability, isolation, fear of abandonment or inability to express emotions.

So where does this little critic that knows you so well come from?

Your inner critic represents a combination of all the limiting beliefs you have accumulated through your life and its relentless commentary can affect how you feel about yourself, the way you relate to the world, and especially, what you accomplish.

Learning to understand and manage your inner voice may be one of the most important things you can ever do because of the overall impact it can have on your life.

It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power. ~Robert T. Kiyosaki

Working With Your Inner Critic

If you go in search of advice on how to deal with your inner critic you’re naturally going to find a variety of opinions and strategies. However one thing pretty much everyone agrees on is that it’s difficult, if not impossible to make that voice disappear entirely.

And let me challenge you with this notion, why would you even want it to disappear? It is, after all, an extension of your own beliefs, and if you can learn to understand the nature of that little voice and interpret the messages, you can not only make peace with it, you can use it to help you (finally!) banish those limiting beliefs.

Here are 4 steps to help you make peace with your inner critic.

Acknowledge the Inner Voice

Awareness is the first step to recognizing and manage your internal critic. Try catching yourself the next time you realize you’re feeling anxious, unfocused or numb. Rather than resisting it, take a few deep breaths and relax so that you can better determine what’s really going on.

Identify Your Triggers

Chances are that there are certain situations or circumstances that tend to send your inner critic into overdrive. For many it’s whenever they are faced with change or having to test themselves in some way, but whatever your trigger(s) may be, identifying them will help you to avoid an unpleasant spike in emotions so you can remain calm and objective as you do the work to understand what your inner voice is trying to tell you.

Learn to Interpret the Messages

Rather than resisting a message from your inner critic, if you confront it with curiosity and detachment you’ll be able to reclaim control and once you’re recentered you can begin asking yourself questions. “What am I really afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen, and would that be so bad?”

I highly recommend using a journal for this process, in part because it will help you to clarify your thoughts, but also because it will give you a valuable reference to help you understand and manage your inner voice.

When you’re able to interpret the message objectively, chances are you’ll see you don’t need to be concerned; you can let it go and move on.

Leave the backdoor open

Turn Your Critic into Your Inner Coach

To me, this is an incredibly powerful concept. You have far more experience, knowledge, and compassion than you give yourself credit for. When you can tap into your belief system through your inner voice you can learn to quickly discern between those messages intended to help or alert you to an actual problem versus those that should be acknowledged and then gently ushered out the back door.

Best of all, by learning to understand, confront and make peace with your inner critic, you will no longer be dominated by its negativity which can create a major shift in your level of self-esteem and self-worth.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. Ikechi

    Hi Marquita

    The inner critic that makes us feel guilty and moody; you described it so well and I love the solutions that you shared.

    I agree that we need to embrace our inner critic and use it to our advantage.

    Thank you for this post. Take care

  2. Summer Price

    Ugh, that inner critic. Something I have struggled with many a time! I love the tips you gave on how to deal with your inner critic too. I have gotten much better at silencing that voice as I have learned to love myself. I wouldn’t talk to a friend the way my inner critic talks to me. I have slowly learned how to tell that voice that it is wrong and more often than not it is now my coach and not my critic.
    Summer Price recently posted…The Best Sore Throat Remedies for Quick Relief & RecoveryMy Profile

  3. Joyce Hansen

    One of the things that I learned through hypnosis and guided imagery is to have an inner wisdom guide. Wherever the inner critic wants to come out and play, it gets zapped by the wisdom guide. Works for me. Great article by the way. Thanks for putting so much thought and energy into this very important topic.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…When you really want to optimize productivityMy Profile

  4. Jen Monks

    Hi, Marquita. Thanks for the tip about journaling to help me figure out what I’m fearful of. I’ll have to use that strategy the next time my inner critic starts acting up.
    Jen Monks recently posted…15 Motivational Podcasts For Women Who Love BusinessMy Profile

  5. Ruth Bowers

    I love the idea of turning my inner critic into a coach! I’ve always been really hard on myself, and pretty much turned myself into a hermit because of it. Thanks for showing a better way to be, and how to get there.
    Ruth Bowers recently posted…[Friday Five] 5 Ways You Might Be Sabotaging Your Email MarketingMy Profile

  6. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    I like your collaborative approach to this.

    Usually I hear about “confronting” your inner critic, or “silencing” your inner critic.

    But you’re suggesting that we not only make peace with it, but actually understand that we can learn from it, too.

    And move on to deeper levels of growth.

    Yea, I’m getting it 🙂

    Donna Merrill recently posted…How To Sweeten Your Twitter Lists and Gain More FollowersMy Profile

  7. K. Lee Banks

    It’s so true, we are our own worst critics. I can certainly relate. I am bookmarking this post, because I know I will need to return multiple times to reread it and continue to strive for peace with that inner critic! I especially need to work on identifying triggers and interpreting messages. Thanks for sharing!
    K. Lee Banks recently posted…Lamenting Weaknesses or Maximizing Strengths?My Profile

  8. Mandy Allen says:

    I love the ending about turning your inner critique into your coach. I am a bit of a perfectionist so have a strong inner critic, but I am also very positive and use the self criticism constructively. Great post, thanks!

    Enjoy the journey!
    Mandy Allen recently posted…Why Do You Blog?My Profile

  9. Edward Thorpe

    Hi Marquita,

    Brilliant post!

    Because we all have a running commentary within our brains, it’s wise to ‘stand back’ and watch, without judgement (or acceptance), as these remembered bits float past our awareness.

    The tips in your post could help us do so. Thanks, Edward

  10. Danielle

    I never really take time to think about my inner critic, but I second guess myself all the time. I think one of my triggers is external questions or criticisms.
    Danielle recently posted…Peg Leg Porker: Nashville’s Best BBQ Joint in the GulchMy Profile

  11. DeeDee Lynn

    Hi Marquita. Well, I sure have fought many skirmishes with my inner critic. I’m finding her easier to deal with as time goes by.

    Sometimes the inner critic has some good advice that we should listen to. Other times, she needs to be put in her place. LOL

    Thank you for another insightful article.
    DeeDee Lynn recently posted…3 facts about radioactive fallout and how to protect yourselfMy Profile

  12. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! Yet another wonderful post! It sure did get me thinking about things. Since my mom got sick, I have been writing in my journal more. Great Share My Friend
    Thanks Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…A Free Gift To Help You Reach Success OnlineMy Profile

  13. Sushmita

    Marquita loved the idea of turning our Inner Critic into our ally.
    That can be helpful especially in improvising yourself whenever necessary.
    As one has said both criticism & praise is a part of putting yourself out there.
    Sushmita recently posted…Know why I transitioned my website from Wix to WordPress?My Profile

  14. Julie Gorges

    That your inner critic is not always a bad thing and the idea of turning it into your coach was a totally new idea to me. Your inner critic can get you into trouble when it goes into “overdrive” as you pointed out. But I loved the point that if you interpret your inner voice objectively, you may be able to learn from it. Insightful article!
    Julie Gorges recently posted…Oscar Mix-Up Proves Ageism Still AliveMy Profile

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the article Julie, and especially that it’s opened your mind to learning to use your inner voice for the power of good. 🙂

  15. Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos

    Marquita, I love the idea of turning your Inner-critic into a friend because all of our Inner-selves have a purpose and are a necessary part of our whole being. We have Inner-parents, a Physician-within, Inner children and that Inner critic that keeps our head from getting to big, and sometimes, believe it or not, that Inner critic can push us to be the very best we can be.

    • Thanks for stopping by Kathleen. I’m so glad you enjoyed the article, and I agree that it’s very powerful to learn to use our inner voice rather than attempt to shut it off. 🙂

  16. Sarah Arrow

    Love this Marty, I need to print it out for those days my inner critic has got the mic and won’t put it down. I need to learn how to handle the negative thoughts a whole lot better than i am right now. Thanks for sharing x
    Sarah Arrow recently posted…Power Words: Supercharge Your HeadlinesMy Profile

  17. Well that inner voice does keep me honest and my ego under control. That said, when she is particularly irritating, I tell her to shut up and get on my way.
    Keeping a positive thought journal has helped quell my inner critic a bit. I jot down the negative and then do as you said–ponder why it’s calling for attention and write positive thoughts to defeat it.
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…Book Review – Duncan Simpson: The Devil’s ArchitectMy Profile

  18. Vatsala Shukla

    Hi Marquita, turning our Inner Critic into our ally is an awesome idea! Understanding when the critic might have something useful to contribute and when it’s a barrier to taking action is easier to handle.
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…9 Anxiety Control Tactics Confident Executives Use For SuccessMy Profile

  19. Reba Linker

    Wonderful post, great tips on taming the inner critic – and hilarious photo illustration!

  20. Suzie Cheel

    Marty what a special post- I have had a wonderful 10 days with my inner critic, as i was launching on a pilot project with a coach the resistance appeared. It has been fascinating to watch and yes I have been journaling. letting go is also for me something my inner critic and I struggle with too. thanks for the reflection xx
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…Is The Flame of Passion Lighting Up Your Life?My Profile

    • Congratulations on moving forward with your new project Suzie! I know you are also a fan of journaling so I have no doubt you made the most of this opportunity. Glad to see your feeling better. 🙂

  21. Joy Healey

    Hi Marquita,

    I’m certainly struggling to overcome my inner critic at the moment.

    Or perhaps, I’m beginning to realise that it is right, and it’s time to take a different approach to certain aspects of my life, because other aspects have been given more priority than they deserved.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark
    Joy Healey recently posted…Start A Blog For Seven DollarsMy Profile

    • It’s very true Joy that our inner critic isn’t always harmful, sometimes it really is trying to alert us to values or priorities out of alignment. Thanks for sharing, and I wish you the best working through your questions. 🙂

  22. Mark

    Thanks for showing us the way M!

    I know from far too much personal experience, that inner voice, when left unchecked, has a tendency to turn into a major chorus!LOL!

    And like you pointed out, before you know or realize it, you’re practically paralyzed with indecision!

    That’s for showing us an extremely practical way out of the madness!Otherwise, we end up serving a life sentence, without the parole!LOL!
    Mark recently posted…How Even Smart Small Business Owners Over Complicate Internet Marketing?Part TwoMy Profile

    • Well said Mark, and I think anyone who has ever really challenged themselves has experienced the roar of an inner critic that refuses to be ignored. Not fun, but very human. So glad you found value in the post, always appreciate your thoughtful comments. 🙂

  23. Janelle says:

    The inner critic is a tough thing to deal with. I know I have a problem with this personally. Being your own worst critic can quickly put you on the road to self-destruction yourself. It’s better to learn how to deal with it and make peace with it.

    • Everyone struggles with an inner critic from time to time, it’s human nature. The positive side of that is when we struggle with something that’s a sign that this is an area that has growth potential. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, always appreciated.

  24. PhoeniciaO

    Thank you for this thought provoking post. I truly believe everyone has negative feelings at some point but some choose to allow it to limit them and others push forth regardless.

    The inner voice is powerful and if we listen to it, it can hinder us from making the best of our lives. At times my thoughts get the better of me and I battle not to be brought down by them. It is a struggle but I do not give in.

    We are often our own worst critics. I am extremely self critical and know this derives from insecurities and my need to prove to myself that I am good enough.

    Having a journal is a wonderful idea. I have been thinking about it for a while but not taking the plunge. Getting your thoughts down on paper is rather therapeutic.
    PhoeniciaO recently posted…Are you willing to stand alone?My Profile

  25. Marquita — You can’t avoid negative thoughts from popping into your head, it’s how you handle them that counts. Those thoughts are what you call your inner voice. Hopefully, most of our thoughts, or inner voice, are positive. But we would not be human if we didn’t also have negative thoughts. I think I’ve conquered the “bad self” thoughts. That makes dealing with the “weak self” thoughts so much easier.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…OMG! Oscar Blooper Tarnishes PwC BrandMy Profile

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