An inner critic can exercise a powerful hold on our day-to-day behaviour. It tells us, “No, that will never work!” or “No, you are not good enough, strong enough, clever enough or attractive enough!”. The inner critic plays safe and likes things the way they are. Taking risks, and changing how you do something, which impacts your self-esteem, often brings out the critic. Reducing the power of an inner critic means patiently dismantling, choosing what you want to keep, and understanding why some of its messages are so compelling and damaging.  NOTE:  The inner critic is often an internalised voice from an overly critical parent.

Make a list of inner messages that your critic uses to undermine, distract or sabotage you. When you have a representative list of your critic’s messages, take each message individually and check out the valid evidence for it.  Ask yourself:

  1. Has my inner critic made a general rule from one isolated example?
  2. Has my inner critic started using exaggerated positive or negative descriptions instead of accurate ones?
  3. Does my inner critic have tunnel vision – does it insist on paying excessive attention to small parts of my experience?
  4. Is my inner critic an extremist – does it insist that everything I do has to be brilliant; otherwise, it regards it as rubbish?
  5. Does my inner critic lead me to take responsibility for events out of my control?
  6. Does my inner critic assume that the world revolves around me and my interests?
  7. Does my inner critic know that other people don’t like me, are cross with me, or don’t care about me?
  8. Does my inner critic insist that I am responsible for everything that happens around me or that I have no responsibility and am a helpless victim?
  9. Is my inner critic intensely emotional?

Armed with a list of messages from your critic and insight into how they may distort your self-esteem, see if you can creatively devise a way to contradict each message. Short phrases work best. Find one for each of your critic’s statements, such as “I may sometimes misunderstand, but that doesn’t mean I’m stupid”.  Keep the list safe and bring it out whenever you suspect the critic might get out of hand.

Resilience coaching could help you make friends with your inner critic.  For more information visit here.