Manage Your Inner Critic

by Yen Uy


[photo credits] Photo by Ismael Sanchez on Pexels

Are you the type of person who can be hard on yourself? If you answered “yes”, then I want you to think about the things you say to yourself. Pause for a moment and ask: How do you really feel when you say these things to yourself?

When I was younger, I used to criticize myself a lot. It was my way of pushing myself to become better by bringing to my attention the things I do wrong. Although it worked on the surface, what I didn’t realize is that I also created a mental cage for myself. My self-criticism eventually felt like that because what used to work as a little nagging voice eventually became an authoritative one that magnified my fears.

The truth is, everyone has an inner critic. It just comes in different forms. Do you constantly compare yourself with other people? Do you worry about what other people think of you? When you achieve something, what do you say to yourself? How do talk to yourself when you feel like you didn’t do as well as you wanted to or when things don’t go your way despite all your efforts?

What we say to ourselves will always have a hold on us because we believe it. The good news is: you can take decisive control. Here are a few ways you can manage your inner critic.

  • Challenge that voice. If your inner critic is telling you that you’re not good enough, challenge it by thinking of evidence to the contrary. Many times, out of habit, we say things to ourselves that are not helpful or are unproductive. Maybe it was true in the past, but you can choose what you believe now. So when you remember something that contradicts your inner critic, tell that voice: You’re wrong! That’s not true.
  • Find out the motivation behind your inner critic. Your inner critic feeds on your fears and these fears come from a deep-seated need for self-preservation. Once you’ve neutralized the debilitating power of your inner critic by challenging its accuracy, ask yourself: What is it that I really want to do? What is that voice trying to prevent me from doing?
  • Move forward with self-compassion. How you talk to yourself will always affect how you feel and how you feel influences what you do. What you do creates your life. Once you know what it is that you really want to do, give yourself the time and space necessary to do just that. It’s about giving yourself what you need, not some standard you’re comparing yourself to. That makes a big difference. Start with asking yourself: What is it that I really want/need?

Think about it this way – your inner critic will show up especially when there’s something valuable that lies ahead. When something really matters to us, our fears kick in. The best thing we can do is to be aware of our thought processes and ground ourselves in what is really true at the present moment. Get curious about what you want and focus on what you need to get there.