top of page

How to deal with the inner critic

The three types of critical inner voices

1. The inner perfectionist

The job of the inner perfectionist is to look around for examples of perfection so it can tell you what you should aim for. If you’re aiming to be a better business owner, it might point out Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates. If you want to earn more money, it may direct your attention to Elon Musk (or more recently Bernard Arnault). Never mind that they are in the business for decades or what struggles they went through to get there. The perfectionist’s only goal is to look for examples of perfection (or whatever it considers as such.)

2. The inner pusher

The inner pusher motivates you to work harder, do more, and never feel that you’ve done enough.

3. The inner critic

The inner critic feeds itself from comparison with others. It could even begin its work before you had the first attempt. “Don’t even do those videos, no one will watch them.”

How do they work together?

The inner perfectionist may drive you to create a plan that aims to triple your revenue within a month (or something that is over your reach within a given time window yet). Then the inner pusher makes you work long hours, even neglecting your needs to sleep or nutrition. This is when the inner critic starts its action telling you that you’re not enough and never be the successful business owner/loving spouse/etc. you aim to be.

With voices like this on the inside, who needs enemies on the outside? 😄

Actually, these voices are there to protect us, however, their means and tools are outdated for our current problems.

They are solutions to a problem that no longer exists.


What to do with these inner voices? 🔧

The key is awareness - learning to notice your thoughts - so you can get some distance from them rather than being swallowed up by them.

1. Acknowledge:

Become aware when it is showing up in your head and label them in your mind. For example: “critic” “perfectionist” “pusher”

2. Change the inner dialogue:

You might want to have a gentle inner dialogue with it like this:

“I know you’re really worried about me, but the language you’re using is not helping me. In fact, it makes me harder to keep working on the issue, you’re worried about. What I need now is kindness and not criticism. Thank you for sharing and goodbye.”

3. Direct your attention to the present moment:

The inner voice relies on the past and the future. Focus your attention on something else, that is in the present moment: the sound of your surroundings, the touch of your clothes, or the color of the sky.

4. Transform it into curiosity and wonder:

What is it trying to protect me from? What if I still do it? What are some ways I can achieve my goals?

5. Practice the pause.

When you notice negative self-talk, put the brakes on by pausing and taking a few deep breaths.

6. Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts.

Remember, you don't have to believe everything you think! Ask yourself: “Is this really true?”

Ask yourself, "What is my brain telling me right now? Is it useful or helpful?"

Rather than berating yourself for recurring negative self-talk, or trying to push the negative thoughts away, simply acknowledge the thoughts - "Oh, you again" - then let them go.

7. Be gentle with yourself.

Show compassion toward yourself when your gremlin acts up, just as you would for a friend.


Become skilled in being your own biggest supporter

Chances are that you put a large amount of (unconscious) work into developing these inner voices in your head. Over the years you might have become very skilled in talking to yourself in a language that is not proven to be supportive anymore. In the same way and by putting a conscious effort into it, you can plant the seeds of communicating and relating to yourself in a different, compassionate, and more nurturing way. Make yourself your dearest and oldest friend. They'll always be there for you.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my newsletter to receive it in your inbox!


bottom of page