How to tame your inner critic so it doesn’t tame you

Taming Your Inner Critic
Taming Your Inner Critic

Frannie is frantically searching for the lost phone number to dial into the conference call.  At the same time, she’s thinking how much work she has to do today and knows that it is more than she can possibly do.

She’s stressed out sifting through the piles on her desk for the phone number.  She calls in late by five minutes.  She beats herself up for not clearing her desk the night before.

Frantic Frannie is my inner critic. She is the voice in my head that beats me up and chains me to my desk for long periods of time.  She is my inner dictator.

Self-realization happens when you can hear your inner critic and not act on it.

This is the first and most important step in your growth.

Realize that you can’t suppress your inner critic because if you do, you will amplify it.

What you resist persists and gets bigger

You want to develop a balanced relationship with your inner critic.

In the places where your voice has been censored, it’s important to find out why and to understand why your voice became imprisoned. It’s a process of recovering parts of yourself that have been censored or hidden in your life. It’s important to name what you are afraid of so you can identify where your voice has been shut down.

The Imposter Syndrome
In Science magazine, an article titled, “No, You’re Not an Impostor,”  notes that many people are afraid others will find out that they’re a fake or fraud and that it’s a fluke they made it into graduate school or got their current job.

Even though you may get excellent performance reviews at work, you still feel like you may get discovered for being incompetent.

This syndrome is real and common. Some of the side effects are anxiety, feeling ashamed and unworthy.

When you feel anxious and have the need to work harder or please people, stop and ask your inner critic:

Where do you come from?

This is a valuable psychological technique that will help you think objectively. Once you figure out where this voice came from (not all inner critics come from childhood), you can tell if it’s telling you the truth or if you can disregard it.

Get to Know Your Inner Critic
Now I want you to take a trip back down memory lane to see where your critic came from. Not all inner critics come from childhood.

They can come from many parts of our lives including our friends, peers, news media, teachers, religious leaders, and our own attitudes about winning and losing influence us.

What’s important is that once you understand where this voice comes from, you can learn to recognize when it is telling the truth and when to disregard what it says.

How It Tries To Help You
Your inner critic has evolved to keep you from being hurt and rejected. It reminds you that being capable, having knowledge and skills are important. You want to be open to it but don’t believe everything it says. Ask it, “How will you help me be successful with this task?”

  • Understand that your inner critic can actually help you.
  • Your inner critic has evolved to help you set and meet your career and life aspirations.
  • Act in spite of your inner critic.
  • You can learn from your inner critic, but be careful to not give it too much power.
  • As soon as you can recognize a voice inside your head complaining or criticizing you, ask it this:
  • “How will you help me be successful here with this task?” You want to learn from your inner critic and not give it too much power.

Act in spite of your inner critic

When you determine that your critic is not going to help you in that situation, take action. You’ve heard me talk about The Work of Byron Katie and the power of turning around the stressful or painful thought that is causing you emotional pain. You want to take action or live out a turnaround to grow.

Clue #1: If what is says to you drains your energy or lowers your confidence, ask it to go do something else and keep focused on the task at hand. Keep going and take action – this is your growth plan.

You inner critic is just one part of you and not the whole YOU. You want to remember that you are not your thoughts. You are the observer of your thoughts – your higher Self or your soul.

Managing your thoughts is key to creating the life and work that bring you happiness.

Now when I notice Frantic Frannie is overwhelmed and stressed, I call in Clarity Clara to take over.  She decides that I might need a walk with the dogs or that it’s a great day to go to Yoga class and make more green juice.  She is my antidote for Frantic Frannie.

Uncovering The Critical People in Your Life
A critic could be someone in your family, a peer from middle or high school, a teacher, a religious person, or a friend.  Start by identifying who criticized you.

Your School Years

1. Who is on your list as a critic in your life during your school years?

2. What happened?

3. What did he or she say to you?

4. What do you feel emotionally and how do you react when these words come flooding back to you?

A Recent Critic

1. Who recently criticized you?

2. What happened?

3. What did he or she say to you?

4. What do you feel emotionally and how do you react when these words come flooding back to you?

Someone Who May Have Meant Well But Hurt You Anyway

1. Who recently criticized you?

2. What happened?

3. What did he or she say to you?

4. What do you feel emotionally and how do you react when these words come flooding back to you?

Did you like this article?  Please share your comments below and pass this on to your friends.

  1. This is one pivotal aspect of ourselves that is so vital to become conscious of, Sherold! Thank you for it… and the questions that serve to ferret out its more subliminal/unconscious nature. We don’t even realize that these voices/thoughts which seem to be our own are interjects seeded throughout our life! particularly in childhood.

    I am especially going to be watching for her over these next days and I am in the process of launching new elements of my biz. Seems that this is one of Her favorite stomping grounds!

    Your program sounds awesome. Your work supports us on the deepest levels. Thank you.

    1. Kathleen – thank you for coming over and readying my post. I taught a class last night on this and it is something I continue to work with. We all have a or many critics. So learning to work with the voices is key and creating an inner Shero or inner cheerleader is the way;) Loving your program so much. Just wanted you to know.

  2. “Frantic Franny” – I love how you gave your inner critic a name! I find that when we see certain parts of ourselves as “third parties” 🙂 it gets much easier to deal with them and to be gentler with ourselves. “It’s not me – it’s frantic Franny! I just need to learn how to keep her under control!”
    Thank you for your tips. Good by Frantic Franny, Hello Clarity Clara! 🙂

    1. Hi Anj – it’s Clarity Clara here. Just finished my delicious green juice. Going to exercise class later today and I’m clear and calm. Frannie is banished today:) Thanks for visiting me here and for your comments.

  3. Frantic Franny needs constant coaching! I like your idea about asking her how she’s going to help you. Channeling our inner critic into something productive makes everything easier.

    1. Shay – loved visiting your site last night. Keep it up – you are helping women. Clara keeps Frannie in check. Today Clara is at work;)

  4. Sherold,

    This one resonates with me as I’m only in the 3rd month of having my virtual biz doors open. My inner critic has been VERY vocal and opinionated thus far =)

    I personally see my inner critic as me at the age of 18 — just entering college, feeling very bitter, disappointed and fearful about the future. I went through some pretty heavy experiences in high school that left me feeling like I had missed out on a lot.

    A few weeks ago, I actually engaged this part of myself in a silent dialogue. I asked the 18-year-old me what she was afraid of and what she needed. The thoughts that came to my mind were compelling and felt true. Like you said, she just wants to protect me.

    I find it so extremely helpful to remind myself that the “fearful voice” isn’t really the confident + brave woman I am today.


  5. Oh, yes, my inner critic does need a lil tough love. I also have an inner super hero, so I hope that the two will balance out. I love how you have expressed the following “You want to remember that you are not your thoughts. You are the observer of your thoughts – your higher Self or your soul.” that makes sense to me and learning more about this meaningful process. I need to dig into Byron Katie work it’s been on my too do, maybe my inner critic could help me with that! Thank you for all that you are and do and share.

  6. This one is juicy! Exploring what exactly is making you feel uncomfortable about scenarios and people is great advice to find out the source! Once you can figure out the why for the fear you can address it and make you stronger for it. I especially like your advice saying to get to know her (your inner critic) and see how she can strengthen you is amazing! Many thanks for this great post!

  7. Great topic Sherold. “Your inner critic is just one part of you and not the whole YOU. You want to remember that you are not your thoughts. You are the observer of your thoughts – your higher Self or your soul.” This is where I struggle. But I’m getting better at recognizing the inner critic (she like to come out when I’m tired) and seeing her from almost on omniscient view and looking at her with curiosity.

  8. Sherold – This makes me think I need to name my inner critic! That idea alone really helps me see that voice as a separate – and not all-knowing, completely correct – part of me. It is so easy to think that inner voice is always right and to let her feed in those Imposter Syndrome beliefs. Thanks for such great tips on how to use those thoughts for growth and action instead of letting them hold you back.

    Jennifer Peek
    Find Your New Groove
    Left-Brained Strategy for Right-Brained Businesses

  9. Ah, the critic. Always there. Always watching out for us. Like a mother hen.

    I love your suggestions for interrupting the pattern. They work.

    Another I have used is to tell my critic that we’re just going to fake it. As is “fake it til you make it.” It works wonders at tricking the pesky critic. Because of course, there is no need to fake it. We are perfect and can accomplish a ton is we just act.

    Thanks for the post Sherrold. Profound and helpful as always.

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