“You’ll never stick to that exercise program, why do you even bother?”
You don’t cook healthy meals because you’re lazy. That’s why you always end up ordering take out.”
“You should really lose those 15… no, make it 20 pounds.”
Does this sound familiar?
If you’ve heard these phrases (or other ones like these) inside your head, you’re not alone… or crazy!
This is your inner critic, and it’s one of the ugly secrets many women feel carry that subconsciously keeps them stuck in their lives – even though many women don’t realize this is even occurring.
You see, whether you feel stuck in your health and well-being, vocation, relationships, or any other area of life, did you know self-talk is one of the hidden factors in the results you get?
If you’ve ever felt that you’re self-sabotaging your success, or you feel like a fraud because you look confident on the outside, but deep down you don’t feel confident in your skin! Maybe you know at times you are downright mean to yourself for “no reason”, and you know that creating unshakable self-confidence would lead to amazing results in ALL areas of your life! Then this post is for you…
We’ll go deep into why the voice we hear inside our head leads to success or failure, and discover three amazing tools to turn your inner critic into your own personal cheerleader, so that you feel confident and empowered to create the next-level results you would love.
What is The Inner Critic (and Why Does it Matter)?
The inner critic is a concept taken from psychology, referring to an inner voice that attacks, judges, and demeans a person – telling them that they’re not good enough, inadequate, bad, ugly…
When someone has an overactive inner critic, their self-esteem and confidence plummets. The negative effects in the person’s life can be just as devastating:
- They will often feel tired and sluggish, and have an unhealthy relationship with food.
- They may create unnecessary drama in their relationships caused by feelings of insecurity, unworthiness and doubt.
- They can feel disconnected from their purpose and not able to make a difference in the world at the level they are capable of.
- They may have a damaging relationship with their body due to a poor self-image.
- Their self-expression and creativity are thwarted by their own self-criticism.
- They will sabotage new opportunities coming their way.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can open the door to more self-love, confidence, body acceptance, loving relationships and a vibrant mind-body-soul connection by identifying this inner voice, and realize it’s NOT running you, but you are in charge. When you can hear the voice, and realize you are in charge, you can ultimately change the narrative – and change your results.
When you shift this voice, you unlock self-esteem and abundant worthiness. You start to embody healthier behaviors, and you can fill your own cup, and enjoying vibrant health, ideal weight, and radiant confidence becomes a natural way of being.
It’s the key to confidently share your gifts and talents, fulfill your purpose, and live with passion!
Inner Critic Definition
You might be someone who is familiar with your inner critic – what it sounds like, the type of things it whispers in your ear…
But if you’re anything like me, it might take a while to recognize that the overcritical voice that goes non-stop in your head and realize it’s not actually your voice.
In my case, I became a professional dancer in my 20s – and even though I was fit and toned, and I looked like I was in the best shape of my life, in actuality I had a love/hate relationship with my body.
The truth is that I never felt thin enough. Not even at a size 2.
I was completely miserable in my own skin.
There was a voice in my head that told me I was not thin enough, not fit enough, not flexible enough, just simply not good enough. Have you ever heard from that voice? That voice told me I needed to push myself harder, to whip my body into shape by any means necessary (starvation diets, grueling exercise… you name it, I did it all.)
No matter what I did, the voice was still there.
Eventually, after years of struggling and suffering I found my solution not in more fad diets or exercise programs, but in personal development programs and personal coaching!
Through this support, training and coaching I used powerful tools to heal my relationship with my body, build my confidence, and turn my inner critic into my inner cheerleaders. Now my inner voice supports me unconditionally! And yours can too!
That’s why I believe the crucial first step is to realize where our inner critic is coming from, and why…
The inner critic is an internal programming that begins very early on in life. Oftentimes how we view ourselves or how we speak to ourselves is simply a playback loop.
It’s the voice inside your head that points out your failures, erodes your self-confidence and makes you second-guess yourself.
The voice that keeps you from shining your light into the world.
But what many women miss is that this voice is not your voice. So the question is…
Where Does Your Inner Critic Come From?
Whenever I’m working with a new client, one of the first things I do is help her realize where the voice of her inner critic comes from…
Because when we’re born, we’re all pure bundles of joy!
Babies aren’t putting themselves down, or judging themselves harshly. Our self-criticism is something we pick along the way!
The thing is that this inner voice starts developing early in life – we’re so used to listening to it that we rarely pause and question it. And that’s crucial for your self-confidence.
So ask yourself this question: “Does your inner critic sound like anyone you know or anyone you grew up with? Perhaps an authority figure, such as a teacher or coach, or a caregiver that you had in your childhood or teenage years?”
Let the question sink in, and soon you’ll see that memories start coming back to you.
In my case, the abusive relationship I had with my body came from the harsh remarks and comments from dance teachers, and choreographers that had unrealistic and outdated standards for what my body shape and weight needed to be. And because I love dancing so much, I began internalizing these comments as a “way to get better,” and as my only way to be a successful dancer.
It didn’t take long for my inner critic to become a mean bully that picked apart every single “flaw” it could find…
Yet still, with powerful tools I learned over a decade of studying personal development I was able to apply these principles to remove this harmful inner programming.
No matter how harsh your negative voice is, you have the power to heal your inner voice and cultivate self-love, too.
The Other Names of The Inner Critic
As you have seen, the critical voice inside your head is not in an innate part of you – and everyone experiences it differently.
Because of this, the inner critic is called different ways: paradigm, ego, negative self-voice, or critical inner voice.
The reason why it’s called paradigm is that when left unchecked, our inner critic sets the boundaries of what we allow ourselves to do, how we allow ourselves to be, feel and think. It becomes the lens through which we see and interpret our reality.
It’s sometimes called our ego because unlike the voice of your intuition (or the Wise Woman Within, as I like to call her) your ego voice will often pull you towards familiar situations (such as your current job, relationship, or income level) – even if they’re not what you would really love.
Whatever the name is, it refers to the part of you that keeps you playing small, prevents you from tapping into your joy or radiating unshakable self-confidence.
Here’s a simple way to see it…
Your Human Self = Human Voice = Programmed Voice of Your Inner Critic
Your Higher Self = Still Small Voice = Empowered Voice of Your Intuition
However, there’s a reason why we develop this inner dialogue.
And understanding this is key to shifting the negativity and turning your inner critic into your best friend.
What Is The Purpose of The Inner Critic?
At this point, you may be asking yourself: “Why on Earth do I have this inner critic? What good could possibly come from it?”
Well, it all started thousands of years ago…
You see, this modern-day inner critic, or small people call it an inner bully, started as an ancient survival mechanism.
The oldest part of our brain developed to keep us safe. And what was safe in the early days of humanity often meant what was familiar to our ancestors: staying on the hunting trails you knew, picking the types of fruits you had already eaten, finding shelter in places you had been before…
In those days, picking the wrong kind of berry could kill you!
So you see why this mechanism was critical. In today’s world, this mechanism helps us learn how to navigate situations that we perceive to be important for our survival, especially when we’re young: pleasing our parents when we’re kids, or not aggravating our teacher or coach…
And we end up internalizing their voices as a guide to keep us safe.
The thing is that being safe is not the same as thriving.
When we become adults, thriving often means venturing outside the familiar path, into the unknown – so this mechanism kicks off inside us and does what it does best: try to pull you into the familiar!
That’s why the inner critic keeps you in the comfort zone… no matter if the comfort zone is actually painful, constrictive or just not what you would love at all.
Yet, staying in the comfort zone has a huge trade-off – it keeps you trapped inside the “victim” mentality, not taking responsibility for your joy, or sinking into self-pity, anger or frustration.
Still, your inner critic is giving you invaluable feedback that can be used in a positive way: it’s highlighting what needs to be healed in your life.
Why Master Your Inner Critic?
In my work, I see so many women feeling unhappy with their bodies…
Or thinking that they’re “flawed” or “not good enough”…
Stressed or sick, sluggish, depleted and unhappy, in a “soul-sucking job” where they’re not fulfilling their purpose.
They put everyone before themselves, and they’re running on fumes. Their cup is empty, and their work in the world and their relationships suffer because of it.
When I see this scenario, I know for sure that these women have an overly critical inner voice.
Quieting your inner critic does a lot more than just relieving you from the nagging voice whispering you in your ear…
It opens the door to you stepping into your power: eliminating the heavy burdens of shame, guilt, fear, stress, anxiety, depression and despair.
By shifting your inner negative voice into a voice of love, support and kindness, you’ll start seeing yourself for who you really are – a powerful, beautiful woman, capable of making her dreams come true!
When this happens, you’ll exude embodied confidence, and tap into the joy, and vibrant aliveness you’ve always desired.
How To Recognize The Voice Of The Inner Critic
Sometimes, we’re so used to listening to our inner critic that we can have a challenging time knowing if our inner voice is speaking the truth or if it’s the inner critic trying to tear us down.
The easiest way to tell them apart is asking yourself, “Is this voice supporting me? Is it being kind to me?”
Think about how you would speak to someone you love. You’d never bully them, and you wouldn’t be ok with another person talking to them in an abusive way!
That’s what the voice of truth sounds like – it will always be kind, loving and supportive.
Instead, the inner critic is anything but supportive: in fact, it can speak to you in 7 different ways that undermine your self-confidence and keep you stuck.
What does the inner critic say? 7 Examples of The Voice of Your Inner Critic
Your inner critic can take on different forms, in fact, psychologist Jay Earley identified 7 types of inner critics.
There are 7 ways the inner critic can express itself – perhaps you’ve heard your inner voice use one of these voices, or maybe all of them. Usually, our inner critic leans toward a couple of these styles more than the others.
The types of inner critic are:
- The Perfectionist: This type is judging you to do things perfectly and flawlessly. It wants to be in control, and it won’t let you take action unless everything is “perfect.” It can sabotage our success because to succeed we must take imperfect action and learn from our mistakes. This can sound like:
“You never try hard enough.”
- The Inner Controller: This inner critic is tied to unwanted behavior, such as binging on sweets or turning to alcohol to evade our problems. However, this inner critic’s approach is oftentimes connected to shame. It can sound like:
“You have no will power.”
- The Taskmaster: Our third inner critic wants us to take the road of most effort and sacrifice, it has a “no pain, no gain” mentality. You may recognize it in phrases such as:
“You’re so lazy.”
- The Underminer: As the name says, the main task of this inner critic is to undermine your self-confidence. It will tell you things like:
“You should really lose that weight.”
- The Destroyer: This inner critic is usually connected to some trauma, often from childhood, and it makes us feel that we’re worthless. It can sound like:
“Who do you think you are? You’re the worst.”
- The Guilt-Tripper: The role of the guilt-tripper is to blame you for mistakes that you’ve made in the past, and prevent you from taking future action. It can say things like:
“You’ll regret this for the rest of your life.”
- The Conformist or Molder: This inner critic tries to make you conform into the norm, and not stand out. It can make you blindly follow your family norms, or the rules of your society or culture. You’ll recognize it in comments such as:
“What will other people think?”
If you recognized your inner voice in the examples above, you’re not alone!
And you have the power to change it – I’ll share with you some unique tools to calm your inner critic below.
How To Silence Your Inner Critic
There are three tested and proven tools that I use as a health and well-being coach that are highly effective to silence your inner critic.
These tools will help you override an overactive inner critic and unleash the unshakable confidence that leads to the success you seek in life. They are:
- Press the “pause button.” As we say here in the Brave Thinking Institute, notice what you’re noticing and press the “pause button.” So you want to be aware of these voices popping into your head, and as soon as you notice a negative voice, press the pause button – meaning, interrupt the monologue of your inner critic and exercise the power you have within you to stop listening to the voice of disempowerment, and choose empowerment instead.
- Name your inner critic. This is a way to create psychological distance from your overactive negative voice. When you do this, you realize that it is not you (or all of you) but a part of you. It’s a voice that you’ve learned, you’ve internalized throughout the years. I named my inner critic “Debbie Downer.”
You can also choose a name for the empowering voice inside you. Pop superstar Beyoncé suffered from stage fright, and she created a fierce alter ego that she embodied whenever she needed to step on stage. She called her Sasha Fierce, and this empowering voice helped her create amazing results in her career.
- Flip the “what if?” narrative. You’ll notice that your inner critic will often speak of future negative possibilities. It will say to you “What if you fail? What if people laugh at you?” Instead, the empowering voice inside you will ask, “What if they say yes to my idea? What if I get the promotion, the raise, or the client?” You’ll be amazed at how uplifted you’ll feel once you turn these hypothetical negative scenarios into positive possibilities.
The Fastest Way To Embrace Your Inner Confidence
Reprogramming our inner critic, and shifting the overly negative inner narrative into positive, empowering self-talk is a complete game-changer for the women I work with.
And I can tell from experience how profound the impact can be…
After years of abusing my body with restrictive diets and grueling exercise, overworking myself in a soul-sucking job that left me too exhausted to spark any kind of romance with my husband, or play with my kids, my reality now is completely different.
Today I absolutely love my body (all of it!) and I beam with confidence and aliveness. I do work in the world that lights me up and creates a positive impact in the lives of women. My relationship with my husband is filled with a deep sense of intimacy. I’m present in my kids’ lives, and I can be the loving mom they deserve.
That’s why I make self-love, self-image and kindness part of all the programs I create as a Transformational Life Coach and Master Health and Wellbeing Expert.
But I know firsthand that overriding your inner critic can be challenging at the beginning…
So I have a gift for you – a quick, easy way to calm your inner critic to help you supercharge your confidence, and unleash even greater divine radiance:
With a powerful guided meditation and guide, you’ll start repatterning disempowering thoughts and habits about yourself and your body that may be keeping you stuck.
This is the perfect way to release feelings of unworthiness, deepen unconditional self-love, and create more health and vitality from the inside out.
Feel confident in your skin and alive in your life!