Inner Critic

Our inner critic is a voice inside our head that can undermine our confidence and self-esteem. It’s the aspect of ourselves that dwells on our shortcomings and highlights our flaws and inadequacies. This annoying voice tells us we must be more talented, intelligent, strong, beautiful, and successful. As human beings, it’s natural to experience self-doubt and negative self-talk from time to time, but when the inner critic takes over, it can become a severe problem. Research has shown that people who struggle with a harsh inner critic are more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

This critic is a part of our psyche and is responsible for our self-judgment and self-criticism. It’s the voice that tells us we’re not good enough, that we’re a failure, or that we’ll never succeed and is especially loud during times of stress and uncertainty when we’re feeling vulnerable or insecure. This destructive voice is never satisfied and can quickly spoil our most significant achievements. It feeds on the negative and sabotages our promising endeavour.

It’s important to remember that the inner critic is not our true self. It is just an unresourceful thought that tells us lies. It’s a part of us that has developed to protect us from perceived threats. It becomes automatic, overactive, mean and harmful, especially when we believe its narrative or are unaware of its impact.

You may not be aware of the unconscious thought patterns that signify the workings of the inner critic. But the good news is we are not powerless in the face of this disrupter. We can use mindfulness practices to tame the inner critic and develop a more positive and compassionate relationship with ourselves.


Here are some mindfulness-based strategies:  

1. Notice and Label the Inner Critic

The first step in taming the inner critic is to become aware of it. Start by noticing when the inner critic is most active and what it’s saying. When you hear the inner critic, label it as such. For example, you might say, “That’s my inner critic talking. Not me”

Labelling the inner critic can help you develop distance and unhook from its messages. Instead of identifying with the critic, you can start seeing it as an unresourceful thought. A thought that you can change.


2. Reframe 

One way to identify the inner critic is to pay attention to your language when talking to yourself. Do we tend to use words like never, always, nobody, everybody, should, can’t, must, and have to? Do you catastrophize or jump to worst-case scenarios?

Reframing our language can shift our perspective and create a more positive and empowering mindset. For example, instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” we can reframe our language to “This may be challenging, but I am capable of finding a solution.” This slight shift in language can help us feel more confident and capable, reducing feelings of helplessness and defeat. By reframing our language, we can become more resilient in facing challenges and cultivate a more optimistic outlook.


3. Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is treating yourself with kindness, care, and understanding. It’s about recognizing that we all make mistakes and that being imperfect is okay. It is part of the whole human experience. Speak to yourself with the language of encouragement, praise, and appreciation, recognizing that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have. Self-compassion is a powerful antidote to the inner critic because it helps us develop a more positive and accepting attitude toward ourselves, increasing self-esteem, reducing anxiety and depression, and promoting resilience in the face of challenges.


4. Challenge 

Another way to tame the inner critic is to challenge its messages. When the inner critic tells you you’re not good enough, ask yourself if that’s true. Are there any examples that contradict the inner critic’s message? For instance, if the inner critic tells you you’re a terrible writer, remind yourself of a time when you received positive feedback for something you wrote.

Challenging the inner critic can help you develop a more realistic and balanced perspective of yourself and provide insight into this critic’s overly harsh and unfair bias attitude.


5. Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is the practice of focusing on the positive aspects of our lives and being thankful for them. When we express gratitude, we acknowledge the good things in our lives, big or small. This shifts our focus from what we lack to what we have and increases our sense of abundance, leading to greater contentment and satisfaction. Practising gratitude can increase positivity and provide a deeper appreciation for the present moment with a greater understanding of oneself and others.

A no-brainer, gratitude cultivates a more positive mindset, improving our overall well-being and helping us navigate challenges with greater resilience.


In conclusion, don’t believe your inner critic, for it tells falsehoods. Remember, we have the power to tame and transform our thoughts. By noticing and labelling, reframing our language, practising self-compassion, challenging its messages, and practising gratitude, we can develop more positive and compassionate relationships, cultivate a healthy mindset and navigate life’s challenges confidently. You are worthy and deserving of a fulfilling and wonderful life.