6 Ways to Know Your Inner Critic Is Lurking Nearby

We have met the enemy and he is us.

-Walt Kelly, Pogo cartoon strip


How many of these sound familiar?cropped skua

Do you……

    • focus on what you lack compared to others
    • spend a lot of time focusing on what isn’t working in your life
    • feel unworthy of the success in your life
    • let past failures forecast what will happen in the future
    • worry about the “what if’s”
    • settle for less than you want

And, as a final check, have you been using “yes, but…” or “I should” or “who am I to…” lately?

Ah, hello, Inner Critic!

So, why has your Inner Critic stopped by? You know, the thing that causes you to sabotage yourself.

Yes, that voice. The one that comes so sweetly packaged by your Inner Critic.

You do know that your Inner Critic’s job description is to monitor your thoughts and behaviors, ever vigilant for changes in your status quo. Right? Sounds benign, doesn’t it? I mean, who wouldn’t want something watching over you to protect you from yourself?

My Inner Critic shows up as Jiminy Cricket, all cute and concerned, and oh, so innocent-looking. The perfect little helper. Not.

I have learned over time that his adorable exterior hides a voice that tells me, “You can’t.” and “They won’t like you if you do that.” And the deepest cut of all, “You’re selfish.”

Ah, here’s the rub: your Inner Critic has only one job—intervening when you venture beyond your current reality.

Your Inner Critic is your self-sabotaging voice! It constrains you from living your most fulfilling, value-filled life. It falsely shouts, “Danger! Danger!” to keep you in line. It allows you hide behind self-limiting beliefs. It keeps you small.

Really now, when you were growing up did you ever say, “When I become a grown up I definitely want to be small?” didn’t think so. So, why would you want that now?!

How can you defend against the self-sabotaging thoughts that your Inner Critic creates?

First, you thank your Inner Critic for it’s input and concern for you. And remind it that you’ll consider it’s advice along with all of the other resources you’ll use to make your decision. And then gently remind it that you are now in charge and will decide how you will be in the world.

Here are some tips for dealing with specific ways your Inner Critic might try to stop you from living large.

1./2.  Focusing on what you lack and comparing yourself to others?

Flip this around. Ask yourself what you like about you and your unique gifts. Create a giant list of all of the things you are grateful you do have in your life. And notice what is working your life. Remember: what you focus on increases in your life. So, keep your focus on the great things about your life, and the things that make you feel fulfilled. How can you add more of these to your life?

3.  Feeling unworthy about the successes in your life?

Recognize that you’re probably feeling this way because you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, which is a subtle way of saying that you’re experiencing growth and change and that you’re feeling uncomfortable. (And remember that these aren’t bad things.)  Take a different perspective and congratulate yourself for going beyond your norm. Revel in your courage.

4.  Worrying about the “what if’s”?

Focus on what you can do, right now to move you closer to your goal or dream. What is one thing you can do to get into action? Just do it. And then congratulate yourself for getting that much closer. I mean, really, who cares what size step you take right now? You’re taking action! That’s all that matters.

5.  Letting your past failures determine what you’re future will be?

Keep in mind that the past is just, the past. What did you learn from that failure? That’s the important thing. As Thomas Edison said, “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.” 

6.  Settling for less than you want?

Compromising your heart because you believe you are unworthy of more, is, well, the coward’s way out. It’s easier than going after what you truly want more of in your life. Honestly, are you willing to settle for mediocrity? If there’s even a slight hint of “yes” in your answer, then re-read all of the tips above. Rinse and repeat as often as necessary.


Your Call to Action:

Take one or all, the more the merrier I say, of the tips above and turn them into an affirmation for yourself. For example, rewrite “focusing on what you lack and comparing yourself to others” as, “I have so many things to be grateful for in my life. I am enough, just as I am.” Now it’s your turn. Write out your affirmations. And then find a way to post them where they will get lots of visibility. Go on, you’re worth it!

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