Thwarting the Inner Critic

May 28, 2013 — 20 Comments
This Girl Is On Fire - She's Ousted The Inner Critic

Releasing the Power of the Inner Critic
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This Girl is on Fire!

I could hear Alicia Keys’ ♫♪♬ voice in my mind. Standing up on that table with my black kicky boots in a warrior stance, my arms jabbing at the ceiling and with my voice unwavering — for just a second — I had successfully F@CKED OFF my Inner Critic at the behest of my coach with my fellow class attendees as witnesses.

Not my usual style, yet strangely cleansing.

Precisely the reason why Sarita Chawla, our coach and senior faculty leader, had chosen this particular exercise for me. Putting me in my Un-Comfort Zone was a way to “out” my Inner Critic who had become too comfortable in my mind and psyche.

The Inner Critic Is Not Your Friend; No Matter What You Think!

Perhaps you are thinking that you don’t need to get into the uncomfortableness of your Un-Comfort Zone because you can make peace with your Inner Critic.  You can quiet it down, live with it, even use it for your own betterment. You may be thinking you wouldn’t be as good without its promptings.

The Inner Critic is Not Your Friend

Don’t Be Fooled! The Inner Critic is NOT Your Friend
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Banish those insidious thoughts — that’s your Inner Critic speaking!

What we saw, felt and heard in the New Ventures West’s “Thwarting the Inner Critic” class was this:

  • “The Inner Critic causes you to sacrifice freedom for safety.”
  • “The Inner Critic usurps your own essential strength and uses it against you.”
  • “The Inner Critic dampens your aliveness (the true you vs. who the Inner Critic thinks you should be).”
  • “The Inner Critic syphons your energy.”
  • “The Inner Critic super glues you to your seat!”

Those observations prompted this tantalizing thought from David Kinsman, fellow coach and attendee:

“We need to meet the world in a different way”.

I take this to mean…

Eradicate Your Inner Critic Now!

And you can begin the eradication with these 3 exercises from the “Thwarting the Inner Critic” class.

Eradicate Your Inner Critic

Show Your Inner Critic to the Door
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1.  Name Your Inner Critic — Give It Form So You Can Fight It!

Don’t just name your Inner Critic, draw a picture of it or find one on Pinterest.

When you’re done, look at it carefully.

Note: It does NOT look like you.

That’s because the Inner Critic isn’t you. Now that you have something tangible to oust, you can begin to dismantle its power.

2.  Know Its Tactics — Learn How It Attacks You

Write down how your Inner Critic communicates with you.

Does it constantly buzz and murmur in your mind? Is it a deflating sharp punch in your gut? Do you feel a tightening grip on your heart?

What are the should’s and should not’s it uses with you? Is there a particular tone to its voice – shrill, wheedling or patronizing?

Do you feel self-conscious?

These are alerts that the Inner Critic has begun its prowling. Alerts telling you to defend and deflect.

3.  Fight Back — Via A Little Madness

A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

I like this quote tweeted by Petteri Tarkkonen (@ptarkkonen), a friend and master at “sharing life and leadership wisdom and motivation” through quotes.

A little madness (what I call –> “creative unexpected disruption”) is necessary to unloosen the Inner Critic’s hold because you can’t reason with it. Logic doesn’t work.

So, why not laugh out loud to defuse its power? Or flood your mind, body, emotions with heart-touching/cell-changing music to counterattack. Perhaps, snap your fingers in its face, walk out on it or do as I did and put your all into the “This Girl is On Fire” exercise.

Creative unexpected disruption can take many forms. Don’t be afraid to try it! Don’t be afraid to meet the Inner Critic’s force with an equal force of your own!!

Still Can’t Knock Out Your Inner Critic?

Meet Your Inner Critic with Equal Force

BAM! >> Knock Out Your Inner Critic
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It’s hard to eliminate your Inner Critic. It’s been living with you and ingratiating itself in your mind for a long time. Here are some additional ideas:

I highly recommend it and so does Martin Proulx (@martin_proulx), who also attended and was motivated to write about it in his post titled: “I Thought My Inner Critic (Super Ego) Was Bigger Than Yours”.

As a Certified Integral Coach through New Ventures West, I may be biased with my recommendation, but truly — I enjoyed the class and found it of value and I assure you that I’m not receiving a promotional fee or any fee for recommending the class. 🙂

Your Experience?

I suspect that I’ll always need to be vigilant in fighting off my Inner Critic. It has a certain stickiness to it.

What about you and your Inner Critic? How do you grapple with your Inner Critic? Would you be willing to share your experience in the comments? I would love to hear about it.

In closing, please…

#TakeThisMoment to oust your Inner Critic because you’re out to conquer the world today! ~ Jackie Yun

Don't let your Inner Critic Hold You Back.

Thwart Your Inner Critic & The World Will Be Yours!
Image courtesy of Idea go at

…and just in case you feel your Inner Critic should hear this. Here’s “This Girl is on Fire” by Alicia Keys.



20 responses to Thwarting the Inner Critic

  1. Hi Jackie,

    How interesting and funny that we were both thinking and writing about the same topic at nearly the same time… The class you took sounds most intriguing!

    In answer to your question of I am grappling with my inner critic, I am going to try Dr Kristin Neff’s approach of showing it compassion because it is really trying to protect me and mistakenly thinks that it needs to be harsh in order to either keep me safe or motivate me.

    This stems from the innate fear that if we make a mistake, we may be outed from the tribe, so to speak and social isolation is something that we fear.

    I am not sure this approach is going to work but the self-compassionate approach sounds like a lovely one that can help us deal with various difficulties and sorrows in life.

    I will also make sure to try interweaving some of the wonderful suggestions you mentioned as well – the more tricks we use to disarm the inner critic, the better!


    • Hello Dorlee,

      “We’re living parallel lives” as my old college roommate is fond of saying. And it’s nice that we do! Loving the support.

      Did you know that Wikipedia states there are two main approaches to the Inner Critic? As quoted from Wikipedia, these are:

      (1) Treat it as an enemy to be ignored, dismissed, fought against, or overcome. This is the approach recommended by Brown [8] based on the Diamond Approach, Firestone, et al. [9], and Carson [10].

      (2) Treat it as a misguided ally, to be befriended and transformed. This is the approach recommended by Stone & Stone [11] based on Voice Dialogue, Earley & Weiss [6] based on Internal Family Systems Therapy, and Allione [12] based on Tibetan Buddhism. These approaches see the inner critic as attempting to help or protect the person, though in a distorted, dysfunctional way. This makes it possible to connect with the critic and transform it over time into a helpful ally.

      Looks like your post and mine cover both approaches. Good for our readers to see the yin and the yang!

      I definitely recommend that everyone checks out your post “The Surprising Reason We Beat Ourselves Up (And What To Do About It)” and try out the tips there.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences and wisdom. Keep up the good fight or the good love as it may be!

      • Hello Jackie,
        What an empowering post!

        And what a robust, well-thought-out and researched article! (as per your norm)

        A couple of lines that particularly resonated:
        * The inner critic dampens your aliveness.
        * The way you see yourself can be challenged and changed, and it can literally create new neural pathways in your brain…

        I also like your words about ‘ousting your inner critic’ (yes!) It’s about pushing back, taking charge, reshaping our habitual, negative thinking that is usurping our positive, forward-propelling energy!

        While we all have problems and even mistakes we need to fix or change from time to time, we don’t do ourselves a service by dwelling in the problem (negative); instead, the answer is initiating a positively fueled solution!
        Thank you, Jackie!


        • Hi Jacqui,

          Couldn’t agree more that “the answer is initiating a positively fueled solution” — and that usually wouldn’t include one’s Inner Critic!

          In your post, “Fear is a Liar”, you wrote about careerists who “wish for a crystal clear, safe solution to their career ailments, when in fact the waters are murky, the winds are blustery and their career sails are a bit tattered.” I see the Inner Critic on those high seas as pirates hijacking our confidence, enthusiasm, and excitement. If we can make our Inner Critic walk the plank, just imagine how we would do in our careers! — including challenges such as taking on the next big project, asking for a raise, presenting to executives and key clients, job search (interviewing, networking), etc.

          Thank you for taking the time to comment. Love our exchange. Hugs to you.


  2. Jackie,
    Thanks for this post. It came to me, via Leia Cator, at EXACTLY the right time. I was licking my wounds from a poorly-attended event my nonprofit put on last night and the Inner Critic was hard at work on me. It’s great to know I have a choice and can gently (or otherwise) show him the door!

    • Hello Fred,

      A salute to serendipity and Leia! {Aloha Leia!!} It’s good to hear that you’ve been able to show your Inner Critic to the door! Yay!!

      I found your post “Bowties and Diamonds” instructional. The graphics clearly show how Bowtie attention (what went wrong/what could go wrong — reminds me of my Inner Critic) takes away from the present and that Diamond attention (being in the present) is where we need to be.

      Appreciate you taking the time to write. Looking forward to future interactions here and on Twitter.


  3. Hi Jackie. Nice post,

    I’ve come to learn that my Gremlin has some important things to say, even if HOW he says it is another matter. When, as example, he says something like, “Youre soooo unprepared-you’re ALWAYS unprepared-you Loser,” he’s likely right in suggesting I prepare more.The trick, of course, is not getting distracted by his toxic tone and language.

    Too, as we discussed via Twitter, a while back, a number of coaches helped me with a fun, little, Gremlin-naming exercise. Check out all the great names we came up with:

    • Hello Barry,

      Those are some striking Inner Critic / Gremlin names! I particularly like Sister Critical, The Censor and Lambchop. 🙂 I’m glad you shared your link not just on Twitter but here, too.

      I also very much like your leadership haiku (@LeadershipHaiku) that you share on Twitter. When that Inner Critic speaks, it would be good to remember your haiku:

      // How do you inspire … / Yourself? Yes, yourself. Yourself! / How else? Yes, how else?! //

      Let’s do stay in touch!

  4. Great post, Jackie! I enjoyed being in the class with you, and this is a timely reminder…especially appreciate the tip that when I’m feeling self-conscious (who, me?) it’s a sure sign my Inner Critic is around.
    Thanks and take good care of yourself!

    • Hello Kathy,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and I love being in class with you where you make the environment so safe for everyone.

      Thought you’d enjoy this quote from Liz Phair:

      “I ended up becoming so self-conscious that my songs stopped being about my life and started being about what people thought of my music. And that was really bad.”

      For me that quote makes me stop and think hard about being self-conscious — and helps me to be a little less so — another “thwarting the inner critic” tactic!

      Hope to see you soon (maybe this summer?)! xoxo


  5. Jackie,
    I love the synchrony of you and Dorlee posting about the same topic. That goes to show how connected you are.

    I have a different way of addressing my Inner Critic. When it’s running riot, I’ll say, “Thank you, Brain, my heart will take over, now,” and it does.

    So, whatever you call it, call it out.

    I particularly liked that you inform your readers that music (and other techniques) will affect one’s cells. Such a vivid image: “…flood your mind, body, emotions with heart-touching/cell-changing music…”.

    As I mentioned on Twitter, this is such an important lesson for our children. I often say that you’re thinking and feeling, anyway, why not make it count. After reading this post, I think I need to add, “You’re modeling for your children, why not model what you’d like to see.”

    Again, kudos for weaving in so many great connections.

    • Hello Marianna,

      What a simple, yet deep way to handle the Inner Critic — “Thank you, Brain, my heart will take over, now”. That statement can work in so many situations. It’s going on a bright yellow sticky note right now!

      And if one’s heart needs a little encouragement, your Mirthful Monday Post – Manamanah can certainly be of help. Bringing in delight and joy as an opposing force can do wonders!

      Appreciating you and your heart-grounded ideas.

      Thank you my Summit Friend!


  6. Louise Poliquin June 13, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Hello Jackie,
    What a great posting. While the topic certainly creates worthwhile reflection, I am particularly appreciative of the way you presented it. Text, music, images, words from your experience, and pearls of wisdom: an integral offering. I will share it, especially with a client I saw just yesterday and who is actively kicking her inner critic out the door.
    A quote I like on that topic:
    “I have to remember to tell the negative committee that meets in my head to sit down and shut up.” Kathy Kendall
    Have a good day.

    • Hello Louise,

      Happy to be of help! ~ And I am basking in the shine of your compliments; telling my Inner Critic to let me #TakeThisMoment and enjoy it.

      What a great quote from Kathy Kendall that you shared. It’s a reminder that our Inner Critic can be a multi-headed monster. I’m now picturing it as the Hydra of Lerna that Hercules slayed. Ahhh, wouldn’t it be cool if we could all see ourselves as Hercules thwarting our Inner Critic?

      Very much appreciate your comments and insights.

  7. Kathe Shaw-Bassett June 19, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Jackie – I loved your Girl on Fire pose to reclaim the driver’s seat in your life. You’re right, Thwarting the Inner Critic was an extraordinary class and it takes commitment to keep thwarting on an ongoing basis. Thanks for all this great information and links to other useful articles, etc. Keep up the great work – you inspire me!

    • Hello Kathe,

      So wonderful to “see” you. Very grateful to have had you for my partner during one of the “Thwarting the Inner Critic” class exercises. You brought layers of depth and support and all via your eyes! Looks like there are at least several of us that recommend the class — nice!! Thank you for re-connecting with me here and I hope we’ll meet again, perhaps at another NVW class?


  8. Delighted that the work continues to support you!

    • Dear Sarita,

      Thank you for helping me fight through the shadow of my Inner Critic ~ life is more bold & colorful now! 🙂

      In class you had relayed you were thinking about creating/developing a class re: death. I hope you will. There are many of us who would want to attend and learn.

      Much gratitude,

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