3 Tips to Tame Your Inner Critic


Suzanne was discouraged when we began our coaching session yesterday. She said things like, “Why can’t I stop eating those stupid Goldfish crackers?” and “I’m such a pig!” and “I’ll never get this weight off!” and “I’m a complete failure.”

Sometimes what we do with our eating is baffling and disappointing to us, but how we beat ourselves up about it, to me, is heartbreaking.

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that if something isn’t working, it won’t help to do more of what isn’t working. I put negative self-talk, brought to us by our inner critics, in that category. It doesn’t work and doing more of it won’t work, either.

So how do we tame it?

No easy answer exists, yet I do believe it’s possible. In fact, I know it is, because my inner critic is much tamer than it used to be – albeit not gone altogether.

For example, when I walk up to my front door, coming home from a walk with Biscuit, I see my reflection in the storm door. For my whole life, I had seen myself as fat and I always noticed what my inner critic called my “tree-trunk legs.” But last year, I realized that’s not my first thought anymore.

Now, when I see my reflection, the first thing I think is, “There she is! There’s my fighter!” I smile and look at my face. I do think about my legs, but when I do, I thank them for carrying me all this way. The fact that this has become automatic gives me great hope.

I think if it was easy to completely banish our inner critics, we’d all have done it by now. Yet I remain determined not to let mine define me. Meeting this challenge is one of the things that makes me so passionate about my work. I don’t want us to suffer so much at the mercy of the harsh voice in our head.

With that in mind, here are some tips that I hope will help you begin to tame your inner critic (You will notice the influence of my husband Mike regarding these tips. After all, he’s had a front-row seat to my attempts to tame my inner critic!):

First, develop your inner cheerleader. Mike says I have done that, and he gave me an example to share with you. (He is an engineer who remembers EVERYTHING, which is quite handy.) He says I give myself pep talks all the time. He says that I shout, “I can do this!” when I’m having a tough time. Apparently, I hold my fists up like Rocky Balboa when I do this.

Second, be a Vulcan. Mike says, “Vulcan’s are rational.” Of course, immediately my inner critic said out loud, “Does that mean I’m irrational?” Mike replied, “If you are going to get rid of your inner critic, you need to attack it with logic.” He gave the example of a time when I told him I ate like a pig. He had responded with, “Oh really? Did someone fill a trough with slop for you, and then you went outside and ate it? And then did you go roll around in some mud?”

Well, no. But I felt that way.

Still, I can challenge myself with logic. For example, I went through a long spell of telling myself I’d never stop eating when I wasn’t hungry. I may have felt like that was true. But I could have listed countless times when I had not eaten when I wasn’t hungry. And I remember those were the times when I had felt the best physically and mentally.

That positive association of remembering I often do stop eating when I’m not hungry anymore, is the beginning of a belief that I can choose to not eat when I’m not hungry.

Third, channel your inner Jedi. (Well, I asked him, so you can blame me for the Star Trek and Star Wars metaphors.) Mike says, “You have to fight the dark side. You know it’s there, but you need to remind yourself you have the power to overcome it. You can’t ignore it and let it take over. You have to be willing to fight for it.”

Mike’s right. We have to want it. We must fight for it. I will add, the only time we can actually fight is in the present moment. If you are struggling with your inner critic, work on noticing it in the moment.

It’s tempting to notice your inner critic and then allow it to criticize you for being critical. But that’s where the fight comes in. Notice it, forgive yourself, and change your focus.

I like the Ho’oponopono prayer, which I say to myself: “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” I repeat this again and again whenever I notice my inner critic is active.

I’d love to hear how you respond to your inner critic now, and how you might begin to tame it.

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