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How has your inner critic been holding you back?

Inner Critic: AKA Negative Self-Talk, Saboteur, Inner Judge and Gremlin Last seen: In the disguise of a family member, a teacher, a boss, YOU!

If our Inner Critic took a physical form we would certainly not be friends. After all, who wants to be friends with someone who constantly reminds you that:

“You aren’t qualified.

”You’ll never get it together.”

"There's something wrong with you."

“You will upset so-and-so.”

"You're ugly."

"You're so stupid."

"You don’t belong here.”

“You’re a failure”

“You can’t/shouldn’t”

...and so on

Certainly not me.

Our Inner Critic is like a roommate that never moves out and has the knack for coming home at the most inconvenient time. He/she is a cagey little bastard whom we feed by re-affirming untruths about ourselves, about others and about the situation. He/she usually shows up when we are outside our comfort zone and stretching ourselves into new territory.

As inconvenient as this unwelcome roommate is, there is a good reason for us wanting him/her around. Our Inner Critic is hardwired into us as part of our threat defence system. This system becomes super handy if we find ourselves in a dark alley at night. It puts us on alert for signs of physical danger.

But this same system is also responsible for our reactions when our ego gets threatened. And with our brain unable to distinguish a physical threat from an ego threat, we:

Fight > we beat ourselves up

Flight > we run from ourselves

Freeze > we get stuck

Appease > we see our Inner Critic to be the truth

So how do we get this bad roommate to behave?

Contrary to what you might think, it’s not about defeating it by fighting or proving it wrong; this only feeds it. We render it less powerful when we see it and identify its presence. Just by recognizing when it shows up, we’re closer to being able to neutralize its effect. We see it for what it is and we take our power back.

I don’t have a particularly strong Inner Critic, but when she shows up she makes herself known. She doesn't want me to try new things. She didn’t want me to write this newsletter. She told me all the reasons why I wasn’t qualified and why I was an imposter for thinking of doing this. And instead of accepting my Inner Critic as the truth, I call on my Inner Ally to remind me of what I stand to gain by taking risks and trusting that my experience and my story can serve others.

As Dr. Brené Brown says: "I see you, I hear you. And I am going to show up anyways."


Know your Inner Saboteur Shirzad Chamine is a Stanford lecturer and CEO Coach. In this video he shows his Stanford audience how to shift their minds from self-sabotage to self-mastery for optimal performance and happiness. Take his assessment and learn how you self-sabotage.

This talk isn’t very good. Dancing with my inner critic Steve Chapman shines a light on his inner critic - that whisper in his ear that constantly tells him he isn’t good enough and that he should never try anything new or risk making a fool of himself. (Video)

What Kind Of Inner Critic Are You? By determining which types of Inner Critics you have, you can more easily get to know them and find out what they are trying to do for you.

Try this: name your inner critic This creative exercise is for anyone else who would like to visualize the assortment of critical voices in their heads.


How to Tame Your Inner Critic Getting to know and challenge your critical inner voice.

How to stand up to your inner critic We all contain an inner nitpicker, but we shouldn’t let it drag us down and drown out everything else. Psychologist Rick Hanson gives advice on how to put it back in its place. Prefer a podcast? Check out Managing Your Inner Critic.


Reach Your Peak was born out of my vision to work alongside leaders who thrive and not just survive. As a coach, I am often asked to suggest pieces of thought leadership and tools to support my client’s movement towards their goals. The purpose of this newsletter is to offer this content to a wider audience interested in expanding their learning edge.  I hope you enjoy "Leading Authentically begins with Self-Awareness".

To thrive: progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances.

To survive: remain alive or in existence.

You can subscribe to Reach Your Peak here.


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