5 Strategies for Managing Your Inner Critic

Picture of Patrice Barber

Patrice Barber

Patrice Barber, CEO of Career CNX and National Speaker

Most of us have a healthy inner critic that cautions us to consider if the challenge ahead is more than we can deal with. As we get older and sometimes wiser, with a few ugly failures under our belt, we often become too cautious. 

Managing your inner voice can be a daunting task, especially when it seems that your own thoughts are working against you. It’s easy to get caught up in negative self-talk and allow your inner voice to dominate your thoughts, leading to feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, and insecurity.

Learning how to manage your inner critic helps you overcome these challenges and gain greater control over your thoughts and emotions so you can take action.

Managing Your Inner Voice

How do you manage your inner voice? Let’s start with how negative self-talk can impact your mental health and well-being. 

Then let’s give you practical tips for reframing your thoughts and developing a more positive mindset. Whether you’re dealing with imposter syndrome, struggling with self-esteem issues, or simply want to learn how to cultivate a more compassionate inner voice, you’ll have the tools and insights you need to start managing your inner critic today.

Your Inner Critic

Your inner critic is a voice that arises in a person’s mind at different times, like when they’re facing a challenging situation, feeling anxious, or experiencing self-doubt.

The inner voice is triggered by a variety of factors, such as past experiences, fear of failure or rejection, perfectionism, or societal pressure to conform to certain standards. It is helpful in some situations to encourage self-reflection and self-improvement, but it can also be harmful when it becomes overly critical, negative, and demotivating.

It’s important to develop strategies to manage the inner critic and turn its negative messages into more positive and constructive self-talk.

Getting to know your inner critic is important to control it. According to Psychology Today,

“We can start to do this by learning more about our critic and how it controls and blocks us. We can also be forgiving, accepting that although our critic has given us a hard time and caused us a degree of misery it does want to help.”

Triggers for Your Inner Critic

Past experiences: Past negative experiences such as criticism, failure, or rejection create an internalized critic that can arise in similar situations.

Comparison to others: Comparing oneself to others, especially those who are perceived to be more successful, can trigger the inner critic.

Perfectionism: Holding oneself to high standards can lead to the inner critic being activated when those standards are not met.

Fear of failure: The fear of failure or making mistakes can cause the inner critic to arise as a way of protecting oneself from potential failure or embarrassment.

Self-doubt: A lack of confidence in oneself or one’s abilities can lead to the inner critic being activated, as a way of validating those doubts.

It’s important to recognize when the inner critic is arising and to address it with self-compassion and understanding.

When Does Your Inner Critic Strike?

For some people, the inner critic appears when they’re at work. They may feel like they’re not good enough or that they’ll never be able to achieve their goals, which can hold them back from producing their best work.

That critical voice also appears when your manager asks  you to take on a project that is outside of your direct responsibility. You many feel you just don’t have the training or experience for this task.  This leads to feelings of self-consciousness and anxiety. This anxiety can hold you back from really stretching your wings and learning new skills.

In some cases, the inner critic even affects people’s ability to ask for a raise or promotion. If you’ve met your targets, taken on new responsibilities, or learned new skills, it may be time to negotiate for that raise or promotion. 

The inner critic is a common experience that manifests in various ways in different situations, and it’s important for individuals to develop strategies to manage their inner critic so that it doesn’t hold them back from achieving their goals and enjoying their lives.

Helpful or Harmful?

The “inner critic” refers to the voice or thoughts inside a person’s head that are critical of their actions, thoughts, or abilities. This voice is helpful in some cases by motivating a person to improve or correct mistakes. When the inner critic becomes too harsh or persistent, it is harmful to someone’s self-esteem and mental health.

Our inner critic can be a cruel and deeply damaging force. Its strength and impact determine our overall mental well-being. The destructive voice in our heads is never satisfied and can soil and spoil anything we may achieve, no matter how impressive.

The answer to whether the inner critic is helpful or harmful depends on the individual and the circumstances. It’s important to be self-aware of the tone and impact of one’s inner dialogue and to seek support or help if the inner critic becomes overwhelming.

Leadership Assistance

As a leader, really impact your team and their inner critics with some of the following strategies:

Create a positive and supportive team culture: Encourage your team to support and elevate each other, celebrate their successes, and offer helpful feedback. By creating a culture of positivity, your team members are more confident and motivated to do their best.

Set realistic expectations and deliver clear feedback: Set clear expectations for your team and provide regular feedback on their development. This helps your team members understand what is expected of them and gives them the confidence to strive for excellence.

Encourage self-reflection and self-awareness: Help your team members develop self-awareness by encouraging them to reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth. Their own identification helps them to address their inner critics and develop a growth mindset.

Deliver opportunities for growth and development: Offer opportunities for your team members to develop new skills, learn from their experiences, and take on new challenges. Help them build confidence, overcome their inner critics, and reach their full potential.

Model positive self-talk and mindset: As a leader, your behavior sets the tone for your team. Model positive self-talk and mindset by focusing on your own strengths and accomplishments, and by reframing challenges as opportunities for growth. Your team members then see how a positive mindset leads to success.

By creating a supportive team culture, setting clear expectations and providing feedback, encouraging self-reflection and self-awareness, offering opportunities for growth and development, and modeling positive self-talk and mindset, you positively impact your team and help them overcome their inner critics.

We’ve got more information on your inner critic and imposter syndrome. Go here.

Career CNX supports your organization’s success through employee engagement and achievement. Using our state-of-the-art app, let us help you build an employee-centric culture whose values begin with people.

Free Guide

6 Steps to Take Control of Your Career

The Modern Guide to Career Evolution

Get Support

Support Request
If you have a file or screenshot of the issue you're experiencing, please upload it here:

Maximum file size: 268.44MB