Countering Your Inner Critic

In order to be fully who you are and to experience your full potential, it is essential that you have a loving relationship with yourself.

A key factor in strengthening your relationship with yourself and cultivating a positive attitude is to give yourself loving thoughts and words. It has been my experience that most of us have very few loving thoughts for ourselves but we seem to have an abundance of negative thoughts.

When I speak of the “inner critic” with my clients there is an immediate resonance and understanding about who or what that is. It is that negative voice inside our heads. When we hear it we all know who it is and we all know we really should not listen to it, but that inner critic still manages to jump out and slay our self–esteem and cast doubt on our ability and wisdom.

The inner critic usually rises up when we are feeling vulnerable or when we know we have made a mistake. We tend to be very hard on ourselves and hold our selves to impossibly high standards that we do not expect of others. We would never get away with speaking to others the way we speak to ourselves.

First Steps

The first step to countering the inner critic is awareness. You are 80% of the way there when you are aware of that voice and when it is appearing. Awareness of negative thoughts allows you to shut them down when they appear and then turn them around.

Our thoughts create our reality. Our life goes in the direction of our thoughts and words. We are the ones to give meaning to the facts and circumstances of our lives. We are at choice as to how we interpret or what meaning we give to these facts and circumstances. We can give them a positive meaning or a negative meaning. What you focus on grows, so that if all of your thoughts are negative, that is what you are going to experience. Shifting to a positive perspective that supports you opens up possibility in your life.

I remember when my first son was born. All of a sudden I was seeing babies everywhere! Why was this? It was not because there was suddenly a baby boom in my area, it was because I started to focus my attention on babies. What you focus on grows.

If you focus your attention on what you are doing right and on what you can do well, you will start to see more and more evidence for what you do well. If you think you are capable, you will start to see more opportunity in your life. If you focus on only the negative and what you are doing wrong, you will just get back more of the same.

Stop making yourself wrong. Welcome mistakes as learning opportunities. Focus on what is good in your life and on what you do well and see what changes for you.

Changing how we speak to ourselves takes time and practice. It involves developing a new pattern of behavior – a new way of relating to ourselves. At first it will take conscious effort but over time you will internalize this new pattern and it will become a healthy habit.

Moving Forward

Loving yourself involves knowing who you are.

* It is about knowing your strengths and claiming your power by focusing on positive thoughts and actions that strengthen you rather than diminish you.

* It is about having faith in yourself, loving yourself, welcoming mistakes, and forgiving yourself.

* It is about being grateful and aware of all that is good in your life right now and building on that.

* It is about treating yourself with the respect that you would give others and acknowledging your right to be loved and to love.

* It is about holding an awareness of the unique strengths you bring and the contribution that you can make.

We are all equal and worthy and have so much to offer each other and our world. Embrace and celebrate who you are! Step into your greatness and bring the gift of who you are to the world.

Coaching Questions

* What loving thoughts do you give to yourself?

* What words do you say to yourself to inspire and uplift your Soul?

* What do you love about yourself?

* What do you consider to be your strengths and talents?

* What loving things do you do for yourself?


1. Observe your thoughts over the next week and note in general how many are positive and how many are negative. Notice what you say or do that diminishes who you are (For example, do you always dismiss the compliments you receive?)

* One day over the next week, write down your thoughts, both positive and negative, in a notebook. At the end of the day, note how many are positive and support you and how many are negative and diminish you.

Look for any themes. Are you negative about your physical appearance, your work performance?

* Now be aware of your negative thoughts and turn them around to a positive each time it happens – whether you believe it or not! Next time someone compliments you on what you are wearing, don’t say “What this old thing?” instead say “Thank you!”

* If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up; instead write down what you did right and what you need to do differently next time. Counter a critical thought such as “I can’t do anything right” with “I did the best I could right now and I will do better next time”

* If you are feeling stressed, take a few deep breathes to ground and center yourself. You will be amazed at the power of the breath!

2. Ask three friends to write down what they think are your strengths and send them to you. Place these notes in a special box or container. Pull them out and read them whenever you are feeling low or need a pick me up.

Focusing on your strengths, rather than your weakness, will serve to boost your confidence and develop a stronger self–image. Do not focus on what you do not know or cannot do, rather focus on what you do know and what you can do.

If you would like to learn more about developing a loving relationship with yourself and strengthening your personal foundation, I recommend you visit my website
( ) and check out my 6 week self-help course Reclaiming Self: A Path to Wholeness and Integrity.

Copyright © 2005 Jan Hornford
Future Perfect Coaching

Jan Hornford is a Life Coach & Retreat Leader whose passion is to help individuals re-connect with their own wisdom and power and to support them to create the life they want. Her retreats offer the opportunity to experience joyful self-care, connection, and possibility. For more information, please take a look at her website:
Or, call her: 403-313-4064

For more information about life coaching and Jan’s free 4 week self-help course: “Living Authentically: Honouring Your Truth in Everyday Life” visit:

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