How To Get Your Inner Critic Under Control

source: The Critic Sees By Jasper Johns - photo Jon Seidman - Flickr
source: The Critic Sees By Jasper Johns – photo Jon Seidman – Flickr

Are you familiar with your inner critic? I’m talking about that little mean voice that can just show up unannounced and uninvited.

As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I’m sure you are already very familiar. You may even be well versed in some of your critic’s favorite go-to lines.

Your inner critic can show up just about any time. It could be at a party among friends. You’re meeting someone new. Suddenly you’re in your headspace thinking and worrying. What does she think? Do I look OK? Am I saying the right things?

Or you’re putting on your bathing suit and heading for the beach. But wait a minute. Somebody’s got something to say…“You’re not going to actually wear that, are you?”

Or, my favorite, when you actually create other people’s thoughts for them, and those thoughts always just happen to be a negative mess. What’s up with this? And where is this stuff coming from?

HSP, Social Anxiety And The Inner Critic

As an HSP, you probably can relate. We feel things more intensely. We pick up on other’s emotions. We become easily overwhelmed. All of this sets the stage for a “preparing for the worst” state of being. It’s when we are in this place that we hear the little voice telling us it’s safer to not shine too brightly. It’s just too risky to live life to the fullest. And it’s really unsafe to be crazy in love with your life…and especially happy and at peace with who you are.

I took this inner critical voice seriously for a long time and am still recovering from it. It’s exhausting, right?

Are You Taking Your Inner Critic Too Seriously?

If you start hearing your inner critic trying to get your attention, start to question it. Who is that? It’s not you. And, dare I say, it’s not true. It might be a voice you heard over the years. Maybe it came from a family member, a classmate, a colleague, an ex-lover, the list goes on.

Start paying attention to where it comes from…then start to QUESTION IT. Talk back to it. Get sassy with it. Then say to yourself–as many times as it takes: “I am enough, I’m gorgeous, I’m everything.” Because you are.

What if you started to question that voice every time it came up? What if you changed the inner dialogue? “I’m not enough” becomes “I’m more than enough.”

It’s a practice. And it’s important to start today. Now. I invite you to knuckle down and give this practice an honest shot. It’s worth the effort. Even if it feels weird at first. Even if it feels risky and you’re not sure if it’s true. Talk back to that voice and take back your power, your beauty, your lovely self.


  1. Thomas Jespersen says

    This is an example where I feel meditation helps. Gradually as you meditate you start to create a distance to your thoughts so as to not attach to much to them.

  2. says

    I love this article! I’ve taken my inner critic too seriously for far too long too. It has taken a whole lot of work to quiet it – but when I am able to, that’s when I feel like I can really be true to myself. I loved what you said about questioning it – where does that voice really come from? I’m going to have to start asking myself that whenever it creeps back in. Thanks for the awesome post, Kathryn!

  3. Jennifer Clark says

    What if it seems every time you turn around someone else is confirming that your inner critic is right and there’s never anyone around to encourage or uplift? And it goes on for decades?

    • says

      Hi Jennifer,

      I know the experience well. We sensitives have a different perspective than many other people and so we can seem odd or wrong because we operate outside their frame of reference. It is really a frame of reference that they are protecting and a view of reality.

      Most cultures demand conformity of some kind and highly sensitive people do not work that way. So there is a disconnect but it does not mean you are wrong. Being sensitive means you see what others do not and so they may feel uncomfortable. Also there is a lot of social effort expended to make people conform and it is a socially sanctioned effort so if you expect it and recognize it as a disconnect and that it is not true, it can help to let go of it. Often when we are being criticized it is in support of fixed ideas about who we are or should be, and fixed ideas about how life works. These ideas may give people a sense of security but that does not mean that they are right.

      I would suggest that the more you can accept that people can be wrong a lot, the easier it can be to not take it seriously.

      I hope this helps,

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