self improvement

5 Steps to Claiming Your Power by Taming Your Inner Critic

Let’s tell the truth. You would never dream of speaking to others the way you speak to yourself in your own mind. The language of the inner critic is so painfully harsh. And if you listen to it, it keeps you small and limited, messes with your creativity, and squashes your dreams.

There is nothing helpful about how the inner critic guides you. Who finds it supportive to be incessantly doubted, devalued, and deflated?

Don’t wait one more second to reclaim your natural power. Who are you really? Not the one that critical voice says you are. You’re the one filled with potential, the one who has never been damaged or broken.

Learn to work intelligently with this limiting voice. These five actions will turn down the volume on the inner critic so you’re free to say a full, empowered, “Yes!” to your magnificent life.

What do you discover? Clear, uncluttered thinking, less confusion, and the confidence and drive to move forward.

1. Say “hello” to the inner critic.

I know it sounds crazy, but don’t resist the fact that negative thoughts appear in your mind. Pretending they don’t exist or hoping they’ll miraculously disappear just doesn’t work. Because the thoughts will still be there in the background subtly poking you and clouding your vision.

Acknowledge the dominating voice of the inner critic, then commit to taking back your own authority. Stand up, feel your feet on the ground, and find your voice of truth and clarity. Let that one lead you.

2. Use your logical mind.

The inner critic is rooted in your past. It comes from mistaken assumptions you drew about yourself when you were young—that just don’t fit. These assumptions are false and make you believe you’re a fraction of your true self.

Question these limiting thoughts, and they begin to lose their power over you. Are you really inadequate and lacking? Does this thinking serve your enthusiasm and zest for life?

Believing these thoughts is like looking at the world through a very dirty window. Clean up the smudges by knowing the thoughts aren’t true and putting them aside.

Try this: take an hour or a day and be in your life as if these thoughts had never appeared. Experience yourself, others, and the world with a fresh perspective, unhampered by the past.

3. Witness your thoughts.

You can be consumed by negative thoughts—or you can simply notice they are present without getting involved with their content. When the inner critic has taken hold, find the gap between you and these thoughts.

All you do is calmly recognize that the thoughts are showing up without making the content important. (“Oh, there’s a thought.”) Do this over and over, and your destructive thinking will loosen its grip on you.

4. Don’t let these painful thoughts define you.

You may have come to believe that you are insufficient, lacking, or worthless. But is that true? Isn’t it just as likely that you are boundless, wise, open, and free?

Don’t trust your distorted thoughts to know who you are. Look outside them to find direct evidence of the real truth about you: you are essentially whole, good-hearted, and filled with amazing potential. Live here fully, and let the rest fall away.

5. Expand your view.

The inner critic confuses your thinking and keeps you locked into an inflexible and gloomy point of view. If you buy into it, you block the natural expression of your gifts and creative ideas. And you miss out on your present moment experience of spontaneity, joy, wonder, and ordinary happiness.

Expand your view to include everything that is happening, beyond the critical thoughts. You’ll realize a world of possibility and fulfillment, right here waiting for you.

You don’t have to resign yourself to living with the inner critic—it’s not how you were meant to be.

Let this chapter of your limited self come to an end. Every time that voice appears, thank it for tapping you on the shoulder so you can take another step toward freedom. Then wholeheartedly take that step by applying these five actions.

Are you struggling with your inner critic? Have you found your way to freedom from negative self-talk? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.


Dr. Gail Brenner is a psychologist and author who joyfully helps you discover that suffering is optional. Find her at and download her free ebook, “30 Reflections for Everyday Joy.”


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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