inner critic_go softly

Embracing your inner critic: go softly with yourself

inner critic_go softly

Take a moment to imagine you are speaking to a beautiful small child. Notice how innocent they are, how sweet they are, how bright their eyes are as they look into yours. Listen as their voice lands in your ears like a songbird sharing with you its authentic expression. Now, imagine how you would speak to this child. Would it truly feel right to yell at them, to be harsh with them, or speak to them in an aggressive tone? How do you think they would respond? What would happen to their body language and energy? Now, take a moment, and imagine that this beautiful small child is you. How does it feel when you speak harshly with yourself or with a belittling tone? Notice what lands with you.

Understanding the critical voice

We all know it; there’s a voice inside our heads that can truly berate us. The one who feels like it’s yelling at you or constantly on your back. The one that ruminates over situations, interactions, and behaviors. This voice is our inner critic, the stream of consciousness that can offer very strong internal judgment. Even though this voice can feel very intense, the inner critic actually has a crucial place in our psyche. It can help with discernment, motivation, integrity, accountability, self-reflection, sense of self, morality, empathy, and more. However, letting your inner critic take over and run the show in a dominating and degrading way can be really challenging to navigate.

Have a moment, and really ask yourself: does speaking to myself internally in a harsh way actually serve me? Perhaps take a moment and breathe into that question. Chances are, you may recognize that speaking to yourself harshly on a consistent basis isn’t actually serving you or helping you grow. Imagine if you had a person who would follow you around everywhere and speak to you in a harsh way, and how challenging that would be. So, dear friend, what would it be like to go softly with yourself? To give yourself the love you so deeply give to others.

Tools for working with your inner critic

Narrative therapy

If you were to imagine your inner critic as a person, being, animal, cartoon character, etc., what would they be like? What would they look like? How would they move? What does their voice sound like? What size are they? Let yourself get creative with it. The intention behind this is to help your mind get some space from this voice and imagine you are externalizing it.


When you get quiet and are letting your thoughts move in and out of your awareness, notice when your inner critic comes online. What would it be like to identify with the awareness that is noticing your inner critic? Allow yourself to witness your inner critic with curiosity and openness. See what it would be like to explore being not attached to what it is saying and how it is saying. Allow yourself to explore truly being a witness to it.

Parts work

If you were to connect with your inner critic, what part of you does it feel like it’s coming from? What would it be like to connect with that part of you and get curious about what it is trying to communicate with you? See if there is any information for you that is actually trying to teach you or show you something.

Moving energy

When you notice the volume of your inner critic is very loud, see what it would be like to check in with yourself and notice what feelings are present with you. Do you need to move your body in a certain way? What would it be like to check in with your breathing and notice if you’re perhaps breathing in a certain way that could be dysregulating? Maybe there’s a sound that you feel you need to make. See what would feel good for your body to move some of the energy that your inner critic is stirring up.

Making friends

Take some time to reflect on how your inner critic actually has been helpful to you in the past. Rather than vilifying your inner critic, can you make friends with it? When you notice its voice starts to perk up internally for you, can you stay open to what it has to say? What would it be like to listen to it, thank it, and then offer back to it a more helpful or loving response? For example, you could say to your inner critic, “Thank you for reminding me to move my body. I am going to make sure that I am going to get outside today.” See what it would be like to match the harsh intensity of your inner critic with a softer internal tone.

Learning to befriend your inner critic takes time. It’s an ongoing life practice and journey. Let yourself get curious, creative, exploratory, and gentle with your relationship with your inner critic. See what works for you, and really let yourself be consistent with it. What would it be like to truly be loving with yourself as you are cycling through the seasons of life? Remember dear friend, go softly with yourself.

Articles Of The Month

Sign up for the Heal Magazine Newsletter

Get the latest healding updates

Embracing your inner critic: go softly with yourself