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Take a first step to tackling your inner critic

Updated: Apr 17

Examples of negative self-talk


So says the inner critic, that negative voice that loves to bring you down right when you’re trying to stand tall.

Sound familiar? If it does, how often does it pop up? How does it make you feel? What gets it going? Think you’re the only one dealing with this? Hit pause for a second and write down what you’re noticing.


In this post, I want to help you understand how negative self-talk can hold you back; what might trigger it; and reassure you that it’s not a new thing and it’s definitely not just a "you" thing.

How negative self-talk can hold us back

Research shows that negative self-talk can really hold us back. This habit of telling ourselves we're not good enough can affect us both personally and professionally. Studies show that constant self-criticism leads to more stress, depression, and a sense of being stuck, which can really mess with our mental health.

Negative self-talk often stems from our deepest insecurities and fears and exaggerates our flaws. It acts like a roadblock to success. Scaring us away from taking chances or chasing opportunities because we fear failure.

This habit doesn't just stop us from seeing what we're truly capable of; it also makes it tougher for us to bounce back when things go wrong.

Constantly talking ourselves down causes anxiety and lowers self-esteem, which can lead us to do things that just keep proving those negative thoughts right. It's a tough cycle to break out of. But break out of it we can, through tiny habits and focus.

Understanding the triggers

Negative characters

Once we can understand what triggers that negative voice, we can anticipate and prepare for it, rather than be ambushed by it.

Pretty much anything that makes us feel excited but also a bit vulnerable can wake up our inner critic.

Like starting something new - joining a new team, kicking off a new job or relationship, moving to a different country, launching a business, or especially starting tiny new habits.

Other people can set it off too, especially if we’re not familiar with them, don’t get along, or if we really admire them or think they’re smarter, more successful, or more experienced than us.

Feeling physically or mentally low, like being tired, hormonal, sick, or just down, can trigger it as well. As can doing stuff that puts us in the spotlight, like speaking a new language, speaking in public, or sharing controversial or innovative ideas.

The list goes on. I’ve seen thousands of people get tripped up by these triggers.

What triggers would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

You are not alone!

People often feel they’re the only one to have an inner critic. They look at their colleagues and say: “They’ve got their act together—they’re smarter, more knowledgeable, just better at getting things done.”

Comparing yourself to others unfavourably? That's a classic move by the inner critic! And, like other triggers, 'comparisonitis' is a very common thing, making you feel as though ‘there’s something wrong with you’.

Just like Imposter Syndrome can. Syndrome? No. I prefer to call it "the human condition". Who doesn’t doubt themselves at times? No-one I’ve ever met. How can I say that? Because I routinely ask roomfuls of people to stay seated if they don’t have an inner critic, and, guess what, suddenly, almost everyone’s standing up!

Doubting ourselves is just part of being human, not a syndrome or disorder. Everyone, at some point, feels like they're not good enough. Even those who always appear confident and successful on the outside.

Knowing this allows us to be gentler with ourselves and makes it okay to discuss and address our doubts together. It also means we can begin to listen to the inner critic more rationally and with curiosity.

Surprisingly, when we do that, we’ll likely hear things that can actually be helpful to know and useful to act on. Things that we can focus on and develop - because despite all the negative chatter, the inner critic has a positive intention. More on that in a later post but for now, take a first step towards tackling your inner critic by recognising your own triggers and how negative self-talk might be holding you back both personally and professionally.

Susan Room signature

The Business Voice Coach


Mindset is just one of many topics explored in my flagship programme Make Your Mark with Susan Room®. A transformative four-step framework specifically designed to help business people develop the four pillars of effective communication. Learn More

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1 Kommentar

18. Apr.

Thank you for the helpful insights.

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