What stories are you telling yourself? If you feel your inner critic is screaming at you, it’s time to take action.

Let’s dive deeper into this article with master storyteller and best-selling author Kindra Hall. Her latest book, Choose Your Story, Change Your Life, teaches us how to silence our inner critics and take control of our lives.

Kindra Hall and I did an interview together on our inner critic:

We are so honored to help you find support! If you are struggling to find the help you need, please note that all content found on this website is not to be considered professional medical advice. It is always best to consult a doctor with any questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health. You can check out Mental Health America’s helpful list of good resources for therapists.

What is An Inner Critic?

The inner critic is the voice in your head that tells you negative things—that you aren’t good enough or worthy. The Inner Critic is part of our evolution and biology and is crucial for survival. The inner critic is the voice that wants us to keep safe. However, depending on how much credit or room you give your inner circle to run in your life, it may dictate your decisions and actions.

If your inner critic is running wild, you might have thoughts like these:

  • “I’m worthless.”
  • “I’m not as good as them.”
  • “I wish I were more beautiful/smart/rich/etc.”
  • “Why am I always so lonely?”

Luckily, there may be ways to help change the stories you tell yourself—and change how your inner critic speaks.

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Identify Your Stories

Each one of us has stories we tell ourselves. Self-talk helps regulate emotions, deal with painful experiences, and change perspectives. But not all stories are helpful.

  • “I’ll never live up to my potential.”
  • “I don’t matter.”
  • “I’m unlucky.”
  • “I’m just lucky.”
  • “I’m failing my kids.”
  • “I’m bad with money.”
  • “Nothing works out for me.”

The stories we tell ourselves can change our lives. So let’s get clear on what we’re telling ourselves.

Action Step: Grab a pen and paper and write down your answer to these 3 key things:

  1. What are the stories you are currently telling yourself?
  2. Where do they come from?
  3. Are they true?

For example, one story you might write down is:

  1. “I try hard at work, yet my boss does not appreciate me.”
  2. “My thought comes from working overtime at work yet not receiving positive feedback from my boss.”
  3. “Perhaps this is not true, as my boss is quite busy and might feel appreciative but not show it often.”

Once you’ve written down your answers, you should clearly understand what the hostile inner critic is saying.

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Create Positive Affirmations

To help change your inner critic into an inner supporter, try changing your thoughts to more positive ones. It might help to try a positive affirmation such as:

  • “I am positive. I am loved. I am enough.”
  • “I am confidently making choices that will create a better future.”
  • “I feel healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
  • “I am present, powerful, and calm.”
  • “I am a confident and capable woman. I am powerful and deserve to be appreciated.”

Action Step: Write down your list of positive affirmations that resonate with you. Hang them on sticky notes on the wall. Repeat them daily. Set reminders on your phone with these affirmations, and take a few seconds every day to cherish them.

Here is my list of 120 positive affirmations to choose from to get started.

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Step Outside Your Bubble

We often carry negative stories because we surround ourselves with others with negative thoughts. We trap ourselves in a negative thought bubble.

These people we hang around might be repeating the same negative stories over, and over and over…

Sometimes, changing our thoughts requires changing our external environment.

Action Step: Pick one thing from this list and implement it in the coming weeks/months.

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Replace “I Should…” With “Should I?”

Think of a nagging comment you might’ve had recently that started with, “I Should….”

It could be:

  • “I should be more extroverted at work.”
  • “I should be more courageous like I used to be.”
  • “I should be getting paid more.”

“I should’s” are red flags. They can lead you to think something is wrong with you. Instead, question why you feel that way:

  • “Should I be more extroverted at work?:
  • “Should I be more courageous like before?
  • “Should I be getting paid more?”

When you rephrase them as questions, your mind shifts and begins to think of WHY you feel that way in the first place. Perhaps you’ve been told as a kid that you should be more outgoing. Or maybe you see your friends on social media having expensive items while your life feels bland.

Action Tips: Uncover your “I should’s” in your life. Write down at least 3 “I should’s”:

  • I should ___________.
  • I should ___________.
  • I should ___________.

Rephrase them:

  • Should I ______? Why do I think that?
  • Should I ______? Why do I think that?
  • Should I ______? Why do I think that?

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Connect Your Good Stories

You can think of your inner critic as an iceberg. While an iceberg is vast, the bulk of it is underneath the water.

An illustration of an iceberg showing that the tip is what you say, and beneath the water is a huge what you think.

The massive iceberg that took the Titanic out was not the one they could see, but what was under the water level. And the same goes for us. We can hear ourselves saying these negative things, almost as if we’re on autopilot and conditioned to tell them. But what’s propping those statements up are stories beneath us—often, bad stories. 

Question your autopilot statements to make them work for you.

Our self-stories are automated. One moment you might feel calm, but the next, a wave of negativity might hit. So, if you leave it on autopilot, it collects, props all these limiting beliefs that we don’t attend to, and builds up even more.

Action Step: PAUSE! The next time you feel the inner critic, let’s turn that autopilot into action. Try and connect the negative stories to something GOOD you did.

  • If you think of how terrified you are of losing your job, think of the great time you got promoted or landed a new job.
  • If your family member makes you angry, think of the last good memory of you bonding with them.

The key here is pausing your automation and replacing it with something good. It might be helpful to practice deep breathing exercises like box breathing or meditation.

Don’t be frustrated if it takes a while—be patient and forgiving with yourself.

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The Takeaways

  1. Identify your negative stories and don’t ignore them.
  2. Pick your favorite positive affirmations and use them throughout your day.
  3. Find time in your day to pause the negative automation. Replace them with good stories.
  4. Step out of your bubble and change your environment.
  5. Replace your “I should…” statements with “Should I?” questions.

And remember, you are valuable! For further reading, check out the guide on how to reach your potential: 10 Life-Changing Steps to Become the Best Version of Yourself

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