Challenge Your Inner Critic

Imagine you’re rushing around, you bump your morning coffee over, and it spills everywhere. Do you think: “I’m so klutzy”? 

This is called negative self-talk. Some amount is normal, but it becomes an issue when the voice is negative most or all of the time.

We all have an inner critic, but you don’t have to go along with everything it says. There are ways to work with and even challenge or defy this automatic voice in your head.

Change the pattern

Stop, Listen and Collaborate 

The first step in interrupting this pattern is to notice when it is happening, rather than letting it go unchecked like usual. When you hear the inner critic pipe up, have one of those show stopping scratch-the-record moments and pay close attention to what was said. 

What is the message from your inner critic? Once you have a solid idea what has been said, ask yourself some questions (based on the work of Byron Katie):

“Is what my inner voice said true?” Follow that with: “Is it absolutely, without a doubt, true?” (probably not)

“How would you feel if you were to believe that thought?” (not great)

“What would you be without believing that thought?” (probably happier and more peaceful!)

You then have a choice. Are you going to carry on believing that thought? 

Sometimes the inner critic comes up with something true, for example, “I have made a mistake.” But you can respond or even collaborate with your inner critic by saying something like, “Yes, I made a mistake, and I can learn from it to make changes for next time.” 

Then the focus moves to your growth and learning, not just making you feel like scum.

Give the Inner Critic a Name

Here is an exciting thing: the inner critic is NOT you. Your thoughts are not facts about yourself. The inner voice may sound true, and it may sound as if it is your own voice talking to you, but it is not. 

So go ahead and give that critical voice a name. Pick a goofy or light-hearted name so you start seeing your inner critic for what it is: a mean voice that lacks credibility. This will make it easier to realize that you don’t have to agree with this critic or go along with its narrative. Naming the inner critic can help you see just how ridiculous some of your critical thoughts can be. 

Seeing the goofiness, the lack of creditability, you’ll be able to stop and acknowledge the voice, and then move on. It may sound like:

“Thanks for your input Bradleton (or maybe you could call the voice Debbie Downer). I am aware of the mistake I made and I’m already taking action to rectify it.”

You could also express gratitude to Bradleton, for example you could say: “Thank you for trying to protect me, but talking to me in this harsh way is not helping me grow. I can take it from here.”


A lot of negative self-talk can be used positively when paired with positive, true statements. This is called reframing and it can be done by changing the negative self talk into neutral statements and adding positive true statements. 

For example, if your inner critic says, “I’m so weak,” you can reframe this negative statement into a neutral one “My legs feel weak during this exercise,” and then add an encouraging, true statement like, “and I know I can do this because I’ve done it before.”

“I always mess this up,” becomes, “I messed this up last time, and I’ve practiced so I am ready to try again today.”

Create a brag doc

You can counter your inner critic with evidence! One way to do this is to create a “Brag Doc” on your phone, computer or a good ol’ fashioned journal! 

In your Brag Doc, document your daily and weekly accomplishments. You can put anything you want here: achievements at work, in your personal life, or with your fitness training just to name a few. Writing down little victories that might seem insignificant in the moment can be extremely helpful when you’re at the behest of your inner critic and looking for support. This document can remind you that you are always growing, regardless of what your inner critic might have to say.

Not only is it uplifting to look back over your Brag Doc the end of the week or month, it also helps to rewire our brain’s negativity bias and remind us that the good things are worth remembering, too.

Inner Critic Demoted

Negative self-talk is common. We all deal with it, but it doesn’t have to be the main voice in your head and it doesn’t have to get its way! You can counter, collaborate with, and dismiss this voice, but it takes dedication, awareness and practice. Sometimes it can be helpful to work with a mental health professional on this, but know that you got this! And at Reimagym, we got you!