I just came back from a professional workshop about calming your inner critic and I couldn’t wait to share this interesting topic with you. Where to begin?

Well the structure of the human personality is very interesting and complex. Fascinating and confusing, lovely and irritating, logical and irrational… and all at the same time.

Our inner selves have different parts and that is why we all experience internal dialogues. Many people who come to my office feel they are going crazy or wonder if they are normal because sometimes this dialogue could be too intense or constant. Different authors call these parts different names such as sub-selves, part of our minds, inner parts… but I prefer the analogy that Dr. Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D., founder of The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model uses. He explains how in the same way that there are dysfunctional families the internal parts of our inner selves could make a dysfunctional family as well. The problem comes when because the tyranny or abuse of some dominant parts that developed as a result of unhealthy dynamics in the past (our perfectionist inner critic self, procrastinator, shamed and scared child, people pleaser…), other parts don’t have a voice, lose confidence and therefore, become weaker and weaker (our creative-artistic one, our nurturer, our observer, our adult self…).

When the perfectionist inner critic takes over and becomes the authoritative figure of your internal life, your self-esteem is in danger. Depending on how long this tyrant has been in charge and the level of strength of the other members, it will take more or less time and effort to remove it from its throne. But with some basic, and even though not simple, steps you can start to reorganize your internal family dynamics and regain control of your life. After all, like with any other psychological issue the first and most important step is self-awareness.

1) Start by listening to your inner self. Write down or keep a journal if necessary of how many times you criticize yourself during the day for 1 to 2 weeks.

2) Start considering that even though all the messages that you tell yourself are the absolute truth, they are not. As Jane Shure, a psychotherapist with 30 years of expertise and recognition for her work in strengthening resilience tells us “they are stories that we told ourselves a long time ago. Those stories got shaped by distorted ideas that held us responsible and at fault for circumstances beyond our control.” It is time to start creating new and more realistic stories about ourselves.

3) Re-examine where those messages come from and look for facts that proof they are true instead of just accepting them without a filter.

4) Start developing parallel new messages next to the negative and self-doubt ones. It is easier than just stopping a voice. You need to replace your messages for new ones. Even if at the beginning you don’t believe them, “act as if” until you one day do, in the same way that when you were a child you started to believe the messages that currently run your life. If you think about it, it takes the same process.

5) Take your time. Remember that your inner critic self didn’t develop over night. Don’t give up and keep trying. Like with any other learning experience you need to be extra conscious and diligent at the beginning until the process becomes unconscious again.

6) Be gentle with yourself as if you were your own parent re-parenting your inner child. What would you say to him/her when something goes wrong or makes a mistake?

7) Learn more about your past and try new activities and techniques to develop the parts of you that might not have had an opportunity yet. It is about taking an open minded attitude towards your self.

Healing our wounds and becoming whole sometimes might take longer than we'd like it but it is possible. We don’t have to be victims of our past, our parents, or even our selves. Look within for that authentic voice, that even though might have been quiet for a long time, is still there.

Author's Bio: 

I am a Bilingual (English & Spanish) Mental Health counselor psychotherapist offering face-to-face services in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and online counseling worldwide. I work with individuals, couples, and groups from different backgrounds and situations, helping them not only to solve their problems but also to have more fulfilling lives.

To learn more about Isabel visit