Many people are often stalled in their attempts to learn and grow because of something called the Inner Critic, that judgmental voice from within that extinguishes courage and creativity.

You want to make a career move, but your Inner Critic denigrates your abilities. You want to approach someone to whom you're attracted, but your Inner Critic keeps telling you you're ugly, clumsy, and stupid. You'd like to try your hand at a new skill, but your Inner Critic says you will fail.

When you think of all that might have been, except that you listened to that inner voice and let it control you, perhaps you wish things would be different. Electing not to stretch yourself can leave you feeling depressed in unhealthy ways.

Your Inner Critic will never go away completely, but you can learn to control it and reduce its destructive power. For starters:

• Become mindful of when and how your Inner Critic talks. Start with noticing the words it uses and write them down. Notice the patterns of what your Critic says and how it makes you feel. This will create awareness of your negative self-talk and the affect that it has on you.

• Explore the sources that have fed your Inner Critic. Consider who in your life disappointed you by being critical rather than helpful. Remember that many people think that being critical is useful, even loving. That idea is misguided and can cause unintended hurt.

• Interrupt your negative self-talk and replace it with a neutral and encouraging inner voice. As you repeat this process over and over again, it will become easier.

The best way to get ahead of your Inner Critic is to nurture your Inner Coach. A journal is an excellent tool to use in this process.

Imagine that your Inner Coach is sitting next to you as you write in your journal. Base your image on a real person: perhaps a teacher or other mentor who has had a significant influence on your life. Visualize that person’s face and hear his or her voice.

Journal about your hopes and dreams, and focus especially on a goal that's particularly important to you right now. Write as if you are telling your Inner Coach about it. Why is it important to you? What exactly do you hope to achieve? How will you feel when you reach your goal?

After a while, close your eyes and listen to your Inner Coach respond to your thoughts. Remember that your coach is 100 percent supportive and knows without a doubt that you will succeed in your endeavors. Write down ten encouraging statements from your inner coach.

Don't be at all surprised when your Inner Critic butts in with its own opinions. But don't let it take over, either. Calmly acknowledge it and then return your attention to your Coach.

When you're done writing, thank your Coach and make another date to catch up soon. Write down the appointment on your calendar and be sure to keep it!

Author's Bio: 

By Mari L. McCarthy - Journal / Writing Therapist. Are you looking for more information on journaling and its therapeutic effects? Please visit My trademarked program, Journaling for the Health of It! ™, helps my clients live healthier and happier lives. I recently published an interactive ebook, 53 Weekly Writing Retreats: How to Use Your Journal to Get Healthy Now.