All of us have that annoying voice inside our head that pipes up from time to time to tell us exactly how we’ve messed up, why we shouldn’t try something new, or just how horrible we look in the mirror today. We wouldn’t let someone else treat us this way, so why do we do it to ourselves? The simple answer is that this bully is trying to “protect” us from future defeat or disappointment — but what if we eliminated that role? What if we told our inner critic to pack it up, and that we can take it from here?

With all that we’re dealing with in our lives — both personally and globally, at this time in human history — now is the perfect time to cut yourself a break and fire your inner critic.

6 Steps to Retiring Your Inner Critic

If you’re ready to send your inner critic into early retirement, grab a writing utensil and a journal and follow these six steps. (You can certainly do this activity on a mobile device or computer if you prefer, but I find that there’s so much more power and connection in writing important things out by hand!)

1. Pick a behavior you would like to change. For example, “I want to exercise more,” or “I want to eat healthier foods.”

2. Now, write yourself a letter from the perspective of your inner critic. Let him or her tell you how they really feel about this behavior. Give your inner critic full permission to let loose and let it all out!

3. Notice the tone, language, and overall feel of how your inner critic speaks to you. How does it make you feel? Does it actually inspire you to want to change, or does it simply make you cringe with guilt or shame?

4. Next, write yourself a letter about the same issue from your innermost compassionate voice. Write to yourself like you’re writing to a dear friend. How would you encourage your friend to make the change they’re trying to make? How would you support them? What would you say to inspire them and let them know how capable they are?

5. Observe how different it is to receive input on this issue from a voice of compassion versus one of criticism. Which inspires you more? Which most moves you to make a healthy change? Which is most likely to lead to sustained healthy action?

6. Write your inner critic’s termination letter. Acknowledge all the years of hard work your critic has put in. Give a nod to your critic’s good intentions, as hurtful as the methods may have been. Acknowledge that their form of “pushing” doesn’t work for you when it comes to making real change and embodying your healthiest, happiest self. Assure your inner critic that you can take it from here, and send them on their way.

BONUS: If you hear your inner critic hopping in for a final word as you move forward with your life, allow yourself to notice this is happening and call upon your new employee to handle it: your inner compassionate voice!

“Rinse and repeat” any time you encounter a new issue that your inner critic pipes up about. Gently reminder her/him that the position has been filled, and your inner compassion is in charge from here on out. We all deserve a little more inner peace and calm right now.

Author's Bio: 

About Julie Potiker: Mindfulness expert and author Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, and completed the Positive Neuroplasticity Training Professional Course with Rick Hanson. Now, she shares these and other mindfulness techniques with the world through her Mindful Methods for Life trainings and her new book: “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.” For more information, visit