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Harness your inner Critic: 11 Tips for Confidence and Clarity

As human beings, we all have an inner voice that can sometimes be overly critical, harsh, and negative. This inner voice, often referred to as the “Inner critic,” can cause us to doubt ourselves, question our abilities, and hold us back from achieving our full potential.

Learning to harness your inner critic can help you gain confidence, clarity, and achieve your goals. In this article, we will discuss the role of Inner critic in the Creative Cycle, 11 tips for communing with your inner critic and harnessing the power of your inner critic.

Harness the inner critic
Harness the inner critic

The Inner Critic in the Creative Cycle:

If you see yourself as a perfectionist, then you might hear the voice of the inner critic quite loudly within your internal landscape. Many people choose to deal with the inner critic either by trying to silence or overcome it, or by ignoring or avoiding it completely.

An important thing to realise is that, just like your inner champion, who bolsters your self worth, connects you authentically with yourself and others, your inner critic plays a crucial role and is absolutely necessary in your path to realising your full potential.

Within the Creative Cycle and the Five Elements of Chinese medicine, the Inner critic is associated with the Metal element, with refinement, boundaries, separation and letting go. In the women’s life cycle it is most strongly felt during perimenopause, and within the menstrual cycle, the luteal or PMS phase. Within a creative project, this is the process of refining, reviewing, sorting, clearing and crystalizing the essence and gems to be preserved and kept

The inner critic is associated with the Metal Element
The inner critic is associated with the Metal Element

Why the Inner Critic / Metal Element is important

When in balance, the power of the inner critic and Metal element surfaces as:

  • Ability to refine and reduce something complex, unwieldly into something refined, precious, beautiful
  • Ability to bring closure to projects, relationships, phases, so you can move on to the next stage
  • Maintaining unbelievably high standards that for many others is unimaginable.
  • Ability to let go of things, people you cannot control, regrets
  • Being organized, great attention to detail
  • Having the courage to say no to others
  • Having clear boundaries
  • Discernment

Signs your Inner Critic / Metal Element is out of balance:

The Inner critic is driven to protect you from threats. Your inner critic typically holds you back by reminding you of:

  • Your greatest fears
  • Disappointments, regrets from your past
  • Limiting beliefs you may hold about your future
  • Any potential that you might get hurt (by yourself / others)

Your Inner critic seeks to protect

When out of balance i.e. too weak or overly strong, the inner critic and Metal element can surface as:

  • Having unrealistically high and unattainable expectations of everything, that may come at the expense of your relationships with others and/or yourself
  • Feelings of grief, regret, dwelling on all the things you did ‘wrong’ / that were not good enough
  • Being so obsessed with the detail and performance you lose sight of the big picture
  • Being overly critical, cynical or harsh on yourself and/or others
  • Inability to let go, move on, dwelling in the past
  • Focus on scarcity (‘I am never enough’)
  • Cutting out others, isolating yourself
  • Being overly rigid / inflexible

Tips to harness your Inner Critic:

1. Recognize the voice of your Inner Critic:

The first step in harnessing your inner critic is to recognize when your inner critic is present. Pay attention to the thoughts that go through your mind, physiological symptoms and feelings when you are faced with a new challenge, a mistake, or a setback.

2. Notice when /why your Inner Critic speaks:

Notice the triggers or situations that cause your inner critic to speak up. When I started to track my menstrual cycle, it became obvious to me that my Inner critic was most outspoken during my luteal phase / days of premenstruation. Knowing this helped me prepare myself mentally in the days leading up to PMS.

Whenever I noticed my inner voice becoming overly critical, I was able to identify and realise it was a result of the hormonal fluctuations, and specific external situations unfolding around me. If you are perimenopausal, as you are undergoing a major hormonal and life transition, you may find the voice of the inner critic speaking often and quite loudly.

3. Realise your Inner Critic is not you:

It is important to understand that your inner critic is not the real you. It is simply a voice in your head that has developed over time based on past experiences and beliefs. Separate yourself from the voice of your Inner Critic and view it as a separate entity.

If it helps you can give your inner critic a name, shape or persona, to notice when your inner critic is speaking. You may even write a letter to your Inner critic expressing how you feel about their presence. Later, try the same exercise, writing from the point of view of your inner critic back to yourself. You’ll be surprised what you notice.

4. Take what your Inner Critic says with a pinch of salt:

Notice if your inner voice is being critical or judgmental, or if and when it is actually offering useful insights/information you may have failed to see previously. Sometimes the inner critic may be portraying a more extreme version of the truth that is playing out in your life. At other times the inner critic may be painting a completely untrue picture of what’s happening.

If you’re struggling to discern whether what your inner critic says is true, you may wish you check in with your inner champion, or a trusted friend or family member. Having these diverse perspectives will make it clear to you that your inner critic is merely presenting a perspective which is subjective.

5. Challenge Negative Thoughts:

When your inner critic starts to speak, challenge its negative thoughts. Ask yourself if these thoughts are based on facts or if they are simply assumptions or beliefs. Challenge the evidence for these negative thoughts and come up with alternative, more positive perspectives.

6. Practice being gentle with yourself:

Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend who is struggling. When your inner critic is harsh or critical, try to practice self-compassion by offering yourself words of comfort and encouragement.

7. Celebrate your Accomplishments, your strengths, Feed your Inner Champion

It is easy to focus on your shortcomings and mistakes, but it is equally important to celebrate your accomplishments. Connect with your inner champion and take the time to acknowledge and celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may be. When your inner critic is being overly critical, focus on your strengths. Remind yourself of the things you do well and the positive impact you have on others and the world.

8. Surround Yourself with ‘Outer Champions’ – Supportive, Joyful People

In the Creative Cycle, Earth Feeds Metal. The inner Critic and the Metal Element can benefit from the presence of not just your inner champion but also ‘Outer Champions’ – people who are supportive and positive, such as those predominantly of the Earth Element, who are grounding, empathetic, loving and affirming of others.

In the Creative Cycle, Fire controls or melts Metal. If you notice your inner critic and Metal tendencies coming up, being around someone predominantly of the Fire element – people who are frank, loving, expressive and love a good laugh can help to lighten up your rigidity and sometimes overly cutting nature.

Counter the inner critic by bolstering your inner and outer champions
Counter the inner critic by bolstering your inner and outer champions

In general if you already consider yourself as being hypercritical, you may want to avoid people who are overly critical or judgmental. Being around positive people can help you feel more confident and supported.

9. Practice embracing Imperfection:

Nobody is perfect, and it is important to accept that. It may be challenging but learning to embrace your imperfections and mistakes is essential for you to realize your full potential and have a healthy relationship with your inner critic. and recognize that they are what make you unique.

10. Set Realistic Goals:

Setting realistic goals can help you feel more confident and less overwhelmed. Break down your goals into smaller, more manageable steps and celebrate each milestone along the way. Notice when you’re feeling overwhelmed by your inner critic.

This 10 Day Overwhelm to Ease course and these resources on how to overcome overwhelm, and how to deal with regret/grief can help you.

11. Seek support:

If your inner critic is causing significant distress or holding you back from achieving your goals, consider seeking professional help from a Coach, Therapist or Counselor. A professional can provide you with tools and strategies for managing your inner critic and building your confidence.

In conclusion, harnessing your inner critic can be challenging, but it is possible with practice and persistence. By implementing these 11 tips, you can learn to harness the power of your inner critic and use it to fuel your success and personal growth.

If you know someone who could benefit from this article, forward this to them. You can join the mailing list if you haven’t already to get updates on new blog posts. I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or email me 🙂

If you’re looking for 1-on-1 support to stop people pleasing, book a call with me or read more about coaching with me. Learn how to harness your inner critic, own your true power, and enjoy ease, flow and well-being and create a career and life you truly love.  Because these are all the things I value, practice and embody in my life 🙂

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Hi! I’m Wenlin Tan, a Productivity, Accountability & Mindfulness Coach with clients across Asia, Europe and the USA. I am passionate about supporting you to overcome self-doubt, procrastination and inner critic attacks to achieve your goals and live the dream of your dreams. If you want to learn how to overcome overwhelm and achieve your goals with ease, I’m here to help.

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