How to Make Peace with that Negative Voice in Your Head

Maybe you should stop fighting your inner critic. Hug her. Take him to coffee.

Your inner critic speaks the truth he sees. Sometimes he’s right.

We start talking to ourselves as soon as we learn to talk. Some of us do it out loud. My wife asks me, “What are you thinking? You’re lips were moving.”

One study indicates that we can say 4,000 words a minute to ourselves. That’s 10 times faster than talking out loud. (The Atlantic)

Inner critics:

One leader said his inner critic has two voices. Maybe you have even more.

Inner voices might sound like parents, bosses, a divorced spouse, or teachers. Add your own voice(s) to the mix and you have an angry mob with pitchforks in your head.

What if rejecting your inner critic is self-rejection?


Intelligent conversation:

Have a conversation with your inner critic.

Don’t simply respond, “You’re right,” when an inner critic says, “You’re a loser.” Ask a few questions.

  1. What makes you say that I’m a loser? Take your inner critic seriously. He may be partially right.
  2. What suggestions do you have for next time? Focus your inner critic on taking action.
  3. Who might you learn from?

Don’t say, “You’re great,” to yourself when you’re not. False confidence might be the reason you botch your next assignment. You won’t prepare adequately.

Note: Yes, there’s value in positive self-talk.


Use “you”, not “I”. There’s a difference between saying to yourself, “I screwed up,” and “You screwed up.” The former seems to define you. The latter is something you did. (WSJ)

I’ve given up trying to silence my inner critic. But I’m on to his strategies. He’s loud, confident, and decisive. He goes everywhere I go. He overstates conclusions. I’m engaging him, rather than trying to silence him.

How might leaders engage with their inner critic in positive ways?