Are Your Inner Critics Ganging Up On You?

The other day I was talking to a non-coach friend and I said, “You know, like when ALL of your inner critics conspire to get you down.” He didn’t interrupt me because he’s polite… 

But a minute later I could tell he wasn’t listening and I said, “Tom?”  And he said, “Sorry, I’m still on the idea of more than one inner critic. I mean, I can barely handle the one I have. There could be more??”


It’s not so much that we have many inner critics, it’s that our inner critic has a few favorite flavors. Some of mine are the hyper-achiever.  I can get so caught up in over-delivering, that I do a so-so job at just basic delivering. Then there’s the restless, and he’s been rattling his cage during most of the Covid shutdown. And I have the victim, who loves to compare me to others. So when the three conspire, it sounds something like, “You have to double your business, NOW!, because <whimper, whimper> everyone except you has already done it.

And there I just demonstrated the formula for fighting the inner critic gang:

  1. Find out who they are. Take 30 minutes to identify the voices in your head. It might take a while to even realize they are there, because they are so much a part of you. If you need a little help, check out the survey on
  2. Notice when they show up. Here’s a clue – any time you hear the same old insecurity, they are there. The more you notice them, the more you’ll get to know the circumstances that trigger them.
  3. Make fun of them! When I imagine my gremlins rattling a cage, they seem so small.
  4. Decide that what they are telling you are lies. And tell yourself the truth. It’s usually the exact opposite of the lie.

The inner critic is a wily beast. We know it shows us as procrastination, perfectionism, defensiveness. But there are other ways too:

  • Giving up: What if it’s not that your team is lazy or that your job is terrible, but that that “can’t win” feeling makes you (or your team) give up?  
  • Burnout:  The feeling that any of us are only as good as our last win is a fast path to burnout
  • Being an Abrasive Leader: Yes, you!, even though you don’t want to

All of these dynamics are brought on by the inner critic gang. So if you think you’re managing it, you may want to take a closer look.

I hope this article inspires you to spend some time playing with your inner critic(s). Life feels so good when you can free yourself from their grasp.

All my best,

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