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How to stop your inner critic from holding you back

Coach Anna Hofmann MBA MIM by Anna Hofmann MBA MIM
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Did you know that around 70% of people admit to struggling with self-doubt that negatively affect their work, relationships, and happiness? And even when they try their best to get rid of these negative thoughts and feelings, they tend to stick around.

Self-talk is the internal dialogue we engage in, our constant flow of thoughts and interpretations of past, present and future events. And these silent conversations really shape how you see yourself, how confident you feel, what actions you decide to take. They can make or break your happiness and success.

When you constantly criticize yourself, berate your own actions, and say things to yourself that you would never say to another person, it gradually undermines your sense of well-being, leaving you feeling unhappy, pessimistic, and unworthy.

BUT when you embrace self-love, you know what brings you joy, you appreciate your unique qualities and accept every aspect of yourself, it becomes an incredible self-power!

You can’t just get rid of your negative thoughts, but luckily there are many ways to reduce the self-talk in your daily life. Different approaches work better for different people, so it’s worth exploring which ones are most effective for you.


The first step is to notice when you are being self-critical so you can begin to stop. The majority of negative self-talk is an exaggeration, and calling yourself on this can help to take away its damaging influence.

Watch out for these unhelpful thinking styles: Personalising (blaming yourself when things go wrong), polarising (viewing things as purely good or bad), magnifying (focusing on the negatives of every situation and dismissing anything positive) and catastrophising (expecting the worst to happen).

A few tools to help you become aware of the patterns of negative self-talk are:

Regular Meditation or Breathing Practice: By training the mind to focus non-judgmentally on the present, mindfulness helps you to notice the arising of thoughts without getting caught up in them.

Journaling: Keep a journal to track your thoughts and feelings throughout the day. Reviewing your entries can help you identify recurring patterns of self-criticism.

External Feedback: Pay attention to feedback from others. If you notice a discrepancy between how others perceive you and how you perceive yourself, it may indicate the influence of your inner critic.

STEP 2: Challenge your thinking

When our inner critic is at its worst, it can sound like our worst enemy. And too often, we simply believe our negative self-talk. We don’t examine it or call it into question.

Once you have caught an unhelpful thought, the next stage is to check it. I like to ask my clients two questions, “Is this really true?” and “What evidence do you have to support this thought?” By taking a step back, you will often find that your negative thoughts are based more on feelings than facts.

STEP 3: Change your negative thoughts

We often create a narrative based on our beliefs and past encounters, convinced that our story is the absolute truth. However, it's essential to recognize that our interpretation is just one of many potential perspectives.

Ask yourself if there is a more positive or neutral perspective you could take.

For example, if you find yourself thinking thoughts like “I am going to fail” you could replace it with something more neutral such as “I don’t know if I am going to be able to do it, but I am trying my best”.

STEP 4: Practice gratitude

Gratitude can shift your focus from what's wrong to what's right in your life. Getting into a habit of writing a daily gratitude journal can help you practice a more positive outlook and appreciate the good things in life. Start by simply listing three things you are grateful for that happened throughout your day. It won’t take you more than 5 minutes in the evening!

The process of changing negative thoughts isn't a quick fix. It takes time, but with practice and repetition, it gets easier and you can create new automatic thoughts that work for you.

If you feel you need professional support with reframing your thoughts, feel free to get in touch and book a complementary Clarity session with me.

My passion is to help women take control of their life by overcoming their challenges & inner doubts, empowering them to proactively make changes in business and life.

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