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5 ways to charm your Inner Critic

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Your ability to respond to your life is known as your response ability. – Rick Carson

You know about the Inner Critic. It’s that voice that you hear whispering – or sometimes shouting – discouraging, untrue things to you.

My Inner Critic’s favorite thing to say to me is, “You’ll never be good enough. You completely suck.”

For a long time, I confronted my Inner Critic the way most therapists and coaches direct people to: I argued with it. I tried to convince it that it was irrational and gave it good reasons why I’m good enough right now and don’t suck.

That helped a bit, but it didn’t make my Critic go away, which is what I was expecting.

Eventually, I learned to be with my Critic in a different way.

5 fun ways to charm your Critic

Although I believe in and write about non-resistance as a key component of resilience, it can be a difficult skill for me to practice, too. But when I activated non-resistance with my Critic, I finally began to make headway.

I didn’t have to fight the Critic, it’s just as much a part of me as my sense of humor or my gregarious nature.

So here are some of the fun and different ways I’ve learned to deal with my Critic rather than having a debate with it. I know they’ll work for you, too.

1. Don’t grapple with your Gremlin.

Author and life coach Rick Carson wrote the classic book Taming Your Gremlin twenty years ago and the simple truths in are still gems today. He refers to your Inner Critic as your Gremlin and one of the key points is to not grapple with it.

Once you start fighting with your Gremlin, you give it power and it becomes bigger and bigger. Trying to convince your Gremlin why you’re right and it’s wrong only makes it roar louder.

2. Simply notice.

Instead of grappling with your Gremlin, Carson suggests to simply notice it. That’s it. Just hear it and see it and then let it go without any fighting on your part.

Funny how that Gremlin shrivels up when you only notice it and don’t give it any more attention.

3. Name and draw your Inner Critic.

Go ahead, give that voice a name. Bob, Myrtle, Heathcliff, Elvira.

Then draw out what it looks like to you. Visualizing and becoming friendly with your Critic will help you to learn to work with it more easily and understand that, while it’s a part of you, it’s not all of you.

4. Use a cartoon voice.

This one is really fun. Usually, my Inner Critic’s voice is very serious and somewhat spiteful. It makes me feel bad, of course.

However, when I substitute the regular voice of my Critic for Daffy Duck’s voice, I can’t help but to laugh out loud. “You completely suck” becomes “Thufferin’ Thuccotash! You completely thuck!” This usually sends me into helpless giggles and I can’t help but to retort to my Daffy Critic, “You’re dethpicable!”

It’s hard to laugh and take the Critic seriously at the same time.

5. Say funny things back to it.

Instead of calmly telling your Critic why it’s irrational and you are completely rational, try a few of these:

“Can you say that again in Pig Latin?”

“Thank you for sharing.”

“Don’t even start with me.”


Takeaway points: We all have Inner Critics and our tendency is to fight them. However, we can be more effective by taking lighter approaches, all of which help you to not take yourself and your Critic so seriously.

How do you handle your Inner Critic?

Need help taming your Gremlin? I’m available for a therapy appointment or a free 30-minute consultation. Call me at 650-529-9059 or email me.


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Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.