Telling My Inner Critic Where to Stick It

Photo by Stuart Miles,

Photo by Stuart Miles,

Sometimes my inner critic can be a real bitch.

She sticks her nose into every aspect of my life, from work (“Nice of you to finally put your butt in the seat and start writing. Not that anyone cares what you have to say, but you should at least be grateful to have a job, since so many more talented people than you don’t have one.”), to parenting (“Of course he likes his dad better than you, all you do is nag him to do his homework, eat his vegetables, wake up and get ready for school or hurry up and get ready for bed!”), and even my relationships with friends (“They’re just running late. Yeah, right. They don’t really like you and they’re going to ditch you and laugh about it behind your back.”).

The more tired and overwhelmed by life I let myself become, the more she seems to insinuate herself into my day.

“Who do you think you are?”

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“What could you possibly have been thinking?”

Sometimes she makes so much noise it’s a wonder I can hear myself think through all of her yakking.

Which is why I was intrigued when I saw the invitation from the Glendon Association to attend a free webinar by Dr. Lisa Firestone on “Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice.” The Glendon Association is a local nonprofit that focuses on the prevention of suicide and violence and I was familiar with Firestone’s writing from her work on “Huffington Post” and, well, the price was right, so I decided to check it out.

Not that my inner critic is telling me to commit suicide or anything that serious, but she does beat me up from time to time, so what better time than now to try to put an end to it.

I wish I could say that attending a one-hour online seminar completely changed my life, that my inner critic has taken up residence in an undeveloped country far, far away, with no email, Twitter, Facebook or phone service, so she can no longer contact me.

I wish I could say that, but my outer critic had a few comments to make.

A lot of what Dr. Firestone said about childhood being the source of much of our inner critic’s power didn’t really resonate with my own memories, but some of the practical solutions that she offered for identifying your critical inner voice made a lot of sense.

“Recognize the events that trigger your critical inner voice.”

As I alluded to earlier, for me this has a lot to do with feeling out of control. My inner critic is a creature of habit and I should recognize that she shows herself mostly when I have what I perceive as too much to do. Then I start to doubt my ability to do anything at all. This is despite the fact that I’ve never missed a deadline, and somehow even when I feel overwhelmed I always manage to get whatever’s absolutely essential done. I need to remind myself of that when I start to panic. And sometimes I need to tell my inner critic to shut up. I’ve got this covered.

“Recognize the specific outside criticisms that support your critical inner voice.”

I may be in denial but I think it’s all me. That’s certainly what my husband tells me, and he’s always right-or so he says.

“Become aware of times you may be projecting your self-attacks onto other people.”

There’s nothing worse than seeing your own worst character flaws projected in the people you love. I wish I could say it’s just my son, but sometimes those same qualities drive me crazy in my husband too. I guess I need to remind myself of this, and perhaps take a whack at that inner critic of mine with a sledgehammer the next time she tries to take control. Not that I’m a violent person. I’m really not. But sometimes she has it coming-and I’d like to be the one to give it to her.

“Notice changes in your mood.”

I like this one the most because by telling my inner critic where to stick it, I suddenly feel a whole lot better.

For more information about Dr. Firestone visit When Leslie’s not telling her inner critic to shut up, she’s usually online at For more columns visit Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on May 28, 2010.

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