What we get wrong about the inner critic

Catherine Andrews
4 min readFeb 20, 2022
Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

Happy Sunday, Soothers. In honor of my upcoming workshop on Healing Your Inner Critic on February 27th (replay provided), I wanted to tell you a little bit about my inner critic journey and how I’ve come into right relationship with her.

I think we have a misguided approach to our inner critics. Most of the guidance on how to “rid” ourselves (I don’t even like that term) of an inner critic is centered on repressing, ignoring, invalidating, berating and shaming that voice inside of our heads that tells us nasty things about ourselves, stuff like how ugly or stupid we are, tells us not to bother trying, tells us that we’re an embarrassment, that has us replaying past exchanges in cringe loops, that tells us we must be perfect to deserve love but probably that even perfect isn’t good enough.

Since the inner critic can be so cruel and nasty and debilitating, it makes sense that many of the tactics used to try to repair it can center deeply on expelling it from our brains. If you had an infestation of pests in your house, you would work with an exterminator to get rid of them.

It’s a nice idea, and seems logical, but there’s only one problem I see with it:

It doesn’t actually work.

I know, because I tried. For years in addressing my inner critic I tried everything to rid myself of it. Harsh words, condemnation, affirmations, journaling, listing all the reasons the stuff it said wasn’t true… Sometimes these tactics worked a little, or temporarily, but never in a sustainable way. The inner critic darts would come back again sooner rather than later, leaving tiny little wounds all over my heart and soul about how much I sucked.

So what does work, in a lasting and effective way, to heal the inner critic and quiet its voice?

For me, everything changed when I realized that my inner critic? She was the voice of a terrified young child who only know how to take the words of her own self-loathing and others surrounding her as a way to, strangely, counterintuitively, but effectively, protect me from stepping into my own greatness, where I would be vulnerable, visible, possibly mocked or criticized by others. And this scared inner child? She knew the cruelty worked, and she was desperate to protect me. So the barbs…

Catherine Andrews

Teaching awakening + healing through vulnerability + self-compassion. Finding hope in a messy world. Author of the Sunday Soother. http://catherinedandrews.com