~ December 2007~

Taming the Inner Critic

Believing the voice of the Inner Critic inhibits you from claiming and expressing your deepest potentials. It keeps you from even knowing what your gifts are. You are not alone if you are plagued by self criticism. We all have an inner voice that judges, criticizes and condemns us for how we behave, the way we look, speak, think and feel – to name but a few of the Critic’s targets in our lives. If we believe The Critic we think we are never enough: not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, talented enough. Identifying with the Critic is a primary contributor to low self-esteem and unworthiness. It blocks our growth and keeps us from standing in the beauty and aliveness of our True Nature.

The Inner Critic develops in childhood as a result of judgments and expectations from parents, relatives, teachers and friends, some who just wanted us to succeed, some who did not have our best interests at heart. They delivered explicit and implicit messages to us designed to shape, control and fix us. Often, they reserved their love and respect for the times we met up to their expectations for how we should be. They often shamed or blamed us when we didn’t meet up to their standards. Psychologist Carl Rogers called these ‘conditions of worth’, i.e. the messages we received as to how we needed to be to gain acceptance and approval from others. We then internalized these messages and now still walk around with a list of conditions we need to fulfill in order to accept ourselves. And, if we listen to our Critic, whatever we do still won’t be enough.

My Critic still tries to get my attention. Recently I was presenting a seminar on Psychology and Spirituality to a group of 50 helping professionals. I happened to have a cold that day and was not feeling up to par. Often, the Critic will speak up when we’re tired, under the weather or threatened in some way. Because I know now that ‘I am not my critic’, I was able to disengage from her negative opinions about me and just imagine her sitting on my shoulder like a squawking parrot, tossing out critical comments, while I kept choosing to focus on the talk and on the bright eyes and smiles in the audience. I did not try to get rid of her. I simply recognized her presence and chose to keep returning my attention to the task at hand.

The wonderful news is that YOU ARE NOT YOUR CRITIC. It is a voice within you and you can be free of its oppressive influence in your life. There are many different ways to tame the Inner Critic. Some involve inner work to discover and work through the feelings and underlying issues that continue to fuel these negative thoughts. Fear of failure, rejection or abandonment are often at the root of self-criticism. There are also simple, pragmatic methods that help in the here and now. Some of those include shifting your attention by going for a walk, meditating or listening to music. Another strategy that helps to externalize the critic is to draw it. Give it a shape, face and name. You can also assign a different task to it at various times. One client tells his ‘Judge’ that he’s needed in the courtroom to preside over a new case anytime the ‘Judge’ becomes troublesome to him. The technique of Critic Stopping (see below) is also effective. It helps to have a ‘Critic Doctor Kit’ with numerous tools to help you transform this part of you. Be careful. Your Critic may tell you this is foolish or a waste of time. Don’t listen. Take a stand and experiment with different strategies anyway. Every time you silence the Inner Critic you take another step towards claiming the bright and wonderful you.


Critic Stopping

Critic Stopping is a method of claiming your power in the face of self criticism. It also develops awareness that YOU ARE NOT YOUR CRITIC. It is a voice that you can stand up to and prevent its attack.

  1. Recognize that a critic attack is occurring.

  2. Choose to stop these thoughts as soon as you can. Imagine a red stop sign that stops the thoughts before they spin out of control.

  3. After stopping the critical thoughts, shift your attention to an image, feeling or physical sensation that is pleasurable. For example, imagine you’re at the beach on a sunny day enjoying the sounds of the waves and sensation of the clean, clear air on your skin. Spend as much time as you like with these positive sensations.

Practice this often. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.



From February through April 2008 I will be offering 3 different Teleclasses. Each Teleclass meets for 1 hour and 15 minutes. A Teleclass is a live class that meets on a conference call. All you need is a phone. The fee for a single session class is $35 and the fee for 3 session classes is $105. Other teleclasses will be offered throughout the year.

Trust and Intuition: What Gets in the Way?

Tuesday, February 26 5:00 – 6:15 pm PST


Soul Solutions: Awakening to the Power of Intuition
Monday, March 17, 24 and 31 5:00 – 6:15 pm PST


Taming the Inner Critic
Wednesday, April 16 10:00 – 11:15 am PST

Further details and registration information will be available in the January newsletter and on my website in January.

If you would like to learn more about my coaching services and hypnotherapy / visualization sessions, you can call (415)721-0766 or email me at susannewest888@yahoo.com. If you’d like to contact me for a free consultation, just click on the link below. You’ll also find information on my website www.susannewest.com about my programs for writing, creativity and psychospiritual development.




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