Three steps to manage your self critic

Three Steps to manage your self critic

One thing that consistently impedes our ability to be happy is what we call the inner self  critic. Many of us, along the way, have fed and nurtured a voice in our head that says harmful things to us. You know the voice that tells you others are better than you, or you can’t do something because you aren’t smart enough, or that even the good things you have you don’t deserve and they could vanish at any moment?

“It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.” Sally Kempton

The judge or self critic  that lives in our head comes from childhood. Usually it began as messages that we either heard directly or indirectly, from the people around us. As a child you are fully dependent on your parents for love and acceptance, and you will do anything to get that. We believe what our parents tell us about ourselves is true; we internalize the way they treat us as the way we deserve to be treated. Women with ADHD are  many times more likely to struggle with these messages. That often becomes the source of that voice in our head that shames, criticizes and judges us.

Here are 3 things you might not know about the inner critic

1.The inner critic  makes your adhd worse.

The more we criticise ourselves, the less effective our executive functioning becomes.
A recent study found that self criticism impacts on how well you perform an important task – decision making in particular!

2.  If you have thoughts that are devaluing, negative, and abusive you activate your stress response and relase cortisol, making you sick and increasing the level of stress and anxiety you feel.

3. Giving into the self critic reinforces those pathways in your brain create by society and others that you are less valuable than others. The more your repeat negative statements to yourself the more connected these nerual pathways in your brain become. SO Lets not do that.

Learn more about self compassion here.


One skill you need have to combat the self critic  is mindfulness. Learn more about
mindfulness here.

Becoming aware of your own personal self critic’s patterns helps you to separate from it. Most clients tell me they know on some level that many of the thoughts they have aren’t true. Unfortunately, many of us are not aware of the thoughts when we are having them. Rather than being able to distinguish them as patterns without validity, they take us over and rule our lives.

If you don’t ascribe value to your thoughts then they have no value. If you do they can rule your life. Conscious and intentional work on understanding your patterns is the first step to silencing the inner critic. It will help you to create a space between your thoughts, beliefs and behavior effectively giving you more choice over how you respond. This is how you start to challenge old scripts and patterns that are keeping you from enjoying life.

Note: Sometimes you may need to get curious and friendly about the self critic. She  may think she is trying to keep you safe. The journal format below and handout will help you dialogue with her.

Use Journaling to Gain Insight into your self critics patterns

One good way to start becoming aware of your patterns is to journal. Journaling about what you are thinking and how it impacts the choices you make brings unconscious patterns into awareness. Once you have awareness you are free to challenge those thoughts if necessary.

It helps you become more self compassionate.

Journaling is a powerful tool for increasing self compassion and deepening insight into our own thoughts and experiences. Studies have shown that journaling can help us to reevaluate negative beliefs that we may have about ourselves, allowing us to cultivate a more kind and accepting perspective toward ourselves.

It helps you reflect on values

Furthermore, by writing down our thoughts and feelings, we are better able to reflect on them, increasing our ability to understand the underlying meaning or purpose of our actions and emotions. With these insights, we can make positive changes in our lives, becoming more in tune with what truly matters to us and what brings joy and fulfillment. Whether through short daily entries or long reflective essays, journaling is an invaluable tool for enhancing self-understanding and personal growth.

It helps you separate your thoughts from you

When we journal, we label our thoughts. This simple act of putting words to our internal experiences can be incredibly powerful. By labeling our thoughts, we create distance between ourselves and them. We become the observer, rather than the thinker. This technique is known as cognitive defusion, and it is a key component of mindfulness. When we are able to step back and observe our thoughts, we are less likely to be controlled by them. We can see them for what they are: simply thoughts. journaling helps us to become more mindful by allowing us to label and defuse our thoughts. As a result, we are less likely to be overwhelmed by them and can more easily focus on the present moment.

After you become aware of the patterns, you can catch yourself in the midst of them. Labeling the patterns as the critic or the judging thoughts (or whatever you like) gives you distance from your thoughts and will create the space necessary to make change. Recognize that you are lost in critical or judging thoughts and step back. You can use your journal to do this, but soon it will become something you do in your head as this process is happening.

It can help you challenge the self critic’s ideas

The critic is almost always wrong. Develop a process of challenging the statements the critic makes. Journaling is a powerful tool for addressing and challenging the negative internal voice of the self critic. Our thoughts can often lead to feelings of anxiety, guilt, or inadequacy, and journaling allows us to process these thoughts in a constructive way. By writing down our thoughts on paper, we can step back from them objectively and see how harsh and unreasonable they truly are. Additionally, journaling helps us to reinforce positive thinking by training us to focus on our strengths and accomplishments as well as highlighting areas where we still need to grow and improve.

Note: You must intend to do this while journaling. BE CAREFUL not to just allow your thoughts to sweep you away.

With time and practice, journaling can be an effective way to overcome the crippling effects of the self critic, helping us to live more confident, fulfilled lives. Work on this first in your journal and later it will become an automatic process linked to the steps above.

Here is a format  for women with adhd to help them journal with the self critic! You can download the pdf here.

Format for journaling with the self critic. 

What happened today that was hard?

Is there a story that my mind is telling me about what happened?

  • For example I am worthless, I am lazy, I am stupid, I cant do anything right?

What do you think the self critic wants to accomplish in this case

  • protect you, motivate you etc

Is it working?

Label  this the judging self critic thought and story.

What does this feel like?

Is this a familiar story? Have you heard it before? Does it serve you?

Get curious. If so how? Where did it come form?

Is there another equally true story that might serve you better?

If so what is it?

It’s hard to struggle with the self critic, but it’s likely trying to keep you safe in some way.


You might even try thanking the self critic for trying to keep you safe and asking it to let you try kindness in this case.

  • What does it say?

Download this journal template here free

Learn more about postive psychology and happiness


Self compassion




Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.

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