Why You Should *Not* Argue with Your Inner Critic

By January 30, 2012 10 Comments

As you all know, I do a lot of work helping women quiet that vicious, critical voice we each carry around.

The one that says, “You are going to screw this up.” “If that was a worthy idea, someone would have done it already.” The one that asks that pernicious question, “Who do you think you are?” This is also the voice harassing you about how you look in the mirror.

I write and teach about how:

1. We all have a mean inner critic and we will all continue to have mean inner critics. There’s nothing wrong with you. But the critic will get in your way if you don’t learn how to cope with it.
2. What the inner critic says to us is totally false, totally irrational, totally wacko.

What I want to talk about now is a counterintuitive and really important fact. Even though what the critic says is wacko, irrational, wrong-o, we shouldn’t argue with it.

Arguing is when….

it says, “You are ugly!” and you say (or try to say) back, “No, I’m not, I’m beautiful!”

or, when it says, “You aren’t prepared enough – you are about to fail horribly!” and you say, “No, I did a good job preparing!”

That would be what we call arguing with the critic.

From the time that the first inner critic uttered it’s first blow, (“That cave painting SUCKS! You are pathetic!”) arguing with the critic didn’t work.

The critic *loves* arguing with you. Arguing with you is a victory. That’s you coming on to its turf, because the critic is intimately tied to the part of our mind that loves arguing, that loves intricacies of rhetoric, that loves trying to control reality through the talk that goes on in our head. If you are arguing with your critic, the critic will win the argument.

So here’s the thing: we do need to respond to the critic, but not by meeting it with it’s language.

Just notice the critic, as an observer, and name it. “Oh, hey, that’s my inner critic talking.”

Kindly say, “Thanks so much for your input! But I’ve got this one covered! You can relax.”

Or get out of mental dialogue entirely. Get into action. Connect. Start doing the thing it’s chattering about.

Respond by remembering that this is the same stuff your critic has been saying to you for years, that it has yet to be proven true, and that today, like every day is your opportunity to prove it false.



Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Bonnie says:

    Hi Tara,
    As you say, I have found it most enlightening to step back in non-judgemental observance, even often throughout the day, to get acquainted with the dynamics of the inner critic voice. I think shedding light on it this way, each individually and through helpful guidance like yours, is some of the most important work we can do in the world. The critic is tied, as you say, to the part of the mind that loves arguing and righteous control. It loves to create conflict and separation. The more I look, the more I find this voice tries to color so much of the experience in the world, not just what I would call my own experience. I can see where it could be at the root of some very dysfunctional behavior that creates serious disharmony in all kinds of relationships. If we take a good look before we leap, reality is a lot kinder. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kim says:

    For the first time, I am reading your advice on the inner critic, and also applying it to the outer critics as well.

    I’m sure it would be disarming to say to them, “Thanks for your input. You can relax, because I’ve got this one covered.”

  • Just realized the clear parallel between the wisdom in disregarding the inner critic and the social media “rule” of not feeding the trolls 🙂 and neither is easy indeed!

  • Uzma says:

    To not argue !! thats a revelation. . My yoga teacher always says to simply do some conscious breathing, when we notice any disturbance in the body or mind. Just breathing into it, helps it evaporate. Am trying, thanks for the reminder.

  • I love this way of dealing with the inner critic. I’ve found that a lot of people don’t yet see themselves as separate from the inner critic. They see it as who they are, believing that the what it says is what they think and who they are.

    However, this temperamental, hyper-reactive, fearful egoic mind is far less powerful when you aren’t identified with it. Simply recognizing it as something that is not you and facing it accordingly allows a major internal shift. What you’ve described here is a perfect way of doing just that. Speaking to it (without arguing) says, I recognize you but the real me has this under control.

  • Paloma says:

    With so many opportunities throughout a day to react and hear that inner critic it is so hard to remember we can seperate ourselves from the critic but so magic when we manage it!

  • […] Why you should not argue with your inner critic, do yourself a favor and read this wise words from Tara Mohr […]

  • Jill Sheldon says:

    Wise words and a great reminder. Arguing with the critic never leads to more peace, that’s for sure. What I’ve found is that behind the mean, scary face of the critic is a young, terribly frightened little person who really just wants a hug. I’ve been trying to offer her compassion and love, and that seems to bring peace even more readily than offering a nap.

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