top of page

How To Stand Up To Your Inner Critic And Stop Self-Sabotaging Your Life

Written by: Andrée Funnell, Senior Level Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


How often do you hear a parental voice (inner critic) in your head that says things like, “You’re not good enough, you’re not worthy or no one will listen to me, I have nothing of value to say”?

Inner critic refers to an inner voice that judges criticizes, or demeans a person whether or not self-criticism is objectively justified. A highly active inner critic can take a toll on one's emotional wellbeing and self-esteem.

Let’s explore what happens in response to this voice.

We have a very good reason for judging ourselves: the judgmental part of us believes that by judging or criticizing, ourselves, we will motivate ourselves to take action and therefore protect against failure or rejection. We may have been judging ourselves to get ourselves to do things “right” since we were kids, hoping to keep ourselves in line. And we keep on doing it because we believe it works.

We have two voices in our heads:

  1. The voice that is positive and nurturing which I call THE ANGEL

  2. The voice that is negative and critical which I call THE DEVIL.

The angel lifts us up so we feel good about ourselves and encourages self-compassion. The devil is critical scalding and shames us, it also fault finds. However, it also helps us see where we have gone wrong. If you spend too much time listening to the critical voice this affects your mood, self-worth, self-confidence and self-belief. Also known as self-sabotage.

So the statements you hear are also what are known as Limiting Beliefs.

What is a limiting belief?

Limiting beliefs are what constrain us in some way and limits our outcomes and achievements in life. They are about us and our self-identity. We form our beliefs through our direct and past experiences which we have concluded from. We may have beliefs about rights, duties, abilities, permissions and so on and these beliefs create our view of the world in general or about other people.

Past experiences are what we hold onto. The image of ourselves and our self-respect is affected by an event, statement or action projected by someone else such as an authority figure i.e. a parent, teacher or loved one. These behaviours or actions will produce a categorisation that will stay with you throughout your life unless action is taken to identify, understand and remove the belief.

Self-Compassion versus Self-Criticism

Self-compassion is about being warm and understanding towards yourself, particularly when you feel inadequate.

Self-criticism on the other hand is defined as the tendency to engage in negative self-talk and self-evaluation that has the effect on us feeling worthless, a failure, and leaves us feeling guilty when expectations are not met. It is often linked to the development of depression.

In order for us to feel good about ourselves and value our self-worth, we need to trade self-criticism with self-compassion. However, as human beings, we tend to focus on the negatives and often self-criticism (the devil) wins over self-compassion (the angel).

The inner critic (the devil) often governs over self-compassion which can lead to our view of the world being skewed and can lead to a miserable existence eventually leading to mental health problems and depression.

Negative self-talk is not evidence of something “wrong” with us that needs to be fixed; it is a feature of being human.

When the inner critic (devil) plays up, turn to your inner nurturer (angel) as an ally.

Turn to your inner ally to protect yourself from self-sabotage particularly when things get stressful, challenging or disappointing. It will help you build resilience and confidence and increase your self-worth.

Case study

Here is a story about a client of mine whose self-criticism outweighs her self-compassion.

In a recent coaching session with my client, a professional lady who is an HR Manager for a large private sector corporation the inner critic and nurturing self were discussed. She came to the session very tearful due to an incident at work that led her to question her ability and confidence.

Her coaching programme is called ‘Presence, Confidence and Impact’ and we are starting to dig deep into her self-confidence and self-worth.

She was constantly telling herself “I am not good enough” or “I’m an imposter and will soon be found out” and other limiting beliefs such as these. We looked at her Core Values and the Limiting Beliefs and identified her core values and purpose in life meant more to her than she realised. She also discovered through asking for feedback from her peers and staff that she was in fact ‘Living her values’ so that others could readily identify with what they are. Values such as ‘Compassion’, ‘Empathy’, ‘Care and consideration’ and a whole lot more.

We worked on her inner critic and limiting beliefs and I asked her to turn to her inner nurturer as her ally. At the start of the session, she was concentrating on the negative language and her inner critic. However, by the end of the coaching session, I asked her to reframe her limiting belief into a positive affirmation and this is what she said.

“I will tell myself that I ROCK” which was an amazing turnaround. Her action plan was to find a piece of music that depicts the fact that she ROCKS and will help her go to her happy place where she feels at peace and comfortable with her authentic self.

Her key takeaway from the coaching session was to listen to her NURTURING inner voice (the Angel) more than listening to her inner critic (the Devil).

Tips on how to stand up to and manage your inner voice:

  1. Imagine yourself as a caring committee of different characters who have different strengths and who represent a variety of support and wisdom. Who would you choose to be on your committee?

  2. Observe how your inner-critic works and the things it says to you.

  3. Notice any dismissal of your needs, rights and pain and the language being used i.e. “Anyone could have done that”, “That’s OK but you could have done better”.

  4. Observe any repetitive doubting or discouraging of your hopes and dreams.

And finally… If you change the mindset, behaviour, thoughts and language you can change the outcome and your future.

Call me today 07702 818665 to arrange a 15 minute Clarity Call to find out how I can help you achieve the success and growth you want in your life. Alternatively email me

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, connect with me on LinkedIn and visit my website for more info!


Andrée Funnell, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Andrée is a multi-award-winning Coach, Learning & Development Consultant, best-selling author, and speaker. She is the founder and driving force behind the success of Aspiring Future Competence (AFC). Since its inception in 2002, AFC has helped clients across a wide range of business sectors to get visible, get heard, and get ahead by applying inspirational ways to bring about positive change and empowerment. She has over 20 years of HR & training experience working in corporate organizations and a further 18 years delivering development solutions that make a difference to people’s careers and lives. She is a qualified coach, professional trainer, and NLP Practitioner. She discovered that Authenticity is the key to happiness, fulfillment, and success and is keen to get the message out there to others. ‘Behind the Mask’ is Andrée’s literary debut about ‘Authenticity.’ It’s an essential interactive step-by-step guide to turning your life around and achieving the kind of life you deserve by living authentically.



  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page