Relationship is key to facilitating change.

Could You Befriend Your Inner Critic?

"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself,

just as I am,

then I can change."

~Carl Rogers


Key Understandings

* Refer to your Inner Critic or Judge as ‘something in me that is criticizing right now’.  Utilizing the phrase 'something in me' creates space between you. Relationship is key to facilitating change. Adding 'right now' gives it space to do something different in the next moment. It is capable of change and transformation like everything else within us.


*  Wherever there is a Critic, there is also always ‘something else being criticized right now’.   An inner critic is never judging YOU, the whole of you, what might be called Self-in-Presence, Self Mentor or in our stories is represented by the owl, Ashamaya.  An inner critic is always judging another part of you and that part also needs your attention. 


Something that is criticizing is always afraid, worried, concerned. We can make this assumption. 100% works. Underneath that rough exterior, is a Supportive Protector that is really wanting you to feel warm, safe, protected, connected, thriving, loved. 

Warm, Safe, Protected, Connected, Thriving, Loved 


"Beyond every criticism is a veiled wish."

~ Esther Perel


* It can be easy to blend with something that criticizes our Critic. This only adds another layer or criticism, making the situation even more complex.


* Download this helpful pdf by Ann Weiser Cornell titled "Radical Gentleness". Radical Gentleness is a chapter Ann has made available from her book Radical Acceptance of Everything. 


Alex Nottingham

Enjoy a poetic reflection on the inner critic, acknowledging its presence and importance in shaping one’s perception of the world from a young age as a means of protection. It describes the evolution of the inner critic from a fierce dragon to a gentle puppy dog, highlighting the transformative power of self-awareness and acceptance. The inner critic is recognized as a natural part of the journey toward wholeness and love, with the poem ultimately expressing gratitude and acceptance towards this internal voice, embracing its role in personal growth and self-understanding.

Three Styles of Reacting to Criticism...

We will use whichever worked well for us sometime in the past. Often, one style becomes dominant in our first years of life. As we become aware of these patterns, we can be more gentle with ourselves and those around us.


Felt experience of shame. Gaze shifts downward, shoulders and chest collapse inward. "You're right, I am that bad and I feel so bad about it."

We agree with the criticism and blend with something being criticized.


Felt experience is like the teenager to the parent, with the body as the battleground. "I won't and you cannot make me!" Criticizing part is controlling, pushing, managing and the criticized part is something that does not like being controlled, pushed, managed. All for good reasons.


Felt experience is going blank, forgetting, getting confused, going to sleep, etc. Effectively, we distract ourselves, like we never heard it. We respond by running away or indulging in escapes like our phones, watching TV, snacking, computer games, etc.

Kindness and Clarity

A simple way to begin transforming your inner relationships and eventually become your own best friend.



Everything is Acknowledged, even the harshest critic. Distance yourself from a critical voice until you can get it to admit it is worried or afraid for you.



Everything Belongs and is SAFE to be the way it is. Imagine two fighting kids and send each to their own room or safe space. Then visit each. Listen to the critic's worse fears. Sit close to the one often criticized.



When you are ready, invite them into the same space with a sense of we are in this together. How you treat them, is how they now can experience each other. What qualities beyond kindness and clarity might this situation need from you?



No wonder this takes time! If it's been this way for 20 yrs, a few months is no big deal. If something wants this to change faster, invite this to your space as well.



Hold this all together, like an inner family meeting. Let them know you trust they can find a way to get along. Welcome whatever feels like fresh air!!



Inner critics eventually transform to our most passionate inner chearleaders! They want our success! New neural pathways need to be nurtured in order to become our new routine.

Shifting Your Inner Critic

Assume a critical voice is worried. When you hear it, turn toward it inwardly with curiosity. Once it admits it is worried for you, you might even give it a hug. Over time, the way it speaks to you will change. Click on the picture for a 3 minute tip from Ann Weiser Cornell.

Transforming an Inner Critic Focusing Exercise.

Invite a good listening friend to help you...

 Separate from both the criticizer & the criticized: “Something in me says/feels…”

 Acknowledge criticizer. “I’m saying Hello to something that is critical right now.”

 Bring in the idea that IT might be worried. “I’m saying to IT, ‘Might you be worried?’”

 Sensing what IT is worried will happen if you don’t believe the criticism and act accordingly. Hearing this without agreeing or disagreeing. No wonder IT believes this.


Going Deeper might proceed like this:

If you can sense that it is worried, the next step is to invite what it is Not-Wanting to happen to you. When it responds, let it know you hear it, and feel how that feels in the body. Then ask what it is Not-Wanting to happen to you if THAT happens. Already you can sense its protective nature.  After a while it begins to show you what it doesn’t want you to have to feel. 
Here if it feels fully understood, it often will move itself to what it is really wanting for you.  Take some time to invite this to be there as much as it would like to be.  This is the ground from which you can now live with this Supportive Protector. 

Befriending the Inner Critic Course

If you would like to go deeper, we recommend this 4 module online course developed by Focusing Trainer Peter Gill from the UK. You can explore five common types of critics and develop your own sense of being with them that brings transformation from the inside out. Peter is offering a 15% discount if you share something you learn here with others. Use code INNER in the checkout to receive the discount.

Here is a brief description:

"A step by step guide on learning to befriend and transform our relationship to what we call "the inner critic". Through teachings, led exercises and reflection we will learn new ways to relate to this often painful and limiting aspect of our life. We can be free!"

Go from feeling small to sitting together in a circle...

Severe Inner Criticism

The harsher the critic, the more profound its fear.

Radical gentleness with ourself, slowly and consistently over time is needed.

This critic is not wanting us to experience a former suffering or trauma. The critic does this by exiling that feeling and then stays super vigilant. This keeps our body in constant tension.

This may be generational in that we are not clear how this all started.

These processes unfold slowly over time. We are building inner trust.

Give yourself lots of space. Go slowly, pause, revisit. 

Pushing can lead to re-experiencing the suffering.

Come back again and again to radical gentleness.