How to Transform Your Inner Critic

02.08.2017 |

Episode #4 of the course How to overcome writer’s block by Jurgen Wolff


In the last lesson, you found out how to confront your harsh inner critic and get to the issue behind its negative messages. Confronting it with logic helps, but a better long-term solution is to transform it into a constructive inner guide. You’ll learn how to do that in this lesson.


Don’t Kill the Critic!

Sometimes people think that the solution is to shut out the inner critic entirely. However, there is value in giving yourself feedback—as long as it’s constructive.

A system of psychology called NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) offers a method for transforming a harsh inner critic into a constructive guide. The process may seem a little strange, but it has worked well for many.


Imagine the Inner Critic

Begin by imagining your harsh inner critic. Close your eyes and picture it, hear it, or feel it by remembering a time when it was active recently.


Play around with It

If it’s a voice, try hearing it saying the usual critical things in the voice of a cartoon character like Donald Duck.

If it’s a feeling, try imagining moving that feeling from its usual location (like your stomach or your throat or your heart) to your little finger or toe.

If it’s an image, try making it smaller and (if it has color) turning it black and white.

Most people find that these kinds of changes greatly reduce the emotional impact of the inner critic’s message. It puts you in charge of it, instead of feeling like it’s in charge of you.


Imagine a Constructive Inner Guide

What form would you like to give the constructive inner guide that will give you honest feedback?

It can be a kinder voice, a feeling that alerts you but doesn’t make you feel bad, or an inspirational image.

Play around with this one too. If it’s a voice, how loud do you want it to be? If it’s a feeling, how intense do you want it to be and where would you like to have it? If it’s an image, what is it and do you want it to be in color or black and white?

Think back to the last time your harsh inner critic sent you a message. If there was a genuine issue, imagine how the constructive inner guide would have handled it. How does that feel, compared to how you felt when the harsh inner critic intervened?


Send One out, Let the Other In

The next time you notice your harsh inner critic becoming active, stop what you’re doing. Take a moment to imagine the harsh inner critic becoming quieter all the way into silence, zooming away into space, or shrinking into nothingness.

Then imagine your version of the constructive inner guide. If the inner guide thinks there’s some constructive feedback you need, pay attention and take action accordingly. If it was a false alarm, go back to work.

If you do this every time your harsh inner critic appears, you’ll find that you can make the switch almost instantly; after a while, the harsh inner critic won’t even bother to show up anymore.

Now you know how to transform your harsh inner critic, and you just need to practice.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at how to use the “prime the pump” method to get your writing flowing again.

All the best,



Recommended book

NLP: The Essential Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Programming by NLP Comprehensive. For those who want to learn more about Neuro-Linguistic Programming.


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