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Negative Self-Talk? Here’s How I Made Peace With My Inner Critic

How I Made Peace With My Inner CriticOh my, it’s sooooo frustrating.

You’ve worked your socks off. Your new article is nearly ready. You’ve polished your words. You’ve created the images.

You only need to write an opening paragraph.

But you can’t do it.

The knot in your stomach is growing. Self-doubt is bubbling up. Your inner critic is having a field day:

Don’t publish this. It’s stupid. People might think you’re crazy.

I’ve heard people say you must simply banish that nagging voice. Lock it away in a drawer. Or punch it. Knockout.

But that’s not easy, is it?

The harder I tried silencing my inner critic, the more agitated it became. I felt fed up. Why couldn’t I be as confident as everyone else? Why did writing about myself make me so nervous while others share their innermost feelings without blinking an eye? Why was I so afraid to disappoint my readers?

My inability to tame my inner critic made me feel weak and inept.

Until I had a mini-breakthrough

Late last year, I was diagnosed with a serious whiplash injury. At first, I tried to keep up with my normal life. But in December I broke down. My body didn’t want to co-operate anymore.

I could hardly work. I could hardly concentrate. I was exhausted.

I spent a lot of time staring out of the window. I thought I could manage the pain. I thought I could learn to cope with the exhaustion. What scared me most was what would become of me.

We often define our identity in terms of what we do.

We’re writers, creators, business people. We cook. We cycle. We dabble in drawing cartoons. We connect with others.

But my self-identity was in tatters. I wasn’t able to climb the Pyrenees on my bike again. I couldn’t work crazy hours, thriving on adrenaline.

Who was I going to be if I had to work less, cycle less, write less, draw less, and rest more?

But I learned that my self-identity is not defined by what I do or what I can’t do. My spirit, my enthusiasm, my drive was still there, it just manifested itself differently.

I was still me.

And I realized that I couldn’t allow my inner critic to define who I was either. That voice wasn’t me. The real me was hiding underneath.

To heal from my injury, I had to learn to listen to my body. I stopped ignoring the signals I was tired. I stopped pushing through pain barriers. Instead, I learned to slow down. I started to treat my body like an ill baby I had to take care of. Gently.

And the same was true for that voice in my mind.

I learned to be kind to her. To accept that she was only telling me I was scared. And sometimes she was warning me I was too tired. I learned to observe her, to work with her.

Sometimes I could even smile about her widely exaggerated claims. She drew ridiculous conclusions based on a sample of one. She defined failure by one tiny mistake. She strongly denied my ability to learn from mistakes.

How I Made Peace With My Inner Critic

Fighting your inner voice is a lonely battle

You feel ashamed of your weakness, your stupidity, your lack of confidence.

You wonder why everyone else is so much more competent than you. Why do they seem to breeze through life with so much ease? Why do they build their business without fear? How can they publish their artwork without hesitation?

Once I started writing about my self-doubt, I learned that we only see the outside of what people do. We see the results, not the struggles, the worries, the fear.

When I outlined this article a few weeks ago, I had a sleepless night. The next morning, I put the outline away.

But why am I worrying so much?

I’ve learned that being honest about self-doubt makes me feel stronger, not weaker.

I can’t tell you my inner critic and I are now best friends

She still nags me. I still get upset with her.

But I know we can work together.

I know she’s warning me I’m doing something new, exciting, scary.

And I know that the best way to keep the peace is to sleep enough, to take tiny steps forward, and to never be ashamed of feeling scared.

And to keep breathing.

Comments

  1. In my experience it’s the ones where I feel like I’m crazy that have the best response. Knowing that doesn’t exactly make it easier, but I’ve never actually had anybody say “You’re crazy” either.

    Thanks for this!

    • Yes, I’ve seen the same thing happening, too. That’s how I learned that many people go through the same struggles, but we often don’t hear about it.

      Thank you for stopping by, Daniel!

  2. Hi Henneke,

    I appreciate your comments, blog and email very much. I have been very impressed by your writing style and “words of wisdom”.

    Thank-you,
    Diana

  3. Thanks for your post, it spoke to me.

    I also have demons about publishing, and about how terrible something was – sometimes the second after I’ve pressed ‘send’. After my last panic I realised, just as you said, that the critic has something useful to say, she just doesn’t say it very helpfully. I like your idea of sitting down with her and listening.

    • When I worked in the corporate world, I wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence, but I’ve been surprised and taken aback by how much scarier publishing your own blog is compared to writing for a company blog.

      Thank you for stopping by, Wendy.

  4. Love the post, Henneke, and the illustrations. That inner voice can be nasty, and you’ve captured that brilliantly – as well as your way of accepting her. I like the notion of sitting down for a cup of tea and a chat. I recently had the idea of using humour with mine to defuse the situation and find a funny riposte to those comments. It’s a work in progress…

    • Yes, I think it’s always work in progress. I have accepted that that inner critic is part of creative entrepreneurship for me.

      But that she hangs around is also a sign that we don’t stand still, we keep developing personally and keep doing new things. It makes our lives richer, more fulfilled.

  5. Thanks
    For pressing send

  6. Hi Henneke,

    I love your emails, your blogs and your products!
    Key takeaway: making sure that my basics (sleep, nutrition, exercise) are covered, so that when I hear my inner critic I know that it’s a warning about something else.
    (when you’re tired and hungry your inner critic is always grumpy and afraid)

    I should always listen, and than decide if the inner critic is overreacting and I can calm him down, or that he has a good point that I need to listen to.

    I’m telling all my friends to subscribe to your newsletter!
    Thanks,

    Tibor
    Tibor recently posted…Je doet helemaal geen CrossFitMy Profile

    • Yes, I’ve also found that being fit and feeling rested makes it a lot easier to deal with my inner critic. Exhaustion is a sure-fire way to start doubting myself. Often it’s better to go to sleep than trying to push on.

      Thank you for spreading the word!

  7. Well done!
    The paradox with talking about the thing that you think makes you weak, is that it builds a stronger connection with the people you talk to.
    Here is to our inner critics!

  8. Hello Henneke

    I’ve heard several big hitters say they’re most alive when they’re walking on a tightrope. They try something new and hope they can do it but they know they could fall.

    Some of the best advice I’ve been given is to find all the facts, then say to yourself. Do you want this, warts and all?

    Can we do this? We’re not sure but we’re going to try 🙂
    Philip recently posted…Fixed image background in Dynamik Website BuilderMy Profile

    • Yes, I can recognize that idea of feeling alive when you’ve pushed yourself just enough out of your comfort zone. When you push yourself too far, you’re certain to fall, but if you don’t push yourself outside your comfort zone at all, you don’t feel so much alive. It’s a careful balance.

      Thank you for adding your thoughts!

  9. I love this. LOVE that you posted your wonderful cartoons! And love that that critic is just afraid for us and I can be kind to her and even assuage her fear instead of fighting her. Thank you, Henneke.
    Susan Cottrell recently posted…You Can Hear Susan Whispering… “God loves you exactly as you are. Quit being afraid.”My Profile

    • Yes, trying to understand my inner critic rather than fight her helped me a lot. Fighting is too exhausting. I ended up in a shouting match 😉

  10. It took me ten years to write my book, largely because of my inner critic. She used to stand behind me and edit every sentence as I was writing so it took three times as long. Or she would say “Everything you have to say has already been said by ________” (and it was one of my colleagues). I’m an executive coach and in our world we call that critic the “saboteur.” Often, we have to work with him/her in order for our client to make progress…and it doesn’t matter how accomplished the person is on the outside! We’ll often have the client give the saboteur and name and draw pictures like you did, Henneke. It really helps to get some perspective and develop a relationship with the critic. I love your story and your artwork is elegant and fanciful like your writing. Thanks!

    • Yes, it’s more helpful if your inner critic can wait with her comments, so you can write a crappy first draft first. Once that draft is there, she can help out with editing 😉

      I think most bloggers also struggle with this idea that everything has been said already. My reply is always: but we’ve not heard it from you, we’ve not heard in in your words.

      Thank you for adding your thoughts. And congrats for writing your book!

    • OMG that could have been me writing that Deborah, 10 years on as I have an idea of a book and have done a fair amount of prep work for it. But as you say, my inner critic is concerned that (a) it’s all been said before and (b) how can I create a whole book if I find blogging hard enough?!
      Thanks for your honesty and tips – Henneke and Deborah
      🙂

  11. Hi Henneke,

    thank you for another great post. I think it’s natural that there is self-doubt. And to a certain extent that’s a good thing. But when we’re talking to ourselves, we better always ask: Whose voice is this I’m hearing right now? Most of the time it’s our teacher’s voice or our mother’s or the voice of someone else we’ve internalised over the years. Don’t mistake those voices for your own. That little insight can already change one’s life immensly. At least for me it could 🙂
    Chris recently posted…Ist Ihr Unternehmen großartig oder solala? Die Wow-statt-Meh-MethodeMy Profile

  12. Hi, Henneke,
    I love this post…one of the most powerful words I read somewhere is tiny, but can change and empower us. Want me to share it with you?
    That word is “yet”.
    I have read your books on blogging, and newsletter emails. Just want to say, I took your advice and got rid of the shiny marketing fluff, and spoke with my real voice. And it felt GOOD. And it opened up an opportunity to speak to 15 year olds about careers. WOW. thank you!
    Warmly,
    Jenn

  13. Many thanks for sharing this, Henneke. I love the inner critic cartoon! Printing it out to help me when I need to talk to mine 🙂

  14. Amy Morris Shalosky says:

    Ah, I needed this today! Actually…I need this pretty much every day. Thanks for sharing your struggle and solutions, Henneke.

  15. So what really happened to make you change your mind?

    • You mean, changed my mind on writing this post?

      I think it was just that the time wasn’t right. I was in a bad place when I outlined it, so I decided to let go and leave it until I’d feel better. (This is something I rarely do, when I outline a post, I usually write it within a few days.)

      • No, I mean what changed last winter? Howcome you changed your mind – really?

        • I think the description is pretty accurate. The trigger point was when I noticed that I didn’t say or think anymore “I can’t do that” but “my body isn’t up to that now.” So, in a way, what my body couldn’t do was outside my control. And slowly that idea filtered through to my inner critic, too.

          To say that “one day I asked her to get out of my head and sit down” is a little poetic license. It didn’t happen from one day to the next, but I slowly started to realize that my inner critic wasn’t me. This was also helped by the circumstances. Due to my injury, I couldn’t cope with stress at all, so I had to find ways to cut stress out completely. My inner critic could be a major source of stress so I had to find a way to work with her without getting stressed out. I’m pretty good at introspection, at finding out what’s going on in my mind.

  16. Hi Henneke,

    This is a great post. Thanks for sharing it with us. It seems that the better you are at writing, running a business as a solopreneur or doing anything you love more than a hobby (such as hobbists turned professional musicians) that the more self-doubt is likely to creep up on you. I often wonder if it’s the people who never experience any self-doubt or a fear of failure that fill our world with more stuff we don’t need. I appreciate your willingness to talk about it. I will be sure to share this article with my friends.

    Thanks,

    Cody

    • I think doing something I care about definitely makes a difference (i.e. it increases self-doubt). Also, when something is more personal, I tend to find it harder to deal with my fears.

      Thank you for sharing this with your friends, Cody. The more people talk about their own self-doubt, the better we’ll all be able to cope, and somehow, along the way, we’ll make the world a better place.

  17. Your writing style is great ? Thank you for sharing your struggles and solution.

  18. Wise words Henneke. Thank you for your honesty on a topic that very few people openly discuss.

    “We often define our identity in terms of what we do.” I think we also judge people by this same measure, especially in the online marketing world. It’s hard to let both sides of that equation go, (but I’m consciously trying) because who we are is more important than what we do.
    Marlene Hielema recently posted…By: Marlene HielemaMy Profile

    • Yep, that’s so true. The online marketing world especially is fully of pretty pictures and boastful stories hiding the not-so-shiny truth.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Marlene. I appreciate it!

  19. One of the greatest things women as a group can do is to stop defining themselves by their work. So, by now you must be grateful for the time forced upon you to reflect and recognize that who you are has nothing to do with your cycling, your writing, your drawing. Those are a result of YOU.
    So grateful you take time to share yourself and your talents with the rest of us. Every time I read your post you inspire me for in some way. A new writing tool. A better attitude. A stronger drive. Just to name a few.
    Thanks, Henneke
    JSue recently posted…Need some assurance?My Profile

    • Thank you, JSue 🙂

      While it might be that more women struggle with self-doubt, I think it’s true for some men, too.

  20. A wonderful insightful article Henneke. Although hard, I bet it felt good to hit Publish. So glad you did – Mark
    Mark Crosling recently posted…Updated Hangout Comment Tracker – How to SetupMy Profile

  21. Wonderful story, Henneke. It takes a kind and genuine person to be able to share that, without coming across as weak or self-important.

    As you say, we only see the outside of other people. If others seem more confident, it’s because they have more experience in dealing with their inner critic. Or they’re simply better at hiding it. In which case their inner critic will strike back hard, sooner or later.

    Love your drawings too! The ‘evil’ you looks brilliant. And how wonderful of you to portray your evolving relationship with her in such a loving way. Because our inner critic is still a part of us. If we fight her, we’re really just fighting ourselves. And that’s a waste of energy. It helps to see her like you seem to be doing: as a frightened, insecure child who has a less than helpful way of communicating her lack of confidence.
    Bart Schroeven recently posted…I’m ugly / stupid / useless / etc.My Profile

    • Yes, fighting our inner critic is a waste of energy. And I’ve wasted a lot of my energy with fighting her! She’s a fierce competitor 😉

      I think that a lot of people are hiding their self-doubt and fears behind a shiny mask. They might appear self-confident, but that’s not necessarily true.

  22. Hi Henneke,

    Another thing to keep in mind when your inner critic starts harping: The more you dare to fail, the more you have an opportunity to succeed in a bigger way. Tim Ferris advocates failing on purpose, just to develop thicker skin.

    I’ve been working on this as well when it comes to my drawing. And honestly, what does a piece of paper cost? Or pixels on a blog post? Is anybody really going to love you less?

    However, as you’ve noted, if you fine tune that inner critic a bit, she can help you be smarter about your risk-taking.

    • Yes, in other words, your confidence and courage can grow over time. It’s not a given. You can learn and develop and take on slightly scarier challenges over time.

      Learning to draw (and publishing my drawings!) has also helped me accept that I don’t need to keep up a perfect appearance. It’s a good way to practice making mistakes!

  23. I love this! It’s come at an opportune time, too, as I am about to publish my first book and feel all the ‘don’t hit publish’ resistance you talk about so eloquently.

    For what it’s worth, I can’t understand for the life of me why you feel so insecure about stuff, your blogs are always fabulous and I’ll carry on tweeting them to death!

    Here’s to our inner critic, who is only trying to keep us safe I guess 🙂
    Ginny Carter recently posted…How writing from the heart makes you a more trusted business authorMy Profile

    • Yes, she’s only trying hard to keep us safe – I like how you put that.

      I’ve built enough confidence over the last years that I’m okay when publishing blog posts about writing. It’s when a post gets more personal, that I still find it hard.

      Thank you for your kind words. And I appreciate all your tweets!

      PS Congrats on your book. Are you publishing on Kindle?

  24. Hi Henneke,

    Couldn’t help smiling at your cartoon. They are adorable. Really loved the way the mean
    monster was tamed to be a little angel.
    Looking forward to more such inspirational cartoons along with some soothing advice.

    Have a great week.
    Patricia
    Patricia recently posted…5 proven strategies that helped me get more freelancing workMy Profile

    • Thank you so much Patricia.

      She’s quite a little angel! Just like a child you can cuddle one moment and who’s throwing tantrums in the middle of the shopping aisle three minutes later 😉

  25. Thank you for posting this Henneke, so much of it rings true. I love your drawings, they illustrate the point beautifully.

    I also agree with Chris’s earlier comment about identifying who else’s voice might be sneaking into that internal dialogue and masquerading as your own. Our own inner critic is enough to deal without other people having their (imaginary) say as well.

    • Yes, that’s a good point. I know a few critical voices that turn up in my head now and then.

      Thanks for highlighting that!

  26. Henneke, did you secretly interview my inner critic while I was asleep? You even got the daughter-guilt and nose-bashing!

    One of the hardest conversations with my inner critic is whether to come clean about my setbacks. I’ve had times when pain or fatigue brought my life to a grinding halt, but I learned to embrace the challenges as opportunities for growth. Sorry if that sounds trite. Being forced to rest gives us time to think – which is quite a luxury these days. Experiencing pain gives us an increased capacity for courage, compassion and empathy …all of which you have shown in this inspiring post.

    I absolutely love your illustrations …they’re so clever and so uniquely YOU. Brilliant.

    • Yes, I agree with you. Challenges are opportunities for growth. I’ve learned a lot about myself and improved bad habits thanks to my injury.

      Whether or not to write about your setbacks, is a decision only you can make. I personally need some distance before I can write about it, so it doesn’t become a self-pitying piece, but something that can hopefully inspire others. Other people use writing as a kind of therapy, and they want to write about their struggles when they’re in the midst of it.

  27. Henneke, it was so good of you to share yourself in this piece. It was immensely helpful to read. You’ve inspired me to draw my inner critic; I might make her wear a silly hat to dial down her serious nature.
    Susan Wright-Boucher recently posted…Solved: VOIP Problem on Windows 10My Profile

  28. I love your article.

    My inner critic likes to convince me I can’t handle technology:

    Whenever I read a story about a website that was “hacked” my inner critic says: “that’s going to happen to you, so don’t set up a website. You might lose all your hard work and tech costs are prohibitive. It also says, don’t set up a free site, because it doesn’t look professional.

    I don’t have to tell you how limiting that is. (smile)

    • Technology frightens me, too. I get scared I might break something and bring my website down (I’ve done that and survived by the way. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it seemed. A backed-up site was back up and running within three minutes).

      Sometimes it helps to think about “What if?” So in this case, what would happen if you’re hacked and lose all your hard work? You can make sure you have a back up so you never lose your work. A good host does daily backups and also makes sure you don’t get hacked.

  29. You inner critic sounds like mine. What I do is take a stroll by Niagara Falls (within my vicinity) and soak up on negative ions. The endorphin release boosts my confidence and mollifies my inner critic. I understand seaside, forests and mountain tops work as well.
    Kenneth Lim recently posted…Heather Dubrow Avoids ‘RHOC’ Drama: Why Is She Ignoring The Pink Elephant?My Profile

    • I’ve been taking daily walks through the forest and it calms my mind, too. And I love walks along the seaside. The sound of the waves if very relaxing.

      Your stroll by the Niagara Falls sounds lovely. I’m a little jealous 😉

  30. Hi Henneke: Thanks a Million
    I ‘ve been asking my wife for years. Why don’t you write about it?
    And now
    I have been writing about me. And my childhood fears. And my life history from the past to future …
    started on 9/24/2015
    Thanks Again.
    beiglar

  31. Thanks for sharing this. So many of us obviously struggle with this issue when we’re fully healthy, having a head injury only makes it worse.

    I was in a terrible car accident which left me with a host of problems. Whiplash was one of them. That injury also impacts the brain which means there’s at least some level of Traumatic Brain Injury. Mine was pretty bad.

    Your symptoms are exactly what happens after a head injury and the self doubt only increases.

    If you haven’t seen a neurologist or an occupational therapist I encourage you to do that. It made a tremendous difference in my recovery but the process is still long. A good occupational therapist will work with you to recover your skills and teach you adaptations for those skills harder to recover.

    Believe you’ll be better. Refuse to be defined by your injury. The brain really can bounce back but you must be kind to yourself.

    The comedienne Gilda Radner once said the getting cancer was like being made a member of a club she didn’t really want to join. Having a head injury is the same way.

    Sending you prayers for strength and healing.
    Winnie Anderson recently posted…What’s a swipe file and tips to use oneMy Profile

    • I’m sorry to hear about your accident. It sounds like you’ve had a hard time recovering, Winnie.

      I appreciate your well wishes!

  32. Loved the illustrations!! This is so inspiring to me because I tend to look down on myself allot. Some days I would get up thinking today I’m not coming close to my blog, because it makes me feel like a failure (and actually that’s not true, its my inner self lying to me). Just the next day, I’ll decide, no, I CAN DO THIS!!
    Read a great tweet just now from Robert Kiyosaki: If you are not facing something you fear everyday, you don’t understand the secret of life.
    Linda recently posted…How to create your own professional eCoversMy Profile

    • Our inner critics don’t make life easy, do they?

      To be honest, I’m not sure I can face something I fear each and everyday. For me it’s okay to face fear now and then. I’m happy to move forward slowly, at my own speed 😉

  33. Hats off for this post, Henneke.

    Interestingly enough, I’ve been battling my inner critic for a few months now and this article helped me realize that I can’t allow that critic to dictate my life and what I want to do.

    Love the drawings you had along with it. That really helped illustrate it well and get across the overall message.

    Well done.

    Have a great rest of the week.

    – Andrew
    Andrew recently posted…Why Your Blogging Community Wants More Than Just Quality ContentMy Profile

    • Thank you, Andrew. Despite my nervousness about publishing this article, I was quite happy with how I was able to integrate the drawings within the blog post. You see? I’m learning. Not everything becomes bad when I’m nervous. 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by again!

  34. Patricia Haag says:

    Hi Henneke – I certainly know what health problems can do to my energy and confidence. Injuries can take a long time to recuperate from and sometimes they leave a lasting impact.

    I know that you live in the UK. Being an American, we have the myth of being able to be tough no matter what. When I’m hurting or not feeling capable, I feel like I’ve let down the entire country. Hoping Europeans don’t have the same kinds of ideas.

    Your cartoon is a delight; I love how you do your own artwork for your posts!

    • I tend to think that the American culture is a little more “man up” than European culture. But I also grew up with the idea that you don’t complain, but keep going until you drop dead. That’s been more or less my attitude to life until recently.

      The advantage of my injury is certainly that I see a different way to live my life, and I’m actually appreciating the slower and almost stress-free pace. I wouldn’t have thought that previously. But slowing down makes me appreciate the small moments in life more.

  35. Hi Henneke,
    Always enjoy reading your posts and emails.
    To see that I’m not alone in this, is quite comforting. It’s not as hopeless as she makes it sound. ?
    Love how you use your illustrations. Well said, a picture is worth a thousand words.
    Thanks for letting us in.
    Cheers.

    • To me it makes a big difference, too, to know that I’m not the only one struggling with self-doubt. And looking at all the comments here, I’m pretty sure that you and I are not the only ones!

  36. Thank you, Henneke. I love the cartoon. And I’ve got tears in my eyes as I’m reading. I published a post in Elephant Journal yesterday that’s gotten less than 100 clicks. Boo hoo! I love what I wrote, though; and ultimately, that’s what matters.

  37. Henneke,

    Next time your inner critic says mean things to you, I want you to remember how you’ve impacted my life:

    1. I enjoyed your blog posts so much that I took your Enchanting Blogging course so I could learn to blog just like you.
    2. I loved your cartoons so much that I am currently taking the Da Vinci Cartooning course so I can create cartoons just like you.
    3. I purchased your About Page eBook and ended my struggle of writing a great About page.
    4. I’m so impressed with your writing that I enrolled in your Enchanting Writing course.

    You make it look easy. But I know how hard you’ve worked to get where you are. You have inspired me to cast off my fears and believe in myself.

    Read this comment next time you’re feeling down.

    Best regards.

    • You’re so good at making me smile, Bill 🙂

      Thank you for all your support!

      And I’m looking forward to meeting your cartoon character soon. I’m sure Henrietta would like to invite him for a cup of tea 😉

  38. Hi Henneke,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and I’m sorry to hear of your whiplash. I know how painful it can be.

    It’s funny but as you are forced to slow down and reassess what you’re doing, often you discover that when you cut down your workload you somehow have more time, or at least, get more done. And it can often be your best work.

    Inner critics, yeah, they can be annoying, can’t they? Good work on getting to know your a little better.
    Tom Southern recently posted…Blogging Tips, Strategies And Tactics: How To Sort Through The Pile and Find The One That’ll (Actually) Work For YouMy Profile

    • Yes, I know what you say. When I looked at my workload and the hours available to me, I cut down a lot of unnecessary tasks, and I was still able to get quite a lot of work done. I also became more disciplined. When I worked, I worked and stopped checking Twitter 😉

      I’ve learned a lot and in a way, it’s been a fascinating journey.

      Thank you for stopping by, Tom!

  39. Hey Henneke! My inner critic travels with friends and extended family when I hit publish. They are the stomach churn, the roller coaster ride stomach drop (mostly yucky, occasionally exhilarating feeling), the cold sweat (sometimes) and the urge to press delete (more often than I care to admit) 🙂

    Thank you for your honest un-super-hero post. Lots of top notch brainpokes – “I learned that my self-identity is not defined by what I do or what I can’t do.” Silver bullet for the pesky inner critic. Cheers. P.S The drawings are a bonus!

  40. So true. We all have doubts. I was shocked one time at a high school reunion. I happened to be talking to the most popular, cool girl in the senior class. I was ready to hear how she thought high school was a breeze. Instead she whispered, “I thought no one liked me.” Huh? That’s when I knew we all wear a mask. Some wear it better than others, but we all wear one.

  41. Hi Henneke,
    A marvellous post, just love it. There is no one in this world, who would not benefit from it.
    Super dooper great stuff.
    Love and blessings annamarie

    • Thank you, Annamarie. If it helps one person deal with their inner critic a little better, then it was worth the effort!

  42. Hey Henneke,
    Well done. My turning point was when I realised that everyone else was running their ‘show reel’, not the reality of what they’d left on the cutting room floor 🙂
    Di Mace recently posted…We’re born to create. Are you leaving something worthwhile?My Profile

  43. Henneke, this resonates so much with me, super especially this week as I’m burning the midnight oil to launch my new website. Just a few hours ago my inner critic got nasty as she questioned whether people would even be interested in the type of content I’m going to offer. I’ve done market research, and I know I can get interested visitors, but that doesn’t stop her from exploiting my insecurities.

    I love that you decided to show kindness to your inner critic and work with her instead of fighting or ignoring her. That sounds like some pretty sound advice that I need to follow asap! 🙂

    Your artwork is also super gorgeous! The story totally enthralled me.

    Thank you for being vulnerable in order to be helpful. I appreciate you!

    • I used to work late nights, too, and then the next day I would be tired and my inner critic would have field day.

      I hope being kinder to your inner critic helps you, too. I remember how nervous I was about launching my site.

      Take good care of yourself, Jen. I appreciate your comment!

  44. Peggy Jayne says:

    Inside every person, ‘successful’, or un, there is a shivering little kid. I think it comes with the being- human territory. There was a mega-successful writer when I was young, who had a best seller every year. She was at a dinner at which they were giving her a big award. Someone asked her how she was feeling, and she said, “You want the truth? I wonder what I’m doing here with all these important people who are all dressed to the nines. I really belong back at my grade school desk with my lunch box in my lap and a test looming that I haven’t studied for. I wish I were home with my mommy where I’m safe. That’s how I feel.” Yes, that’s what the lady said…

    • That’s amazing, isn’t it? And here we are all thinking that we’re the only ones feeling scared!

      Thank you for sharing that, Peggy.

  45. Hi Henneke,

    Thanks for your post. If it makes you feel any better, I don’t even publish a blog or necessarily seek writing skills, I just like receiving your emails because I admire the way you are growing your business by connecting with your audience and customers. I’m an entrepreneur too, and I like getting your posts in my inbox because I like feeling that connection to another person striving and growing and succeeding!

    I think I’m signed up on your list as QueensPopPhoto, but I’ve recently expanded and rebranded as You Are Here Studios

    Wishing you continued success and risk taking,
    Alex

  46. Henneke, sorry to hear about your physical struggles. Hope you had recuperated completely. I write poetry since I was young. So I learn years ago… that we are “our worst enemies when composing.” Because we destroy the best part o our work editing. And yes! it is that “inner critic” to blame. But we mature and do better work, despite of the loss.
    Look at you now…. your work is so interesting that keep us wanting to hear about you more. The cartoon is funny! Do you do the drawings yourself? We got the message!

    I live alone… do not like it in a sense because I keep talking to the walls. But recently I put together a dummy companion and I call him: Coco Nuts Suarez. But the only thing is that he don’t have the ability to talk to me. Put my name Aida Suarez on Facebook and you will see his picture. I also composed a poetry talking about him. You can read it there too. Life is fun… because is also crazy! And because it is.. it is also less boring. I am old now… so I cannot ride my bike… so I compensate with other things. By the way… your real picture is nice…. you still are a very young and a beautiful person. God bless your life!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Aida. Unfortunately, I’m not on Facebook (I’ve never had a Facebook account), so can’t check out your poetry there!

      I do all the drawings myself. Just over two years ago I started a cartoon drawing course, and early last year I started publishing them on the blog. I never thought I could draw, but my tutors persuaded me that everyone can draw!

  47. Good grief, Henneke, look at all the comments! Way to go!
    I think I mostly have to silence the OUTER critics in my life, but it is much easier to walk away from them, than from that inner “self” who tries to make me be careful and save money and all. I’ve had to get more sleep, too, lately, and that just feels like more undermining, but I know it actually is for my good. I just want to work 24/7, and keep spinning my wheels. Ha.
    Thanks for a great post and for your openness and honesty. <3 K
    Katharine recently posted…My Friend’s New Book!My Profile

    • Yes, outer critics can be hard too deal with, too. And sometimes the outer critics can feed the inner critics and it can become a bit of a mess.

      Take good care of yourself!

  48. Well, dear Henneke, it takes courage to be transparent. Your post is exquisite and from the depth of your soul. You gave us a huge gift — genuine helpful help. Thank you. Keep up the extreme self-care. Bless you!

    • Thank you so much, Lee, for your lovely comment and for being you.

      I do my best to take good care of myself, and I’m getting better at it!

  49. I got a lot out of your post Henneke. Thank you. My inner critic turned out to be smaller than I imagined too when I decided to “meet” her. I now call her “Twinkletoes” as she is no longer a monster, but she does keep on her toes to offer criticism at every opportunity. But, now that I am more intimate with her tone of voice, and I can deflect the impact.

    I have to admire her consistency and diligence though! She is the most excellent of inner critics. So, I heap loads of praise on her for being so good at her job.

    • I like your idea of giving your inner critic a name, and praising her for her consistency and diligence. It sounds like you’ve found an excellent way to keep her at some distance.

      Thank you for sharing, Rosaline. I appreciate it.

  50. This was so interesting to me Henneke, I had a ‘voice in the head’ for years until one day I told her she was wrong and it all changed for me. Mine was a a plump and delicious Indian ‘goddess’ dressed in harem pants with kohl eyes and long black hair, the whole bit. When I questioned her she told me, with a beautiful ‘tinkling’ laugh, that she had been waiting to hear me say just that. She then became my ally until I no longer needed her at all. Well, for the most part…

    I am so sorry your riding has been affected, how awful……wishing you a very speedy and full recovery.
    Joan bell recently posted…Are you too set in your ways?My Profile

    • It’s amazing how different we visualize our inner critics, isn’t it? It does seem like this visualization can be the start of finding a way to deal with that inner voice. It sounds like you’ve found a good way to deal with yours!

      Thank you for your well wishes, Joan. I’m glad I’m able to cycle again, even if it’s only short trips 🙂

  51. Irina Bengtson says:

    Great insight, Henneke. I enjoy very much reading your posts. Your drawings are very cute and authentic. Thank you for sharing with us. And get better soon.

  52. Elvire Smith says:

    Henneke, another fab blog, loved it, and what’s evern better, it inspired me to write a 1200 word blog in 20 minutes with an FK of 4.8! Yahoo, thanks so much. Keep inspiring me so I may inspire others. If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much!!! (insiders joke)

  53. Henneke,
    This is like balm to the soul. Especially the part about listening to your body and allowing yourself to hear what it’s trying to tell you. Wonderful and very timely! Thank you.
    Katherine

    • I found it quite hard to change my perspective on listening to my body. I was so used to always push it a little further, but I think it’s an important listening skill, especially as we get older.

      Thank you for stopping by, Katherine!

  54. Hello again Henneke,

    I can’t thank you enough for another great post. Again you’ve hit the nail on the head to some of the problems that I am facing. As I was reading how you have had challenges dealing with your inner critic, I came to realize that is what the real issue is.

    I’ve been spending years, taking classes, writing drafts that I never finish, posting articles and then taking them down because they’re not good enough, and on and on and on…

    I’ve become an expert at “getting ready to get ready” and it’s all been a ruse because I spend too much time in my head listening to the critic.

    Thank you for sharing your process and the TONS of help you have already so generously shared with me and your readers,
    wishing you all the best,
    Chuck

    • It’s very easy to get stuck in the mode of having to read one more book, to buy one more course, because there’s always more learn and we’re never completely ready.

      What I’ve learned from most is getting into the habit of a regular publishing schedule. Writing a guest post here and there was great, but it didn’t push me enough to write every week. Once I started publishing on my blog, I had to find something valuable to share every week. I had to publish every week, and that’s how my writing skills improved and my knowledge increased.

      Thank you for stopping by, Chuck. 🙂

  55. Love love love this Henneke! And your drawings are fabulous! I also try to do battle with my inner critic and it doesn’t work does it? If we just realize that they are there to protect us then it helps. Although sometimes that doesn’t make it easier. My inner critic can be so mean! 🙂

    The other thing that I’ve found helps me is to realize when I’m jealous of another colleague’s accomplishment, that just means that I want to go there too – and it’s possible!

    Thank you for this great post – clearly it resonates with everyone with all the comments!
    Andrea Vahl recently posted…8 Ways to Effectively Manage Your Facebook MarketingMy Profile

    • Thanks so much, Andrea, for your compliment and for stopping by!

      Maybe the internet fuels jealousy, as it’s so easy to see that other people are getting more tweets or more followers or more comments. And then it’s easy to think that we should do better, too. And then are inner critic starts nagging … I know exactly how that goes!

      It can be hard to stay grounded and focus on improving our own performance rather than compare ourselves to others all the time. I like how you turn it around and make it an incentive to accomplish more. 🙂

  56. Hey Henneke,
    Nice post! I totally understand and went through self doubt and the inner me kicking my *** like Bruce Lee:) I don’t care what my inner self thinks anymore, he’s locked up in a library in my head… lol. I love your illustrations…get job!!
    Todd Watts recently posted…Quality Content Marketing Starts With Hiring the Right SEO CompanyMy Profile

  57. Great Post! The inner critic is the part of you that judges you, demeans you, and pushes you to do things. It lowers your self-esteem and makes you feel bad about yourself. This is one of the most difficult and tenacious issues that most of us face.

    Thank you for sharing your technique and illustrations!
    Neil recently posted…I Love You QuotesMy Profile

    • Yep, I agree. It IS a difficult issue to deal with. But it’s worth trying, because if we can all find a way to deal with our inner critics, we can make the world a little better.

      Thank you for stopping by, Neil.

  58. Hi,

    Thanks for putting yourself out there. The drawings are spectacular. I like them a lot. They give me the sense that I know them.

  59. Henneke,

    This is the second time I go over this post. I cannot thank you enough for writing it.

    I relate to what you said. I struggle from childhood abuse and traumas that left me with little self-worth. In my mind, negative self-talk is constant. I’ve learned to cope with some of it and pushed pass depressive years, but it’s still a constant battle. Some days are better some days are not.

    The worst thing to to though, is to ignore those voices or fight back as you mentioned. I’ve yet to make peace with him, but the good news is that it did get better.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience! I learnt a lot from it.

    Take care,
    Anh
    Anh Nguyen recently posted…How To Make Passive Income Online Doing What You LoveMy Profile

    • I’m sorry to hear about your struggles, Anh. Life feels so unfair.

      Someone recently recommended the book “How to Communicate Like a Buddhist” by Cynthia Kane to me. I initially felt resistance as it sounded quite fluffy, but started reading it this week and I like it a lot (so far), the book argues that to become a better communicator, we first need to start listening better to ourselves and be more compassionate to ourselves. The guidance is quite practical with tips about how to listen to your self-talk and change the way you view yourself.

      Please take care and thank you for sharing your story.

  60. Lori Tian Sailiata says:

    Thanks for being brave and sharing. Boy, can I relate. I hope your pain and stress levels have improved. Being sick is no fun. Glad you are taking time for yourself. It’s near impossible for me as well. But the investment reaps priceless rewards.

    • Thank you, Lori. I’m coping much better these days. Changing the way we live is a difficult journey, but well worth it. I’ve learned a lot from my yoga teacher (and from my enchanting readers!)

      Wishing you strength on your journey, too.

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