The Inner Critic and the Outer Game of Life–Tips on How to “Play to Win”

“Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.” –Richard Bach

In this blog I will provide some proven tips for overcoming the negative “inner critic” and help you begin to practice how to access your positive and natural strengths ( Self 2  a concept articulated by Tim Gallwey), to conquer performance fears and the power of the negative critic (Self1)  in your mind.

I think that many issues and problem we experience can be traced back to the internal conversations and stories we tell ourselves about our self, other people and situations. If we are unaware of these internal dialogues or let them override our common sense we can make big errors in judgment. This “inner critic” can interfere with our ability to make decisions, take risk and perform below our potential. Some of the external behavior may lead to bad first impressions, lack of confidence, unhappiness, fears, such as heights, flying or public speaking and other unfortunate outcomes.

Instead of focusing on the behavior you want to change, focus on the irrational messages the “inner critic” is telling and selling to you. Poor thinking leads to negative messages and become an obstacle to a strong sense of self and impact performing in a natural, authentic and confident manner. To STOP the negative alien or critic from talking and under-minding behavior you must find ways to change irrational thoughts into positive thoughts.

Let me suggest five techniques to take control of the destructive and upsetting inner conversations with your self critic:

  1. Practice mindful awareness. It doesn’t matter where the inner critic’s material is coming from because it could be achored in comments and experiences from teachers, parents, a coach or an abusive spouse or  other traumatic experience; the reasons and sources of criticism don’t matter you just increasing your awareness that these conversations are happening provides power over the critical thoughts.
  2. Evaluate whether the message has any validity or truth’ Is it enabling you to accomplish the outcomes you want or is it preventing you from doing so. Be honest. (Sometimes, people are addicted to their problems and the stories that create them.)
  3. Keep a self-journal. Write down word for word the internal dialogue with the critic. It might be something like the following:
  • “You’re no good at X, Y or Z,,.”
  • “You’re too uncoordinated to play sports..”
  • “You’re stupid and not very smart when it comes to math.”
  • “You’re to an over-educated bleeding heart liberal.”
  • “You take things to seriously.”
  • “You have no sense of humor
  • “ You are not a good writer

4. Brainstorm solutions and new messages for changing the dialogue.

  • Create powerful affirmations and clear messages to block the “inner critic”.
  • Write solutions down on a 3 x 5 card that provide evidence for overcoming irrational messages or stories presented by the inner critic. I’m not talking about a bunch of positive puff statements I am suggesting telling the truth to yourself and the critic. Often, this is simply a matter of shifting your perspective and providing evidence that is opposite to the negative critic’s story or message..

5 Start telling yourself new messages, believing in focused attention and turning down or off the inner critic. Every time your inner critic begins to tell you that you are loser, stop him. Say, “No! That’s BS. Here’s the truth.” Then repeat your new message or affirmation. For example, At a critical moment in a tennis match the inner critic says you always miss the important points or you are a choker when the match hinges on your ability to serve out a match to win. You say STOP. Take a deep breath and remember times when you have overcome steep hills to win. You visualize winning the point and turn it over to your fluid and natural Self 2. You play every point going down to the wire with focus on the “here and now” moment and remind yourself of comebacks in the past. You say to the inner critic I am not a loser and I don’t quit. I just need to focus on the next shot and do the best I can.!


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