10 Words to Say to Your Inner Critic Today

I’m driving with my husband on a beautiful day after having Thai food (my favorite) and all seems well until I remember a recent mistake.

My inner critic speaks up with harsh words and suddenly my inner sky turns from blue to gray. One accusation can have the power to darken my whole day. Has this ever happened to you?

In the past, this often would have sent me into a spiral of shame and guilt. But on this occasion, I had a different reaction. Seven unexpected words came to my mind in response to my inner critic, “We don’t talk to people that way.”

This is a sentence I’ve heard moms say to their children when they speak in hurtful ways. These words are usually followed by three more, “Say you’re sorry.” For the first time ever, I make my inner critic apologize to me.

This feels a little cheesy, but it’s also unexpectedly freeing. The harshness and condemnation disappear and, in their place, come compassion and grace. We teach our children not to harm others with their words. Why is it okay to harm ourselves with them?

In the past I’ve either yielded to my inner critic or argued with her. But I forget you can’t reason with someone who’s immature (and my inner critic certainly is). In those situations, simplicity, clarity, and gentle firmness work better.

10 simple but powerful words to say to your inner critic…

We don’t talk to people that way. Say you’re sorry.

So, how do we talk to people?

We talk to them with kindness and compassion, encouragement and care, with understanding and a desire for their good. We extend grace to their humanness, comfort them when they’re struggling, cheer them on when they’re working hard, and see the best in them even in their worst moments.

What if we did the same for our own hearts?

Criticism tears down. Encouragement builds up.

Research shows that people who are compassionate to themselves also tend to be more compassionate to others. This makes sense to me. I also believe that the God who doesn’t want us speaking unkindly to each other desires us to treat ourselves with the same care we would show to any other beloved child of His.

Will you try this with me? Next time your inner critic tries to accuse, belittle, or shame you, pause and say, “We don’t talk to people that way. Say you’re sorry.” Then help her find words that are in alignment with the heart of God.

In my situation that sounded like, “You made a mistake but that doesn’t change who you are or how much you’re loved. You’re already forgiven. Let’s try again.”

What does your heart need to hear today? Whatever it is, speak it to yourself. You don’t have to wait for someone else to say it to you. Here’s what I’m learning: Your inner critic has the capacity to transform into your inner encourager.

Criticism tears down.
Encouragement builds up.
Criticism discourages.
Encouragement brings hope.
Criticism sees what’s wrong.
Encouragement helps make things right.
Criticism points a finger at our failures.
Encouragement points us to our faithful Jesus.


In this one-minute video I share a prayer you can borrow when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Do you carry hurt that came from your relationship with your father? On today’s podcast episode of More than Small Talk, Kia Stephens, author of Father Wounds, shares how you can exchange the failings of your earthly father for the unfailing love of your heavenly one. Click here to listen in!

Would you like reminders of Truth that you can take with you on the go? I created these twelve fear-fighting, faith-building Scripture cards to go alongside my ebook Fear, I’m Over You: A 21-Day Challenge to Live with Less Worry and More Courage. They’re free! Enter your email here and I’ll send them your way.

Twelve fear-fighting, faith-building Scripture cards


About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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