girl hugging lion, symbolizing befriending your inner critic

Having an inner critic is an innately human trait. Some are louder than others, of course, but almost everyone can relate to that inner voice that questions us or puts us down. 

For creatives and artists, the inner critic can make creating painstaking at best, and impossible at its worst. (I’ve got a blog post “Navigating the Inner Critic for Artists: Ten Strategies for Healing” if you want to read more.) 

Here, I’m going to discuss ten common misconceptions about the inner critic, each with an accompanying tip to help you dispel that myth. 

Misconception 1: “My Inner Critic is Always Right.”

Reality: Our inner critic is like that friend who’s overly dramatic and has a flair for the negative. It magnifies your flaws and doubts, but it’s not the best reporter of the facts. In fact, it has a habit of focusing on the negatives, which puts a damper on your creative spark. Remember, it’s just an opinion, not the objective truth.

Tip: Embrace a Balanced Evaluation Approach

Remember, your inner critic’s job is to magnify flaws. If its commentary feels overwhelming, remember to seek a more balanced perspective. Try listing your strengths or accomplishments alongside your perceived weaknesses. This practice will provide a more accurate representation of your capabilities.

Misconception 2: “I’m the Only One with an Inner Critic.”

Reality: It can be easy to feel like you are the only one sailing in a sea of self-doubt, especially if you compare your internal dialogue with how other people show up publicly. But everyone has an inner critic. This blend of self-doubt and fear of external judgment has a purpose, which brings us to number three.

Tip: Seek Connection and Shared Experiences

Connect with fellow artists and creators who understand this common struggle. Engage in conversations about managing the inner critic. Sharing experiences not only alleviates isolation but also offers valuable insights and coping strategies.

Misconception 3: “I Should Eliminate My Inner Critic Completely.”

Reality: Imagine a world without traffic lights—utter chaos, right? Similarly, our inner critic serves a purpose. We don’t want it blaring sirens of doubt 24/7, but a some ability to constructively critique ourselves is important. Think of the difference between a coach who pushes you to do better, versus a ruthless judge out to destroy your artistic confidence. 

Tip: Embrace Gradual Adjustments

Rather than aiming for eliminating the inner critic, focus on healing it. Treat it as a collaborator rather than an adversary. When it highlights areas for improvement, explore those aspects with curiosity and patience. Be ready to dismiss extreme internal criticism with a “thanks, but no thanks.” 

Misconception 4: “Positive Self-Talk Will Silence My Inner Critic.”

Reality: While it’s true that a dose of positivity can help, your inner critic might just dig its heels in if you try to drown out its message. Acknowledging its existence and understanding its motives— that’s the key to effective negotiation. Think of it as dealing with a quirky roommate who has good intentions but a poor grasp on reality.

Tip: Integrate Rational Reframing

Combine positive self-talk with rational reframing. Whenever your negative voice speaks up, respond with objective evidence of your achievements and capabilities. Gradually, this will train your mind to challenge the critic’s negativity with rationality.

Misconception 5: “I Need to Be Hard on Myself to Produce Great Art.”

Reality: Let’s clear this up—bashing yourself like a piñata won’t shower you with creativity candies. In fact, harsh self-criticism can be a creativity killer. Constructive feedback? Hard work? Absolutely. Mental self-flagellation? Not so much. Try being your own cheerleader and encouraging coach, not a drill sergeant.

Tip: Cultivate Self-Compassion

Work on replacing self-criticism with self-compassion. Treat yourself as you would a close friend facing creative challenges. Recognize that mistakes are stepping stones to growth, and allow room for imperfection in your creative journey. Remember, working hard is very different than being hard on yourself. 

Misconception 6: “My Inner Critic Reflects My True Potential.”

Reality: The truth is, this critic distorts reality. It’s like looking at your reflection in a funhouse mirror—it exaggerates the flaws and minimizes the brilliance. Don’t let it dictate your potential; it’s not operating with all of the information. .

Tip: Seek Objective Feedback

Engage with mentors, peers, or professionals who can provide objective feedback. Their perspective can counterbalance your inner critic’s distortions. External validation can remind you of your true potential and encourage exploration.

Misconception 7: “Ignoring It is the Solution.”

Reality: Picture this: you’re at a party, and someone keeps tapping your shoulder. You ignore them, but the tapping intensifies. Inner critics are like that persistent shoulder-tapper. Ignoring them will become maddening. Instead, give them a polite nod, acknowledge their presence, and continue with your business. 

Tip: Engage in Constructive Dialogue

Instead of ignoring your inner critic, engage in a constructive dialogue. When it offers criticism, inquire about its concerns and suggestions for improvement. You might even want to thank your negative self judgment for its feedback, even if you are choosing to discard it. This method helps transforms it from a roadblock to a partner in refining your work. 

Misconception 8: “Once I Achieve Success, My Inner Critic Will Disappear.”

Reality: I wish it were true, but success doesn’t come with a mute button for your inner critic. In fact, sometimes success can ramp up the volume, as expectations and pressures increase. The relief from success only lasts until the next expectation presents itself. It’s an effective setup for anxiety and depression if it’s not managed. 

Tip: Normalize Ongoing Management

Accept that your inner critic is an enduring presence, especially as your achievements grow. Regularly allocate time for self-reflection and introspection. Develop strategies to manage its influence as you continue your journey, and work on separating hard work from harsh words. 

Misconception 9: “Creative Block is Always Caused by My Inner Critic.”

Reality: While the inner critic might contribute to creative block, there’s a whole cast of characters involved. Lack of inspiration, external pressures, and burnout are like supporting actors. Don’t point all fingers at your negative voice; it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Tip: Explore Multi-Faceted Solutions

When encountering a creative block, assess various factors contributing to it. If your inner critic plays a role, pair its observations with actionable steps to address those concerns. But also consider external pressures, lack of inspiration, or burnout. Read more about creative block here: (link) 

Misconception 10: “My Inner Critic Represents My True Self.”

Reality: Your inner critic may be convinced they know you better than you know yourself, but don’t believe it. Your true self is beyond the realm of the inner critic’s view. It’s like thinking an iceberg is the entire thing – there is so much more to you than what your inner critic sees.  

Tip: Cultivate Self-Understanding

Engaging in introspective practices like journaling or mindfulness can help you identify more readily with your authentic voice. As you develop self-awareness, you’ll better differentiate between these distinct perspectives.


By embracing a balanced approach, acknowledging its quirks, and channeling its energy wisely, you can transform your negative self-judgment from a lead villain into a helpful supporting character. Addressing these myths takes time and consistent effort. Approach each step with patience and an open heart. You’re not alone in this journey, and as you navigate these strategies, you’ll find yourself coexisting more harmoniously with your inner critic. 

Nothing has helped me tackle mindset issues like this more than being a part of a supportive community, and I’m excited to let you know that the waitlist is open for my membership program, Creative Ease. This online program is designed for creatives like you, where we’ll explore topics like our inner critics and more, along with tools, strategies, Live Q&A’s, and community to help you thrive.

Priced at only $27 per month (with no obligation), it’s an affordable way to find support and community for anxiety and the mindset issues we all face as creatives.
Here’s an exciting incentive: when you join the waitlist, you will automatically receive a FREE 1:1 coaching call with me when you join Creative Ease! This is a $265 value, which reflects how excited I am to meet you and work with you in Creative Ease! 

Keep creating!
abstract painting
Original artwork by Dr. Bobbi Ballard

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