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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Silencing the Inner Critic – Guest Post by Kathy Keats

My agility teammate Blue

Agility is a wonderful source of surprising connections for me as a writer and coach (including finding a publisher for AWB at a dog agility trial.) 

Kathy Keats is one of the marvelous people I’ve found through agility whose wisdom extends beyond agility. Kathy’s coaching applies to people who want to excel in any sport, even the “sport” of getting words on the page and into the world.

Kathy’s essay about the Inner Critic (what I call the Saboteur) could have been written exclusively for writers. So I invited Kathy to share it as a guest post here and she generously agreed. Enjoy! – RB

Kathy Keats

Silencing the Inner Critic By Kathy Keats

We all have a voice inside our heads that has been referred to as the inner critic. It’s the voice that says you can’t, that you aren’t good enough, that you should be afraid, and a multitude of other negative things. In some people that voice is louder and in others it is quieter…but one of the keys to being successful is to learn how to cope with this inner critic.

This inner voice develops over a period of time. Babies don’t have this voice. It becomes a voice we acquire as we grow. Our environment can certainly shape what that voice is saying. If we grow up being told we are no good, it is more likely that inner voice will say the same thing.

However, how does that explain those who come out of poor situations to become incredibly successful or the converse situation, those who have every opportu­nity and squander it away?

You can’t control your environment, but you can control your reaction to that environment, IF YOU CHOOSE TO. No more “yeah, buts…”

Listen to Your Real Voice Instead

So…here are some strategies to help silence the inner critic and let your real voice, the voice that believes in you, be heard.

Every time a negative thought arises, use one of the following:

  • Imagine your inner critic has a volume control or on/off switch. When the inner critic kicks in, see yourself flicking the switch to “off” or turning the volume down to zero and then blasting the positive voice.
  • The spoken word is more powerful than the thought. When you hear the inner critic, say out loud, “Stop” or “NO” and then replace the negative thought with a spoken, empowering word or phrase, even something simple like “I CAN do this!” or “Bring it on!”
  • Imagine the negative thought blowing up or vanishing in a puff or going up in flame and the positive thought leaping into its place.
  • Think of picture, place, thing, or moment in time that reminds you of your strength, your abilities and your talents.
  • Shake your head to reject the negative thought, and stand up tall and straight and look the problem in the eye, accepting the challenge.

With any of these strategies (and there are many more), make sure the positive replacement thought triggers an empowering emotion. The reason the negative voice is so powerful is it strikes at your emotions, at incorrect negative beliefs you hold that give power to that negative thought. Make your positive emotion more powerful!

There may be times when you hear the inner critic but from today forward you won’t give the critic any power. This doesn’t mean you won’t objectively look at a situation to learn where you can improve, but assessing where you can improve is much different from telling yourself you are no good and not capable.

Silencing the critic means actively rejecting fear and negativity directed towards yourself and developing the belief that you are capable of doing and achieving anything you set your mind to.


Kathy Keats is the author of Success from the Inside, public speaker, seminar presenter, author, animal trainer, coach, and competitor who has represented Canada in World Championships in three different sport disciplines, with World and National Championship titles to her credit. You can find more about her at her websites, www.theagilitycoach.ca, www.boywoodbordercollies.com and www.kathykeats.com (under construction).

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