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Your Inner Critic is Making Your Divorce Harder (Here’s what to do about it)

How nice are you . . . to yourself?

During divorce recovery, your inner critic can have a field day judging you and making you feel guilty or inadequate or worthless. This barrage of negative thoughts is having an impact on your optimism and belief in your ability to bounce back from divorce. The problem with negative self-talk is we don’t even realize we’re doing it or that we can do something about it.

The good news is that your inner voice is NOT you. You’re actually the observer of your inner voice and have the power to redirect it to be nicer to yourself. And, the more kind you are to yourself on the inside, the better your life is on the outside. Studies show that positive self-talk leads to more confidence, increased motivation, and a better outlook on life.

Fortunately, by practicing a few simple techniques, you can re-wire yourself for a more positive and friendly inner world.

Step 1: Notice and Label


We judge ourselves so harshly for even the most minor things. The first step in taming your inner critic is simply to notice the content of the thoughts running through your head as you move through your day.

When you notice you’re having a worrying thought or a judgment about yourself, label it. “That’s a worry,” “That’s me being hard on myself,” or “Wow, I’m really good at worst-case scenarios.” Just spend a few days noticing and labeling.

Step 2: Decide to Be Kind


The next step is to decide that you will relate to yourself in a kinder and more supportive way. It’s not possible to eliminate negative thoughts, and that’s not the aim. The secret is getting in the habit of noticing how you talk to yourself and deciding to shift from constant critic and worrier to loving, positive and supportive fan.

Step 3: Talk Back!

It doesn’t take long to get good at noticing your inner critic’s voice. I’m not suggesting that this aspect of you is bad or needs to be wiped out. It’s probably trying to protect you in some way. Instead of resisting it, you can create a friendly relationship with it. Giving your inner critic a name and talking back can help you redirect the voice formerly known as “me.”

When she was a girl, one of my clients had a calico cat with an attitude named Jazz. She started to think of her inner critic as Jazz and would talk back when negative thoughts were swirling.

She’d say, “Thanks for listing all of the ways I could screw up, Jazz, but let’s think of three ways I can get it right,” and “Let’s ask different questions, Jazz. What would it look like if everything works out for the best?” And “You’re noisy today, Jazz. Let’s make some tea and count our blessings.”


The simple act of acknowledging your inner critic and understanding that you can talk to, befriend and redirect it can have a profound impact on your self-esteem, wellbeing and ability to move on from divorce. Becoming a fan of yourself and being loving with yourself is self-care of the highest order. Like anything worth doing, it takes practice. At first, it might feel weird and unnatural. But if you keep at it, redirecting to a more positive way of treating yourself will become a habit.

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