How to overcome your inner critic

Dr Anna McLaughlin

Negative narratives are all around us, dictating how we should behave, what we can achieve and who we can be. But what if we could break free from these stories and create our own positive narratives instead?


Negative narratives result from our ‘inner critic’, which is the voice inside our head telling us negative stories about ourselves. A negative narrative might be playing in your head and commenting on your behaviour and thoughts without you even realising it. These negative narratives can hold us back, make us feel alone, and skew our perception of the world.


One of the easiest ways to overcome negative narratives is through a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) technique called the ‘Three C Method’. According to Psychology Today, the Three C Method helps us become aware of our automatic negative thoughts and begin learning how to change them. Over time, practising the Three C Method can promote more balanced thinking and improve your ability to cope with stress.


The Three C Method

The Three C Method is a 3-step technique to help you catch, challenge and change negative thoughts. By doing so, you can gradually transform your negative narrative into a more helpful, positive style of thinking. Overcome your inner critic by following these steps:

1) Catch it

The first step involves ‘catching the negative thought’ and becoming aware of the narrative behind it. When you first start doing this, you might not be able to catch the negative thought straight away. Instead, work backwards from negative emotions and try to pinpoint the negative thought that preceded the feeling.

For example, you might have been telling yourself:

●   I’ll never be good enough

●   I’ve failed again

●   Everyone else is doing better than me

2) Challenge it

Once you’ve caught the negative thought and become aware of why it’s happening, it’s time to challenge it.

Try exploring how true-to-life and logical your beliefs are, and gently ask yourself:

●   Is this thought or belief accurate?

●   Is this thought helpful right now?

As you keep practising, you’ll become aware that your negative narratives are rarely accurate or helpful.

3) Change it

Now it’s time to change the negative thought into something more helpful and positive. It’s important to remember that this step isn’t about changing yourself. Instead, it’s about gradually changing your inner narrative. Consider what helpful and kind advice you might offer to a friend or family member in the same position, and then show yourself the same level of compassion!


Using the Three C Method can help you develop a more positive thinking style that will help you cope better with stress and increase your self-esteem.

If a negative narrative has been playing in your head for many years, it can be challenging to break this habit.

As you practice the Three C Method, you will gradually use more positive and motivational self-talk.

Over time, you should begin noticing an improvement in your mood and confidence levels!