The Magazine April 2024

Critical thinking

Posted 13th March 2024

Alison Buttery explains how to manage your inner critic and silence those damaging negative comments


Most of us have an inner critic, a voice inside our head that tells us negative messages about all manner of things going on in our lives.

It’s not surprising, then, that our riding skills and abilities often come in for harsh judgement because, quite often, that inner critic likes to tell us we’ll never be good enough or will never achieve a certain goal. This then creates negative feelings, which, in turn, lead to anxiety and self-doubt.

The voice inside

It’s normal to have an inner critic, but it’s also important to learn how to deal with it so it doesn’t stop you from improving or believing in yourself. You can manage your inner critic by talking back to it with positive thoughts, reminding yourself of your progress, asking for help when you need it and remembering that even experienced riders make mistakes and that it’s okay to do so.

Top tip

Managing your inner critic takes time and practice, so be patient with yourself and seek support from trusted friends, family or professionals if needed.

Tough talking

The inner critic can be really hard on you and it usually starts in childhood. As we grow up, we hear all sorts of messages from the people around us – parents, teachers, friends – who tell us what we should do, how we should act, or what’s right or wrong. They might even criticise us when we make mistakes.

Brains are like sponges, especially when we’re young, so we soak up all these comments and they start to shape how we think about ourselves. If we hear too much negativity, our inner critic might become even louder and harsher.

When you add to this the expectations society has about how we look, what we do, how much money we make, or how successful we are, our inner critic can start shouting if we decide we don’t measure up. So, if we’re going to feel more positive and resilient, it’s time to change how we talk to ourselves.

Did you know?

Learning to challenge and silence your inner critic can help you feel better about yourself and allow you to go after your dreams with more confidence.

Alison shares more advice on how to manage your inner critic in April Horse&Rider – pick up your copy today!


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