Embrace Your Inner-Critic to Get on With Your Work

No You Can’t … Yes, You Can

Jorge Giraldo
Inspired Writer
3 min readJun 25, 2020


Illustration courtesy of Claudia Rueda

Our self-preservation instinct is one of the biggest factors that interferes with getting work done. Manifested as the fight or flight response, it served our ancestors well when faced with the possibility of becoming some predator’s next meal. But it is mostly useless today, at least as far as it relates to our creative endeavors.

Most of us encounter the voice in our head, our inner-critic, or the saboteur — as we call it in coaching — when we enter new or unknown territories in our lives or our work. It creates fear and urges us to run for our lives. Artistic creation, career changes, relationships or daily workouts are common examples of where we may find it lurking.

The saboteur is easy to recognize: it’s the voice that reminds us of all the bad things that “might happen” if we move forward with our plans.

In writing for example, we worry about rejection, damage to our reputation, bad comments, harsh criticism, or maybe we simply dread the sound of crickets after we publish our work.

This natural tendency to imagine and amplify the possible negative consequences of whatever we do is called negativity bias. And it also applies to our past: we remember failure or rejection more vividly than praise and success.

So we freeze, we don’t move forward, we procrastinate or we don’t do anything. And we feel frustration, again and again.

Many of us are not conscious of these fears. They are always there, but they often hide behind a long and quite universal list of excuses led by one of the most common: “I’m too busy”.

A quick look at our lives will probably remind us that if we add up the time we spend watching online videos, streaming series, browsing social media or playing games on our smartphones, we’ll probably find quite a reasonable amount of time to do what we need to really do.

Then, when we do find the time, it will have to go into our calendar or the work will not get done. We must treat our calendar as a sacred space where we put what matters most to us. And of course, once the excuse is gone and the task comes up in our schedule, we will have to confront our saboteur again in full force.

Facing the Saboteur: a good strategy to minimize its power is to visualize failure with intent, facing your worst fears. You’ll probably realize that none are as bad as you imagined in the first place.

The reality is that most people won’t actually care if your work is good or bad, most people won’t even get to see what you have done.

And yes, some will actually appreciate your work.

What matters most is that you will feel great, because you will have delivered something out into the world, something that’s yours. You will feel satisfaction because you will have won the battle against “Resistance”, as Steven Pressfield calls it in his book The War of Art, at least this time around.

You should enjoy the feeling, because tomorrow the saboteur will be back and you will have to face it again, acknowledge it, and then put it aside in order to do your work.

And this will happen again, and again.

But you will prevail and your work will get better over time, with consistent practice and discipline.

You will be okay.



Jorge Giraldo
Inspired Writer

Executive, life, and business coach. Ex people manager at Google. Helping turn the unexpected into a positive transformation. jorgegiraldocoaching.com