Does your inner critic work overtime during the holiday season? Explore the warning signs below to discover if you’re experiencing an Inner Critic Holiday Attack.

santa chimney


  • How will I handle difficult conversations?
  • What do I do when my family doesn’t understand or respect me?
  • Which events must I attend/avoid?
  • Should I invite someone else to shield me from negative people?
  • How can I heal old wounds?
  • What should I pay for?
  • How do I deal with painful in-law issues?
  • How can I avoid getting in the middle of other people’s issues with each other or playing “rescuer?”
  • How can I gain approval and avoid disapproval?
  • What should I wear to either fit in or look good?
  • How can I be my Authentic Self when people pressure me to meet their expectations?
  • How can I avoid hurting a family member’s feelings?
  • How can I interact with people of different faiths or beliefs who argue to prove their way is the right way?
  • How can I deal with traditions I’ve outgrown or my kids don’t like?
  • How do I stop comparing my achievements or appearance to other family members and be pleased with my own life?
  • How can I be tolerant and compassionate with people I don’t like without sacrificing my principles?
  • How can I stop having an agenda that someone I care about make a positive change that isn’t their choice?
  • How can I manage inappropriate or embarrassing family behavior and expectations?
  • I’ve worked hard to change a bad habit. How do I make sure I don’t backslide when around my family?
  • How do I gain acceptance from my date or new partner’s family and friends?


  • How do I reach a positive outlook about a required business event I don’t want to attend?
  • What should I wear?
  • When should I arrive?
  • Who should I go with?
  • How can I have fun without sacrificing my professional image?
  • How much should I eat/drink?
  • How can I stand out or blend in, for the most positive effect?
  • How can I network at an event that’s supposed to be social?
  • How can I avoid inflammatory or embarrassing conversations?
  • How can I be my Authentic Self around people who don’t know, respect or understand me?
  • How do I handle dilemmas about giving or receiving gifts?
  • How can I disengage from someone in a powerful position who is drunk or offensive?
  • How do I make a good impression without brownnosing?
  • How can I make sure I don’t embarrass myself?
  • How can I stop comparing my appearance or social skills to other people?

company party


  • I don’t know how to meet other people’s needs when they conflict with mine.
  • How can I set and maintain boundaries during the “season of giving and good will?”
  • How can I keep my kids happy without introducing unrealistic life and holiday expectations?
  • How can I please people with holiday cheer, even though I’m exhausted and stressed?


  • How much should I spend? I don’t want to look either cheap or extravagant.
  • What presents are “must-do’s?” Which are “want to’s?”
  • How personal a gift should I buy for a new personal relationship or a boss?
  • How will other people perceive me if I don’t buy a gift?


Which of the above questions created the strongest dread, anxiety or even a knot in the pit of your gut? Do you see how our expectations and “shoulds” invite our inner critics to taunt us? Our insecurities and the ways we drag the past into the present encourage our inner critics to blast us with fear-driven comments like:

  • “I should do _____ because that’s expected.”
  • “They won’t like me if I ______ or if I don’t _______.”
  • “I’m not good enough unless I change or do what it takes to fit in.”
  • “I must meet everyone else’s needs and expectations, even if I violate my principles.”


Your holidays don’t have to wind-up your worrywart and stress you nonstop. Would you prefer joyful, relaxing holidays and being loved, supported and respected for being Your Authentic Self? Discover how to set boundaries and meet your needs so you can contribute your special INNER gifts and talents in an authentic way. If you’re ready to replace fear, insecurity, stress and self-doubt with greater confidence, joy and success during the holiday season, enjoy the proven tips below.

Set and Maintain Boundaries

Your inner critic has convinced many of you that setting boundaries will require being rude. During the perfectionistic push to achieve “the perfect holiday,” most people forget that healthy boundaries benefit everyone concerned. All of us need to know where we stand with each other and how we define acceptable behavior. If you’re honest about your needs, I’ll respect you. I’ll also trust that you’ll be honest about other parts of our relationship. Your truthfulness will create authentic interactions. Instead of stumbling around, trying to ignore a bloated elephant lying in the living room, we’ll connect at a core level, even when we disagree.

Holiday reminder: Establish your Not-to-do list. Do not agree to carry more than your share of the holiday load. If you agree or are required to be around someone whose behavior makes you cringe like you’re hearing fingers scratch a chalkboard, calm your inner critic immediately. My clients set a firm intention like: “I’ll stay for ___ minutes and give this person my full attention. Then I’ll stand my ground and politely depart / go into another room / take a walk, etc.” These clients tell me their inner critic never has an opportunity to hammer them with nasty comments because they’ve owned their power to manage their own lives.

Discover the Benefits of Strengths-Based Language

When your inner critic’s putdowns deplete your confidence and self-esteem and escalate your anxiety, notice the power of small shifts in your self-talk. Examples:

  • Change “I’ll never be accepted” to “I am the one person whose total acceptance I need.”
  • Change “I have to please other people” to “It’s important to act with integrity and do what feels right to me.”

Reduce Your Stress With Humor

Most of us act like we have delight-deficiency disorder during the season of joy. Since laughter dramatically decreases stress, remind yourself to chuckle at the ways we adults have conditioned ourselves to scurry around with furrowed brows as if Santa were judging our performance nonstop.

Your inner critic will calm down when you say “No thank you” to perfectionism. Just remind yourself, “None of us will ever be perfect. Being perfect would be so boring!”

Talk it Out

Express your needs to other people instead of expecting them to mind-read your stress and become a fairy godmother. Since altruism feeds the giver even more than the receiver, you may be surprised when people you would never have expected to help you volunteer to lift your heavy load.

Please remember: When you say, “I need for you to help me _____” you’re saying, “I’m worthy of assistance.” You’ll feel empowered. Your inner critic’s negative self-talk will shift from “My needs don’t matter” to “I deserve help, too.”

Use Your Intuition to Stop “Shoulding” on Yourself

When you hear self-talk peppered with “I should,” immediately stop and ask yourself:

  • “What do I really want to do?”
  • “What action will be the most consistent with My Authentic Self?”
  • “How will acting in personal integrity benefit or inspire other people?”

If you’re unclear how to access your intuition when your inner critic attacks, read the related section of the book, “Conquer Your Inner Critic.” This tool is so important because your intuition will uncover the illusions your inner critic is trying to convince you are true.

Soothe Yourself with Self-Care

Constantly burning the candle at both ends guarantees that you’ll become crabby or ill. If you don’t want to sniffle through a chunk of your holiday season, get your Zzzzzzs. If you can’t find time to get a massage or take a walk, sit quietly for just a few minutes and imagine that you’re totally relaxed. Since your mind doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what you imagine, you can easily flood your body and spirit with blissful feelings of relaxation. You’ll then enjoy a calm, confidence that will melt your inner critic’s flame like cold water on a fire.

You can also elevate your mood with aromatherapy when you’re busy. Since lavender calms and bergamot stimulates the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, both of these can shrink your inner critic to a teeny, tiny voice you can hardly hear.

Boost Your Self-Compassion and Self-Acceptance

Whether you’re worried about personal or professional holiday events and gift giving, it’s doubtful anyone else will judge you as harshly as you judge yourself. My clients are always amazed to discover, as soon as they make peace with their inner critic and stop judging themselves, the people whose criticism they most feared, including family, bosses, coworkers, parents, partners, children and clients, stopped hurling negative comments.

If self-acceptance, relationships or listening to your inner voice challenge you, your inner critic will continue to plague you. Read the bestselling book, “Conquer Your Inner Critic.” Hire a certified coach to help you transform your inner critic into an inner cheerleader. You’ll be so thrilled when other people radiate your bold new level of self-love back to you.

© 2013. Excerpted with permission from the Bestselling Book, “Conquer Your Inner Critic” by Doris Helge, Ph.D., named “One of the Top Ten Coaches in America.” With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Doris has a proven track record of helping you Create Your New Life Story. Download your free ebooks and see helpful videos at


Author's Bio: 

Visit now. Claim free ebooks and videos so you can conquer your inner critic, discover happiness at work and turn painful experiences into personal empowerment. Doris Helge, Ph.D., “Your Joy on the Job Coach,” is author of #1 Bestselling Books, including “Joy on the Job,” “Conquer Your Inner Critic” and “Transforming Pain Into Power.”

© 2013. Permission to reprint this article is granted if the article is in tact, with proper credit given. All reprints must state, "Reprinted with permission by Doris Helge, Ph.D. Originally published in the #1 Bestselling book, "Joy on the Job."