Are you listening to your inner coach or your inner critic? Guest post from Mari L. McCarthy #WhoRUBook

inner critic

Here at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet, I post about health from a diet and lifestyle perspective. However, I wanted to change things up a bit and address health from a mental and emotional aspect. That’s where today’s guest post from Mari L. McCarthy comes in. Mari is known as the Journaling Therapy Specialist and is the founder of Journaling for the Health of It™.

In her book, Who Are You? How to Use Journaling Therapy to Know and Grow Your Life, Mari presents a gentle process for self discovery through journaling. She also addresses financial health in her latest publication, Your Money Matters! Use Journal Writing Therapy to Get Financially Fit Now.

After reading her blog, Create Write Now, I was so intrigued with Mari’s journaling methods that I purchased her book, Peace of Mind and Body: 27 Days of Journaling to Health & Happiness on Kindle. You can check out her ebooks such at 53 Weekly Writing Retreats: How to Use Your Journal to Get Healthy Now and other materials in her store.

inner coach

Your inner coach or your inner critic: which one to believe?

Inside every one of us there's both a coach and a critic. Knowing which one is the best teacher in any given moment can be tricky.

A coach is someone who helps you get better at something and a critic is someone who delights in dissing you, right? Not exactly. Because even though we might sometimes define the roles that way, it's equally true that a coach is someone who drives you hard through grueling activities, and a critic is one who helps you make good decisions.

As a journaler, I spend a lot of time with these two characters, and I have to say that their banter keeps me alert, and enlightens me regularly.

My inner coach is so encouraging. She reassures me and bolsters my confidence. My inner critic shows me truths I would rather avoid, and calls me to improve. So they are both useful to my life.

There can be times, though, when balancing the input from these two can be mind boggling. Sometimes my inner coach challenges me. She can tell when I'm lying to myself, and she doesn't rest until I get straight. Here's an example.

I work at my desk all day and don't get enough exercise. I try to stay motivated to take a walk at lunchtime. On days when I just don't feel like walking, my inner coach gets really quiet at first, but then she launches a series of lectures and gentle prods trying to get me up off my butt.

Meanwhile, my inner critic is snickering in the corner about what a baby I am. Stuck in the middle between them, I just want my mother.

Or how about when I am obsessed with the thought of that chocolate cake in the kitchen? I want it with my entire being. My inner critic is silent for a few minutes and then she starts talking about how she knew I couldn't stick to my diet, she's not in the least surprised that I'm giving in again.

And my inner coach? She's telling me to get a grip, take a deep breath, drink some tea. She says, you're okay, you can have a piece of cake tomorrow, don't worry.

My reaction? I want to go eat that cake right now so the critic will hush up. But I do not want to betray my coach, whom I love.

It's a quandary. Who should I listen to?

When you write it out like this, it's really clear who you should listen to. In the moment of craving, though, you're truly torn.

Mari L McCarthyThat's why using a journal as the intermediary between me, my inner coach, and my inner critic is a great solution. Seeing it in black-and-white (or purple-and-white, or black-and-tan, or whatever is your style) is how I put the advice of the critic and coach to best use.

In my journal, my options come clear. Within its pages I organize these insistent inner helpers so that I can make reasonable progress. My journal lets me be the best that I can be.

Learn more about Mari L. McCarthy at Create Write Now.

8 thoughts on “Are you listening to your inner coach or your inner critic? Guest post from Mari L. McCarthy #WhoRUBook

  1. Pingback: Cope with holiday depression by journaling | This Mama Cooks! On a Diet™

  2. Kim White

    Mari – you’ve given me an idea! I’m going to draw what my inner critic looks like in my journal (think middle-aged high school gym coach, chewing gum, wearing sweats, a baseball hat that sits too high on his head, whistle around his neck, big insensitive jerk) and then I’ll add the things he says around the picture of him. Then I’ll draw what I want him to look and sound like – (probably a mix of Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra). I will morph him into the coach I want, not the critic.


  3. Mari

    We’re complex creatures. We’re carrying around all the thoughts, feelings, memories we’ve had since forever and we’ve mixed up and stuffed the good, bad and ugly way down into our cells and psyche. Through Journaling, we’re sorting through all the craziness and negativity. Since we created these inner critics, we can do anything we want with them. So you can hit her upside her head, use your art to express your anger or whatever you choose. When mine gets out of line (which, after mega doses of journal writing happens less and less often now), I tell him to go play in traffic.
    It’s really challenging to create an Inner Coach because we’ve been believing our inner critics for so long thinking we’re not talented, smart, artistic, whatever. We’re so used to giving into our fears and other hypercritical habits. With lots of journaling, we start recognizing our power and we accept that we are in charge of us. With our Inner Coach, we can train our inner critics to become star team players. Your forgiveness and positive feedback will shock them at first but they’ll learn to love it. Journaling is a great way to get the conversation started and keep the communication lines open with inner critics and inner coaches!

  4. Kim White


    Lately I have grown tired of my inner coach’s nagging. I want to punch her in the face sometimes! LOL. You talked about loving your inner coach. How can I get from a place of anger and resentment to accepting my coach? What good does the inner critic do for me?

  5. Mari

    Anne-Marie, thank you for hosting me. What a delicious site. I’m journaling about eating better and voila the universe introduces us. Bon Appetit!


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