Navigating challenges, our inner critic, the ego and how to change it

Want to understand why we experience an ‘inner critic’ and why we struggle to be in a positive mindset? Also, how can you change this? (Especially during present times when there is so much negativity and uncertainty around!)

I listened to a podcast which featured Exhart Tolle recently and it inspired me to write this article.

Much of what Exhart spoke about I resonated with and is often what I share with my clients when I am supporting them through periods of change to help get them to a place of positivity, happiness, inner peace and clarity.

There is one thing that each of my clients have in common when they come to see me.

There is something they want to change.

However change can be very difficult. Thats why we get stuck in the same routines, habits and negative behaviours for years.

More often than not, humans won’t change unless they are faced with obstacles and adversity. However, every challenge is an opportunity for ‘waking up’.

What do I mean by waking up?

Very often, when we are faced with a challenge, it can push you more into negativity, understandably. A challenge can make you more unconscious. When we fall into our unconscious, we go onto automatic. A response from our past, so we essentially go asleep. We go into what I like to call a load of BS. A Big Snooze!

This can also push you more into the part of your mind called the ego. Your ego is the part of your identity that you consider your “self”. When this happens, conflict with others can then become magnified and this can then make you more deeply entrenched.

On the other hand, a challenge can force you to become more conscious. Rather than go into reactive mode and become even more unhappy or depressed, you can utilise the adversity in a positive way and use it as an opportunity to become more conscious (either on a personal level, or as a collective).

More on awakening

The ego is a mind made of self-personal narratives and your own internal thoughts that you identify with. Many often refer to this as the ‘inner critic’.

The word ego actually comes from the story of Narcissus, which originates from ancient greek mythology. This story is told, it was before the invention of mirrors. Narcissus was out and about one day. As he walked past a lake, he looked into the water and saw his own reflection. The story goes he was so fascinated with his own reflection, he fell in love with himself. Or rather to put it another way, he became obsessed with his own image.

This story lends itself to the ego needing some kind of superiority. It compares itself to others and has to be seen as having a superior identity (It seeks superiority and feels validated as a result). This is all done as an unconscious process.

It however never feels fulfilled there is always an underlying sense of insufficiency. “I am not enough”

However, this is just associated with a narrative in your mind, so the ‘inner critic’ which is connected to our own self image, or rather lack of self esteem.


Animals do not have this, that is why they are so happy and in the moment! They are not still feeling negative about the past, or in a state of worry or anxiety about the future, for something that hasn’t happened yet. They are present.

The self is mental construct. It’s not really who you are. Rather, it’s a set of re-occurring thoughts. So not our own thoughts, thought we may have been programmed by. For example, through others, society, or the media. We are in essence conditioned by our thoughts.

The majority of thoughts are under the surface, so in your unconscious mind. We are therefore in the main unconscious of our thought process and are in the continual grip of them! We are ASLEEP!

Waking up means to recognise that you are not who you are. You are merely a representation of thoughts and emotions you pick up elsewhere. Everything you interpret you do through the conditioned mind, which is the ego. When you are faced with adversity, the negativity of the ego is magnified and makes you more reactive and creates more suffering. 

Awakening is realising you are not your thoughts that go through your mind. This is awareness!

You are not the content of your mind.

Waking up can be vital so we can be more in the present moment and experience it as it is rather than being over run by thoughts that aren’t even ours!

What can you do to practice being in the moment? i.e letting go of the past or not worrying about the future about something that hasn’t even happened yet?

The present, ie the now is the only place you can be, but we spend most of our lives in either the past or the future.

I will explore some strategies you can learn in my next article, be sure to watch out for it!

If you’re interested to see how I can help you please reach out:

In the meantime, I invite you to claim your FREE Inner Power Mindset Mastery Tool HERE:

Janine is founder of Change for Success.

She is an experienced hypnotherapist, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and NLP practitioner. She holds a Masters degree in Psychology, is a published author and is the host of Success Mindset TV.

She is based in Manchester in the UK and works with clients both nationally and internationally in person and online. She delivers private sessions, workshops, training and consultancy in the areas of mental health, mindset, stress management and resilience.

Contact her via the form below to book in for a FREE Consultation.

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