Join the mailing list for weekly wisdom and updates.

7 Common Mantras: What is YOUR Inner Critic’s Mantra?


Last week, I talked about our Mongers aka Inner Critics and answered the question:  Why is it always winning? and gave a brief overview of how to deal with our Mongers. Today, I want to dive a little deeper…into what that means and specifically into the key step of building awareness of our Mongers.

There are a couple of themes I want you to remember when it comes to Mongers.

  1. Their intention is to not evil. Their intention is to protect us and keep us safe.  Safe from making a mistake, disappointing someone or getting hurt.
  2. Their method of enforcing this intention is the problem. They use shame, belittling, and berating which is not helpful and, unfortunately, ends up making us feel worse.

Usually, Mongers are put into place when we are kids. It could be something as major as being smacked across the face for lying by an abusive parent. Or something as little as being corrected by a teacher for crossing against the light. The HOW, your Monger, got there is not as important as WHAT it is afraid of.

Our Mongers are basically bullies. And as with all bullies, they are acting our of fear. Fear that we will be criticized by a boss, fear that we will look stupid, or fear that we will be imperfect. When we try something new or take a risk (no matter how small), our mongers get scared for us and resort to the only methods they know which is to be shaming, belittling and mean. So although their exterior is TOUGH and NASTY their interior is sensitive and soft.

When we go after our Mongers using their methods, it rarely works. It rarely works to tell your Monger, to “Shut Up” because our Mongers (as much as we hate to admit it) are a piece of us that although well-intentioned treat us poorly. Our job is to calm down that part of us just like we would a misbehaving child. We wouldn’t shame a child into submission, so we aren’t going to shame ourselves into submission.

To determine WHAT our Mongers are most afraid of we have to start building awareness.  Noticing when our Mongers come out and play the most. There tend to be some common areas where our Mongers live.

There tend to be some common areas where our Mongers chime in with their Monger Mantra.  Below are the types of Mongers I see most frequently, their belief and their common mantras. Within each Monger’s mantra there is a kernel (usually very, very small) of truth and so I have included your compassionate response to the monger and where appropriate acknowledging the kernel of truth.


Monger’s Belief:  I can protect you by making sure you always get it right.

Monger’s Mantra: You have to get it done perfectly.” “Mistakes are for losers.” “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it.”

Your Compassionate Truth: Being Perfect would be awesome, but it is impossible.There is no right way. Learning from my mistakes can help me grow and become stronger.

Keeping Up with the Jones:

Monger’s Belief: I can protect you by making sure you are always keeping up. To find the measuring stick to success, you have to look around and see what others are doing.

Monger’s Mantra: “Look at so and so, you will never be as cool as her.” “So and So has it all figured out, too bad you will never be like her.”

Your Compassionate Truth: Looking at other people can give me new ideas/inspiration for my life. But comparing my insides to someone else’s outsides will be an accurate image.

Task Junkie:

Monger’s Belief: I can protect you by keeping you on task. The only way to keep others from seeing how lazy you are is to stay in perpetual motion.

Monger’s Belief: “You are a lazy, stupid, procrastinating fool, so you had better get everything done, or THEY will find out.”

Your Compassionate Truth:  I am not a lazy person. Finishing the to-do list will never satisfy me because there will always be more to do. I am more motivated by celebrating my small successes rather than always falling short.

Impulse Controller:

Monger’s Belief: I can protect you by making sure you don’t engage in any indulgent behavior.  Without me, you would eat everything in sight, drink everything in site or spend all your money. I am here to protect you from yourself.

Monger’s Belief: “You are a fat, alcoholic, broke loser who requires a lot of shame to keep you and your impulses in line.”

Your Compassionate Truth:  Yes, sometimes I over indulge, but that doesn’t make me a fat loser. It is a sign that I need to get curious about what I am trying to run from in my life. Overindulgence is not a reason to beat myself up.  It is a red flag that shows me I need some extra love somewhere because I am trying to fill a hole with food or shopping.

People Pleaser:

Monger’s Belief: I can protect you my making sure everyone likes you.  So if that requires running, yourself ragged, overanalyzing every situation to make sure others are happy or beating yourself up for being inconsiderate so be it.

Monger’s Belief: “You can only find peace when other people are happy.”

Your Compassionate Truth: I do get a high from pleasing other people, but I know that pleasing everyone else to the detriment of myself will not make me happy. I need to take care of myself, and those that love me will understand that.

Vigilance Guru

Monger’s Belief: The world is unsafe, and you will always be hurt so my job is to keep you safe and protected. I will always scan the world for threats and constantly tell you the bad things that will happen

Monger’s Belief: “Everything you do is dangerous, less risk=more reward” “Your best bet is to stay small and safe.”

Your Compassionate Truth: Yes the world is unsafe. But I don’t want to live in constant fear. Embracing measured risk is the only way to live an engaged life.

Mistaker Keeper

Monger’s Belief: I can protect you by never forgetting all the mistakes you have made in the past and reminding you of them. By guilting you for everything, you have ever done wrong you won’t make that same mistake again.

Monger’s Mantra “Remember that time you….”

Your Compassionate Truth: Mistakes happen because I am human, and all I can do is admit my mistake, ask for forgiveness, forgive myself and move on.

Over the next week pay attention to your Monger’s messages.  Just notice how often your Monger chimes in and how it makes you feel. Do they fall into one of these categories? Or do your Mongers have other themes?

Want some help dealing with your Mongers? Learn about working with me one-on-one or in my small group program: The Live Happier Deep Dive.

Want to talk? sign up for a free 30-minute phone session


***Special thanks to John Hain for the photo above—check out his website:

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.