A Fun Tool: Send Your Inner Critic on a Vacation!

Person waving goodbye to cruise ship sending inner critic on a vacation!

What if your inner critic took a vacation? Consider for a moment: How would you feel? How would your experience of life be different? What would you do differently?

How this idea came about

So, one of the things that has most helped my personal growth has been to pay attention to how I feel.

And about 12 years ago (while exploring how I could ease back into my heavy workload after a month off work), my life-coach suggested my inner critic could take a vacation. And my heart leapt at the idea. It felt fantastic! So I paid attention.

Where did I send my critic?

Well, the visual that spontaneously popped into my mind was waving my inner critic off on a Caribbean Cruise. It would be high end, all inclusive, sunshine, relaxation, good food, with plenty of distractions and entertainment. And most importantly, far, far away! It makes me smile just to think about it.

But if I’m honest, I was scared too

Because at the time it was hard to imagine life without my critic. My inner critic is what drove me and kept me going. But I knew it wasn’t healthy.

Did I really need to be pushed and driven all the time? Would I not achieve more if I approached everything with a light and joyful heart, instead of feeling shoulds, musts, guilt and pressure?

You bet I could!

But, of course it’s not as easy as it sounds

For example, we all know too much sugar/alcohol/caffeine/fat/salt is “bad” for us. But switching to healthier options are often a struggle when our habits and deeply ingrained survival instincts are saying “gimme gimme gimme!”.

Our inner critic is also a habitual, survival technique, one we developed to stay safe, loved and succeed in a competitive, critical world. It’s like a parent who wants the best for you, but only has one way to show it—through worrying, fault-finding and criticising.

So, taming our inner critic is challenging work. However. There are techniques to give us breathing space when we need it—and sending your inner critic on a vacation is one!

What if Your Inner Critic took a Vacation?

So, what does your heart say to the idea of sending your inner critic on a holiday?

Here are some questions to inspire you further:

  • How would you be different? And what would you do differently if your inner critic was on vacation?
  • What would it be like to truly trust and believe in yourself: your own choices and decisions?
  • How would it feel to act without second-guessing yourself before, or nit-picking afterwards?
  • How would life feel without a judge in your head evaluating everything?
Here’s How to Send Your Critic on a Vacation! beach with umbrella, deck chair, surf board etc for inner critic's vacation

What do I need? Grab your journal and write—or simply use your imagination.

So, are you ready?

Step 1) Plan their vacation

Some questions to help:

  • What/where did you think of? Is it warm, cool? Exotic or familiar?
  • How will they get there?
  • Lastly, what kinds of things will they do? Will they be relaxing or exploring? What will be the best bits of the vacation?

Tip: send them somewhere they can’t easily or quickly get home—somewhere they’ll feel safe and happy, somewhere beautiful.

IMPORTANT: When you send your critic on vacation—do it with genuine joy and not anger. And if you can’t manage joy, use a kind, yet strong (Fiercely Kind!) energy.

Step 2) Away they go!

Take a moment now to imagine the whole process.

You can spend a couple of minutes doing this, but ideally at least 5-10 minutes because the longer you spend the more easier it will be for your critic to see the benefits and let go!

For each  of the 3 stages What can your critic see around them, hear, smell, touch? How will they feel?

  1. Start by saying goodbye to your critic. Imagine it actually happening! Will you give them a hug, wave them off with a big smile?
  2. Next imagine their journey. Maybe you’ll let them travel first class and enjoy the journey! Will they get a delicious meal, glass of fizz and a massage on the way?
  3. Take a few minutes to imagine a typical day on their vacation.

Well done! Now your critic is on vacation.

  • Finally, take a moment to reflect: How do you feel now?

How to use this idea?

Well, every morning, take a few moments to visualise your critic on its vacation, having fun.

Then throughout the day, when critical thoughts come up, simply remember your critic is on vacation. Visualise your critic far away from you on its fabulous holiday—having fun. It’s not here, so you can’t be hearing it. You can do what you like, when you like and how you like. Do it!

What to do when the critic (inevitably) sticks its nose in?

Great question! So, it’s a good idea to prepare your responses for when your critic might pop up.

And remember that as your critic is on vacation, they can only call or message you…

1) When you mess up!

First, of course you’ll make a mistake at some point! It’s unavoidable.

And then your inner critic may phone you from that cruise (or wherever you sent them!) and say something like:

  • “I knew that something would go wrong without me there to watch over you. I’m coming home right now!”

And you’ll need to say fiercely, but kindly:

  • “No! Stay right where you are. I’m learning to do this for myself. Just go and enjoy yourself.”
  • “Stop. Right. There! I HAVE this! I’m learning to trust me. And anyway, I don’t have the cash for your flight, so go and have fun!”

Do those ideas work for you? If not, what could you say to firmly but kindly ensure they don’t interfere?

2) When your critic forgets they’re on holiday

Second, you’ll also need a strategy for when your inner critic forgets it’s on vacation and starts sticking its nose into your life again.

And my strategy when this happens is to say:

  • “Sorry, I can’t hear you, you’re breaking up!” Then I make some static noise.
  • “But don’t worry, I’ve got this, you go enjoy your holiday!”Some more static noise.
  • And then I’ll mentally cut to a picture of them on that big ocean liner, relaxing and having fun.

Other ideas could be to ‘mute’ or ‘block’ them from your phone and messaging apps while they’re away.

How would these ideas work for you? If not, what could be your strategy instead?

Wrap-upFierce Kindness Logo

Our critic is a part of us. But it is not who we are. And although our critic takes itself very seriously, we don’t need to.

So sending our critic on a vacation, and playing with visualisations as we’ve done above, is a fun way to deal with this persistent party-pooper.

And remember that while your inner critic is away, there is more room for you to be you! More room for you to run the show, enjoy and take charge of your life free of guilt, shame and worry.

It’s also a great opportunity to practice and develop being your kind, wise self.

So, why not try it for a month, and then when your inner critic gets back from vacation you can have a big chat about what’s next…

If you liked this article with how to send your inner critic on a vacation, try:

Image of Person waving off their inner critic on a vacation on a cruise ship by Maridav via Shutterstock

Image of Illustrated beach scene by Olya Haifisch via Shutterstock


  1. Betsy Reade Creech

    Do you ever use this process with a small group? For example, in my role as the director of talent, I support two high functioning very busy teams and atttend their bi-weekly team meetings. I’m exploring ways to drop in an exercise, message, topic on a regular basis and thought this one might be fun to do, but maybe not as the first one!

  2. Virginia

    Such a great idea, thanks for sharing. Reposted on LI and forwarded to several folks.
    I can see using it for other ‘issues’ we want to set aside for a while.

    • Emma-Louise Elsey

      Hi Virginia <3
      I'm so glad you found this helpful! And thank-you for reposting and taking the time to comment. That is a great compliment 🙂
      Emma-Louise x


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