You Are So Stupid


Not you, by the way. You’re smart. But I’ve got something here.

We say the meanest things to ourselves. We do it under our breath quite often. Just a few days ago, I realized that I’ve been scrambling around looking for the right cable to plug into my video camera to do this import function, and I couldn’t find the right one. Out of hundreds of cables (they multiply in my house), I couldn’t find one to fit in the port.

DAYS later, I realize that the cable is fine. I’m trying to plug into the wrong port.

Oh, the curse words I said to myself. Many. Abundant curse words. Of course, I was happy that I’d fixed the problem, but so frustrated that I’d lost days to this, that I’d tried several things in frustration, that I spent another $20 on a cable that won’t plug into anything (yes, I can return it).

What You Say To Yourself Matters

The best book I ever read to help with self-esteem was titled (aptly enough) Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem (amazon affiliate link). In that book, I learned how to fire my inner critic and then I decided to hire an inner coach. The critic, you know all too well.

Your inner critic is the person who makes you feel bad about yourself before someone else sneaks in and does it for you. They tell you that your diet won’t work because you’ve already tried diets before. They tell you that you’re not all that attractive, and that he won’t like you, long before you’ve even worked on getting the date. In short, the inner critic is a real bastard.

My inner coach is pretty nice. He’s gruff sometimes, but in that “get shaking, Brogan” kind of way. There’s one really tricky catch. My inner critic voice comes naturally. We have it built in. The inner coach, I have to fake. I had to visualize him (he looks like a gym teacher), and I had to give him a voice (he’s a bit raspy, and now that I’m thinking about it, it’s basically Coach Bill Belichick of the Patroits, only working for me). And I have to really force him to say nice and encouraging things.

Negative Words Add Up

The thing is, when I don’t do that, I let the negative words get to me. It’s really easy to tell yourself that you’re stupid. Guess what? The more you tell yourself that, the more you’ll believe it. So instead, what could you say? “Wow, I’m frustrated, but I’m glad I solved that.” I guess that’s good enough for now.

Count Negative Words

Want to scare yourself? Take a little piece of paper and a pen and keep them handy all day. Every time you think of something negative to say to yourself, tally it with a mark. By the end of the day, I promise you that you’ll have 37 or so marks minimally. If you’re honest with yourself and mark every one, it might be closer to a few hundred. Now, would you take that from other people? Would you want to hang around with someone who says 200 negative things to you a day? Every day? I’m voting on no.

Fire Your Inner Critic. Hire an Inner Coach

You can do this all on your own. No one even has to know about it. You wouldn’t have known, if I didn’t tell you. Try it. Just in time for the holidays, let’s give it a go together. Shall we? runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Frankie Cooper

    The inner critic will tear down everything the inner coach try’s to build up if you’re not careful.

  • Bex Mountain

    I’ve been working on this for years, and it’s a constant work in progress. Thanks for the post.

  • Cory Hintz

    I agree with Ben, certainly I work in progress. Thanks for the post Chris, thanks for the book suggestion too.

  • matt searles

    Ok.. so like I have a serious problem with this.. like seriously. I’m currently in cognitive behavioral therapy for it.. on anti anxiety / depression medication.. and I’ve been prescribed meditation.. my self esteem issues are giant huge.. though not quite as bad as my anxiety issues. I mean it’s absolutely crippling.

    It’s bad enough that the places where I do have confidence.. it can be a struggle to fully embrace that.. like being afraid that it’s ego.. or that its a compensation for.. well the anxiety and poor self esteem issues…

    What I’m basically trying to do to combat this is.. well I guess 3 things.

    The first is.. well this constructs a kind of reality.. a concept of reality.. and so I sorta critically evaluate that reality.. and I have pretty deep philosophical tools to do that with anyway.. but sometimes it’s as simple as seeing logic errors.. or sometimes its more complex.. and sometimes you just say “well.. this is an illusion that I take as real right now.. and I’ll let it pass like a storm.”

    The second part of that is is the second thing.. it’s.. kind of a zen thing of living in the now.. never mind the noise of the head. All that really exists is this computer screen in front of me.. my fingers on the keyboard.. the coffee I’m sipping from.. that’s reality.. the idea in my head is an organization of reality that imbues it with certain meanings.. but by going to the now I can get out of that reality.. to some extent..

    Another thing I do… is I leave the issue that is constructing the problem.. which can be a little like trying to escape from reality.. but the point is to go to some place that’s a source of strength. Sometimes this can be.. hanging out with good friends… people who love you.. and that will counter whatever esteem issues are.. I mean I’ve done a good job with social media in creating a network of people who care about me..

    Another one is.. part of what has damaged me is that growing up I was always measured by other people’s yard sticks.. not really something that was appropriate to me.. so.. one of the things I’ll try to do is think about how I’m framing the way I’m looking at my self.

    So.. for instance one strength of mine is probably marketing.. but like.. I’m probably in no position to be taken seriously as a thought leader in the world of marketing.. but.. I can then jump off of that and.. I’m also a sound engineer.. among sound engineers.. I’m sorta.. well I can stand up among many a pro engineer and I’m.. not too far from where they are.. but.. I also am an electronic music producer.. and among them.. my engineering skills are probably top of the line.. and my synthesis and compositional skills are probably pretty high.. and I’m also a designer, animator, video artist, philosopher.. umm.. the list goes on and on and on..

    So if I look at the whole its like “holy crap, look at that!” And then you make a value proposition.. like in the world of marketing there are people who are more on the analytic side.. and then some that are more on the art / design side.. but none of them have the mix of stuff I have so.. so there’s a kind of holistic perspective that’s uniquely strong.. and wait a minute.. maybe I could be a kind of thought leader in that space..

    Or if you look at the world of music artist’s.. to be successful today you need to understand business and marketing.. and probably social media.. and not only that but if I was to do it all DIY I’m kinda in the pro leagues as far as each of the puzzle pieces of that game…

    And so wow.. now I’ve found strength.. confidence.. maybe now I can go back to the issue I was struggling with and take care of the problem.

    A final strategy is.. well Jungian. It basically means disengaging from fear and desire. Never mind the issues of the ego.. or of self esteem.. I mean that all comes down to fear and desire, doesn’t it? Lets see if we can’t let go of all those things and find the center point of the self.. of who we are.. and operate from there..

    So for instance.. I’ve been doing a lot of music production lately.. but running into all sorts of problems.. I’ve also been doing a lot of logo design / visual identity.. but running into all sorts of problems.. same is true for video production..

    The trouble is that good enough for me is too high a bar.. I want to be sooo good.. but.. do I need to be that good? Maybe for this or that picture in my head.. but not from the standpoint of the self.. and really.. what difference does it make as long as I’m committed to getting better.. I’ll eventually get there, right? And frankly.. most of the time? I’m way better then I realize.

    But I’ve been having trouble motivating myself.. I mean I have a project of redoing my visual identity.. some web site redesign, wordpress theme development.. and whatever.. huge technical challenges along the way..

    So now I’m like… ok.. an obstical I’m running into on the logo is that I don’t really know illustrator well enough.. so I’ll go do some online video illustrator courses.. and I’ll remove that barrier. It’s been about 3 days and I’ve progressed lightening fast.. and I’m now just screwing around trying to get that stuff implanted in my long term muscle memory.. and does it matter that the project is taking longer then I wanted as a result of this detour?

    Well I don’t know… a long freaking response.. but hopefully it has some kinda value somewhere..

  • commoncents

    Thanks Chris. In the words of the bright and insightful actor Meg Ryan:

    “I am so inadequate and I love myself.”

  • Vangile Makwakwa

    I love this post. A friend once said to me: what would you do if you heard someone tell a friend the things you say to yourself in anger. My answer was: I would be horrified. We do not understand the damage we do by telling ourselves these negative things every day. Words have power and repeat them often enough and they become truth and then beliefs that we operate from

  • Anonymous

    Love this Chris!

    I am one of those people that wakes up in the morning and says one positive thing about myself, so when the negativity starts to build up throughout the day, I remind myself of that one little thing. I know it sounds really lame, but it’s a thing that helps. I’ve battled poor self esteem for years and even though I have a lot to be proud of, it’s almost like the only thing that seems to build up over time are the negative things. As powerful as our own negativity can be, the positive things can have the same effect — only better.

  • Colorado Business Coach

    Awesome post Chris. I have been purging negativity from my life for several years, but I do still notice how critical I am to myself. Maybe it is time to purge the negative inner critic. Great advice for everybody. Let me add to help purge negativity start by eliminating the news: TV, radio and newspaper. Another easy to do task, but takes discipline.

  • Ryan Hanley


    This is a great article because it speaks to inner demons that plague us all. I hear the inner critic every time I pick up the phone to make a prospecting call… “Your not prepared enough” “You don’t have a strong relationship” “You don’t have enough products”. If I’m not on top of my game these voices can paralyze me…

    Then I take a big swig from my Dunkin Donuts coffee and yell “Kick-Ass!” in my head and get down to business…

    Crazy and corny but that is what it takes some days…


    Ryan H.

  • Angela Reinholz

    Gosh, I love this.
    Its hard to stay positive all the time, but I often find that the more positive I am, the more I get accomplished during the day. You hit the nail on the head with the fact that we are our own worse inner critic.
    Thank you for this.

    • Jonha Revesencio

      You are right Angela, it’s really difficult to be positive ALL the time but again you’re right about making things better by trying or striving to be one. We can indeed our worst critics because we thought it’s alright to curse at ourselves or belittle ourselves sometimes just because no one would be offended by that but wrong, we just demean our purpose and that’s just sad.

  • Kat Jaibur

    I love when you talk about the things we do in our heads that trip us up. Because that’s what is behind a lot (no, actually, ALL) of our actions.

    Now my one question is: Why just rely on an “inner coach”?

    There are a lot of real coaches out there who are very good at helping people shift negative thinking and limiting beliefs. It’s what we do! Coaching is not just for the lost souls. Lots of successful, talented people use a coach to help them take their game up a notch (or 12).

  • Jalpa29

    nice one and fully agree for experiace is same

  • Alyx Morgan

    Excellent blog, Chris! And a very eye-opening way of putting things.

    I’ll have to put that book on my Christmas wish list.

  • Alyx Morgan

    Excellent blog, Chris! And a very eye-opening way of putting things.

    I’ll have to put that book on my Christmas wish list.

  • Alyx Morgan

    Excellent blog, Chris! And a very eye-opening way of putting things.

    I’ll have to put that book on my Christmas wish list.

  • Alyx Morgan

    Excellent blog, Chris! And a very eye-opening way of putting things.

    I’ll have to put that book on my Christmas wish list.

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  • Josiespeaksup

    Oh, I always new my inner critic was there and try to be aware of him/her. (Must it be a her, if I’m a her?) I often talk myself into things, ie you’ve done it before, you’ve succeeded at this. . . . but it never it occurred to me to have an actual inner coach. I’m gonna get one poste-haste!

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  • Gary Jackman

    I agree with what Kat is saying about hiring a coach, I am a coach and I also have a coach.. My ‘inner coach’ is more of a bouncer who keeps guard. Yelling, YOU SHALL NOT PASS.. to thought of my imagination when they do not meet a test of courage, love or inspiration..

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