Fear of failure can get internalized and bind individuals to deep anxiety and despair. High-achieving people have a particularly hard time muting their self-critic. Inner critic refers to an inner voice that judges, criticizes, or demeans a person whether or not the self-criticism is objectively justified.  A highly active inner critic can take a toll on one’s emotional well-being and self-esteem.

Working with a professional to help you manage intrusive thoughts that interfere with functioning is highly recommended. The most effective treatment approach comes from the positive psychology model. This approach will often focus on the challenging the Top 3 ways that trigger your negative beliefs and inner critic by:

  1. Quieting toxic inner voices that can drive shame. 
  2. Removing harmful rigid “I am …,” “People are …,” and “The world is …” statements.
  3. Gaining insight on how dysfunctional assumptions and negative core belief can be relentless and destructive.

An effective approach uses a cognitive behavioral model (CBT) to decrease and disempower the inner critic.  The following tool is often used in conjunction with positive psychology. 

                                               Dysfunctional Thought Record        
This worksheet is especially helpful for people who struggle with negative thoughts and need to figure
out when and why those thoughts are most likely to pop up. Learning more about what provokes certain
automatic thoughts makes them easier to address and reverse.

This Dysfunctional Thought Record Worksheet is divided into 7 columns:
1. On the far left, there is space to write down the Date and Time a dysfunctional thought arose.
2. The second column is where the Situation is listed. The user is instructed to describe the event that
led up to the dysfunctional thought in detail.
3. The third column is for the Automatic Thought. This is where the dysfunctional automatic thought
is recorded, along with a rating of belief in the thought on a scale from 0% to 100%.
4. The next column is where the Emotion or emotions elicited by this thought are listed, also with a
rating of intensity on a scale from 0% to 100%.
5. The fifth column is labeled “Cognitive Distortion.” This column is where the user will identify which
cognitive distortion(s) they are suffering from with regard to this specific dysfunctional thought,
such as all-or-nothing thinking, filtering, jumping to conclusions, etc.
6. The second-to-last column is for the user to write down Alternative Thoughts that are more
positive and functional to replace the negative one.
7. Finally, the last column is for the user to write down the Outcome of this exercise. Were you able
to confront the dysfunctional thought? Did you write down a convincing alternative thought? Did
your belief in the thought and/or the intensity of your emotion(s) decrease

The link to the worksheet below has part 1 and part 2 of the worksheet:

Dysfunctional-Thought-Record.pdf (b-cdn.net)

Lauren F. White, LCPC