We all have an inner critic, some louder than others. After years of self-work and time as a physician, Cindy Tsai was ready to heal her inner critic and help other women take holistic steps to heal theirs. Learn more about her tips and strategies for quieting your own inner critic.
SDS: Tell us a bit about your background and how you decided to become an integrative life coach.
CINDY TSAI: I remember wanting to be a physician ever since I was young. My dad was a surgeon and I was exposed to medicine from a young age. Because my parents didn’t plan to have me, I always wanted to achieve and prove my worth. I worked hard and completed training at top schools and was so relieved when I finally started working as a primary care physician.
However, after a few years, I realized I wanted to do more. I didn’t want to just prescribe medication and put a bandaid on. I wanted to make a bigger impact and to heal the person as a whole.
But I felt so stuck. I didn’t know where to go and was afraid of making a mistake. Even though I had worked with therapists in the past, it wasn’t until I started working with various life coaches that I gained the clarity and confidence to step into my true self. I was so inspired and became a life coach myself to take an integrated holistic approach incorporating all my past experiences, resources, and tools to empower other women to uncover their gifts and shine their light in the world.
SDS: We all have an inner critic in our lives, when did you start getting a handle on yours?
CT: As I learned and practiced more mindfulness in my everyday life, it helped me gain more awareness of all the thoughts that were going on in my head. And to figure out what was serving me vs. not. My mindfulness teacher training experience was some of the hardest work because it forced me to really be present and examine what is. You may know we have thousands of unconscious repeating thoughts daily, most of which are not useful and unfortunately lead to deeply ingrained false beliefs such as “We are not enough as we are.”
SDS: What is the biggest challenge you see individuals struggle with when dealing with an inner critic?
CT: I find that people often don’t even realize this inner critic exists. Because the voice has been present for so long, we’ve accepted it as the absolute truth and reality. You don’t know what you don’t know and it’s hard to move forward when there’s resistance and fear. It takes a lot of courage, intention, and support to change things for the better.
SDS: How can we quiet and make peace with the inner critic within us?
CT: The first step is to stop and bring awareness to the moment. Being open and accepting of what is. We have to be brave enough to look at what’s going on to process it and not just muscle through something.
And then we can ask and bring a lens of curiosity to understand why this is coming up. Did you know that our inner critic actually evolved out of a protective mechanism to keep us safe from harm? In childhood, we depended on parents and caregivers for survival, but acknowledging any inadequacies of our caregivers would be too threatening – so it’s much safer to turn the criticism inward rather than outward. It starts this cycle of blaming the self for various things. I share that because the inner critic was originally meant to keep us safe, so it can be helpful to see what is going on that’s creating this panic.
Lastly, it’s helpful to chat and connect with this inner critic. I know it sounds weird to have that conversation but by naming and identifying all the details, you can really get to know the critic. That way it can start loosening its grip and yield its power. I really believe that mindfulness is the key to quieting the inner critic and feel free to grab my free 3-Step Guide that explains this further!
Please remember that this is a lifelong journey and there are going to be ups and downs. But every little bit counts so don’t give up!
SDS: As a MD turned entrepreneur, how did your inner critic change when you switched careers?
CT: Being a physician has been a big part of my identity and I never really thought I would be doing anything different because it was such a “stable job”. When I was considering entrepreneurship, my inner critic was going CRAZY. Having been a lifelong perfectionist, there was a lot of fear surrounding failure and rejection. I also had a lot of self-doubt, as impostor syndrome is real. It took some time to get clear on my purpose – though once I really embraced my mission and vision of how I wanted to make a bigger impact in this world, I knew I had to do it and my inner critic gave me the green light.
SDS: What’s next for you and how can our readers find out more about your offerings?
CT: I get asked by high-achieving women how to move past things and figure out their life purpose all the time. That’s because I have been able to integrate my own knowledge, healing and training experiences to coach and empower other women. I am super excited to be coaching motivated, high-performing women to quiet their inner critics, uncover their gifts and make an impact living their best lives. I am offering a group/1-on-1 hybrid coaching program for a small group of women to offer the best of both worlds and really transform their lives. Please visit my website www.cindytsaimd.com and connect with me on any of the social media platforms (IG, FB, LinkedIn) to learn more. Wishing you much success on your wellness journey!