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Sometimes people ask me “how can I overcome my inner critic when singing?”

A good first step is to name how that inner critic got in the way of singing in the first place.

For many of us, the reason is that we have been raised to think about singing primarily as a form of performance.

Does this sound familiar?  Choir class.  9th grade.  You’re standing on risers, dressed in identical polyester graduation gowns, blinking in the bright stage lights of the auditorium, while the conductor shouts, “SMILE!  Look like you’re enjoying it!”

The trouble with thinking about singing primarily as performance is that it is highly activating for your inner critic.

But singing doesn’t have to be this way.

Actually, singing doesn’t have to be about performance at all.

Singing has its most ancient roots in everyday life, and in ritual.  Singing can bring us together, and help us feel more aligned with a power greater than ourselves.

As a friend put it to me recently, “When we sing, we are one.”

To sing like this is a loss of self.

If you’re like most people, this idea makes your inner critic a little nervous.

Your inner critic wants to keep you separate, safe and protected behind the walls of her limitations.  But you don’t have to give way to this.  When it comes to singing, or to anything else, you don’t have to stay small.

So– here’s my advice for putting that inner critic in her place.

The next time you start to sing and you hear any negative thoughts creeping in, first, name them for what they are.  This is your inner critic.

Then speak directly to her.  Thank her kindly for the feedback, and let her know you’ve got this one covered.  (Thanks, Tara Mohr for this idea.)

Tell your inner critic that from here on out, it doesn’t matter how good you are.

From here on out, you’re going to explore singing as a practice not in performance, but in self-care.

Like yoga.

Like meditation.

And then…  Just sing.  Imagine that song is a stream of light, and you’re just going to open the window and let it in.

Because when you sing in this way, the song will cleanse you, renew you, and remind you just how powerful you are, when you draw upon the universal power of love.

I’ll close with a song…  Here’s a good one to use when you need to center or ground yourself.  We sing it in my women’s singing group, Mothersong, especially around the transitions of pregnancy and birth.  Enjoy!


If you’re a woman who is based in the SF Bay Area, join us for Mothersong Chorus, an intergenerational women’s singing circle.  We explore singing as spiritual practice.  And we have a LOT of fun.  This summer we’ll hold two special drop in meetings, which are a great opportunity to get a taste of what we’re about.  

Sunday, June 11th
Sunday, July 9th
3:30 – 5PM. 

No prior singing experience required!