60: How To Quiet Your Inner Critic

by Coach Jill Farmer and Coach Gabriella Dennery MD | Physician Coaching, Podcast

“One of the simplest things that I like to share with people is, if you’re wondering if it’s inner chatter or inner dialogue, ask yourself if it’s helpful.” -Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

In today’s episode, Coaches Gabriella Dennery MD and Jill Farmer discuss how to quiet your inner chatter. We have all experienced inner chatter. It’s that little voice that tells us we aren’t good enough or we can’t get that job we want. It’s important to distinguish the difference between inner chatter and inner dialogue. Inner dialogue is the voice inside that is helping us to prepare for important things, like rehearsing our wedding vows, as Coach Gabriella explains. One is helpful and the other is not. And there is a whole lot more to know. So tune in to get some practical tools to quiet the inner chatter and embrace the inner dialogue starting today. 

Books mentioned in the show: 

There’s Not Enough Time:…and other lies we tell ourselves , by Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer

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Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran

Please enjoy the full transcript below

Jill: One of the simplest things I like to share with people is, if you’re wondering, if it’s inner chatter inner dialogue, ask yourself if it’s helpful. 




Hello, we are so glad. You’re here for this edition of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast, and today we are talking about that voice in your head that will just not shut up, inner chatter, and some ideas for quieting that voice in a way that it doesn’t disrupt what you’re doing. I am thrilled as always to be joined by one of the lead coaches at, Dr. Gabriella Dennery. Gabriella, I know, I’m somebody that when I’m not paying close enough attention, my brain can really take over and start a cacophony of noise in there. What do we mean by inner chatter, or that loud voice in our heads?


Gabriella: I like to distinguish between inner chatter and inner dialogue. Because inner dialogue is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s when you get to rehearse your marriage proposal. It’s when you start mulling ideas in your head. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of introspection, and to think things through. But when it tips over to the chatter, and I like to think of the chatter as that little green gremlin on your left shoulder, who starts whispering all nonsense in your ear. It comes from perfectionism, it comes from fear of being judged, it comes from fear of not doing the right thing, this pressure of performance. 


Particularly in physicians, there’s always a lot of self-doubt from the physician clients I work with, and from other professionals as well. People are constantly questioning their abilities. That can get exhausting and extremely stressful. You’re on constant fight-flight-freeze response. You’re constantly activated, constantly stressed, because you’re constantly thinking about whether or not you’re doing the right thing the right way at the right time.


That’s the chatter we’re talking about today. How do you calm that down? You can make room for something else. There are easy practical ways of doing that. But first of all, I would say, you know what? Do you know you have the chatter going around? We talk about this a lot. Worrying about what may or may not happen in the future, and on the other hand, ruminating as we mentioned before as well as of the past and what happened already, but we can’t really change at this point, because we’re here now. We’re vacillating between these two. Especially, those worry thoughts about the future, the what-ifs. Then, it’s about how to really silence those voices, the what-ifs and the rumination, and where are you now today in the middle in that present moment? I would say, before we start talking about specific ways that you can start breaking and quieting those voices, Joe, what do you think about the definition of inner chatter versus inner dialogue, and is there something you wanted to add?


Jill: I think you just, as always, said it so beautifully. If you are noticing that you’re having inner chatter according to the work of Steven Hayes and others in this area of psychology called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy– I’m not a therapist, but I really like what they say. The first step is just noticing as you said, because when you’re noticing, you’re out of that reactive and sometimes amygdala driven part of your brain that’s reacting without thinking, and as you said, ruminating or spinning, and moving into that wiser place. Some people call it the Self. Some people call it access to internal wisdom. But it’s that place, as I say, it’s a better person to drive your bus [laughs] than that chattery, reactive, usually protective, but not very effective. Part of ourselves that’s trying to keep us safe, but it’s not really sophisticated, and not able to innovate, or lead us particularly well. I think one of the simplest things I like to share with people is, if you’re wondering if it’s inner chatter or inner dialogue, ask yourself if it’s helpful. Because a lot of times, it’s like, “Oh, my gosh. This record is playing over and over and over again. It plays all the time. There’s not enough time. You should have done that differently” but it doesn’t change any behavior. It’s like, “Oh, yeah, that’s not helpful.” When I can just identify it it’s not helpful, I take myself back into that place of the observer, as you said, back into the present moment where I’m more capable usually of making better decisions which lead to better actions. That’s how I frame it up. What ideas do you have for people to be able to let the inner dialogue get the microphone away from the chatters [laughs] in their brains?


Gabriella: First of all, how the chatter shows up. More specifically, I think some of the weapons that that little gremlin on the left shoulder uses to really throw you off stride, including comparisons would be in something that we also mention a lot, and we can’t mention enough, because comparing yourself to other people is probably a very violent form of inner chatter. Another one is when you say, “I’m not enough.” “I’m not smart enough, I’m not fast enough, I’m not good enough” Anytime you associate not enough in a sentence, then that’s your chatter. That’s very, very active as well. Another way is when you’re unfocused, when you’re scattered, are you chattering? Are you talking in your own head about what you’re not doing, should be doing, could be doing? Then, not enough, should be, doing could be doing all that is inner chatter as well. Again, leading to stress and reactivity and overwhelm.


How do you break those patterns? One of the things about inner chatter is that, it’s very focused. It’s a very small focus. You’re focusing on you. That’s it. You don’t even see the rest of the world. You’ve got blinders on. It’s about taking off those blinders and thinking outside of yourself, looking at the world in different way, and this is another tool. As you say, is this chatter is this conversation helpful? I can’t do this, I’m not good enough, I’m not strong enough, I’m not fast enough. It’s like, “Well, how about telling yourself that you can, and just start shifting the conversation a little bit. I think that is helpful in terms of just bringing you out of a certain space and into a new space. 


Other things that can also help in addition to just changing your mindset is physical activity. Get busy with something. Take your brain out of your own head. Move it in a different space, and physical activity is always the best thing to do. Yes, it doesn’t have to be exercise. It could just be a home project of some sort. Just get into that to break that cycle. Go outside, as we talk about a lot as well. Take breaks, stretch. Sometimes, I’ll have my client stretch at the beginning of a coaching session. We’ll do it on Zoom. Just get up, stand up, move around, let’s stretch the upper body, stretch the lower body just to again, reconfigure the brain, reconfigure the thought patterns in an instance. All these things can absolutely help in breaking that cycle of that inner chatter, because the inner chatter can be very busy, and it can overtake everything. You don’t want to let it overtake. You have the choice to say, “You know what? I recognize it, I hear it, I can see that. As you said, is it helpful? No, it’s not helpful. Let me change the conversation.”


Jill: I love it. Yeah, I’ve been talking about this starting in my book, now almost 10 years ago, reminding people that the thought– There’s not enough time, which triggers the fight or flight response in that spinning place. As you said, often, the chatter is unhelpful, and I just find that we just are chatting about the same dang thing over and over and over again, somehow expecting different results. When we notice, I notice I’m having the “There’s not enough time thought, again,” we take ourselves out of that place where we’re just having that reacting without thinking or what some people call it amygdala hijack, we make it a lot more likely that we can, as you said, redirect the inner dialogue towards something that’s more meaningful, towards something where we’re progressing, where we’re processing meaningfully, instead of just spinning your wheels and staying in the same stuck spot.


Gabriella: One more thing, I think a tool that is very, very helpful, and I think that as coaches, and your coaching as well, you talk about putting things down on paper, let’s say you’re planning your week as a way to again defuse the chatter, defuse the rumination, defuse the worry, is to start writing. To put it down, to get it out of your system, out of your head onto a piece of paper is also very useful, helpful and quick practical tool. It can be free writing. It doesn’t necessarily have to make sense in the moment, just to get that chatter out. Why? Because now you get to create a dialogue around it. If you talk to somebody, a trusted partner, about what you’re worried about, you get to put it in more clear terms as opposed to again, it’s swimming and swirling around. There are other ways to also deal with it. Give it more sense, write it out, talk to somebody about your concerns, or what’s going on with you now. That clarifies certain things right there by articulating it, as opposed to just letting it sit inside the mind, doing whatever it wants. What do you think about that?


Gabriella: I think it’s brilliant, [laughs] as always. You’ve given us some ways to really identify something that a lot of us feel is happening to us, but we don’t know how to change it. All of the different ideas that you shared, I think are just so helpful to be able to begin the practice. This isn’t something you’re supposed to just wave a magic wand and fix tomorrow. It’s a practice of bringing yourself into the place where your mind can help and work for you, and not feel it’s taking you down all these rabbit holes in different directions as often. So, brilliant ideas really helpful. If you like me, learned a lot today by listening to Gabriella or from both of us by listening to a conversation, we just ask one tiny thing. Take about five seconds and go give a five-star review. That is the engine that helps drive us forward to be able to continue bringing this to you. Thank you so much for being with us, and as always, we love having you on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. 


We have something new and exciting to tell you about, so, I want you to hop over to DocWorking Thrive is getting ready to launch in a very short time, and what that is a subscription service for physicians. It includes an excellent, self-paced course called Stat that is all about quick wins for living well. It is group coaching. It is a Facebook group where you have a chance to connect to other physicians and coaches to ask questions about things that are happening in your life, and it also includes weekly video tips to come and give you advice on important things in your life. We’re really excited about this. The price is almost too good to be true. It’s so good. I really think it’s going to be a fabulous support network for physicians. We hope you’ll hop on over, check out DocWorking Thrive today. Until next time, we’ll see you on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.




Amanda: Hello, and thank you for listening. This is Amanda Taran. I’m the producer of the DocWorking podcast. If you enjoyed our podcast, please like and subscribe. We would also love it if you check out our website which is You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram. On Instagram. We are @docworking1 and that is with the number, 1. When you check us out on social, please let us know what you would like to hear on the podcast. Your feedback really means a lot to us. If you’re a physician with a story you’d like to tell, please reach out to me at [email protected] to apply to be on the podcast. Thank you, again, and we look forward to talking with you on the next episode of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.


Jill Farmer is an experienced physician coach who has been helping doctors live their best lives, increase their success, and move through burnout for well over a decade.

She has delivered keynotes, programs, and training everywhere from Harvard Medical School to the American College of Cardiology.

She has personally coached hundreds of physicians, surgeons, and other busy professionals to help them be at their best—without burning themselves out. Her coaching has supported professionals at places like Mass General Brigham in Boston, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University in Chicago and too many others to list.

Jill wrote the book on time management for busy people. Literally. It’s called “There’s Not Enough Time…and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves” which debuted as a bestseller on Amazon. Her work has been featured everywhere from Inc. to Fitness Magazine to The Washington Post.

Nationally recognized as a “brilliant time optimizer and life maximizer,” Jill will cut straight to the heart of your stress to liberate you from its shackles. She has two young adult daughters. She lives with her husband and their poorly behaved dachshund in St. Louis, MO.

Life Coach Gabriella Dennery, MD OMD is passionate about helping busy physicians rediscover the joy of their calling. She draws on her training as a physician, a musician, and an ordained non-denominational minister in addition to health & wellness and life coaching to offer professionals from all walks of life the benefit of her broad experience and deep insights.

You can find Gabriella as one of the co-creators of STAT: Quick Wins To Get Your Life Back.

The daughter of a psychiatrist mother and a neurosurgeon father, both from Haiti, Gabriella and her five siblings were expected to choose from five noble callings: Medicine, Dentistry, Engineering, Law, or Agronomy (caring for the delicate soil of Haiti).

Gabriella, an innately gifted healer and teacher, chose Medicine and graduated with honors from Howard University College of Medicine, “The Mecca.” Following her residency in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center, Gabriella moved to New York City to serve as an attending physician and clinical instructor in Harlem and later as medical director and attending physician at SUNY Downstate Bedford-Stuyvesant satellite clinic in Brooklyn.

Her greatest joy as a primary care physician was supporting her patients, shepherding them to Aha moments, and nurturing positive shifts in perspective that measurably improved their health and wellbeing–a strength that makes Gabriella so effective as a coach.

After more than ten years of practicing internal medicine, Gabriella chose to explore the integration of medicine, music, and ministry to promote better health of her fellow physicians by becoming a physician coach. She successfully coaches physicians to prevent and/or navigate through physician burnout, reach career and personal goals, clarify and take actionable steps to achieve their own personal vision, and is well known for helping doctors at all stages of their careers, from students to residents/fellows to practicing physicians. She maintains her work-life balance by playing percussion and violin, composing music, and enjoying a very fun and fulfilling marriage.

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