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Day 3. The Relationship You Have With Your Critic Is a Habit

Sometimes we get so used to being and doing things in a certain way, or the presence of something, that we don’t stop to consider whether what we’re being, doing, or even allowing to stick around is helpful or harmful. It’s not until we start to experience major discomfort from the side effects that we might start to wonder where we’re “going wrong” or that we think about giving up or changing something.

Patterns are what happens when you’re living unconsciously so as a result, you cannot seek to break a pattern or change anything for that matter, without getting conscious.

The relationship you currently have with your inner critic is one borne out of habit. You, like everyone who has ever been in any type of relationship, inwardly or outwardly, have become entrenched in a role. Out there in life, you might be The Strong One, The One That People Always Come To For Advice, The Rescuer, The People Pleaser, The Overgiver, The Black Sheep, The One Who Never Stops Working, The One Who Aces Everything (Even Though Behind The Scenes You’re Exhausted and Wonder When You’ll Get To Relax and Just Be), The Doer, The One Who Never Believes In His or Herself and Relies On Being Directed, The Armchair Therapist and Ego Stroker, and the list goes on.

The habit of your relationship with your inner critic is that they are the ‘authority’. Call them boss, parent, whatever you want to call them, but as a result of their role, you take a lesser role. They are seen as being all seeing and all knowing. Even when they don’t know best, in much the same way that when you’re a kid and your parent says or does something that’s blatantly untrue or incorrect, you’re too afraid to correct or challenge it.

All habits are made of cues, triggers, associations, and responses.

Cues are subtle signals that serve as indicators or assumed directions to think/do something. They can also cause us to anticipate what we think will happen next. A lot of the automated stuff that we do over the course of our day is based on cues with a lot of them going unregistered consciously. E.g. You feel the stirrings of anxiety and a concern from your inner critic and then respond (consciously or unconsciously) to relieve you of the feeling and ‘noise’.

A trigger is an event or thing that causes you to take action or engage in a thought process. E.g. If you experience rejection, you may experience feelings of abandonment that draw on prior unresolved experiences. A trigger can also be made up of a bundle of cues that as a result of happening at the same time or close together, act as a trigger to go into autopilot and respond a certain way - the pattern of habitually responding in this way.

You will also find that you have associations (both positive and negative ones) with the cues and triggers in your life. E.g. You receive what feels like flattering attention from someone and you might associate this with possible romance so then you start to have romantic thoughts but then your inner critic might be The Spoiler (I talk about this an upcoming lesson) and in an effort to protect you from what it thinks is a bigger future pain, it snarks something so that you don’t dare to pursue it or you do but you’re shut down and defensive.

You have feeling, thought and action responses to cues, triggers and associations. Again, these responses are a mix of conscious and unconscious ones. After a while, repetition of certain responses means that these become associations too.

E.g. If each time you experience anxiety at work, you also hear critical comments and then you feel bad about yourself and then you either don’t do whatever you were going to do or you feed that noise and the feelings by joining in the fray with your own comments (even if it’s happening unconsciously), this becomes what you associate with anxiety and that type of situation.

If you keep responding in the same way to the same cues, triggers and associations, then you will keep getting the same outcome.

When you become more vigilant about what is passing through your mind or what you’re responding with, this interrupts the pattern and the more you do this, the more that new habits are made, is the more you build a happier you who feels more in command of you and your journey. It stops feeling as if someone else is behind the controls or that this voice inside of you has to be followed and you start opening up your options and owning your right to choose.


  • You cannot help the fact that certain feelings and thoughts show up but you can choose how you respond.
  • It will take you a while to pick up on the noise and to respond but the more you do it the easier it gets.
  • As is the same out there in the big wide world, if you don’t consciously choose, someone else will choose for you and you run the risk of those choices being harmful and less than reflective of who you are, how you want to feel and continue to feel, and where you’re headed.
  • Once you begin to consciously respond to your inner critic and also become more mindful of your cues, triggers and associations, you have an opportunity to correct and also heal from anything that’s causing an emotional charge.
  • You correct through consciously repeating new habits of thinking and behaviour but also with a combination of doing stuff like journaling (so so useful) and other supporting activities.



JOURNALING: You adapt the habit of your relationship with your inner critic by becoming aware of your cues, triggers, associations and responses. Use a journal, Post-It or index card and each time you either experience a critical thought or a feeling you've come to associate with feeling bad about you / your inner critic, mark it.


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