Yikes - an unexpected development

When I first created this page, some years ago, it looked a bit different.

It included an outline of the course, as it still does.

But I updated the page – to include an Important Announcement about an unexpected and unwelcome development that happened subsequently.

It’s quite important, as you’ll see.

Before I share that Important Announcement -

Outline of the Inner Critic course and What’s In It For You

1. Introduction: This lesson introduces the concept of the inner critic, setting the stage for understanding how self-critical thoughts and patterns emerge. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing and addressing the inner critic to achieve personal growth and success.

✅ Unmask the Hidden Enemy Within
✅ Stop Steering Yourself from the Shadows

2. Visualizing the Inner Critic: Participants learn to externalize their inner critic by visualizing it as a separate entity. This powerful exercise helps in recognizing the distinct voice of self-criticism and understanding its influence.

✅ Meet Your Inner Critic Face-to-Face
✅ Reclaim Your Mental Space

3. Styles of Self-Criticism: This lesson delves into different types of self-critical thoughts, helping participants identify their personal style of self-criticism and its impact on their lives.

✅ Decode Your Inner Critic’s Language
✅ Turn Self-Criticism into a Tool for Self-Discovery

4. Freeing Ideas: Participants explore techniques to liberate their thoughts and creativity from the grip of the inner critic. This lesson focuses on overcoming creative blocks and fostering a free flow of ideas.

✅ Dismantle the Barriers Put Up by Your Inner Critic
✅ Find Practical Strategies to Maintain Your Creativity

5. Understanding Opinions: The lesson emphasizes understanding the difference between facts and opinions, particularly in the context of self-judgment and criticism. It encourages participants to challenge and reframe their critical thoughts.

✅ Explore the Spectrum of Criticism
✅ Distinguish Fact from Fiction

6. The Connoisseur of Criticism: Participants learn to become connoisseurs of their critical thoughts, identifying and understanding them quickly and efficiently. This lesson is about gaining mastery over self-criticism.

✅ Learn to Recognise the Thoughts that Don’t Help
✅ Become a Master of Practical Introspection

7. Learning from Failures: This lesson explores the concept of failure and its relationship with the inner critic. Participants learn to view failures as opportunities for growth and understand the transformative power of embracing their mistakes.

✅ Turn Every Setback into an Opportunity
✅ Cultivate Your Resilience

8. Perception of Other: The focus here is on how the inner critic influences one’s perception of others. Participants explore the link between self-criticism and judgment of others, learning to foster more positive relationships.

✅ Understand how Your Inner Critic Harms Your Relationships
✅ Break Free from the Cycle of Judgement

9. A Better Inner Voice: The final lesson guides participants to cultivate a constructive inner voice, countering the inner critic. It emphasizes the importance of nurturing supportive, affirming self-talk for long-term personal growth.

✅ Identify an Inner Friend
✅ Turn Your Inner Dialogue into a Source of Strength

Important Announcement

A series of traumatic events, followed by a loss of work, caused me to lose confidence in myself, resulting in a breakdown at the end of 2017.

Let me spell that out:

I created and ran a course called “How To Silence Your Inner Critic” – and within a few months I had admitted myself to psychiatric hospital with depression and anxiety.

(“Must have been a f****** terrible course!”, says my inner critic.)

For a short time I was put on what nobody officially calls suicide watch. I was convinced there was nothing in life to look forward to.

I think it’s important to mention that to you.

Six years passed.

I felt ashamed of myself, for many reasons.

Drawing my inner critic
My inner critic, being lavish with shame.

But I’m (largely) over that now.

As much as it’s ever possible to say this: I’ve Sellotaped my inner critic’s gob shut.

It was actually, on balance, really quite a jolly good course

…If I say so myself.

It’s even better now, obviously.

Now that I can bung in all the stuff I learned in group therapy, stuff that helped me get over thinking I was useless and that everyone would be better off without me.

Patient Care Plan Mr John-Paul Flintoff.jpeg
They misspelled my surname, but that was the least of my problems.

BEST AD EVER: I’ve updated it! New material! Oh yes!

Bet you can’t wait to hear more.

Not joking. The value is much greater now

How can I demonstrate that? Well, after coming out of hospital, I was very fragile and attended various support groups. In one, I met a woman who ran HR in a major law firm.

She heard me talk about my experiences, and said that what I had to say would help many others. I knew she meant well, but I didn’t believe her at the time.

A year later, she asked me if I’d give a talk at her firm. We came up with the title “From High Flyer To Rock Bottom”, because we thought it would get bums on seats, if you see what I mean.

The day came, and I brought slides showing drawings I’d made in hospital of my state of mind.

This kind of thing:

Central Nervous System of Me

The room was huge. There were 250 seats. They filled up from the back. Mostly women, I noticed. But at the last moment lots of men rushed in.

Perhaps they were embarrassed to be attending a lunchtime talk about mental health.

Having arrived late, they were obliged to sit at the front, which was not (I suspect) their plan.


I gave the talk, hoping that some parts of it might have some value to some people. (I said that at the beginning, to lower expectations.)

The feedback was OK:

“One of the most powerful talks that I have ever been to”
- Partner, top 40 law firm

“What you said… will definitely help people”
- Attendee, Linklaters

“A talk that everyone needs to hear”
- Organiser, City law firm

“I was the one at the back, sobbing and snotting”
- Associate lawyer, City law firm

I went on to give a version of that talk at many other law firms. I was paid (believe it or not) as much as £4,000 a time.

This helped enormously, because I’d earned practically nothing for a long time, and was deeply in debt.

But I hate doing that talk again and again. I don’t want it to become hollow and facile. A lot of the value in it comes from the awkwardness and discomfort I feel.

It tells you that you’re not alone.

It’s all very well giving talks in law firms. (I’m sincerely grateful.) But I want to share what I’ve learned with individuals who can’t spend £4,000.

I’m self-employed myself, and would like to offer what I’ve been blessed with (?) to others in the same position.

So I’m wondering…

If YOU were able to get out of your own way, and stop undermining yourself – perhaps even, as I did, hating yourself – what might you do?

What have you always wanted to do, but not been able to manage – for no reason except that you got in your own way?

Take your time to answer that. It’s very important.


Seriously, take your time.


I won’t go anywhere :-)


I’m also wondering…

If you pulled that off, what would it be worth to you?

Think about it.



The course used to cost £152

That was BEFORE I had a breakdown and learned all that additional stuff at the hospital.

I have literally no idea why I set the price at such a peculiar number. There must have been a reason.

Whatever the reason, £152 is perfectly reasonable considering that by overcoming your self-critical voice you may finally be able to get on with some of the things you have postponed for so long.

The things you know you could do, but daren’t.

The price is no longer what it was. But I’ll come back to that.

Let me tell you about a dream of my own.

I’ve been quite a successful writer in my time. I mentioned earlier my books. I may even have mentioned being a journalist and editor on The Financial Times and The Sunday Times.

(Can’t remember, and can’t be bothered to go back and check if I mentioned that already.)

My childhood dream had NOT been to write.

I wanted to be an artist.

I won a prize when I was 14, in an art competition for adults. (A seascape, in oils.) A teacher at school read about me in the local paper, and I concluded that I was, in fact, an artist!

But a different teacher put me off. Art is a very difficult career, he said, so I became a writer instead (ha!, as if that’s easy).

From teenage-me to older-me

A big part of my recovery from breakdown involved drawing pictures to make sense of my thoughts – very dark thoughts, sometimes.

You’ve seen some of my sketchier drawings on these pages.

I can also draw and paint quite beautiful pictures.

(Note, in passing what an achievement it is for me to say that so boldly. I could never have said that before, when I hated myself.)

YOU may not think they’re particularly beautiful, but I do. (And that’s fine by me. We’re both expert on ourselves. We’re both right.)

Here’s a picture of some dahlias, and a garden.

The dahlias were grown in the garden by a man who was among the first to phone me in the psych ward. He said, “You’re in my alma mater,” which made me laugh even though I was depressed and anxious.

I felt less alone.

Hold on please. Think before you go on

Thank you for reading this far. Before we go any further, I want to be clear that the course now includes some reference to fairly dark stuff.

There IS a positive uptick (I’m here! I’m alive! Life is beautiful!) but the dark stuff is there.

By clicking here you’re acknowledging that you are OK with that.