Protection with Projection!


Human behaviour can be interesting and complex. Most people are familiar with the term ‘defence mechanism’ as it has become part of our common language. Did you realise that the origins are from psychoanalysis, a personality theory developed by Sigmund Freud as a way of understanding the conflicts within ourselves?

Take the idea of Projection for example.

Projection is a psychological defence mechanism. It is employed subconsciously as a way to cope with troubling feelings like anxiety or guilt. A person may attribute characteristics they find unacceptable in themselves to another person, as the alternative is to admit to or deal with those feelings within themselves. For example, you might behave selfishly and that creates guilt and anxiety. In order to feel better, you deny that you are the selfish one and blame someone else.

You can see how this can create problems, especially in our relationships with others.

Defence mechanisms are a normal part of human functioning and often don’t create too many long term problems. However, some people find that they are damaging relationships, at work or in their personal lives, because they are not coping with underlying anxiety in a more positive way.

Talking with a skilled psychological practitioner can help you become more aware of patterns of behaviour that are not serving you well. Perhaps you recognise that there are defence mechanisms at play in your own behaviour but don’t know how to change your response. Working with a professional will help you identify and shift unhelpful responses to ones that are more beneficial, and relieve the associated stress and anxiety.

How to be the real you!


Are you interested in becoming the person you truly want to be?

Perhaps you’ve already tried various ways of doing this without experiencing lasting change? Do you see yourself as a constant worrier, a binge eater, a victim or even as inferior to other people?

You are born with a blueprint or potential to be your ‘ideal’ person – but throughout life, things get in the way. Maybe significant people who leave an imprint on the way you see yourself, upsetting experiences, life events that have a negative impact, and your associated coping mechanisms, beliefs and behaviour. Whatever has happened, the blueprint for your true self is still there. I help you realise that potential and ‘reboot’ the real you!

Unlike traditional talking therapies, my sessions are very practical. My work is based in modern, effective methods developed from scientific knowledge of how the brain works. I teach you how to rewire unhelpful responses, negative emotions and patterns of thinking. You stop those old patterns in their tracks and change to new positive ways of responding – and you actually experience this happening in session!

Modern therapy has truly transformed the way I work and most of my work comes via referral from satisfied clients.

Contact me to find out more or have a look at my website: http://www.mindmakeover.co.uk/BWRT

Practical, Positive Psychology

Think about what you think!


I was working with someone recently who was severely limiting their freedom by worrying too much about what other people think. The fear of being judged or criticised was stopping any fun or enjoyment in life.

How quick we are to disregard our own feelings and adopt those of someone else. Perhaps you’ve had experiences of doing this yourself – you might think something looks good when you are buying it, yet will turn against it if someone makes an offhand negative remark. We can be truly happy with our lot, until we find out that someone we don’t even like has more. In the same way, we don’t always feel good about what we have achieved until someone else validates it.

I often discuss with clients seeking help that we can control how we think, but we can’t control what other people think – especially about us. You can see therefore, that putting yourself at the mercy of other people’s opinions and trying to gain the approval of others leads to difficulties.

Much better to not concern yourself with what other people think. Think about what you think!

Top tip for difficult times


Years ago I came across this idea and found it enormously helpful when going through difficult times.

Often life isn’t easy, and sometimes it certainly doesn’t feel fair. The goalposts move all the time. So, when life gets you down, remember that you are the product of a very long line of ancestors stretching back through time. They survived the worst adversities, difficulties and struggles. Those ancient battles and plagues you see in documentaries – your ancestors survived them all. It’s their genes and their blood that are part of you right now.

You have inherited all of their courage and resilience. You are their direct descendant and you are capable just as they were. You can do it!

Change and commitment


How good are you at recognising when you need to change – and doing it?

Last week I was in the inevitable queue at the supermarket. A great opportunity for people watching!

One man chose to queue in a short line and decided to stay there, despite other lines moving faster and his line remaining very slow. A teenager started in one line, but changed repeatedly, trying to find the fastest way through the checkout without much success. I saw an opportunity and changed once to a faster moving queue, but then stayed with it. Which type are you?

Just because you’ve started down one path doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever, especially if it turns out to be a bad choice. In the same way, chopping and changing incessantly doesn’t necessarily get you a better outcome. In the end I got through the checkout before either of the others.

It’s not that important a choice at the supermarket, but when it comes to the big decisions in life, it takes courage to decide to make a change, and to know when to commit to your choices!

Why it’s ok to ask for help


A fledging starling was in my garden this morning. The parent bird was busy collecting bugs, whilst the youngster sat helplessly on the patio unable to fly away if danger arrived. It reminded me of this quote attributed to Marcus Aurelius:

“Don’t be ashamed of needing help. You have a duty to fulfill just like a soldier on the wall of battle. So what if you are injured and can’t climb up without another soldier’s help?”

Most people expect to always be able to solve the problems life throws at them. I’ve worked with clients who worried about asking for help, believing they should be able to do it all on their own.

When we are born, we are all completely helpless and rely on others to help us grow and learn, just like that fledgling. It is ok to ask for help and you don’t have to face anything on your own. It doesn’t mean you are weak, or stupid or worthless and it is not something shameful. If you need support, then like the soldier who is injured, help is there for the asking.

To check out the different approaches that might help you, have a look at the Therapy pages on my website: http://www.mindmakeover.co.uk

Worried about exams?


Exams or tests coming up? Stressed? Sleepless nights?

Exam and test anxiety has debilitating effects, not only on self-belief and performance, but also on general mental health. It’s not just young people who are affected – mature students also struggle. There is help available and whatever your age, you do not have to struggle alone.

Exam anxiety manifests in a number of ways. You may experience it around traditional exams but also in any situation where you are going to be judged on your performance, including auditions, interviews and driving tests. I successfully work to help many people who are experiencing anxiety about all kinds of tests and exams, whether at school, college, university and professional institutions, or for work related tests of aptitude or performance. Whether you are a pilot needing help to pass challenging assessments of competence, an actor or musician auditioning for a role, or someone who has trouble with a driving test, I can help. So, how do you know if anxiety is having an impact? The indicators of anxiety generally fall into three categories: cognitive, affective and physiological.

Cognitive signs of test anxiety include negative thoughts of being overwhelmed and not in control of the test situation, the experience of ‘going blank’ and not being able to recall material, and excessive thoughts focusing on failure.

Affective signs include feeling panic, fearful and anxious about the test or the consequences of failure.

Physiological signs can include a racing heart, an upset stomach, wobbly or jelly-like legs, and trembling and sweating, before or during the test situation.

“…every time a teacher tells me exams are near or if you fail you risk not getting a good job I get so scared and sometimes I get so scared and stressed I feel like crying. We should just be told to try our best and work hard and if we don’t listen to that information then it’s our fault because pressurising a student can stress them and so they end up doing worse than their best”(Putwain & Roberts, 2009)

Nobody should have to feel like this about exams and tests. I used to teach Psychology, and I am an Examiner who assesses other psychological practitioners, so I fully understand the pressures that people experience. If your test nerves are having a negative impact and stopping you reaching your full potential, then contact me to find out more about how I can help.

Research reference: Putwain, D.W. & Roberts, C.M. (2009). The development of an instrument to measure teachers’ use of fear appeals in the GCSE classroom. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 79(4), 643–661. doi:10.1348/000709909X426130

New Pathways

New Pathways


IMG_5804Walking in the Lake District this week I came across lots of well worn paths like this. Everyone following the clearest, strongest path.

It reminded me that our behaviour is like this. We repeat patterns and our brains eventually respond habitually, following the strongest neural pathway. In this way behaviour is reinforced. When we decide to change habitual behaviour it can feel strange or uncomfortable as we wander away from the well worn path and try something new. Sometimes it feels impossible to change.

My work focuses on helping you find healthier paths that lead you where you want to go. Together we reinforce these new pathways so they become stronger. In this way, your desired behaviour feels natural and effortless. So what would you like to change about the way you think, feel or behave? Ready to find a better path? Contact me to find out how I can help you.

http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

Positive Affirmations

Positive Affirmations


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How often have you seen those cringe-worthy memes and posts based on positive affirmations? They seem to pop up on social media every day!

Positive Affirmations are heavily promoted by the self-help industry. If you have good self-esteem and feel confident and sure of yourself, positive affirmations can give you a helpful boost. However, if you are the opposite of this – anxious or perhaps struggling with low mood, then affirmations busting with positivity can be damaging.

Research suggests that positive affirmations are ineffective for people with low self-esteem – they are not helping the very people who tend to use them.

According to a Canadian study in 2009 (Wood, Perunovic and Lee), when people with low self-esteem recite positive affirmations, they feel worse. The study concludes that “repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, such as individuals with high self-esteem, but backfire for the very people who need them the most”.

Researchers asked people who identified as having low self-esteem to recite this affirmation: “I AM A LOVABLE PERSON”. They measured the subject’s mood and how they felt about themselves afterwards. Those with low self-esteem felt worse after being made to recite the positive affirmation. Only those with high self-esteem reported feeling better.

The results of the study suggest that positive affirmations are incongruent with the mindset of those people who have low self-esteem. This creates feelings of conflict and feeling bad, which in turn is a driver for more negative thoughts about themselves.

Perhaps it is the nature of the affirmations that is at fault here. More realistic statements that do not create conflict or trigger negative feelings, but are neutral, are more likely to be accepted. A useful start is an affirmation such as “I AM ENOUGH”.

Understanding the psychology behind the words and their effect on the mood of an individual is important. So if you’ve tried reciting positive affirmations and it’s left you feeling worse, you now know why!

If you struggle with low self-esteem, lack of confidence, anxiety or low mood and feel like you would benefit from professional help, then please get in touch as there are many sound psychological interventions that can help.

For further information check out my website at http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

Wood, J.V., Perunovic, E., & Lee, J.W. (2009). Positive Self-Statements: Power for Some, Peril for Others. Psychological Science, 20, 860 – 866.

What 10 things made this a good year?


checklist

It’s that time of year when many of us look back on the year that has passed and have a quick mental review of what sort of year it was. We all wish each other a ‘Happy New Year’ at the start of January, so how did your year go? Spend a moment now just looking back over the last 12 months of your life and see what your overall feeling is about this year.

Isn’t it strange how when we do this we tend to focus on the things that went wrong, were really bad, or disappointing? I noticed myself doing this, which prompted me to write this blog.

For many, this has been a particularly challenging year as things have shifted on the world stage. Perhaps you have experienced #anger, #anxiety or even #depression. Add in any personal, financial or emotional challenges and your review may be teetering on the edge of that negativity cliff! We all have this negativity bias as part of our human nature and it helps us to watch out for threats or danger in our everyday lives. However, we can become too focussed on what went wrong and fail to notice what went right! It is easy to become blinkered to the good stuff. So, I decided to write a list of the things that made it a good year…..

  • Love and support from close family
  • Good friends
  • Opportunities for meeting new people who enrich life
  • Exercise to feel good and improve health
  • Getting out in nature
  • Regular, healthy meals
  • Time to rest and recuperate
  • Helping others
  • Enjoying hobbies
  • Learning from a new challenge

The good news is that there are many more than 10 things on this list – this list goes on. So, my new view overall is – that was actually a great year full of challenges and opportunities that stretched old ways of thinking, increased learning and therefore enriched life! If you are feeling down about the last year perhaps your focus is in the wrong place. Take a step back and shift your focus onto what went well. What did you learn? How did you grow and develop emotionally? If you find this difficult, the easiest way to start is to think about what you can be grateful for this year – perhaps things, surroundings or people you have taken for granted? Get started now. I wonder how many you can write on your list?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Personal Development Specialist based in York. You can reach me at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com