Walking 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.
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.
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
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
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
There’s one thing you can be sure of in life – that things change – and that includes having friends or a lack of them! Many of us are lucky enough to go through school making new friends, who often go on to share our good times and bad and sometimes become a part of our lives for many years more. Later in life we make friendships at work. Often we find ourselves part of larger social circles of friends through interests or just going to the same places. If we have children there are often other parents we see every day, dropping off and picking up at nurseries and at the school gates perhaps, and we fall into easy friendships over the years.
So what happens when children are grown or away making new lives for themselves, we change jobs or get made redundant or retire, we move house or area, or marriages end and all those familiar social circles disappear? Those old reliable friendships change. Sometimes we are left without any friends close by and we wonder to ourselves, “How did that happen?” Without realising it, we can become disconnected and experience loneliness for the first time in our lives.
As human beings we all have a number of basic emotional needs, which are essential for our well being. Throughout life, these needs are usually met by our work, our life at home and the interests we have. As our lives change however, these needs can become neglected and before we know it there is an impact on our sense of well being. The good news is it is amazing how many of these emotional needs can be met by regularly seeing friends! Here is what I mean:
We need to give and receive attention. We have evolved as social animals and we need human contact to stay mentally healthy. This is why solitary confinement is used as a punishment in jails! This attention can come from regular contact with our friends and having a balanced social life
We need to notice our mind/body connection. We are not machines and need to pay attention to good nutrition, sleep, rest and exercise. We can go walking with friends, do an exercise class together or perhaps even swap healthy recipes
We need a sense of meaning and purpose and to feel that we contribute to the broader community. Friends can help us to set goals or work towards something that we would like to achieve. Friends can help each other with charity fund raising or volunteering opportunities
We need to feel challenged and express our creativity so we have a sense of competence and achievement. A friend can help us to try something new that we perhaps haven’t considered or thought we could do – a new class or hobby or even an outdoor pursuit. We continue to learn when we mix with other interesting people from different backgrounds and life experiences
We need a sense of autonomy and control. Sometimes we can feel that life is out of our control and we need to get a handle on at least part of it. Friends can remind us and help us to relax and provide a helpful perspective on what areas of life we can control
We need a sense of status within our social groups. This can come from work or doing something helpful in the community. It can simply mean being recognised for being a good parent, grandparent, son or daughter. It can also come from being a good friend
We need to have some privacy as well as feeling secure and safe in our environment so we can develop as fully rounded people. A good friend can help us to see how we can improve this area of our lives – whether we need to change where we live or cut ties with people who make us feel insecure in some way
We need friendships and close relationships where we can be ourselves, share our ideas and ask for help when we need it. Many people are without supportive families so good quality friendships are even more important. We need to be emotionally connected to other people
I work as a psychotherapist and see so many people who are struggling with anxiety and depression. When we explore what is happening in their lives there are always emotional needs that are not being met. Friendships can help to fulfil so many of these needs. Friendships are important. Social Media and Internet access means there are now new ways to make friends that perhaps you haven’t considered. Regular groups have sprung up where like-minded friends meet for coffee or lunch reflecting the need many of us feel for that human connection. I recommend checking them out to anyone who is beginning to feel lonely or isolated. New friends can be only a mouse click away!
I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Hypnotherapist based in York. I specialise in helping people with depression and anxiety. You can contact me at http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com
Often people tell me they lack confidence because they are scared about making a fool of themselves or looking stupid. When you think like this, those thoughts affect the way you feel and lead to a host of physical symptoms. Perhaps you have experienced some of them – shaking, blushing, feeling sick, tripping over your words. If I asked you to describe a person who lacked confidence, what would you say? Chances are you would notice their closed body language, or how quiet and withdrawn they are.
However, physical symptoms like feeling sick are usually more apparent to the person experiencing them than being outwardly visible. Even blushing or shaking can go unnoticed despite feeling overwhelming to the person who is experiencing the discomfort of a lack of confidence. The point I am making is that other people just don’t notice as much as you think they do. Even if they do, they would just think you were a bit nervous, and reasonable people think that is ok as we all feel like that sometimes. When you lack confidence you can get totally caught up in these sorts of feelings – your focus is directed inwards on yourself – and this makes you feel worse. The trick to feeling confident then is to reverse this focus. You need to focus outwardly on other people and on your immediate purpose.
Remember that young man who lacked the confidence to give a presentation? He discovered that when he shifted his focus outwardly – onto his audience and on what he wanted to tell them about, he stopped dwelling on how unconfident he was feeling inside. When you focus internally on your nervous feelings you are sending a message to your brain that says “I am really nervous about this so it must be something to be worried about” and this in turn makes the symptoms even worse. It sets up a vicious circle. Often people who feel like this and lack confidence will avoid situations that make them fearful – for example phoning in sick on the day of a presentation so they don’t have to go through with it. This either just puts off the inevitable as the presentation may be rescheduled, or it reinforces the learned behaviour – that this is something to be worried about and you must avoid it at all costs if it happens again. If you play the avoidance game all your life then you are missing out on some wonderful opportunities to fulfill your potential. Why not have a go at changing the way you behave – you have nothing to lose but your lack of confidence!
When you are able to feel calmer and more relaxed, you can think more clearly. Focus on your purpose for doing the presentation. What message or key points do you want your audience to take away with them? Remember how it felt when you modeled your ideal confident person – how they were standing and the speed of their speech. Mirror that body language and you will e-experience the confidence you felt during your identity merge. Remember that your audience is there to learn from you, not to judge you personally. Most people have had the experience of presenting so they understand it can make you a little nervous – and therefore they will be on your side. Have you ever watched those TV auditions for singing shows? Do you feel yourself willing someone who seems a little nervous to do well? Notice how the audience is on their side and wills them along. Most people are like this and want you to succeed, so they are tolerant of mistakes – you do not have to be perfect. It’s ok to be good enough! Being ok with whatever happens, because you did the best you could do at that particular time, is the key to confidence. It’s amazing that even the most confident performers admit to feeling a bit nervous – but you would never know unless you asked them. Just because you feel this way on the inside it doesn’t mean your audience will notice, so don’t get hung up on it and allow it to take over your thinking. Do the best you can at that time and congratulate yourself for what you did achieve – that is the way to build your confidence. Your own internal voice can be trained to be your fan club rather than your greatest critic!
Reading this series of blogs has already sown the seeds of Confidence in your mind so why not start growing your own Confidence habit today – reinforce it by using regularly and see your Confidence blossom!
I hope that you have found these 6 blogs on #Confidence interesting reading. Perhaps you have learned something, challenged something, or thought about changing something. If you have a different perspective to offer then perhaps you could share your ideas too. If you have been inspired to seek help with building your confidence, then there are many dedicated professionals out there who can help you.
Maybe you are one of those people that feel like you have never, ever been confident? How do you know how to be confident if you have never done it? One of the very useful techniques I use in my therapy room allows people to understand how another person goes about being confident – and then to model themselves on the confident traits they would like to adopt.
Who do you admire for their confidence? I’ve heard various answers to this question ranging from President Obama to Beyonce, Margaret Thatcher, Muhammad Ali and Rihanna. For others it is their husband, mother or a favourite teacher. If you would like to become more confident then in order to have made this judgement, you must have already had a model in mind that you are using as a comparison to yourself.
Get a sense of your admired, confident person and take a good, long look at what it is about them that leads you to admire their confidence. If you find this difficult you can close your eyes to allow you to focus your attention, much as you would do in a #hypnotherapy session. You only need to notice the confident parts of the person that you would like for yourself – not every aspect or things you don’t like about them. Modelling other people in this way is nothing new. Have you ever shadowed an expert at work to see what it is they do to complete their job well? Top sports people are often encouraged to do this same exercise – noticing what it is about the performance of winning athletes or themselves when they are successful, that they can use to improve. Modelling or copying the outwardly evident confident aspects of your ideal will allow you to feel the confidence they experience on the inside.
So you can do this for yourself now. Think about the person you most admire for their confidence, and imagine them in the situation where you would like to be more confident. Close your eyes and see that person in that situation and notice what they look like. You need to pay close attention to their posture and body language, the way and speed they move. Notice their facial expressions, the way they speak – the tone, pitch and speed. Picture how they are dressed. Pay attention to the way they relate to other people in the situation and how others interact with them in return. Spend as long as you need doing this and make it as real as you can. Next, imagine yourself standing next to your model. Gradually you are going to drift into being that person as your identities merge together until you are there actually as that person, seeing through their eyes and standing in their body. If you are doing this in a focused way, you will be able to experience what it is like to be this person and have this amount of confidence. It can take practice to do this and a good #hypnotherapist will help you to do this effectively. Once you have experienced what it feels like on the inside to be this confident, it becomes easier for you to behave this way in your own life.
It is well known that acting ‘as if’ we are confident allows our brain to learn how to do this instinctively. Remember, if you have been training your brain by acting unconfidently for a long time, it will have learned to do this really well. Acting ‘as if’ may seem to be a bit false or fake for you at first, but it is this mental rehearsal that allows you to learn any new behaviour until it becomes an effortless habit. Confidence is something we learn. Often we begin in childhood by modeling a parent or someone close to us. Perhaps you haven’t had the right training so far, but this doesn’t mean you are stuck with a lack of confidence. You can bring your ideal into your imagination and begin to model them whenever you want to. You can learn how to be confident, and this means you have to practice until it becomes your natural way of doing things.
I hope you are enjoying reading these blogs about developing your Confidence and are finding the information helpful. Why not follow my blog and check out whether you have missed anything useful?
I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and #Hypnotherapist working in private practice in #York. I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com
In Part 3 of this series of blogs on #confidence I talked about a young man who lacked the confidence to give a presentation at work. Although he had prepared the content for this presentation, and was confident he knew his stuff, he was not prepared for it mentally. His imagination was running riot, predicting all sorts of things going wrong and this was sapping his confidence. No-one is a mind reader, so we just can’t say what will happen in any future situation – good or bad. However, we can learn to manage whatever happens in a successful way. This is what gives us confidence – learning to deal with and effectively manage the uncertainties of life, knowing that whatever happens we will be ok. This young man was using his powerful imagination to foresee things going wrong and could even make himself feel sick at the thought of standing up and presenting. Many people do this – perhaps you know someone who avoids meeting new people or is too nervous to go on a date, or someone who dreads holiday times because they aren’t confident flyers – or perhaps you recognize yourself here? What my client didn’t realize is that this powerful imagination is a great gift – he could learn to harness this ability to imagine himself coping well with whatever may happen. Instead of sabotaging himself, he could use his imagination to develop his own confidence.
The easiest and most effective way to do this is using #hypnosis. Did you realize that hypnosis is a natural phenomenon that we all use every day? It is a state of highly focused attention that we have all experienced. This young man had already inadvertently been using negative #self-hypnosis to convince himself that things would go wrong. He was worrying about his presenting style, the obvious physical manifestation of his nervousness and what his colleagues would think of him when he started shaking and his voice faltered. He was using his powerful imagination to scare himself about something that hadn’t even happened!
In the therapy room, he learned how to use hypnosis to turn this around. He learned techniques for staying relaxed and calm including using deep abdominal slow breathing or a one minute meditation to feel instantly a little better. Using hypnosis, I encouraged him to travel forward in time and imagine himself really there on the day of his presentation. He pictured himself getting up in the morning feeling relaxed and calm, going to work and leading up to the time before his presentation slot. He experienced all of this whilst remaining calm – just as he had told me he wanted to feel on this day. I then helped him imagine his presentation going really well, remaining in control of his body, standing steady, even to see himself handling challenging questions from his colleagues, remaining calm and his voice staying steady and clear, and then to feel the sensations of pride and achievement in a job well done. He imagined and experienced a wonderful feeling of confidence. This happens because your brain doesn’t differentiate between what is real and what is imagined – the feelings are the same. If you doubt this just watch a scary movie or a weepy movie – it’s not real but you still have the same emotional reaction as if it was really happening. He finished the session with a huge smile on his face. He was encouraged to go through this exercise again and again at home to strengthen the new neural pathways he had established. Building confidence needs practice and reinforcement, just as in building any new habit.
I wonder if you are now becoming aware of the way you may be using negative self-hypnosis to sabotage yourself? We are all guilty of this from time to time and usually completely unaware of it. However, the good news is, in the same way, you can use positive self-hypnosis to develop your confidence. Why not give it a try? Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and allow yourself to become calm and relaxed by slowing your breathing and relaxing any tension in your body. Imagine yourself in a situation where you would like to have more confidence. Make the scene as real as you can – bring it to life and picture yourself there feeling calm and optimistic, expecting success in whatever it is you are doing. Remember, confidence is all about feeling that whatever happens you will be ok. Picture yourself coping well and feeling confident – allow that feeling to grow and develop. Just experiencing this sets up new pathways in your brain and the more you practice, the more you reinforce this new behaviour. After all – hasn’t your unwanted behaviour developed in the same way? When your new confident behaviour becomes a habit, the old unwanted behaviour will fade and disappear. Eventually this decay means you will find it difficult to remember how it used to be.
In the final 2 blogs in this series I will be talking more about Confidence and what you can do to encourage it to grow and develop. Why not follow my blog and check out whether you can learn anything useful?
I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and #Hypnotherapist working in private practice in #York. I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com