Mindfulness, emotional intelligence, focus, personal development and confidence building book recommendations

blog feb 2018

Struggling to entertain yourself whilst you are snowed in?

 

We live at a time when there are more self-help books on the market than any one person could hope to consume in a lifetime. But in today’s world, finding the time to read even one book, let alone a dozen, can still pose quite a challenge.

To make it easier for people like you with hectic lifestyles, rather than spend hours looking for the most acclaimed self help book, I have come up with the most popular mindfulness, self-improvement and counselling books from my client library:

Key themes covered include: mindfulness, emotional intelligence, focus, personal development and confidence building:

 

1. Screw Work Let’s Play by John Williams

2. Free Range Humans by Marianne Cantwell

3. Stop Talking Start Doing by Shaa Wasmund

4. What’s Stopping You?: Why Smart People Don’t Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can by Robert Kelsey

5. Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Professor Mark Williams, University of Oxford and Danny Penman

6. The Artist’s way by Julia Cameron

7. Ask and it is Given: How to Manifest the Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks

8. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

9. How to Save an Hour Every Day by Michael Heppell

10. Overcoming procrastination by Dr Windy Dryden

11. Subpersonalties by Dr John Rowan

12. Meeting the shadow by Connie Zweig

13. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

14. It’s not how good you are it’s how good you want to be by Paul Arden

15. Freedom from your inner critic by Jay Earley and Bonnie Weiss

16. Perfect Love Imperfect Relationships by John Welwood

17. Sane New world by Ruby Wax

18. The Chimp Paradox by Stephen Peters

19. The six pillars of self esteem by Nathaniel Branden

20. Boundaries and Relationships by Charles Whitfield

21. Boundaries where you end and I begin by Anne Katherine

22. The Self-Acceptance Project: How to Be Kind and Compassionate Toward Yourself in Any Situation by Tami Simon

23. The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free From Anxiety, Phobias, and Worry
by John P. Forsyth and Georg H. Eifert

24. The Compassionate Mind Approach to Overcoming Anxiety (Compassion Focused Therapy) by Dennis Tirch

25. The little book of Ikigai – The essential Japanese way to finding your purpose in life by Ken Mogi

26. What you think is what you get – An introductory textbook for the study of the Alexander Technique by Donald L Weed

 

This will keep you out of mischief on a cold winter’s evening tucked up with the cat, dog or your laptop on the sofa or when later in the year you are sipping a refreshing cold gin and tonic on a sunny beach

so as one of our favourite authors states: “stop talking start doing” …….

 

How to achieve a positive mindset to help you achieve your goals and ambitions for 2018

Blog Scacity Mindset jan 2018

Why is it no matter how much time most people are given, they often finish jobs or tasks at the last minute and are left feeling completely stressed out?
• Why is it that very high wage earners end up broke?
• Why do organisations get stuck firefighting?
• Why do the lonely find it hard to make friends or to find a partner?
• Why do most New Year Resolutions fail by February?

These questions seem unconnected, yet drawing on a raft of research in psychology and behavioural economics, Harvard economist Mullainathan and Princeton psychologist Shafir illustrate that they are all examples of a mind-set produced by scarcity. Put simply, you and most people, often force the brain to focus on alleviating pressing shortages and thus reducing the mental bandwidth available to address other needs such as:

• planning ahead
• exert self-control
• problem solving

The result these academics argue, is a life fixated on agonising trade-offs, crises, and preoccupations that impose persistent negative thinking and self defeating actions.

How can you re programme your scarcity mindset and develop a healthier growth mindset instead so that you can get the most out of your counselling or mindfulness sessions at work or in your personal life?

 

According to Psychology today, “making resolutions or new habits work is essentially changing behaviors and in order to do that, you have to change your thinking and “rewire” your brain. Brain scientists such as Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes have discovered, through the use of MRIs, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories, which become the default basis for your behavior when you’re faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change that default thinking by “not trying to do it,” in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking.”

Here’s some more Neuroscience research relating to scarcity mindsets which can have a huge impact on your counselling, mindfulness and coaching sessions:

 

• We recall negative feedback more than we remember praise.
• Unpleasant events tend to be more memorable than pleasant ones.
• The brain is programmed to be vigilant and wary.
• The brain reacts more strongly to negative stimuli than to positive stimuli.

Studies indicate that there’s a greater flow in electrical activity in the brain when we visualise a negative image such as a dead cat than when we witness something positive like a glass of prosecco or yummy lemon cheesecake.

How can Neuroscience and a knowledge of the brain help you to develop a growth mindset and the best return on investment on your counselling coaching and mindfulness sessions?

 

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Neuroscience is the study of how the nervous system develops, its structure, and what it does. Neuroscientists focus primarily on the brain and its impact on behaviour and cognitive functions.

Neuroscience is an increasingly wide ranging subject. Perhaps because the brain is one of the most complex structures in the known universe:

 

• intricate enough to coordinate the fingers of a classical violinist
• or logical enough to introduce the laws and theories of gravity.

Now let’s take a brief glimpse at the brain:

The right hemisphere is generally associated with creativity, communicating emotion, analysis of nonverbal information and the control of the left side of the body, temporal and spatial relationships.

Whereas, the left hemisphere is usually identified with logic abilities, casual relationships, sequential thinking, controlling the right side of the body and producing/understanding language and complexities.

The limbic system sometimes referred to as the “emotional brain” is usually considered as composed of the following:

cingulate gyrus, hypothalamus, hippocampus, thalamus and amygdala.

It is the site of: emotional states and behaviour; the bridge between the conscious and subconscious brain and short term memory/ information storage, especially short term recognition of facts, objects, people etc.

The amygdala, the brain’s alarm system is located in the limbic system. Its key function is to call you to attention, and in an emergency, to mobilise or shut-down your body and mind so that you’ll survive.

Sadly though, this alarm rings automatically and unnecessarily often incorrectly informing you that you are experiencing a flight or fight situation when the actual reality is that you are not and the alarm is just being over cautious.

When our amygdala misinterprets a bodily sensation such as sinking stomach to be a message of despair and pessimism, it has exactly the wrong result, reducing rather than enhancing our attention and alertness.

That’s why anxiety, frustration, anger and other chronic stress reactions can occasionally, or for some people frequently, escalate into huge problems.

 

Put simply, we’re not using our amygdala as effectively as it was intended.

Mindfulness strategies can help to reprogramme your brain’s natural tendency to focus on scarcity rather than on the positives of a situation:

 

When you experience a negative thought, feeling or physical sensation, breathe, pause, step back then ask yourself the following question:

“what do I know?”

“I know that if I allow my negative thoughts to take over it is not healthy for me and leaves me feeling anxious, I also know that though I can’t stop my thoughts, feelings or physical sensations, I can change what happens next, such as, consciously deciding to stop myself from catastrophising or getting too attached to my thoughts.”

“I know that thoughts aren’t facts”

Following your attempts at implementing the above strategy, record on a piece of paper the process of what happens when you try this technique and the automatic negative thoughts that stop you from supporting yourself.

Now, let’s take a real life example of a person wanting to create their dream life:

 

Instead of focusing on scarcity and deprivation by talking yourself out of it by getting into a negative thinking style of what ifs, buts, shoulds etc, ie scarcity, approach your dream life by placing yourself in a growth mindset:

Here’s how:

 

(1) firstly, create your own life script by writing down a series of positive affirmations on a piece of paper or on your tablet such as:

“I’m really happy and grateful for all the following things that I’m just about to say:

I’m really happy and grateful to be a wildly successful writer and public speaker, and wife with an endless regular weekly supply of income that greatly exceeds my outgoings.

What’s also wonderful is that my work is mostly daytime and online so I can do it anywhere in the world.

I have over 5,000 twitter and instagram followers and I’m thrilled that my fiction book is a best seller.

I have great health and I’m really enjoying a good work life balance with lots of time to relax and exercise to play piano and make jewellery and other creative activities.

My life is full of fun and joy and I have an abundance of male and female friends that bring out the best in me in Wiltshire and in other parts of the UK .

And I’m open to receiving this and more thank you.”

Repeat this at least once each morning and then just before you go to sleep for at least a six week period.

 

(tip: ensure all statements are in the present tense as if they are happening right now and avoid using words such as not, never, no longer etc)

(2) then, cut out some images/photos from either a magazine or the internet relating to your life script and arrange them on a piece of paper or on a cork memo board/whiteboard. Alternatively, create a collage by using pinterest or instagram.

What is key here is to look at the relevant image/photo whilst you are reading each affirmation out loud (ideally smiling and with heaps of enthusiasm and belief!)

 

(3) Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment by moment, rather than living in the past or future

(4) Last but not least, reflect on this statement: you never fail if you never give up

In other words, it’s about moderation not deprivation and adopting a small steps approach such as and be patient…

Sounds simple and perhaps mumbo jumbo doesn’t it? However, I have used this technique with several clients and friends to help them tackle issues such as:

• overcoming procrastination
• overcoming addictions
• overcoming shyness and social phobia
• overcoming anxiety and exhaustion
• overcoming loneliness

 

The results have often been astounding. Having said that though, most of these clients have undertaken a few counselling or coaching sessions with me, Karen Deeming, before adopting the above exercise in order to achieve their goals.

What’s the primary principle behind this techique? The subconscious mind operates 95% of your life and only 5% of what you are thinking or perceiving is your conscious mind.

 

The subconscious mind works most effectively with pictures and imagery so you want to take advantage of that, ie the photos. Once you train your subconscious mind to focus on the things that you want then your performance starts to follow because your performance is always aligned with your subconscious mind.

Also as children we picked up messages from parents, peers, teachers and society, not always positive, that literally form the 95% that we are not conscious of and this 95% is really running the show often resulting in fears and doubts that cause us to procrastinate or to feel stuck and demotivated.

For example:
• don’t dream like this
• you can never have this kind of house
• don’t set yourself up for failure
• you can never run your own business it’s too risky

We then blame our doubts and fears on the external world and we play the victim but the reality is it is our own selfs we are our own saboteurs.

The creating your dream life exercise is an ideal tool to reprogramme your subconscious and of course your unhealthy, scarcity mindset.

 

Does any of this sound familiar? What can you do about it?

Be honest with yourself and acknowledge that you’ve probably fallen victim to the scarcity trap and mind set. Naturally, the reason will be different for each person and remember you’re not alone in this very common dilemma…

Take control of your negative internal chatter box alias “inner critic”.

Over to you:

 

If after reading this blog, you are still struggling to overcome your scarcity mindset and are feeling overwhelmed with distractions and negative thoughts don’t panic or give up just yet.

Coaching, counselling or a  mindfulness course can help you.

 

So, if you need a bit of extra support and encouragement and a few on line or face to face counselling or mindfulness sessions why not contact me to arrange an appointment for a short free introductory chat on 07950 751352 or by emailing me at karen@karendeeming.com

I’ll end with a few growth mindset insights that have helped me, Karen Deeming, along the way:

 

• whatever is going on in your mind is what you are attracting
• happy feelings will attract more happy circumstances
• visualize and rehearse your own future
• shift your awareness

Counselling and coaching is about personal growth and development and encouraging people to discover their potential for living as well as for people with anxiety, depression, stress, bereavement, low self esteem, and relationship difficulties.

 

How to make New Year’s Resolutions work

you_revolution17 jan2015

  • Why is it no matter how much time most people are given, they often finish jobs or tasks at the last minute and are left feeling completely stressed out?
  • Why is it that very high wage earners end up broke?
  • Why do organisations get stuck firefighting?
  • Why do the lonely find it hard to make friends or to find a partner?
    Why do most New Year Resolutions fail by February?

These questions seem unconnected, yet drawing on a raft of research in psychology and behavioral economics, Harvard economist Mullainathan and Princeton psychologist Shafir illustrate that they are all examples of a mind-set produced by scarcity. Put simply, you and most people, often force the brain to focus on alleviating pressing shortages and thus reducing the mental bandwidth available to address other needs such as:

  • planning ahead
  • exert self-control
  • problem solving

The result these academics argue, is a life fixated on agonising trade-offs, crises, and preoccupations that impose persistent negative thinking and self defeating actions.

Back to New Year Resolutions:

So what’s your resolution this year?

  • to lose weight?
  • to exercise more?
  • to stop smoking, gambling or drinking?
  • to develop better money management strategies?
  • to relax more and stop spending so much time at work?

the list can often be endless……….

According to Psychology today, “making resolutions work is essentially changing behaviors and in order to do that, you have to change your thinking and “rewire” your brain. Brain scientists such as Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes have discovered, through the use of MRIs, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories, which become the default basis for your behavior when you’re faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change that default thinking by “not trying to do it,” in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking.”

If we take the example of a weight loss resolution:

Instead of focusing on deprivation and starving yourself, ie scarcity, begin your resolution by developing a positive mindset of abundance.

Here’s how:

(1) firstly, adopt a positive affirmation statement in the present tense such as “I’m happy and grateful that I have lost 5lbs this week” repeat this at least 40 times each morning and then just before you go to sleep for at least a two week period

(2) then, find a photo of yourself when you were slim or a photo of someone else in a magazine who is slim and look at this following each affirmation

(3) Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment by moment, rather than living in the past or future

(4) Last but not least, reflect on this statement: you never fail if you never give up

In other words, it’s about moderation not deprivation and adopting a small steps approach such as:

setting a specific realistic goal such as aiming to loose 5lbs by the end of January not something vague like to loose weight.

Sounds simple and perhaps mumbo jumbo doesn’t it? However, I have used this technique with several clients and friends to help them tackle issues such as:

  • overcoming procrastination
  • overcoming addictions
  • overcoming shyness and social phobia
  • overcoming anxiety and exhaustion
  • overcoming loneliness

The results have often been astounding. Having said that though, most of these clients have undertaken a few counselling or coaching sessions with me, Karen Deeming, before adopting the above exercise in order to achieve their goals.

What’s the primary principle behind this techique?

The subconscious mind operates 95% of your life and only 5% of what you are thinking or perceiving is your conscious mind. The subconscious mind works most effectively with pictures and imagery so you want to take advantage of that, ie the photos. Once you train your subconscious mind to focus on the things that you want then your performance starts to follow because your performance is always aligned with your subconscious mind.

Also as children we picked up messages from parents, peers, teachers and society, not always positive, that literally form the 95% that we are not conscious of and this 95% is really running the show often resulting in fears and doubts that cause us to procrastinate or to feel stuck and demotivated.

For example:

  • don’t dream like this
  • you can never have this kind of house
  • don’t set yourself up for failure
  • you can never run your own business it’s too risky

We then blame our doubts and fears on the external world and we play the victim but the reality is it is our own selfs we are our own saboteurs.

The weight loss exercise is an ideal tool to reprogramme your subconscious and of course your unhealthy, scarcity mindset.

Does any of this sound familiar? What can you do about it?

Be honest with yourself and acknowledge that you’ve probably fallen victim to the scarcity trap and mind set. Naturally, the reason will be different for each person and remember you’re not alone in this very common dilemma…

Take control of your negative internal chatter box alias “inner critic”.

Over to you:

If after reading this blog you are still struggling to overcome your scarcity mindset and are feeling overwhelmed with distractions and negative thoughts don’t panic or give up just yet.

On line coaching, counselling or a personal development or mindfulness course can help you.

I’ll end with a few insights that have helped me, Karen Deeming, along the way:

  • whatever is going on in your mind is what you are attracting
  • happy feelings will attract more happy circumstances
  • visualize and rehearse your own future
  • shift your awareness
  • counselling and coaching is about personal growth and development and encouraging people to discover their potential for living as well as for people with anxiety, depression, stress, bereavement, low self esteem, and relationship difficulties.

 

 

 

Tip Two – How to develop more confidence – Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness tools for employers and for business

you_revolution17-jan2015

 

New Mindset new work opportunities…

Does any of this sound like you?

 

  • I want to reconnect with my creativity, spark and imagination but don’t know how
  • Instead of feeling demotivated and bored at times, I want to feel more focused, passionate and enthusiastic about my work
  • I’d like to achieve even greater success levels in work and relationships
  • I want to become more productive, to procrastinate less, to make smarter use of my time and to consistently meet/exceed my targets
  • Making it to the top of my career is a key priority for me

Continue reading

Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness tools for businesses and employees

you_revolution17-jan2015

New Mindset new work opportunities…

Does any of this sound like you?

 

  • I want to reconnect with my creativity, spark and imagination but don’t know how
  • Instead of feeling demotivated and bored at times, I want to feel more focused, passionate and enthusiastic about my work
  • I’d like to achieve even greater success levels in work and relationships
  • I want to become more productive, to procrastinate less, to make smarter use of my time and to consistently meet/exceed my targets
  • Making it to the top of my career is a key priority for me

Continue reading

Sub personalities – the people inside us

you_revolution17 jan2015 

Identifying and working with subpersonalities to improve your decision making skills:

So what is a subpersonality?

Most of us have had the experience of being ‘taken over’ by a part of ourselves which we didn’t know was there. We say ‘I don’t know what got into me.’

Here are a few short definitions:

1 A semi permanent and semi autonomous region of the personality capable of acting as a person.

2. Subpersonalities are psychological satellites, coexisting as a multitude of lives within the overall medium of our personality. Each subpersonality has a style and a motivation of its own, often strikingly dissimilar from those of the others. Another way of describing it is that subpersonalities are the people inside us and that each of us is a crowd.

Psychologist, Miller Mair offers a more elaborate description:

“Perhaps it is easiest to introduce the idea of ‘self’ as a community of selves’ by referring to the smallest form of community, namely a community of two persons. Most of us have probably, at some time, found ourselves talking or acting as if we were two people rather than one. We talk sometimes of being in ‘two minds’ about something, part of you wanting to do one thing and part wanting to do something else. Quite often we hear people talk of having to ‘battle’ with themselves, as if one aspect of themselves was in conflict with another.”

During my MA training as a Psychotherapist, I was very fortunate to be taught about subpersonalities by Dr John Rowan who has written extensively about this topic. More recently though, at a one day workshop the Trainer, named Peter, was very brave in naming a few of his own subpersonalities: Peter Pan, Perfect Peter, Promiscuous Peter etc.

Below is a collage of a person’s subpersonalities

 

you_revolution17 jan2015

For example, the angel figure at the bottom of the collage represents their compliant, goody two shoes subpersonality and the headmaster with an accompanying wooden cane at the top of the image symbolizes their inner critic subpersonality.

Do you recall Mr Men, series of children’s books by British author Roger Hargreaves in the 1970s?

The series features characters with names such as Mr Tickle, Mr Happy, Mr Forgetful, Mr Daydream, Mr Uppity, Mr Silly, Mr Messy, Mr Funny, Mr Mean, Mt Chatterbox, Mr Nosey, Mr Greedy, Mr Impossible, Mr Strong, Mr Lazy, Mr Cheerful etc who have personalities and physical attributes based on their names.

Perhaps Hargreaves was referring to his own subpersonalities here?

As Stephanie Foley puts it in her very helpful you tube clip:

Subpersonalities are habits or patterns of behaviour that we have followed since childhood: eg inner child, the very responsible one, the rebel, the organiser, the controller, the adventurer, the saboteur, the aesthete or the worker.

By recognising and working with subpersonalities she argues that the conformist can be transformed into someone more adaptable, a rebel tendency can become innovation or maybe the rebel and the conformist can work together and develop a new sense of leadership.

See the clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbqZKNsl7A8

Often our subpersonalities are battling with one another and so can cloud our judgements or make us appear indecisive especially in the work place.

So as I see it, if we acquaint ourselves with our subpersonalities we can then identify the perfect environment in which they might blossom and thrive (ie create the ideal soil that promotes grow).

Subsequently we can establish a middle ground between those that are in opposition with one another such as the bully at work and the meek mild subpersonality at home. In other words, attempt to harmonize our subpersonalities so that we feel less fragmented and more whole.

By turning down the volume of the bully at work, the gentler side of one’s personality can emerge in order to make more balanced decisions and a more pleasurable and motivating office environment for work colleagues.

As Assagioli, Italian Psychiatrist and pioneer in the fields of Humanistic & Transpersonal Psychology wrote:  “We are not unified; we often feel that we are, because we do not have many bodies and many limbs, and because one hand doesn’t usually hit the other. But, metaphorically, that is exactly what does happen within us. Several subpersonalities are continually scuffling: impulses, desires, principles, aspirations are engaged in an unceasing struggle.”

As Dr John Rowan articulates:

“The questions which seem to have been of most value in making subpersonalities concrete and explicit are the following:

What do you look like?

How old are you?

What situations bring you out?

What is your approach to the world?

What is your basic motive for being there?

What do you want?

What do you need?

What have you got to offer?

What are your blocks to full functioning?

Where did you come from?

When did you first meet (name of person – ie you)? What was going on?

What would happen if you took over permanently?

What helps you to grow?

How do you relate to women/men/children?

How does this relate to my personal story then?

The inner knowledge of my subpersonalities has helped me enormously to make my life work. In the context of this blog though, I’ll focus on the most appropriate examples.

As I explained earlier, two of the hardest life challenges I have needed to face so far was deciding whether or not to:

  1. escape the corporate cage, that is, my well-paid secure job and;
  2. leave behind my hectic London lifestyle and Harley Street Private Practice to live in the idyllic countryside and do my dream job as a successful Psychotherapist, Coach and Mindfulness Teacher at my Bristol and Somerset Practices.

The major conflict here was between my overly cautious risk averse subpersonality ‘Cautious Karen’ and my adventurer and thirst for knowledge and new experiences subpersonality ‘Curious Karen.’

Fortunately, following a number of lengthy debates between the two subpersonalties, Curious Karen managed to persuade Cautious Karen that both decisions would enhance my quality of life and achieve a healthy work life balance.

What can you do about subpersonality inner conflicts?

Be honest with yourself and acknowledge that you are probably struggling to make decisions as a result of subpersonality internal battles. Naturally, the reason will be different for each person and remember you’re not alone in this very common dilemma…

Take control by making friends with your subpersonalities and encourage them talk to one another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to stop comparing, improve low self esteem and increase your self confidence

you_revolution17 jan2015

For those of you who are unfamiliar, social comparison theory is how we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stand up against others. It is a process whereby people, like you and I, evaluate ourselves, to a certain degree, by examining their own qualities and abilities with those of others.

It manifests as an inner voice or negative chatterbox that often goes something like this:
• I wish I could stop comparing myself to other people
• If only I could overcome these jealousy and envy feelings because they hold me back
• Why can’t I just accept myself for who I am?
• Why do I talk myself out of doing incredible things because I am afraid to discover if I’ve got what it takes?
• Why haven’t I got as many facebook likes or twitter followers as my friends or business competitors?
• Why am I less attractive then my best friend?
• I wish I could afford a nice house and expensive car like my boss at work

Not surprisingly, in today’s quick fix, target-driven, celebrity, facebook, twitter, botox obsessed society, this increasingly common epidemic “social comparison” is sweeping the world, an extreme envious, keeping up with the Joneses and it’s causing burn out, anxiety, depression, addiction, low self esteem, envy, procrastination to name a few.

 

It’s about comparing status, comparing facebook likes and twitter retweets, comparing wrinkles, comparing schools, comparing bra and pec sizes, comparing gadgets, comparing academic ability the list goes on and it’s spreading fast!!! It’s tempting to think that this is a 21st century virus but it’s been with us since the beginning of time.

As a result, we are constantly making self and other evaluations across a variety of perimeters such as: attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, and success.

For most of us, the virus will continue from the cradle until the grave.

Let me give you an example. Though you want to experience more adventure, happiness and purpose in your life you compare yourself to gurus and talk yourself out of doing incredible things because you are afraid to discover if you’ve got what it takes.

Don’t get me wrong comparing yourself to other people from time to time can be healthy as it can set a benchmark for excellence and sometimes provide us with the inspiration we need. However it’s when it becomes obsessive and a regular negative thinking pattern that infects personal relationships with our partners and children and paralyses us to attempt anything new that it becomes a problem.

I, Karen Deeming, am now doing my dream job as a successful Consultant, Psychotherapist and Mindfulness Teacher advising film Directors, such as Mike Leigh, on the authenticity of film narratives involving psychotherapy. But it wasn’t always like that, I too was often crippled by the comparing virus in my well-paid secure corporate job until one day I stopped comparing and started daring:

I dared to take risks, I dared to leave my well paid corporate job and do a MA in Psychotherapy, I dared to leave Yorkshire for London and I dared to fulfill my dreams and passions. Most significantly though, I dared to drop my mask and accept myself for who I.

It may seem a mammoth task and a huge mountain to climb right now, however, here are some tips to help you overcome comparing yourself to other people:

Firstly acknowledge that comparing yourself to others is a bad habit.

 

The media and Society often portray people with flawless skin, pure white teeth, slim bodies, huge houses and expensive cars as being the happiest and most successful people on the planet. I can, however, assure you that in my work as a Therapist and in my life before counselling and coaching this has often proved not to be the case. If it were true that these characteristics guarantee a passport to living a happy, fulfilling and healthy life, why did Mick Jagger’s girlfriend, L’Wren Scott a beautiful and highly successful fashion designer commit suicide then?

Society similarly projects men with flawless skin, six packs, and designer clothes with lots of women, as badges which promise men a lifetime of achievement and contentedness. If this is the case then again why did Michael Hutchence and Kurt Cobain kill themselves?

Lots of wealthy people and celebrities also adopt unhealthy behaviours such as excessive drinking, cocaine use and eating disorders and though they appear confident are often experiencing low self esteem so why’s that then?

 

Society is remarkably effective at brainwashing people into believing they should look a certain way, act a certain way, be a certain someone, when in reality every single one of us is different. Society pigeonholes people and wants you to believe that you have fewer rights to be happy because you do not fit an idealistic lifestyle. I believe this happens ‘toxic pigeonholing’ happens because it keeps the consumer tread mill in business, continually filling up the pockets of plastic surgeons, BMW and Mercedes, banks, estate agents and pharmaceutical companies who prescribe so called “happy pills”.

As activist Satish Kumar put it: “Society is obsessed with “BIG” big nation, big business, big schools but with bigness you lose humanity.”

Remember that it is only following the industrial revolution that we became materially focused and it clearly doesn’t seem to be working for the majority.

Comparing yourself to others, especially celebrities and top academics, is a fine way to throw your self-esteem down the drain as there will always be those who are ‘better’ than you, and those who are ‘worse’ than you.

 

So give yourself a break!!

Stop comparing and begin to celebrate your own unique talents and what makes you special. By constantly watching and focusing on what other people are doing and how they are looking, it takes away your own inspiration, style and creativity and you end up becoming a clone, a follower of fashion or a people pleaser. Is this how you really want to run your life? Me, I’d much rather be a pioneer than a late adopter or carbon copy of other people it’s much more liberating and fun.

Fear of failure is a huge block for developing to your full potential and can often result in regular bouts of putting things off and procrastination. Since I began to welcome mistakes and to tell myself there are no mistakes and that everything is a learning opportunity, my life and work outputs have significantly improved. When a child learns to walk stands up and falls down is that a mistake?

Learn how to accept yourself warts and all, focusing on your stengths and weaknesses rather than constantly striving to improve yourself.

If you recognise any of the issues highlighted in this blog you are not alone in this very common dilemma.

Face to face or on line counselling or a personal development or mindfulness course can help you to overcome going around in circles and to stop comparing yourself to other people.

 

So, if you need a bit of extra support and encouragement and a few counselling or mindfulness sessions why not contact me Karen Deeming to arrange an appointment or for a short free introductory chat on 07950 751352 or by emailing us on info@karendeeming.com

How to improve low self esteem

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Some people think that self-esteem means confidence – and confidence comes into it – but it’s rather more than that.

There are any number of apparently confident people who can do marvellous things but who have poor self-esteem.

 

Many people in the public eye fall into this category. Actors, comedians and singers in particular can glow with assurance on stage, yet off-stage feel desperately insecure.

Think of the late Princess of Wales or Marilyn Monroe and you’ll see that public adulation is no guarantee of self-belief.

The word ‘esteem’ comes from a Latin word that means ‘to estimate’. Self-esteem is how you estimate yourself.

To know how you estimate your self esteem, you need to ask yourself certain questions.

 

  • Do I like myself? Do I think I’m a good human being? Am I someone deserving of love? Do I deserve happiness? Do I feel deep down that I’m an okay person? People with low self-esteem find it hard to answer yes to these questions. Perhaps you are one of them. If so, what can you do?
  • How can you improve your self-esteem? You can begin by accepting that you are certainly not alone. Masses of people have this problem. Secondly, take on board the fact you are a wonderful, special person – and there is no one quite like you.
  • Not only are your fingerprints and DNA different from everyone else’s (unless you have an identical twin), but your mind and how it thinks and operates is totally your own. This means that out of six billion people in the world, you are a one-off. So if nature has bothered to make you unique, don’t you feel you should accept that you’re important, and that you have as much right as anyone else to be on this planet?

You have other rights, too. One of them is the right to make mistakes. Don’t forget that ‘to err is human’ and most of us learn through getting things wrong before we get them right.

 

Furthermore, we have the right to respect ourselves – and to be respected. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, we have the right to say yes or no for ourselves.

Put your behaviour in perspective

 

It’s not healthy to condemn ourselves because of one aspect of our behaviour. Sometimes we feel we are ‘no good’ because we have failed an exam or lost a job, or we have been unkind or because we are having an affair.

All of us have many aspects to our personalities, and our current behaviour is just one of those aspects.

Try not to believe that the whole of you is hopeless, unkind or a failure, when really it is just one part of your behaviour that may – or may not – be these things.

Halt destructive thoughts

Many people with poor self-esteem think they’re not very important and their views carry no weight. Is this you?

 

If so, try to stop these destructive thoughts because if you go around believing them, you’ll encourage other people to believe them too. Instead, start thinking of yourself as someone who has rights, opinions and ideas that are just as valid as anyone else’s. This will help you to improve your self-esteem.

Techniques to improve self-esteem

 

  • Low self esteem feeds on negative thoughts so Don’t indulge in self criticism. Why are you waging war against yourself? Get to know your negative self talk and silence your inner judge/inner critic.
  • You can choose to please yourself It is good to you care about other’s feelings but aren’t your needs just as important? Don’t neglect yourself!
  • Don’t try to be like someone else. This leads to lack of self worth and confidence. You are unique and you cannot be someone else. Strive to improve but don’t criticise yourself for not being as successful, beautiful, slim or as popular as someone else.
  • Take life and yourself less seriously. Failure just means you are not successful YET.
  • Everybody fails before succeeding, don’t look on it as failure but as a means to learning. Perhaps you just need a change of direction. Problems make you stronger if you strive to overcome them.
  • Self worth, confidence and assuredness increase when you Focus on your needs and desires. You deserve to live life as you want. This is not selfishness as what you want doesn’t hurt others or prevent them from living life on their terms.
  • Focus on your successes. Lack of confidence feeds on your feelings of failure and inadequacy. Remember the truly successful things you have done in your life. Reward yourself when you do succeed
  • Use visualisation to help you achieve your dreams and increase your self esteem!
  • Focus on your strengths. Use them. You will succeed if you are true to yourself.
  • Work at achieving your goals. If you do this your confidence will increase and you will feel positive.

Accept yourself for who you are

 

Learn to accept the things that you cannot change and focus on the positive things about yourself. If you have a mental or physical disability, learn to accept the fact that you cannot change it, and focus on the positive aspects of yourself such as your personality, your ability to be a good friend, and your ability to love and care for others. Associate with people who are positive and supportive. If you surround yourself with negative people, your feeling will tend to be negative. Positive, supportive friends can help to raise your self-esteem by providing a nurturing environment for you.

Focus on your positive qualities – honesty, creativeness, unselfishness, helpfulness, communication skills, and your ability to care for the welfare of others.

Learn to forgive yourself when you do not accomplish all that you set out to. Everyone falls short sometimes, but rather than focusing on the negative aspects, learn to readjust your goals so that you have a better chance of meeting them. Almost any negative experience can be turned into a positive experience with the right attitude.

10-minute technique People with poor self-esteem often fail to give themselves enough time and space. So find 10 minutes every day to be alone, and to just sit and do nothing.

 

Some people find it helpful to close their eyes and imagine a country scene or the sight and sound of waves gently lapping against the shore.

During this 10 minutes, allow yourself to feel peaceful and happy. Enjoy this time. It is yours – and yours alone.

Accentuate the positive Often we make ourselves unhappy because we go over and over mistakes we have made. But we can improve our self-esteem if we re-think the things we believe we have done wrong or badly.

A low self esteem case study

 

For example, one of my clients has to give presentations at work. He used to mentally beat himself up after every one and stew over tiny errors. Now he writes an account of each presentation shortly after he’s given it. He writes about all the things that went well. He doesn’t need to write about the bad things – they will stick in his memory and he will try hard not to repeat them – but he will forget the good things unless he writes them down.

So when you have a bad day, or something goes wrong in your relationship or at work, write an account of what went right with that episode, not what went wrong.

The results will surprise you – and improve how you see yourself. List 50 things you like about yourself If you’re seriously lacking in self-esteem this could take weeks, but persevere.

You can write down your characteristics.

You can include things about your looks.

You can even write about the things you do. For example, you may buy a copy of The Big Issue on a day when you’re short of money, or you may help an elderly woman in the supermarket when you’re rushing to get your own shopping done.

When you have reached your 50 good things, keep the list somewhere you can see it all the time. Next comes the harder part. Try to record one more new thing you like about yourself every day for the rest of your life.

Receiving and giving criticism

 

One of the areas that people with low self-esteem have greatest difficulty with is criticism – giving as well as receiving it. Both can be extraordinarily difficult. Some individuals are demolished by criticism, but it’s something we can’t avoid.

Criticism is often unfair, and when it is we need to counter it by calmly putting our own case across. But some criticism is justified, and when we’re sensible we can learn from it. How to deal with criticism

Often when we’re criticised, we’re so hurt that we start excusing ourselves and rebutting what’s being said without really listening to it.

Listen to criticism without interrupting. If there are aspects to the criticism that are valid, begin by agreeing with those points.

If parts are unclear, ask for clarification.

If you realise you were wrong, say so and apologise.

If criticism is wrong or unfair, smile and say: ‘I’m afraid I don’t agree with you.’ It takes a lot of practice to feel and act this way.

How to give criticism People with poor-self esteem find it hard to dish out criticism.

 

Many avoid promotion because they can’t face the prospect of being in authority and having to criticise others. So how can you learn to criticise when you have to? Keep calm. Make your criticism at an appropriate time. Don’t wait until you’re so fed up, you’re furious – you’re bound to make a mess of it.

Take some deep breaths, then try a technique called the ‘criticism sandwich’. This means you say something nice, then insert the criticism, then end with another positive. Make sure you only criticise the behaviour, not the person.

An example would be: ‘Your work is usually great, but it’s not quite right today. I’ll have to ask you to re-do that report. I know it’s unlike you to get things wrong, so don’t worry.’

Say I not you

You might notice that people who are fair when they criticise tend to use the word ‘I’ rather than the word ‘you.’ This is because the word I shows you’re in control and that you’ve thought about what you’re saying.

All too frequently we don’t say anything initially, which is when we should address the problem. Instead, we bottle it up until we explode. Then we use the words ‘you’, ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ all the time.

We say: ‘You’re incompetent; you’ve missed the point; your work isn’t up to scratch.’ These phrases sound angry and accusatory. They also show that we’re not in control. And after uttering them, we generally feel worse about ourselves and our self-esteem plummets.

How to say no

 

These tips are just as handy when it comes to standing up for yourself. They’re useful when you want to say no without feeling guilty. Just keep calm and use the word I. Say: ‘I won’t be coming to that party with you.’ Or: ‘I’m afraid I can’t make it to tea on Saturday because I need to go shopping.’ Or: ‘I’m sorry, I can’t work late tonight, but if you need me to, I can stay tomorrow.’

People with poor self-esteem are always getting talked into doing things they don’t want to do. It must stop if you want to value yourself more.

 

Mindfulness Tips and Benefits

 

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According to Oxford University Mindfulness Professors, thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers prove that mindfulness enhances mental and physical wellbeing and reduces chronic pain.

So if you want to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion, physical pain, they all decrease with regular sessions of mindfulness exercises and meditations.

Mindfulness Benefits

 

Mindfulness can help you to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, and exhaustion

It can also help and teach you how to:

  • improve your reaction times at home and at work
  • rebalance your nervous system
  • regulate your emotions and moods
  • overcome exhaustion, procrastination and low-self esteem
  • accept yourself for who you are
  • achieve greater success levels in work and relationships
  • reclaim your capacity for fun, humour, excitement and joy

Another benefit of mindfulness is that it enhances memory retention and an increase in mental and physical stamina.

Research indicates that those of us who practice mindfulness regularly are calmer, happier, more contented and less prone to psychological distress.

Some Mindfulness Tips

 

As well as delivering Mindfulness courses, I also find it helpful to introduce some Mindfulness techniques and ideas during individual counselling and psychotherapy sessions.

Often these clients say that whilst they find the Mindfulness downloads that I recommend they try at home helpful, they are not sure whether they are doing the Mindfulness exercises correctly so here’s what I encourage my clients to do:

1. Regardless of what happens (eg if you fall asleep, lose concentration, keep thinking of other things or focusing on the wrong bit of the body, or not feeling anything), just do it! These are your experiences in the moment. Just be aware of them.

2. If your mind is wandering a lot, simply note the thoughts (as passing events) and then bring the mind gently back to the meditation.

3. Let go of ideas of “success “,  ” failure “,  ” doing it well “, or   “trying to purify the body “. This is not a competition. It is not a skill for which you need to strive. The only discipline involved is regular and frequent practice. Just do it with an attitude of openness and curiosity.

4. Let go of any expectations of what the mindfulness meditation will do for you. Imagine it as a seed you have just planted. The more you poke around and interfere, the less it will be able to develop. So with the meditation, just give it the right conditions – peace and quiet, regular and frequent practice. That is all. The more you try to influence what it will do for you, the less it will do.

5. Try approaching your experience in each moment with the attitude: “Ok that’s just the way things are right now “. If you try to fight off unpleasant thoughts, feelings and body sensations, the upsetting feelings will only distract you from doing anything else. Be aware, be non-striving, be in the moment, accept things as they are. Just do it.

6. When you experience a negative thought, feeling or physical sensation, breathe, pause, step back then ask yourself the following question:

“what do I know?”

“I know that if I allow my negative thoughts to take over it is not healthy for me and leaves me feeling anxious, I also know that though I can’t stop my thoughts, feelings or physical sensations, I can change what happens next, such as, consciously deciding to stop myself from catastrophising or getting too attached to my thoughts.”

“I know that thoughts aren’t facts”

 

I’ll end with my favourite two quotes:

“If you never give up you never fail”

“Small steps are better than no steps”

 

Tip nine for people with hectic lifestyles who want to make positive life or career changes

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Do you have a hectic lifestyle and want to make positive life changes but precious little time to make them?

For those of you who didn’t get the opportunity to read tips one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight of my blog for people with hectic lifestyles who want to make positive life or career changes see:

Tip Eight: http://www.karendeeming.com/index.php/2015/08/23/tip-eight-for-people-with-hectic-lifestyles-who-want-to-make-positive-life-or-career-changes/

For those of you who did read my other tips, you will recall me saying that over the next few months, I’ll be sharing with you the mindfulness, self help and personal development techniques and tips that helped me to:

 

  • Escape the corporate cage, that is, my well-paid secure job and hectic lifestyle in London
  • Move from London to live in the idyllic countryside and do my dream job as a successful Psychotherapist, Coach and Mindfulness Teacher helping 1000s of clients at my Liverpool Street and Harley Street Practices and nowadays at my online, Bristol and Somerset Practices sometimes advising film Directors, such as Mike Leigh, on the authenticity of film narratives.

Though I am now doing my dream job, living in a delightful Somerset village and have many tools at my disposal, life is occasionally still tough so I’ll also send you some tips to help you remain motivated, and focused when you are feeling stuck, overwhelmed, lost or you are falling victim to ”l’m too busy and don’t have enough time” and procrastination trap.

 

Tip for week Nine, how to develop healthier personal boundaries to help you:

 

• Feel less angry, stressed, resentful, exhausted, guilty and overwhelmed
• Enhance your self confidence and self esteem
• Increase your energy levels

So what are personal boundaries?

 

Personal boundaries are “the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others”

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits. They are built out of a mix of beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning.

Personal boundaries define you as an individual, outlining your likes and dislikes, and setting the distances you allow others to approach. They include physical, mental, psychological and spiritual boundaries, involving beliefs, emotions, intuitions and self-esteem.

How do you establish whether your boundaries are healthy?

 

Firstly ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you a people pleaser who frequently agrees to do things that you really don’t want to do?
  • Do you experience difficulties standing up for yourself?
  • Do you allow insulting, off hand remarks from pushy, aggressive people because you are anxious or fearful of the consequences or of potential conflict?
  • Are you over sensitive and often take things personally?

If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions then your boundaries are probably not as robust as they could be. We have all struggled with boundaries from time to time especially with our parents and those closest to us.

We are not taught how to do this at school, so how can we be expected to know how to set healthy boundaries?

I believe boundary setting should be a mandatory item on the school curriculum.

What is a healthy boundary then?

 

Ideally, the ability to set flexible boundaries.

According to Nina Brown, there are four main types of psychological boundary:

  • Soft – A person with soft boundaries merges with other people’s boundaries. Someone with a soft boundary is easily manipulated.
  • Spongy – A person with spongy boundaries is like a combination of having soft and rigid boundaries. They permit less emotional contagion than soft boundaries but more than rigid. People with spongy boundaries are unsure of what to let in and what to keep out.
  • Rigid – A person with rigid boundaries is closed or walled off so nobody can get close to him/her either physically or emotionally. This is often the case if someone has been physically, emotionally, psychologically or sexually abused. Rigid boundaries can be selective which depend on time, place or circumstances and are usually based on a bad previous experience in a similar situation.
  • FlexibleThis is the ideal. Similar to selective rigid boundaries but the person has more control. The person decides what to let in and what to keep out, is resistant to emotional contagion, manipulation and is difficult to exploit.

Whilst a healthy relationship depends on the emotional space provided by personal boundaries, co dependent personalities have difficulties in setting such limits, so that defining and protecting boundaries efficiently may be for them a vital part of regaining mental health.

Before providing you with tips on how to set flexible, healthy boundaries, I thought it might be helpful to share with you: How healthy boundary setting techniques have benefited me in both my professional and my personal life:

 

Following extensive boundary setting training on my Psychotherapy Master’s Degree, the knowledge I acquired , outlining how to set consistent, timely, flexible boundaries, has made a significantly, positive difference to my life.

For example:

  • I mostly now do things that I want to as well as have to
  • The development of sound, assertiveness skills have provided me with confidence to say no nicely and achieve what I want both at work and in my personal relationships
  • My energy levels have increased, as I no longer experience high levels of time stress, caused by previously booking up my diary months ahead, as a result of over committing myself, saying yes to most social and work-related events
  • I now purposefully surround myself with people who champion and bring out the best rather than the stress in me. In other words, I am now equipped to manage and communicate with nay sayers, bullies and intimidating, negative, aggressive people much more effectively
  • Nowadays, I rarely feel tired, resentful and guilty

Over to you:

 

Here’s some flexible, healthy boundary setting techniques that work for me:

The first step is self awareness, that is, acknowledging that you experience difficulties with boundary setting.

Begin to say no nicely:

 

For most of us, the act of saying no is simple it takes a second. It’s not saying no that bothers us though it’s the consequences that concern us.

You can say no nicely by using words and phrases such as:

  • Thank you for asking me
  • That sounds interesting
  • I’m honoured to be asked
  • That’s really kind

Avoid using but as it carries negative connotations and instead use words like and however.

Leave a positive lasting impression – good luck

Let me know how you get on ask me another time or I’d love to know how you get on.

A question and answer example:

 

Question
I’m organising an amazing event and I’m looking for someone just like you to help with the organising. It will be great fun and it’s all for a good cause.

Answer
Wow well first of all thanks for asking. I’m honoured. However, I’m going to miss this one as I’m committed to several important things at the moment which all need my time and attention. It wouldn’t be fair on them, or you, if I said I could get involved with something else and then did a poor job with everything. Let me know how it goes though.

Situation specific examples:

 

Saying no to your boss at work
Wow thank you for thinking about me. It sounds like a great project and I’m up for a challenge. To take it on and do a brilliant job I need your help. Could you help me to find a couple of hours a day by reassigning some of my other responsibilities? I know Giles has done data input in the past so he would be great at that.

Saying no to an angry person
I feel uncomfortable when you shout at me, so I’m going to leave the room until you calm down.

Responding to a bully, naysayer or a critical person
It’s not OK with me that you continually put me down and criticize my appearance so I’d like you to stop doing this.

When you feel put on the spot
“I don’t know what I’m doing that evening yet and I have a policy of not making decisions right away so I’ll get back to you later in the week.
(If the person persists and tries to manipulate or make you feel guilty, keep repeating this statement to them over and over again).

Cancelling a previous commitment you have made:
I know I agreed to help you with the flower show, after reviewing my diary though, I now realise that I won’t be able to give it my best attention so I’m happy to help you find someone else by the end of next week.

Time saving examples:

 

Q Would you buy a newspaper when you drop Charlie off at the scouts?
A Yes of course. And I need your help with something. Would you empty the dishwasher while I’m out.

Q Could you take care of the phones while I’m away? Ill be back in an hour or so..
A No problem at all, and actually you could help me. Would you mind dropping this off at the Post Office while you’re out?

A few assertiveness techniques

 

Assertiveness is: “the ability to honestly express your opinions, feelings, attitudes, and rights, without undue anxiety, in a way that doesn’t infringe on the rights of others”.

Here are some useful examples of assertive statements:

  • Thanks for your suggestion. I’ll take that into consideration
  • No, I am not busy on Tuesday, but I want to keep it that way
  • Could you tell me more information so that I can understand what you are trying to say?
  • I will have to get back with you about that
  • I think I understand what you are saying, however I am in disagreement
  • When is a good time for us to talk about something that has been bothering me?
  • I feel you are being very aggressive toward me
  • I get upset when you start shouting at me

I Statements

 

These make for great conversation openers because blame is avoided, and may allow the other person to save face or take responsibility before becoming emotional. If you are used to arguing with someone and suddenly try this, you may get quick improvements in communication.

If the other person becomes aggressive or passive you can continue with “I” statements.

For example, “I will continue this discussion when we both agree not to name call.” Or for the passive person, “I realize that you are not ready to talk with me and I respect that and I know I can’t make you. I will be ready when you decide to talk.”

If after reading this blog you are still struggling to remain in the here and now, reach decisions and are feeling overwhelmed with distractions and negative thoughts because of this, don’t panic or give up just yet.

Counselling, psychotherapy sessions or a personal development or mindfulness course can help you.

So, if you need a bit of extra support and encouragement and a few on line, telephone or face to face counselling or mindfulness sessions why not contact Karen Deeming to arrange an appointment or for a short free introductory chat on 07950 751352 or send an email to: info@karendeeming.com.