Tips how to overcome panic attacks

you_revolution17 jan2015

Do you sometimes feel like you are:

  • losing control?
  • about to faint?
  • having a heart attack?

or at it’s worst a sense that you are going to die?

The symptoms of a panic attack can be very frightening and distressing.

 

According to the NHS definition:

“Symptoms tend to occur suddenly, without warning and often for no apparent reason.

As well as overwhelming feelings of anxiety, a panic attack can also cause a variety of other symptoms, including:

 

  • a sensation that your heart is beating irregularly (palpitations)
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • hot flushes
  • chills
  • shortness of breath
  • a choking sensation
  • chest pain
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • feeling faint
  • numbness or pins and needles
  • dry mouth
  • a need to go to the toilet
  • ringing in your ears
  • a feeling of dread or a fear of dying
  • a churning stomach
  • a tingling sensation in your fingers
  • shivering
  • shaking

The physical symptoms of a panic attack are unpleasant, and they can also be accompanied by thoughts of fear and terror.

 

For this reason, people with panic disorder start to fear the next attack, which creates a cycle of living in ‘fear of fear’ and adds to the sense of panic.

Sometimes, the symptoms of a panic attack can be so intense they can make you feel like you’re having a heart attack.

 

However, it’s important to be aware that symptoms such as a racing heartbeat and shortness of breath won’t result in you having a heart attack. Although panic attacks can often be frightening, they don’t cause any physical harm. People who have had panic disorder for some time usually learn to recognise this ‘heart attack sensation’ and become more aware of how to control their symptoms.

Most panic attacks last for five to 20 minutes. Some attacks have been reported to have lasted up to an hour. However, it’s likely that in these cases one attack occurred straight after another or high levels of anxiety were felt after the first attack.”

Do you know why this happens?

 

It’s a phenomenon called “negativity bias,” a name coined by Psychologists, describing our human tendency to be much more likely to be influenced by and to recall negative experiences, instead of neutral or positive experiences.

So the good news is that panic attacks, anxiety and automatic negative thoughts are not wholly your fault it’s just the way your brain is wired and you can take steps to address this.

So instead of giving yourself a hard time, firstly, be kind and compassionate, reassuring yourself that you’re pretty normal and not alone in this very common dilemma.

 

Man and clouds jpg

Here’s some Neuroscience research:

  • 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 with panic attacks?

 

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 behavior 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 panic attacks, 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.

 

 

monkey jpg

 

How can you tame your amygdala then?

 

Having studied this topic for many years now, by far the most comprehensive, informative book about neuroscience and the emotional brain I have read so far is the Chimp Paradox by Dr Stephen Peters.

As Coach of the Great Britain Cycling Team, and many business leaders, Peters developed a highly successful mind management programme using the term “Chimp Brain” as its premise.

The Chimp Brain

 

Peters asserts that “Chimp Brain” is an emotional part of our brain designed by evolution to support our survival.

Specifically, it is the area of the brain which activates the fight-or-flight response, hyperarousal, hypervigilance or the acute stress response, physiological reactions that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event or threat to our survival.

As it is fundamently concerned with two main instincts:

(1) survival and (ii) procreation

for example: sexual reproduction, hunger, thirst and protection of our territory.

The “Chimp” automatically jumps to opinions in the absence of concrete facts and may be paranoid, periodically resulting in catastrophic and irrational behaviour. For example when you are experiencing a panic attack the chimp often jumps to the wrong conclusion that you are having a heart attack or are going to die.

According to Dr Peters, the Chimp works on impressions, perceptions and interpretations, not facts and responds up to fives times faster than our rational brain.

Two other terms are also used by Peters, the Human Brain and the Computer.

The Human Brain

 

This Peters describes as the rational part of the brain highly effective at considering all the available facts and evidence and subsequently reaching careful and deliberate conclusions using cognition. It’s also where our highest values of humanity reside and it works five times more slowly than the chimp.

The Computer

 

A storage centre of retained experiences jammed full of automatic habits and responses, some positive, some negative. Above all though, when processing what is happening to us, both our Human and Chimp refer to the computer to seek associations and similar experiences. The Computer operates twenty times faster than our Human and four times faster than the Chimp.

You’re probably asking yourself right now how does all this relate to panic attacks then?

Peters argues that before taking any action, we firstly need to recognise these three powerful structures are continually operating in our mind. Furthermore, if we do not acknowledge this we will be perpetually running to catch up with ourselves.

This reminds of the mindfulness approach

 

Though we can’t stop our thoughts, feelings or physical sensations, we can take charge of what happens next. We can consciously step back, pause, breathe and choose to observe our panic attacks or negative thoughts rather than responding to them immediately.

Here’s some tips to help you regulate and tame the Chimp and as a result handle panic attacks more effectively:

 

1.Acknowledge that we as Human beings developed a negativity bias, that is, we evolved to notice and respond more forcibly to the negative, since that helped our ancestors to stay alive. Thousands and thousands of years ago, it was more important for cavemen to escape negative situations than it was to approach opportunity.

In other words, our ancestors wouldn’t even have stopped to analyse the situation. As soon as they noticed the slight rustle, like animals of prey, our ancestors would have simply fled for their lifes.

2.As it’s your “Chimp” it will respond sometimes when you are angry, stressed or perceive any kind of threat, physical or psychological, and it moves much more quickly than the Human part of your brain so is likely embarrass you with its responses. It might shout and rage, be rude and angry or violent.

3.Observe Chimp-like responses, these are easy to spot, they are responses which when you reflect later aren’t ones you’re proud of. They are likely the ones that if you had your time again you’d do differently, or they are the responses that you might, with the benefit of hindsight, think you need to apologise for.

4.Be aware that everyone has a Chimp and managing it is an everyday challenge, when we’re tired or stressed our Chimp becomes more difficult to control and can overwhelm us more easily. Observe other people’s responses, you can see Chimp behaviour everywhere.

5.Having become aware of your Chimp, you can work on taming it and rather than ignoring the Chimp’s instinctive and rapid reaction, just allow it to have its say. Then, consciously step back, pause, breathe and allow yourself more thinking time to work out a better, more considered Human response.

6.We can use the Computer part of our brain, our automated habits, to put in responses faster than the Chimp can react. This takes time and practice, but if we make a conscious effort to put in a different response to the impulsive Chimp one, we can develop what Peters calls an Autopilot, which is a script or response that overrides the unhelpful Chimp response before it can be enacted.

This rather reminds me of one Mindfulness tip I offer clients:

 

When you experience a panic attack, 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 tense my body my panic attacks will increase so I will try to be more calm and relaxed and say to myself it’s OK we’ll get through this”

“I know that if I allow my negative thoughts or panic attack bodily sensations to take over it is not healthy for me and will leave me feeling more stressed and 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 it is highly unlikely that I will experience a heart or die.”

“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.

To conclude

 

Understanding how your brain became so vigilant and wary, and so easily hijacked by alarm, is the first step toward gaining more control over that ancient circuitry.

Then, by bringing mindful awareness to how your brain reacts to feeling threatened, you can stimulate and therefore build up the neural substrates of a mind that has more calm, wisdom and sense of inner strength.

A mind that sees real threats more clearly, acts more effectively in dealing with them, and is less rattled or distracted by exaggerated, manageable, or false alarms.

Blue Monday-Mindfulness tips to beat stress, anxiety and depression

Aren’t Januarys tough sometimes? what with post Christmas blues and cold dark nights?

 

Back by popular demand, this video I created for my coaching business, You Revolution, shows how mindfulness can help you with Blue Monday. Mindfulness can also help you to reduce and overcome anger outbursts, stress, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, negative thinking patterns, high blood pressure, low self esteem and exhaustion.

 

Feeling low or depressed because of dark nights and too much rainfall?

Dreading the arrival of your credit card bill this month?

Want to simply curl up in bed beneath your duvet and hibernate for the whole of January?

Feeling disappointed that your New Year Resolution, detox or weight loss programmes aren’t going as well as you had anticipated?

Then you may have fallen victim to Blue Monday trap. Following extensive research findings, the third Monday of January, supposedly the most depressing day of the year, has been awarded the gloomy title due to a combination of post-Christmas blues, cold dark nights and the arrival of unpaid credit card bills.

Even though I, Karen Deeming, am doing my dream job, Blue Monday is still always tough, however, what helps me cheer myself up and get through the day is my daily mindfulness practice, doing nice things for other people or simply remembering that I have roof over my head, have the pleasure of three good meals a day and I don’t have the misfortune of living in a war zone.

 

Mindfulness is a technique for reducing stress, exhaustion, high blood pressure, panics, anxiety, and negative thinking patterns which has been widely approved by the international medical community. It teaches greater awareness of our thoughts, feelings and sensations through simple techniques like visualization, meditation and gentle movement.

Let me give you a recent, real life example of how mindfulness helps:

 

Despite a prediction of heavy rain in Somerset a few days ago, I decided to take out my rickety vintage bicycle “Flo” for an impromptu cycle ride to the local farm shop. As she had been snuggling up to the lawn mower for most of December it was no easy task to take Flo out of the shed, nonetheless I still proceeded to do so.

The cycle route from Pilton to Pylle is no stranger to me but today it was a strikingly different experience because I had decided to attempt mindful cycling. In other words, I adopted a small steps approach, focusing on the here and now and the journey rather than a speedy arrival at my destination.

How stunning I chuckled to myself as I was greeted by the distant view of Glastonbury Tor. I even encountered the delightful sound of a trickling stream for the first time too. Slightly distracted by these delicious in the moment experiences, I cycled through an unexpected knee deep, muddy puddle resulting in a near trench foot endangerment.

Fortunately, I escaped lightly and though my socks were thoroughly soaked, a brief recollection of a relentless flooded tent experience at the Glastonbury Festival in 1996 encouraged me to soldier on. What also helped me manage this somewhat unattractive incident, were the charming duo of immaculate cocker spaniels grinning at me from the rear window of a delapidated jeep ahead. Ten minutes or so later I noticed a distinct change in the earlier calm blissful atmosphere and it suddenly struck me that I had entered into the realms of a busy, treadmill resembling, A road……

Anyway. The reason I’m writing this blog for you is not just to share the awesomeness of Pilton landscape(though it ‘s definitely a worthwhile visit).

 

It’s also this:

The application of mindfulness together with my conscious intention to zoom in on the abundance of delightful landscape instead of focusing on the scarcity of sunshine resulted in a highly pleasurable experience.

 

Moreover though it was forecast to train at 11am it didn’t actually rain until 11.10am when I was safely home and dry nestled up to the cat on the kitchen sofa.

 

Over to you

 

The ability to achieve a successful work life balance in order to live more creatively and fully has never been more important than in today’s society. Unless you take more quality time on your own, you will always experience emotional and physical difficulties from the beginning of your working life until the grave. Health, well-being and mindfulness workshops are our passion at You Revolution that’s why we pride ourselves in inspiring people, like you, to find balance in work and play and in your mind and body and to experience being in the flow.

We also provide the ideal playground and tools to empower people, like you, to overcome issues that are bothering you. This includes learning practical skills that you can use in everyday life and learning techniques to identify your triggers and to put a stop to any unhelpful behavioural patterns.

If after reading this blog you are still struggling to motivate yourself on Blue Monday or indeed anytime in 2017, why not take this one small step today by signing up to one of our mindfulness one day or eight week courses where you can meet like minded people and achieve life changing results!!

 

Alternatively, if you don’t feel ready for a course just yet we also offer on line or face to face counselling sessions too.

Make it happen Stop thinking, Start doing !!!

Why not call Karen to have an informal chat or to book an appointment by calling 07950 751352.

Alternatively you can email me on: info@karendeeming.com

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

I’ve recently taken up a more research based role, so am currently reading through some CBT course notes.

Guess what my daily CBT mood diary revealed from a few years ago? That one of my most enjoyable daily activities was arriving home from work to be greeted by my cat Poppy and subsequently snuggling up on the sofa together.

The image attached to this blog is one that my partner Liam painted for me of our delightful cat Poppy sitting in my “shrink chair” as Liam calls it. Poppy, our adorable Celia Hammond rescue cat, from East London is now approaching the dear old age of 14 bless her and has given us both years of pleasure. She is such a Jekyll and Hyde character too: elegant, a Hyacinth Bucket type princess during the daytime and a pub hard case after 8pm.

Cats, Pets and Counselling Research

This then led me to question, with my shrink hat on, why is spending time in Poppy’s company so uplifting no matter how hectic and stressful my day has been.

One of the reasons why most pets are therapeutic is because they fulfill the basic human need to touch. People need touch to survive as well. Children who are touch-deprived don’t grow emotionally, physically and cognitively. Director of The Touch Research Institute, Dr Tiffany Field, cites a television show on Romanian orphans who are stick thin and unable to walk until aided by massage therapy and proper nutrition. Dr Field comments, “A child’s first emotional bonds are built from physical contact, laying the foundation for further emotional and intellectual development.”

Even hardened criminals in prison have shown long-term changes in their behavior after interacting with pets, Stroking, holding, cuddling, or otherwise touching a loving animal can often quickly calm and soothe us when we are feeling stressed. Pet companionship can also help overcome loneliness.

According to the American Heart Association, the ownership of pets has reduced risk for heart disease and greater longevity. There is also research indicating that playing with or snuggling up to these delightful furry friends has several physical and mental health benefits. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond.

Studies have also found that:

• Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
• People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets.
• Playing with a pet can heighten levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
• Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.

In other words, like counselling, therapy and mindfulness, pets, though to a lesser degree, can also help us to self-regulate. Having said that, pets are a huge commitment and so are not for everyone. If you are one of those people who either dislike or have no desire to own a pet, then perhaps you may want to consider other ways of self regulating, reducing stress and blood pressure levels such as counselling and mindfulness.

Over to you

If after reading this blog you realise that stroking your cat or pet is not enough to help you overcome low moods, anxiety, stress and feeling overwhelmed with distractions and negative thoughts you are not alone in this very common dilemma. So don’t panic or give up just yet.

On line counselling 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 counselling sessions why not contact me to arrange an appointment or for a short free introductory chat on 07950 751352 or by emailing me on info@karendeeming.com.

 

How to improve low self esteem

you_revolution17 jan2015

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.

 

Mindfulness is key theme for Mental Health Awareness month 2015

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Do you want to?

  • reduce your stress and anxiety levels
  • achieve the things you want to as well as those you have to
  • find balance in work and play and in your mind and body
  • to wake up in a morning feeling less exhausted and more energised
  • develop strategies to overcome insomnia and procrastinating
  • address and develop tools to tackle negative thinking patterns
  • have a more comfortable relationship with food and kick old habits such as overeating, over monitoring your food intake and obsessive calorie counting
  • stop comparing yourself to other people and people pleasing
  • work on your low self esteem issues
  • understand why you talk yourself out of doing incredible things because you are afraid to discover if I’ve got what it takes

If your answer to one or more of these questions is yes then you may benefit from Mindfulness.

So what exactly is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a scientifically based tool designed to help reduce stress, panic attacks and anxiety and has been widely approved by the international medical community. It teaches greater awareness of our thoughts, feelings and sensations through simple techniques like meditation and gentle movement. And you don’t need to sit cross legged in the mountains to do it!!!

The ability to achieve a successful work life balance in order to live more creatively and fully has never been more important than in today’s society. Unless you take more quality time on your own, you will always experience emotional and physical difficulties from the beginning of your working life until the grave.

What are the benefits of Mindfulness?

It provides you with a range of tools to help you:

  • rebalance the nervous system
  • teach you how to regulate your emotions and moods more effectively
  • overcome exhaustion, insomnia, 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

How does Mindfulness work in practice?

Practice the three minute mindfulness breathing space meditation below not cross legged on a mountain in the Himalayas at your desk or sat upright in a chair at home, in your business hotel or on the bus or tube if you live in London.
http://franticworld.com/free-meditations-from-mindfulness/

Tips for the 3 minute breathing space mindfulness practice

Whilst listening to the 3 minute mindfulness breathing space, just allow your thoughts to rise, plateau and fall and imagine that they are part of a film/tape or actors in a play coming and go or clouds in the sky and that you have the option to press the stop button at anytime.

Most importantly, remember that thoughts are not facts and are only your own interpretation of emotions and feelings and other people’s actions and so when you next experience a negative automatic thought write it down and ask yourself what evidence is there to support this thought and what evidence is there against this thought.

1. Regardless of what happens (eg if you fall asleep, lose concentration, keep thinking of other things), 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 your breathe
3. Let go of ideas of “success “, ” failure “, ” doing it well “, or “trying to purify the mind “. 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 3 minute mindfulness breathing space 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 3 minute mindfulness breathing space , 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.

Focusing on the breath fills some people with a sense of dread so are there any alternatives to the three minute breathing space?

Yes try this sounds and thoughts mindfulness meditation instead:

http://franticworld.com/free-meditations-from-mindfulness/

Before beginning the sounds and thoughts mindfulness meditation, as above read these tips first:

Just allow your thoughts to rise, plateau and fall and imagine that they are part of a film/tape or actors in a play coming and go or clouds in the sky and that you have the option to press the stop button at anytime.

Most importantly, remember that thoughts are not facts and are only your own interpretation of emotions and feelings and other people’s actions and so when you next experience a negative automatic thought write it down and ask yourself what evidence is there to support this thought and what evidence is there against this thought.

1. Regardless of what happens (eg if you fall asleep, lose concentration, keep thinking of other things), 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 sounds around you.

3. Let go of ideas of “success “, ” failure “, ” doing it well “, or “trying to purify the mind “. 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 sounds and thoughts 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 sounds and thoughts mindfulness 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.