10 e-ways to e-check you are e-living e-life to the e-full

How’s your typical e-day? Most of us gently lust after the latest techie-fads, soak up daily fixes of snippets of information off the Internet, and, of course, we simply MUST make sure we don’t miss out checking in with our Facebook friends pretending they’re living fantastic lives. Not only that, we spend an inordinate amount of time each day trying continually to enlighten an increasingly neurotic world by relentlessly tapping away on our social media keypads. It doesn’t seem to matter the form of interaction: LOL / Like / emoji hashtag 🙂 {send} roflmao. It’s even possible to have an entire conversation on Viber or Messenger using GIFS-speak instead of actual words. George Orwell would have loved that in 1984.

And can our e-day really be complete without sharing at least one cute animal video? You know you all do it. And who hasn’t been tempted to share a political meme, but at the last moment backed off in case you offended any of your Facebook Friends, and instead shared a 5-year photo of a memorable meal that Facebook reminded you about this morning? 

Lessons in Life have now been e-reformatted into condensed bullet-point lists. So your online life-coach is a perpetual PowerPoint slideshow, filling in the alarming gaps in knowledge with such core essentials as

  • 10 things you never knew about your microwave’s inner feelings,
  • 7.25 ways paperclips can enhance your love life
  • 45 things you never knew about Mongolia’s mediaeval dental history, and
  • 15 absolute worst times to offer a high five (e.g. at a colonoscopy or a funeral). And yes, this last list really IS genuine.

We all know these inane, lazy digests represent stupid knowledge for stupid people who can’t cope with too many words. But as stupid people are usually too stupid to know they’re stupid (it’s true – it’s known as the Dunning-Kruger effect), we can read the bullet point lists with a clear conscience. After all, we can all peer-review offerings with which we can readily identify,  such as “5 reasons why we should never get married” (what happened to the other 129?).

And who could resist such endearing invitations, such as “People sexually attracted to food.” That one made me wonder if anyone has compiled a “10 ways to know if you are a wanker?” – and guess what? There are HUNDREDS of them. I bet you’re Googling that right now! Look here.

I was going to begin this blog with “10 reasons not to forget how useful books can be”. But I had too much fun wandering off at this tangent. Maybe next time. Meanwhile I am off to see if I can find some interesting articles that DON’T follow the first paragraph with 25 colour photos of overweight celebs in bikinis.

I love Mondays…

Maybe I’m the only person in the world who (a) loves Monday, or (b) accepts that Mondays are capable of being loved. Why is Monday despised? What do we have against Mondays, except that they’re a reminder that the weekend is over, and it’s the start of the working week? And yes, some people dread going to work. But why loathe an entire day … that recurs each and every week…?

What do the ‘Monday Blues’ tell us? Is there a lesson here somewhere? Maybe it tells us something about habitual attitudes. And as we all know, happiness is transient: it’s ephemeral and we love it when it arrives. But it doesn’t stay with us permanently. It goes. But not for ever, though.

You don’t need me to tell you that life comprises ups and downs. That’s partly what makes the weekend great – it doesn’t last forever; so we appreciate it while we can.

Ok, we had a great weekend! Well, here’s the good news: we get another one in a few days. That’s five days in which to look back on great times AND anticipate, or maybe even plan, the upcoming weekend-when-you-can-do-it-all-again! Or maybe last weekend wasn’t all that great. Well, Monday marks the start of a period of five days in which you can reflect on what wasn’t enjoyable, and plan what you can do to make the next weekend especially enjoyable.

That’s the weekend sorted. Now, what about Mondays? Cue Boomtown Rats. Well, they didn’t ‘hate’ Mondays, they just didn’t like Mondays. Ask 1,000 people why they don’t like Mondays, and most will say ‘it’s the start of the working week.’

If we have been harbouring a hatred of Mondays for most of our adult life, what is it about the odious nature of Mondays? Is there something particularly loathsome about Mondayness? Why do we abhor Mondays? Think back to the worst experiences of your life; did they always occur on a Monday? Can you remember a particularly detestable Monday? Were your previous Mondays always devoid of delight, gleeful mirth and merriment? Might it just be that how we think of Mondays it’s just … a habit? A habit that has become hard-wired in our thinking, and enshrined in our psyche? Now THAT is a thought to consider.

We tend to fall into one of two groups. We are either (a) the generally content and mostly happy, or (b) the downcast, dejected and disconsolate. What separates us is our perspective. If our Monday mindset has always been a negative one, it represents a super opportunity to challenge our thinking.

Why not rethink miserable Monday? Maybe Monday is not so bad after all, but in our habitual haste to put on the same pair of gloomy perspective specs we may simply overlook things to be grateful for. For example: knowing we’re being remunerated for what we do; being with colleagues we enjoy working with; getting to grips with a challenging problem that may be hard work, but which we know will generate a sense of achievement when it’s completed.

Of course, not everyone enjoys their job.

But that’s still a great opportunity to think what we DO want, rather than descend into our recurrent melancholic malaise. We don’t HAVE to remain stuck knowing what we don’t want; Mondays are a great incentive to think more deeply about what is missing in our lives, and what would be worth working toward.

We can choose to have our mood plummet at the start of every week, or we instead we can choose to embrace this weekly opportunity to see Mondays differently to everyone else. If others prefer to adopt a low mood – and it is a personal choice – maybe they have also chosen not to look for things for which they can be grateful.  Maybe they just got into a gloomy habit.

But why not use Mondays as a great opportunity to look for the things we previously overlooked in the murky gloom of despondency? Why not get into the habit at this point in the week to regard it as an occasion to look more closely for opportunities to relish and cherish? After all, isn’t personal growth really all about learning to make the best of everything? Every day and in every way!

Even on Mondays?  Especially on Mondays!

Why worry? Is there a more pointless (but common) emotion?

Worry (and the other gang members… anxiety, fear and panic).

Why worry? It’s so common but so pointless. What has happened cannot be changed, and the future hasn’t happened, so all you have is now. Spending time focusing on worry can seriously undermine the quality of our lives.

Although academics can spend years debating definitions and classification systems, ultimately these four are all part of a spectrum. Persistent worry triggers fear, especially when we worry and worry and can’t stop worrying. So we worry about that and it gets to be scary because we’re not in control. Because we’re fearful we become anxious. If our anxiety persists we get stressed, and that can lead to panic.

If we see worry as “praying for what we don’t want” – we can often deflect thinking away from what we don’t want in our lives in favour of what we DO want. I know it’s so easy to say, “oh, don’t worry, be happy” (cue the song!). And don’t we envy those carefree souls who seem to go through life without a care in the world?

The only difference between those who worry and those who don’t probably comes down to a belief in how well, or not, you can cope with unfortunate outcomes. Those who don’t worry tend to be confident that whatever happens, they can deal with it. For others, that confidence is lacking, so dread kicks in. If self-esteem is low, it’s mission impossible to believe you can manage your thinking. But you can. Instead (or as well as) of feeing fear, try to work out what is really happening.

Because our mind set has been continually adapting to how we see life, the universe and everything, our style of thinking has become patterned.

We usually accept our perspectives as being simply how they are. And as we get what we focus on, if we’re not living life to the full, it’s time to think about how we think about things.

The first new thought to consider is, “can we change our viewpoint? Alter our perspective? Rethink the worrying thought processes?”

Maybe STOP thinking for a while and just be. And DO something we enjoy? Rather than thinking about worry and anxiety…

What is the Conquering Life Programme?

People often ask us if the Conquering Life Programme is therapy, or like CBT, NLP, or mindfulness?

What essentially separates our Conquering Life Programme from other interventions such as NLP, and to some extent, CBT is that they have a patchy success record.  I think NLP is a bit like the American West of yesteryear: it has a few gold nuggets but too many cowboys.  These other alphabet soup techniques often have little if any science behind them, rarely if ever have lasting benefits, and they succeed only if the practitioner is particularly good.  They may often involve numerous sessions, and can be quite expensive – especially for elite practitioners. 

Good mental health is something to which almost everyone aspires, particularly if it’s linked to a holistic mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body.  It’s understandable if people are reluctant to pursue “psychological interventions” if that suggests a stigma with mental health issues. But how about sophrosyne? 

The very concept of “therapy” assumes the client is somehow ‘broken’ and in need of putting back together. However, the Conquering Life Programme doesn’t use a ‘medical’ assumption. Finding it hard to cope, eradicating stress, anxiety, phobias, and overthinking, and seeking a better quality of life doesn’t mean you are ill: you don’t have a debilitating condition that needs to be treated by a medical professional. And more importantly, you’re not ‘outsourcing’ a cure to someone else.

The Conquering Life Programme is a multi-stage training programme that effectively helps you to challenge some of the more deeply “in-grained” thought patterns. Everything in the programme is fully backed up by clinical experience and scientific research. The key elements are:

  • What makes you ‘tick’: your personality type and specific ‘thinking styles’, and what – if any – of the three primary limiting beliefs you may have.
  • How much power you have to make changes in your life: how much ‘self-efficacy’ do you have, how much belief do you have in you own skills and resources, how internal is your locus of control.
  • How the way you think, feel and react to situations has a profound effect upon how you experience life, and how you perceive external influences such as fate, luck, superstitions, and chance.
  • The nature of anxiety, stress, fears and phobias – how they are created and how I help you get rid of them. The link between thinking, emotions, feelings and behaviour, and their effect on your immune system, and physical health and wellbeing.

You may well be amazed just how quickly lasting change starts to appear. Learning what you can control and what you can’t will eradicate a great deal of anxiety and worry. Your self-esteem will be rapidly enhanced, and if social anxiety is a problem, that will quickly diminish.

One of the major benefits is acquiring a deep, holistic understanding of how our mind and bodies interact, and how these insights and awareness not only contribute to a healthier you, but also enable you to overcome fearlessly just about any situation and conquer every aspect in your life -fearlessly and confidently.

You will very quickly appreciate how different this programme is to any other, and why this one works while others invariably fail.

Our clients develop genuinely empowering insights. Changes to the way we think invariably provide deeply empowering insights; and it is this awareness and understanding that enable clients to develop the skills and resources they need to bring about changes that serve them better.

And if it seems we go past the initial problem – phobias or depression, anxiety, worry or stress – yes indeed! The aim is to get you flourishing, and clients find the worrying issues that brought them here just seem to disappear. The Conquering Life Programme literally sets you up for life.

All the principles, assignments and exercises are firmly underpinned by empirically published psychological research; I like to keep abreast of the latest developments and you can see a selection of these here.

If you would like to hear from those who have already benefited, do check out the video testimonials from many of the clients that have already learned how to conquer life.

HOW CAN I HELP?

Do get in touch to discuss how I can help you through a free no-obligation 30-minute consultation.  UK: +44 (0)  7597 232000   Ireland: +353 (0) 8385 88283

I use Skype, Facetime and VSee so I can deliver sessions world-wide.

 

Anyone for Armageddon this weekend?

Do you want to know why there are no werewolves nearby? I string up bulbs of garlic whenever there is a full moon. And it works — I never ever hear a howl at night: so garlic obviously keeps them away. I also bang a couple of rusty cans together every 21 days at noon for 10 seconds: that works equally well.

I’d like to think that even a young child could see the problems wth the logic here. But there are many adults who are superstitious, and honestly believe in astrology and celestial influences on our lives.

I have a bit of a problem understanding a causal connection between how stars billions of miles apart can be anthropomorphised into mythological symbols, random patterns of which are superimposed on groups of stars. As the sun tracks across some of these groups during the course of a calendar year, this is claimed to exert an influence on our lives, past and future. And all this flows from the relative configurations at the moment of our birth.

Some people are fervent believers in astrology, and claim that there really is “something in it.” But even those who purport not to believe in astrology or horoscopes sometimes admit to taking a peek at their daily horoscope in the newspaper. I still smile when a past astrologer for the UK newspaper, The Sun, was sacked for lazily re-issuing horoscopes published in previous years: the editor began the letter of dismissal “As you will no doubt have foreseen….”

As every popular newspaper publishes horoscopes, I’m left   wondering why we never see a newspaper headline: “Our astrologer scoops lottery jackpot!

One of the common factors that sometimes undermines the quality of our life is the belief that we are not in control of it. Many people assume that external influences — people and events — really do shape our lives.  Even those who claim not to be superstitious nonetheless avoid spilling salt, walking under ladders, and stay safely at home on Friday 13th — “just in case there might be something in it”.

But for those of us with a more rational perspective, a couple of interesting research studies recently helped to dispel some cherished beliefs.  And one in particular confronted one celestial phenomena that even rational people consider has some sort of influence over us — the moon. Although few believe that the full moon transforms normal human beings into werewolves (thank goodness for the protective powers of garlic), we do know it influences the tides. And many feel that the full moon does have some sort of influence. That has just been tested.

Some 5,000 children from five continents, from a wide range of backgrounds, were surveyed to ascertain whether the full moon really did have an effect. The results were unequivocal. It didn’t. The only empirical outcome was that the subjects slept less: 1% were affected.

I also conducted a small social experiment with a Facebook group, when Mercury was in “retrograde”. This is where Mercury appears to reverse its track across the sky for a few days (or nights) and then resumes its usual course.  It occurs due to the relative changes in viewing the annual orbit of Mercury which revolves around the sun in 88 days, and that of our earth’s 365 days. Astrologers often claim that such a rare event (it happens once every few decades) was fraught! This event was a harbinger of doom-laden malevolence raining down on us. So I thought I would test this.

I asked a small sample of 100 people on a Facebook group to which I belonged, whether the previous day had been normal for them, or worse than normal.  Mercury was in retrograde the previous day but I did not mention Mercury or its orbit. About one person in seven said the day was worse than normal: 17%.  When I repeated the question a few weeks later, the response was about the same: 17% said the day was worse than normal.  So the results showed that the orbit of Mercury was hardly a cataclysmic day from hell.

Somewhat ironically, I incurred some not inconsiderable stress on the day Mercury was in retrograde: my laptop kept booting up in “safe mode’ -and it took a few frustrating hours’ investigating the problem, which merely turned out to be a ‘stuck’ shift key. The more superstitious of those to whom I mentioned this said it was due to the malevolent influence of Mercury. I chose to conclude that I saw no reason to assume this was a portent of celestial Armageddon from the gods.

Meanwhile, let’s all have a big party to celebrate the doom-laden arrival of the imaginatively named”Planet X”, aka Nibiru, which has been prophesied to smash into Earth this weekend, on Saturday 23rd September. If anyone believes this really is going to happen, can you let me have all your possessions? Well, you won’t be needing them…

From Confusion to Clarity.

Life can be so confusing.

Those who are living happy lives invariably have … clarity.

They’re clear on what life is generally all about. And they’re also clear how they fit in. They’re not perfectionists — getting 80% is pretty good for most assessments. But they have a good idea.

OK — that’s them — we all know there are people happy with their lot in life. But that may not be you. You may well want to be happy. Or more happy than we are now. I suspect most people would love to score their life 8/10.

Or perhaps even that is optimistic if you’re someone who, when asked to score the quality of your life on a scale from 1-10, might say…. “ -1”. 

But even if that is how you feel, you’re not stupid. And if you are determined to feel better about life you know only too well that you are not going to change from -1 to 8/10 overnight. But you do know one thing. You’re not happy with your current score!

So how can things improve? It’s not as though you haven’t tried. You know you tried so many times to get fit, lose weight, manage personal finances better, find a loving relationship — and everything just fell apart.

Which, if you think about it, is good — because if you are honest you may not know how to get a great life — but you do know what didn’t work before!  So why not use that as a marker?

You know you want change. And if change is to bring about a better quality of life, it has to be a change that lasts. Everyone who wants to lose weight can lose weight. Keeping it off is the key. Anyone who wants to be more secure financially can save some money. But can they do that consistently? So how to get consistent changes for the better?

One of the best ways to start to bring about a change for the better is to start by asking a question.

If you’re not happy with your life, why is that? If you lost something or someone, what do you take from that? If you’re overwhelmed, what can you do to get clarity? If you are fearful, how can you stop the fear paralysing you? Once you start asking questions, you start to get answers.

But here’s the thing. If the question is not a great question, the answer won’t be good. For example…

“Why can’t I lose weight??” might elicit the answer, Because you’re a slob who eats junk food

It’s not a great answer, but it’s an ANSWER. It’s a starting point.

You want to improve the quality of your life. Well, why not begin by trying to craft a better quality question.

Instead of “Why am I always so overweight?” why not ask “how could I lose weight AND enjoy the process??

Ask a better question, and what happens?  You get a better answer!

And, with a better answer, that shows you a path you could follow.

Questions produce clarity.

So ask a question. But if you don’t like the answer, aim for a better question.

Of course, it takes practice.

But so does the quality of life

What’s a better question you could ask….?

You’re not that bright …

None of us are. We  like to think we’re smart, just how clever are we?  How many inspirational insights do we “tick” as being relevant, without really internalising them by absorbing them fully. 
One of my favourites is ‘do what you have always done, and you’ll get what you’ve always got.’ If you want a different outcome in life, you can’t keep doing the same things and expect a different result; I think Einstein defined this as insanity. But most of us keep doing what we’ve always done and wonder why we always get the same results.
 
An equally wise thinker, Aristotle, recognised that we are what we habitually do. And, of course, our thinking patterns are nothing if not habituated. We may think we are supremely intelligent, whether we attended the university of life, or other of hallowed halls of learning. But when it comes to thinking about our lives, what the hell happened to all those lofty dreams we had for ourselves when we were young?
The sad reality is that we rarely use our intelligence. Most of the time we live on autopilot; a classic example is driving somewhere without any conscious recollection of the journey. Far from being the personification of laser-focus, most of us often potter along life’s highway in a trance, most days.
 
One major misconception that what we believe is the result of long, continuous periods of careful, rational analysis. But the truth is that everything we encounter isn’t analysed. Instead we simply compare it to what we already know or believe: so it either confirms what we already know, or it’s rejected if it’s not in accord. We like being “right”, so we unconsciously seek out confirmation, and dismiss anything than contradicts our perceptions. And because we consistently do this, the older we are, the more entrenched our views tend to become.
 
We also do this retrospectively; we tend to revise memories to keep our view of how we used to be consistent with whom we believe ourselves to be now. How many times do we, or others, say “I knew that would happen” or “I had a feeling he was going to say that”? Both of these are examples of mental shortcuts, and they have influenced the way we think for most of our lives; the former is ‘confirmation bias’ and the latter is ‘hindsight bias. Have you ever noticed that politicians rarely if ever admit they were wrong in the past? Now you know why.
 
When it comes to deciding what we need to do, we all know what we SHOULD be doing. We all know what we NEED to be doing. We’re brilliantly effective at planning what we will do — tomorrow. Or next week. We’re crystal-clear in our mind about how to focused on what’s important and must be done. And, in our mind’s eye, we can visualise ourselves doing it. We have support mechanisms like post-it notes everywhere, and smart-phones programmed with reminders. We really know how to do what needs doing. When it’s in the future. A note to the wives: when your husband says he will do something, HE WILL DO IT. He doesn’t need reminding every six months!
 
How often have we delayed getting on with something important because we just need to check Facebook and want to know what our friends might be doing today? After all, that’s something we can get out of the way quite quickly. And we may well put the kettle on and have a cup of tea or coffee while we’re browsing what others are up to. And let’s just check our email why we’re at it, from where we find an irresistible news item about celebrity nipples, or “12 women that actually exit in real life (click here). And, of course, there are links to “five ways to beat procrastination” which might just come in useful. Although Google will also tempt us with 5, 11, 26, 17, or 8 scientifically proven ways to beat procrastination, or 6 ways celebrities beat procrastination, or the 8 best ways of wasting your time, or the 5 most revealing cleavages/budgie-smugglers EVER.  Needless to say (so why did I write it and why are you reading this) there are also all those productivity apps that enable us to have a list at our fingertips of things we really must get around to thinking about considering doing.
 
But let’s not rush into this. Let’s think about it for a moment, and explore some of the underlying issues. If you were today offered a choice of dessert for tomorrow, of fruit or ice-cream, which would you choose? The healthy option? If you were offered dessert now, what would you choose now? Chances are you may well opt for ice-cream.
 
Do you have a fridge crisper full of lettuce and green vegetables, which you piously bought, fully intending to eat, but somehow always got tempted by the lemon-drizzle cake instead, and eventually have to throw the lettuce away? The angel in you always suggests the healthy option tomorrow, but somehow the devil in you opts for naughty-but-nice….now. Have you ever noticed all that chocolate on sale at the supermarket check-out? You know why it’s there: impulse buying. If the kids are with us, we buy it for them. Naturally. When we’re on our own…?
 
We like to think we know ourselves. But we’re deluded again and again and again. How often do we practice testing whether something we think we know is actually true? We so often kid ourselves that the reason we can’t stick to a diet is because we’re weak-willed, so after a few attempts we give up and take solace in comfort food. We read articles that show most people put on weight after dieting, so this confirms our belief. We learn to live with what we become and learn not to try to become something else. We learn to stay stuck.
 
We learn to believe we can’t succeed. So we stop trying.
 
Or we can decide to stop thinking and just keep doing. Our minds will try and persuade us that we’ll never change. But now you know the insidious effects of confirmation bias, you now know it’s not real: it’s only a misperception.
 
After all, nothing succeeds like a parrot.

Summer holidays soon! Sun, sea… (spoiled by fear of flying?)

It’s holiday time! Guaranteed sun! Fun! Stress-free… except perhaps the unavoidable hassles of jetting off. Who doesn’t hate the queues and inevitable delays in crowded airports – to say nothing of having to endure cheap, cattle-class, no-frills if we want a low-cost flight?

But while we all have to grin and bear the gritty no-frills experience, several million will also spend endless hours with white knuckles, before and during the flight, gripped by fear – and often it’s not just “a fear” of flying: many are downright petrified.  If you’re also claustrophobic, it’s even worse, of course.

It doesn’t matter that statistically you’re far more likely to have an accident on the journey to the airport: the odds of a plane crash are 1 in 1.2 million flights, and the odds of dying is almost ten times higher – 1:11,000,000, which is close to the same odds of winning a lottery jackpot.

Even though probability of it happening to you is infinitesimally remote, the fear is real, and far from distant.

So what can you do? Suffer? Or DO something about it?

You can, of course, attend a 1:1 fly-with-confidence course run by British Airways, with prices starting at £2,950 (or £699 if you don’t mind joining nine others).

Or you can let me help you. Because the good news is that, even though you may have a fear of flying SEEMS real, it’s actually something you create. It’s being created by thoughts. It’s not something “happening to you.” Help is at hand.

Fear of flying – and all other phobias – can be overcome incredibly easily. And no, that doesn’t mean dragging you to an aircraft, strapping you in for the flight, and when it’s over saying, “there you are – nothing to worry about!”

Instead, I can help you overcome your fear by helping you to re-think your beliefs, restructure your style of thinking, and by giving you the psychological insights that help you understand the link between how you think and how you feel. Don’t take my word for it – hundreds have overcome their fear of flying this way – and now look forward to flying off to the sun. Even on no-frills cattle class!

Find out more by calling me on 08385 88283 (Republic of Ireland) or 07597 232 000 (UK).

First Aid when you are feeling low.

There are times when life catches us out, and our mood plummets. I’ve been thinking about some easy tips that can help deflect us from gloomy thoughts and low mood. I hope these three first-aid tips may help…

 
(1) Physiological control:
Stress is physical and its effects are actual physical consequence. Agitation, shallow breathing, raised pulse – the hormone adrenaline is flowing – and is physically felt.
 
Taking physiological control helps to calm, soothe, and slow down overthinking and racing thoughts, as well as pacify bodily systems hyped up by stress.
 
Breathe deeply and exhale shallow de-oxygenated air held in the lungs. Getting fresh air inside you will invigorate you. Ground yourself by naming and touching things around you, talk to yourself by naming what you can see and touch nearby, and even smell, if you have flowers or other aromatics nearby. This all deflects the mind — and as your mind can only deal with one thought at a time, intentional distractions shift the focus away from what was causing you stress and lessens their effect on you..
 
 
(2) Relate to someone
If you have a supportive partner, family member or friend, do tell them you are feeling low – they don’t need to know the details, only that you’re just feeling a bit low and would appreciate them being there for you, even for just a moment. Distractions through conversations also shift your focus away from stress. Everyone gets stressed out now and again, and everyone knows what it’s like. So, as we do far more for others we care about than we ever do for ourselves, just ask! Most will be grateful to you for calling on their support — even though your social anxiety may be sky-high and you may be reluctant to “burden” others; but the truth is that we like to be asked for help as it makes us feel valued, and gives us a shot of dopamine, the feel-good hormone.
 
Not convinced? A great way to “test” this is to try it out when you are NOT stressed. You can just say you’re feeling a bit down and could do with some support: nothing major, just a bit fed up — and see what happens. This is not to suggest trying it with everyone in the office! But trying it once or twice when you’re NOT feeling too deflated — or perhaps when you feel it might happen soon, and you may well be surprised just how supportive people can be. So when you really DO need help, you will know it’s literally there for the asking, rather than your inner critic telling you that you’re best not to bother anyone because no-one really cares.
(3) Regain your perspective: what has worked for you?
Do remember the words of Michael Montaigne: “My life has been full of misfortunes, most of which never happened.” If you can anticipate a worst-case scenario and know you can deal with that – you’ve massively empowered yourself. You KNOW you can cope. This deflects pressures and stresses from getting to you. Also, recall great moments in your life – really get fully back there to that fantastic time/joyful moment, and chest-bursting moment of pride. We’ve all had them, even though you may have forgotten! We don’t recall happy memories so much as re-create them. So make a conscious effort to recreate happier times. And, as you can only focus on one thought at a time, you take control and choose the thoughts you DO want to focus on, rather than the ones you don’t.
These aren’t intended as anything other than a “quick fix” to deflect those gloomy thoughts and deflated feelings. But hopefully they will give you ideas of practical steps you can take to move from thoughts controlling you, to you taking control of your thoughts.

Which came first?

Have you ever wondered which came first, the depression/anxiety or the negative thinking? Many assume the depression gives rise to negative thoughts. But does it?

If pressed, most mental health professionals will admit they really have no idea what causes depression. And many admit to increasing suspicions that neither medication or therapy seem very effective in dealing with depression, long term.

But there is increasing evidence that depression is a consequence, not a cause, of negative thinking. More and more credence is being given to the idea that the body can only deal with so much negative thinking. Just as we can only cope with a limited amount of stress. So a prolonged period of negative thinking — often, but not always, following a traumatic event — leads us to feel increasingly numb. 

To absolutely everything.

It’s now being seen as a body defence mechanism against stress and things we find it hard to handle. Research now shows that negative thinking can occur hundreds of times a day, often subconsciously. So, faced with too much stress, the body pulls down protective shutters down, literally to diminish the senses.

So if we recognise that depression is a protective defence mechanism that desensitises us, we have now identified the cause. But we cannot  expect anything to change without addressing the negative thinking that brought about the “shut-down” in the first place.

A break is needed. If we stop trusting our depleted way of thinking — and just stop thinking so much, we can reverse the process. So as a first step, perhaps don’t even think about anything. Just get out and about, doing nothing more than taking a walk. You WILL feel lighter and low mood will lift. In fact your mind and perspectives will probably feel just a but different.

Why not give it a try? It really does work. Then the process of re-training the mind to process information properly can begin.