My Leadership Fails: Soft vs Kind

Courage Sailor“Smooth Seas Do Not Make Skillful Sailors” African Proverb

I have confessed to a life of ‘people pleasing’ at work – giving in to the demands of others – rescuing them from their problems – only to be hated and vilified when eventually I put some boundaries in places and said ‘no’. I felt confused and bewildered by this until recently, when I got to spend the day with Liz Wiseman – HR Guru and author of ‘Multipliers’ and she shared some insights that dramatically changed my approach to leadership at work! [Read more…]

Mindsets: Change The Backstory of Your Life!

Mindset Stones‘The Backstory Hides The Key To Success’ Dr Pete PhD

Let’s explore further why affirmations fail. Have you heard of the (dysfunctional) exercise of looking into the mirror each day to tell yourself you are beautiful to boost your self-esteem? Why is it that sometimes we do not feel beautiful despite the fact we look into the mirror and tell ourselves we are beautiful every day?

In the last blog we discovered that the reason affirmations often fail us is that they don’t engage our thinking patterns at the deeper levels where our unhealthy mindsets are hidden. Whilst our surface thinking may be changed through our affirmations and mantras, the deeper unhealthy mindsets remain unaffected and so our negative views remain intact despite the positive things we say to ourselves in the mirror. We refer to these important layers of thinking as the ‘Story’, which represents our surface thinking and the “Back-Story” which represented our deeper level mindsets.

In order to become more resilient and happy in life we need to be able to (1) quickly and easily uncover the Mindsets that have created a negative back-story to our lives, and (2) genuinely challenge and change these negative Mindsets to re-write this into a more positive and helpful back-story for the future of our lives. [Read more…]

Mindsets: Why Affirmations Fail

Waves of Life Kabat Zinn“Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” The Queen in ‘Snow White’

“The Devil is in the details, but so is Salvation.” Hyman G. Rickover

“To change your mindset it’s not ‘what’ you are thinking that is important it’s ‘why’” Dr Pete

Affirmations: A Poison Chalice!

It’s not working!” cried my anorexia patient Chrissy. “Every day for the last few weeks I have been doing exactly what you told me to do – looking into the mirror each morning and telling myself ‘I am not fat and ugly – I am beautiful & healthy’, yet I feel even more depressed, fat and ugly then ever before!!!”

Affirmations are a poison chalice! Whilst it is a simple fact that your thinking patterns will lead you to happiness or despair – changing your thinking patterns is not so simple. When I did my postgraduate training to be a clinical psychologist I was taught to encourage people to use ‘affirmations’ and think ‘positive thoughts’ about themselves – and say these thoughts out loud in order to change their negative thinking patterns into positive ones. The idea being that if they repeat these positive thoughts often enough they will eventually replace the negative thoughts. Whilst this idea may be logical – the notion that you can ‘fake it till you make it’ – it does not change your thinking patterns – and used as a stand alone self-help strategy is down right dangerous – often making things worse. [Read more…]

Stress Management: Are You Amateur or Pro?

Pro SurferMost people know a bit about Stress Management – they have read a few books, watched a few episodes of Oprah or Dr Phil and done some breathing or muscle relaxation. Despite this knowledge, the rates of Depression, Anxiety and Stress are rapidly rising among us with 1 in 2 people on the planet (3.5 billion) likely to have a serious psychological disorder during their lives – WHY?

Surely it can’t be because we don’t have the knowledge needed to manage our stress? Perhaps it’s because, as the saying goes, ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ and knowing about something is very different to being able to expertly apply it to your life when you need it most! [Read more…]

Summertime Sadness: The Loneliness Trap

Summertime Sadness“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” Plato

“Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out” J. Buck

The summer festive season is upon us once more and for many (myself included) it is a bittersweet time of the year. The chance to slow down and take a break from the chaos of everyday life and catch up with family and friends can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing of relaxing and unwinding and re-connecting with family and friends can also become the curse of unexpected illness, stress, interpersonal conflict and loneliness.

Like so many other parents in separated families, the festive season is a mixed blessing for me. My children spend each alternate Christmas with me so the festive season can be either an intense high-energy family time or a quiet time of reflection, rest and solitude.

In either case, the expression ‘the cup can be either half empty or half full’ can apply. [Read more…]

Success Secrets 3: Happiness & The Self-Sufficient

Aristotle

“Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient.” Aristotle

“You cannot give what you do not have.” Unknown

In this special ‘Success Secrets’ series we are looking at the hidden gems of wisdom that are often overlooked or misunderstood when the Challenging Waves of Life disrupt our Life Strategy to Live The Endless Summer. In this article I want to have a look at the very powerful and practical words of Aristotle who said: “Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient”.

I love this quote, as it is indeed true that people who are self-sufficient are usually happier than those who have to rely on others constantly to survive. However, it is important not to confuse being self-sufficient with being selfish or being alone and isolated. [Read more…]

My Parenting Fails: Personal Freedom vs Peer Group Safety

Kids Playing
Being a parent is tough! After many years in the trenches (with many more to come!) I want to share one of the more difficult issues I have had to grapple with.

As parents we all want our children to grow up feeling loved, being educated and being physically fit among many other things. We also want our kids to make friends and develop good relationship skills. Finally most of us want our kids to be independent thinkers and learn to love and respect themselves despite the moods and criticisms of others.

In helping our children towards all these important goals, the tension between building their individuality and self-confidence, and navigating the dangers and social pressures of the playground can be quite problematic. [Read more…]

After The Crisis: Helping The Helpers

Sunset

“Physician Heal Thyself” St. Luke 4:23

Like many people in the international community, I have been shocked by the public execution of several humanitarian aid workers in recent times. With the risk of being taken hostage whilst working to improve the lives of people in crisis, along with the myriad of other frontline risks they face, it is no wonder that many humanitarian aid workers leave the field, and are at such a high risk of psychological burnout and complex trauma.

In the history of the modern world, crises are a paradox – the source of much despair but simultaneously triggering amazing humanitarian support and compassion. Crises of hunger, war, natural disasters and disease have devastated entire nations and yet as many flee these challenges, there are inspiring people on the frontline who go and serve. [Read more…]

Success Secrets 2: Be Like Water

IMG_5894“The nature of successful strategy is like the flow of water. Water runs away from the high ground and gravitates to the lower; avoiding the challenges and finding the opportunities…” Sun Tzu 772-476 BC

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but those who are most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin 1809-1882

In this special ‘Success Secrets’ series we are looking at the hidden gems of wisdom that are often overlooked or misunderstood when the Challenging Waves of Life disrupt our Life Strategy to Live The Endless Summer. In this article I want to have a look at the very powerful and practical words of Sun Tzu – encouraging us to ‘be like water’ in order to be successful. [Read more…]