10 Ways to navigate life successfully

 

happy life

Woman enjoying happiness and hope on spring

10 Ways to navigate life successfully

 

Never gossip

Gossip is negative energy being spread about. Be impeccable with your word. You wil like and respect yourself more for it.

Don’t take things personally

May things that happen in life have very little to do with us even though we assume they do. Learn to give yourself the benefit of the doubt.

Reject conformity – be true to yourself

Follow what feels good for you, not what you think you are expected to do.

Maintain a sense of humour

Life can be tough and extremely challenging – a sense of humour can soften the edges.

Never catastrophise

Stop dreaming up worst case scenarios – put a lid on it. Catastrophising will lead you to feeling anxious and/or depressed and these situations may actually never arise. Deal with things as they present themselves rather than worrying about every possible future scenario – that’s just mental torture.

Be present as much as possible

Stop living in the past or the future. The present moment is where it’s at – happiness can only be felt now, not in the past or future.

Stop comparing

Comparing is a one-way ticket to feeling deprived and you are comparing to ‘surface’ information rather than what is really going on in other people’s lives as you don;t know for sure what is REALLY happening. Focus on your own life instead – how far you have come and where you want to go. (then back to the present…)

Distinguish thoughts from facts

Thoughts come at us relentlessly and most of them are non-productive ‘useless’ thoughts. Stop paying attention to every single thought – accept, acknowledge and dismiss..another one will be along soon. Focus on the helpful thoughts not the negative ones. When negative thoughts persist, look for any evidence to support your thinking – often there won’t be any.

Develop a strong inner core/foundation

Live a life where you obtain your strength and value from inside. not from external sources. Speak to yourself in a positive manner and focus on your strengths regularly. When we give ourselves love and acceptance, this enhances our external world immensely. We act more confidently and attract different people and experiences into our lives.

Create goals/strive for meaning and purpose

In order to have a general direction, it is important to have short term and long term goals in place. When life gets tough, having goals in place adds some structure and can help us feel that we are still on track even though presently we may feel in the middle of a sand storm.

There are many ways to improve life and cope better with life’s challenges – the above tips are brilliant ways to have that edge in life and protect contentment a little more.

Mandy X

 

How to break through mental barriers

 

mental blocks

 

How to break through mental barriers

What’s stopping you from achieving your true potential or attaining your goals? We all have ideas of how we would like to improve our lives but very few of us actually set in motion the practical steps to improve our lot. Most just talk and never do.

Here are common things that get in the way and create obstacles to us achieving what we want:

  1. Negative thoughts/limiting beliefs

We all have stuff that our minds tell us that stop us from moving forward. We think about everything that could possibly go wrong, we lack self belief and we experience fear. All of these ‘nonsense’ thoughts stop us and effectively remain as mental barriers to self actualisation.

2. Unrealistic goals

Goals are sometimes set that are unrealistic or too big for us to achieve. You may lack the skills, time, money, health or other resources to reach your goals.

3. Avoidance of discomfort

Often we are unwilling to make room in our lives for the discomfort a certain challenge will bring.

4. Losing direction

At times we lose our true selves and move away from our core values. When we lose touch with, or forget what is truly important or meaningful we can end up on the wrong path and be unable to reach our goals.

Write down everything that has stopped you from following through:

1)

2)

3)

4)…..

 

Now revisit your reasons and label them as one of the four reasons above. Was it a limiting belief (I will fail; I’ll do it later, I’m too weak) or was it unrealistic? (you lacked money, time etc).

Was it avoidance of discomfort? ie. you were unwilling to make room for the anxiety, frustration, fear of failure or other uncomfortable thoughts/feelings…or finally was it losing direction?

How to fix it:

Go through your barriers one by one and work out how you can deal with them. Name the story (the thoughts you are telling yourself), accept the thoughts are there and acknowledge them for what they are. – They are unhelpful and judgmental. Recognise the critical inner voice and simply let it pass – like cars passing on a highway.

Acceptance strategies: name the feeling, observe it like a curious scientist, rate it on a scale from 1 to 10, commit to allowing it, breathe into it, make room for it, give it a shape and a colour.

Realistic goal setting: If you lack skills, set new goals around learning them. If your goal is too big, break it down into small chunks. If you lack resources, brainstorm how you can get them; if you lack time, what are you willing to give up in order to make the time? If the goal is truly impossible eg. due to health or financial issues, or external barriers over which you have no direct influence, then set a different one.

Embracing values to find direction: connect with what matters to you about this goal. Is it truly meaningful? Is it aligned with your values? Is it truly important? Is it moving your life forward in a direction you wish to go?

Using these ideas, write down how you can respond to the barriers you have listed above.

Finally, ask yourself this question: Am I willing to make room for the difficult thoughts and feelings that show up without getting caught up or struggling with them, and take effective action in order to do what matters?

If so, go ahead and give it a go.

If not, consider these three questions:

  1. Does this really and truly matter to you?
  2. If it does, then what is the cost to you of avoiding it or putting it off?
  3. Would you rather have the vitality-draining pain of staying stuck, or the life-enhancing pain of moving forward??

Mandy X

 

 

How to improve mental resilience

 

mental resilience

How to improve mental resilience

Some people seem to cope better with setbacks than others. Despite life’s challenges they seem to be able to rise above the trouble and emerge stronger. The reason for this is their mental resilience. It is one of the most important skills you can learn to improve your quality of life and reduce stress.

  1. Mental flexibility

People who catastrophise and think up worst case scenarios invite unnecessary stress into their lives. Possessing mental flexibility is one of the most important ways to be mentally resilient. The ability to be able to look at a situation in different ways and think up rational alternatives tends to produce people who are happier in life. Of course, what happens to you in life is important but even more crucial is how you wish to perceive what happens to you. The story you tell yourself about your life. A pessimist might respond to a difficult life situation by saying to themselves, “This is just confirmation of what a loser I am. Nothing ever works out for me”…whereas someone with mental resilience would probably think more along the lines of:

“I’m not happy about this situation but there are things I can try to help the situation”.

Another example:

Situation: You greet someone and they ignore you.

Person without mental resilience “They obviously don’t like me.I must have done something wrong”

Person with mental resilience “They could be tired or stressed about something else. It might have nothing to do with me”.

2. No overthinking

Mental resilience involves awareness of thinking and knowing that thoughts are not facts. The reality of the situation might not be as we think it is. Being aware of types of worry can improve mental resilience. There is real worry and there is hypothetical worry. Real worry can usually be actioned immediately – such as a broken washing machine or a flat tyre. A hypothetical worry is a ‘what if’ worry – it may never happen. The less we preoccupy ourselves with thoughts of possible problems, the more we free up our minds for more productive thinking.

3. Avoidance of irrational thinking

Irrational thinking is something we all do but being aware of the types of irrational thoughts that exist can help us to dismiss these thoughts quicker. There is never obvious clear evidence for irrational thinking – we assume things that may not be true.

Examples:

Mind reading – when we assume that we know what others are thinking

Overgeneralising – assuming one example means all in that category will be the same

Black and white thinking/all or nothing thinking – this type of thinking does not allow for ‘grey’ areas which is unrealistic

Comparing and despairing – looking at other people’s lives and feeling worse off. We don’t know what is really going on behind closed doors

Catastrophising – thinking of the worst possible outcome when faced with a problem

Personalising – self blame when there is no evidence to suggest a person is at fault

4. Tolerating uncertainty

Trying new things regularly is a good way of learning to tolerate uncertainty. Uncertainty is something we all have to face so it’s a good idea to learn acceptance and find a way to cope well with it. Instead of resisting uncertainty by never trying anything – the more you can push yourself out of your comfort zone, the better.

Mental resilience can be learned and improved. Be brave, see life as an experiment and never take your thoughts too seriously. There are  many ways to look at  life, so learn to choose ‘stories’ that serve you well and motivate you rather than frighten you.

Mandy X

 

 

Playing mind games in relationships

 

mind games

Playing mind games in relationships

Any interaction with another person has the potential to involve some type of mind game. In fact, many of us are quite good at playing mind games in relationships. The problems start when the mind games are used for dubious purposes. Unscrupulous people want to be in control and many have learned how to push other people’s buttons and pick up on subtle emotional signals in order to manipulate the other. Mind games involve manipulation, twisting the facts and creating doubt to destabilise another person. Here are some examples of mind games in relationships and tips to counteract them:

The more tumultuous someone’s childhood was, the more likely they are to engage in mind games. As a powerless child faced with unfair and unreasonable parents, children learn ways to manipulate the situation in a subtle passive way in order to cope emotionally. Many take these dysfunctional coping mechanisms into their adult relationships.

Twisting the facts

Playing mind games involves twisting the facts of a situation in order to suit the manipulator’s version of events. They will see the situation their way and will generally lack the empathy to understand another person’s point of view. They will ignore feelings and repeat their version of events, effectively voiding any other point of view of a situation. This can be extremely frustrating for the partner who feels misheard and misunderstood.

Deflecting and dismissing

Someone is definitely playing mind games when they dismiss your feelings. They will say something upsetting and when you react, you are told you are “Too sensitive”. A healthy, carting person will not like upsetting someone else and make a point not to do it again. A person playing mind games will make a mental note of that weakness and keep it as a weapon to be used in the future to control and manipulate. Another tactic is when you try to talk to your partner about their behaviour or about something you don;t like that they do. Instead of listening and communicating, a person playing mind games will merely deflect the conversation and your concerns with a reply such as ” Well you did the same thing last week and that’s why I do it”. There is no acceptance of responsibility – somehow their behaviour gets blamed on something you have done.

Creating self doubt in another

“What are you doing that for?”, “Why are you thinking like that?” etc. A mind game player will do their best to shake the foundations of your beliefs and ideas about the world. The more confusion and self doubt, the easier it is to influence you.

Emotional blackmail

“If you truly cared, you wouldn’t do it” is an example of emotional blackmail. You are made to feel you do not care enough and in this way they control your behaviour.

Subtle erosion of confidence

Over time, mind game players ‘groom’ you into doubting yourself and this undermines confidence. They may also throw in comments like, “You are lucky to have me, no one else will love you like I do” or “You on’t find someone else to love you”. Instead of bringing out the best in you, they chip away at your confidence to keep you feeling unworthy. As a result, you will be less likely to leave the relationship.

If you think you are experiencing mind games in your relationship, you probably are. Second guessing yourself is common in relationships where mind games are rife. Learn to recognise the types of mind games and don’t play the game.

Mandy X

Why love is important

 

 

love photo

 

Why Love is Important

Feeling connected to others is one of life’s most fulfilling experiences, research has shown this repeatedly, yet in the manufactured world we live in, love seems to take a back seat to status, power and money.

I used to work in an old age home and when we get down to basics, the important things that remain are friends and family. I never saw a degree up on the wall or a photo of a house or car. It was all about the people.

A lack of social support and human connection can have long-lasting negative effects such as , depression, lowered immune function, and higher blood pressure.

Sustaining good connections protects our health and happiness far more than many of us realise. Love gives us the strength to cope with the tough times.

A survey by the National Bureau of Economic Research, as Roshan D Bhondekar shared in Love – The Key to Optimism: Path Toward Happiness, found that 5,000 agreed that doubling your group of friends has the same positive effect on your well-being as a 50% increase in income!

Love makes more of an impact than money does and far outweighs the material things we chase in terms of long term fulfillment. Hugs release a chemical oxytocin that releases a feel good factor.

It makes sense to spend time with people you love and to nurture friendships – this truly is where contentment lies.

Mandy X

What’s stopping you?

 

what's stopping you

What’s stopping you?

When you look at your life, do you feel that the life you have is the one you wanted? Often, misery and dissatisfaction comes from the wide gap between how our life really is and how we wished it would be. Thing is, many of us place mental barriers in the way that stop of us from achieving what we’d like to. Let’s see if you are grappling with any of the following:

  1. Negative Filter

If you like to use your ‘negative filter’ too often, you may as well give up now. It is one of the most self defeating strategies that we can use to stop us from getting what we want.

Statements like “It will never work”; “I am too old” or “No one else is doing it” are examples of negative filter. Instead of looking at the possibilities, we focus on all the reason why something won’t work out. As a result we don’t even try. We use negative filter for a variety of reasons. If we don’t even try, we can’t feel embarrassed if it doesn’t work out. So, in the short term we avoid failure but in the long term we remain frustrated and fed up with our mundane lives.

Force yourself to consider possibilities and use the words “Why Not??”

2. Limiting self belief

If you don’t believe in yourself, you’re unlikely to be brave in life. Self belief overrides what others thinks and keeps us on the path that is true for us. When we lack self belief, we are easily swayed by the fears and negativity of others. Learn to believe in yourself more. Yes, you may fail – that’s a part of life but failure is just a learning curve, it doesn’t mean YOU are a failure, it just means that what you tried didn’t work. Pat yourself on the back for being someone who tries – you’re ahead of those who are all talk and no action.

3. Fear

This is a biggie. Fear cripples many of us. Squashing dreams and leaving many cowering in the corner instead of living their lives to their full potential.

Yes, we all have fears and life offers no guarantees. Learn to harness your fears so that they don’t control you. The more we give in to our fears, the greater they become. The  key to reducing fear is to face them head on. If you worry that showing your true self will lead to rejection, set up an ‘experiment’. Test it out. For example – reveal something small about yourself that is quirky or particular to you and that you feel someone else might judge or reject you for. See what happens…either they won’t judge or reject you and will have won a small victory over a long head fear OR, they will judge/reject you – I know the second option may seem unbearable but we almost ALWAYS overestimate the threat and underestimate our ability to cope.

No doubt, if your fear did come true you would find the reality isn’t half as bad as the nightmare versions you anticipated in your mind. Get out there and start experimenting – it’s called LIFE.

4. Too much “what if” thinking

There are real problems in life and then there are hypothetical (What if) problems in life. Make sure that you know the difference. A real problem requires immediate attention – eg. the dishwasher has broken down. A hypothetical problem is something like “what if I make a fool of myself and no one likes me at the party tomorrow?”. It is wasted emotional and mental energy engaging with ‘what if’ thinking.

What if thinking leads to negative filter, fear and lowered self belief – learn to dismiss those thoughts. Say to yourself – “There I go again trying to find certainty and plan ahead”. What if thinking won’t change the outcome. Deal with issues as they arise rather than worrying about something that might never happen.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? I like this question because it removes many mental barriers that we create for ourselves. Live a life that is brave and open minded. See yourself as a winner who is experimenting with life. You will be happier for it. Rather try and fail than live a life full of regrets.

Mandy X

Depression in teenagers

 

depressed teen

Depression in teenagers

Depression in teenagers is a growing problem. Teenagers face increasing pressure to achieve, perform and cope with a variety of stressors. There is academic pressure to achieve against an extremely competitive backdrop. Teenagers are also going through huge developmental and hormonal changes that can lead to insecurity, low self esteem and extreme self consciousness. Social anxiety in teenagers is on the rise and bullying can now follow teenagers into the previously relied-upon sanctity of the home. Nowhere seems safe anymore.

Symptoms of depression in teenagers

Lack of enthusiasm and/or motivation

Social withdrawal

Decreased pleasure in activities or hobbies they used to enjoy

Changes in appetite (eating more or less)

Changes in sleep patterns

Irritability or anger

Restlessness

Poor school performance

Is it depression or ‘usual’ growing pains?

Teenagers all go through tricky phases, such is life for all of us but when symptoms persist for a few months, it may be time to delve deeper.

What to do:

Don’t ignore the problem. Gently talk to your teenager and try to find out how they are feeling. It’s is also important to establish whether they have ever thought about suicide.Try not to lecture or judge, rather listen and encourage – be supportive even when at times this can be hard. As parents, we all have expectations of our children and when they fail to manifest, we can become irritated at their perceived lack of drive.

Encourage socialisation. Withdrawal and hiding away only adds to depression. Being involved in activities and getting out of the house, even for a brief walk can have a positive effect on mood and behaviour.

Seek professional help if your teenager seems unable to help themselves get out of their funk. CBT can be useful and this can also be supplemented with antidepressants after a careful assessment by a doctor.

There is always hope and with the right input, all teenagers have the capacity to improve.

Mandy X

Helpline:  The Samaritans:  CALL  116 123 (UK)

http://www.samaritans.org/

The difference between operant and classical conditioning

 

conditioning

 

The difference between operant and classical conditioning

Both operant and classical conditioning are types of learning.Classical conditioning -involves learning, or becoming aware of, an association between stimuli (for example: sexual arousal when seeing lacy underwear) whereas operant conditioning involves learning with the help of a reward system to reinforce behaviour – for example, when I compliment my partner, they treat me nicely and smile. Both processes lead to learning and changes in behaviour.

Classical conditioning involves mostly involuntary processes whereas operant conditioning is voluntary.

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning was first described by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist who discovered he could modify an involuntary, automatic behavior by using a signal prior to a reflex. This was most notably demonstrated by Pavlov’s famous experiment. He noted the dogs began to salivate after hearing a bell tone when the sound had been repeatedly paired with food. Even when food was not present, the dogs would salivate. He concluded that it was a learned response. Classical conditioning takes a previously neutral stimulus, such as the bell, and pairs it with an unconditioned stimulus, such as the taste of food, and uses them to condition a desired response, such as the salivation.

The influence of classical conditioning can be seen in responses such as phobias, disgust, nausea, anger, and sexual arousal. A familiar example is conditioned nausea, in which the sight or smell of a particular food causes nausea because it caused stomach upset in the past. Similarly, when the sight of a dog has been associated with a memory of being bitten, the result may be a conditioned fear of dogs.

As an adaptive mechanism, conditioning helps shield an individual from harm or prepare them for important biological events, such as sexual activity. Thus, a stimulus that has occurred before sexual interaction comes to cause sexual arousal, which prepares the individual for sexual contact. For example, sexual arousal has been conditioned in human subjects by pairing a stimulus like a picture of a jar of pennies with views of an erotic film clip. Similar experiments involving blue gourami fish and domesticated quail have shown that such conditioning can increase the number of offspring. These results suggest that conditioning techniques might help to increase fertility rates in infertile individuals and endangered species.

Classical conditioning is used not only in therapeutic interventions, but in everyday life as well. Advertising executives, for example, are adept at applying the principles of associative learning. Think about the car commercials you have seen on television: many of them feature an attractive model. By associating the model with the car being advertised, you come to see the car as being desirable (Cialdini, 2008). You may be asking yourself, does this advertising technique actually work? According to Cialdini (2008), men who viewed a car commercial that included an attractive model later rated the car as being faster, more appealing, and better designed than did men who viewed an advertisement for the same car without the model.

Operant Conditioning

B.F. Skinner was the first psychologist to describe operant conditioning. It focuses on using either reinforcement or punishment to increase or decrease a behavior. This type of conditioning allows an association to form between the behavior and the consequences for that behavior. Animal trainers often use this form of conditioning during training. When the animal completes an action successfully, the trainer offers praise. If the animal does not perform the action requested, and then the trainer withholds the praise.

Classical and operant conditioning are fundamental concepts that help us to further understand the complex mental processes that make up how we learn.

Mandy X

References/Sources:

Source: Boundless. “Applications of Classical Conditioning to Human Behavior.” Boundless Psychology. Boundless, 26 May. 2016. Retrieved 06 Sep. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/psychology/textbooks/boundless-psychology-textbook/learning-7/classical-conditioning-46/applications-of-classical-conditioning-to-human-behavior-194-12729/