Tag Archives: thoughts

Perception vs reality


perception photo

Perception vs reality

Think of your perception of reality as your ‘map’. Think of reality as the ‘territory’. Perception vs reality is an important factor in how we live our lives and how successful we are at picking up on what is really going on. Over the years I have listened to many people’s stories, especially all the ways things can go wrong.Our parents teach us what they have learned. Along with this information, comes biases, prejudices and faulty assumptions which leads to our maps not quite fitting the territory. Our perceptions are ultimately distorted and stop fitting reality and this is where many problems come in.

We look for evidence that confirm our beliefs about the world and this, in turn, reinforces our perceptions and distorts what we see. I have seen many clients whose map is so far removed from the territory that they no longer actively engage with the world in a productive way that makes sense. People with severe anxiety and depression often have distorted maps and this causes them to only focus on certain negative aspects of reality in order to make sense of their thoughts and perceptions.

When it comes to perception vs reality, always look for the evidence in reality that supports your thinking/perceptions. This is one way to avoid upsetting and unhelpful thinking from getting the better of us. Cognitive behavioural therapy regularly refers to unhelpful thinking styles that tend to add to our stress. Thoughts such as: black and white (all or nothing) thinking, personalising (blaming ourselves for things that have nothing to do with us), catastrophising, emotional reasoning (I feel upset therefore something MUST be wrong), mind reading (thinking we know what others are thinking) and so on.

We have a lot of flexibility in the thoughts we want to choose to make sense of reality. Make sure you choose these thoughts wisely – ones that are reasonable, based on evidence as much as possible (rather than assumptions) and provide you with positive feelings.

Mandy X

PS. In times of distress, check what you have been telling yourself (your perceptions and thoughts of the reality) and always ask yourself “What can I tell myself that will make me feel better about this situation?” Always look for alternative ways to look at something – they are always there.

Coping with social anxiety


social anxiety

Coping with social anxiety

Do you dread the idea of having to socialise? If you do, join the club! Many people get anxious in social situations, worrying that they will embarrass themselves somehow or not measure up to the people around them.

Cognitive behavioural therapy works well for people with social anxiety as it looks at people’s fears as well as the probability that these fears will in fact take place. More often than not, the fears we have never happened yet we still worry endlessly about what might go wrong. The anticipation in itself can be hell.

A useful technique is to visualise everything going well. It is also very effective to talk to yourself in a positive manner. Say things to yourself such as “I am good company, why wouldn’t people enjoy being around me?”. You may not believe these thoughts/statements at first but it is important to replace self doubt and self criticism with more positive statements. Behaviour that is warmer and shows you as more approachable then follows.

More often than not, it isn’t the situation that stresses us out, instead it is our perception that causes anxiety. If we imagine we will embarrass ourselves and we focus on our insecurities we are far more likely to feel anxious and dread the situation. We can challenge our perceptions though – any time, any place. We always have that choice.

Ask yourself what you are thinking – grab the relevant thoughts. Then ask yourself if there is another way to look at the situation. Would someone else see it differently?

Look for a revised, more realistic version of your original thought.


I don’t want to be here.

Why don’t I Want to be here?  I don’t want to be here because …?

People will look at me and know that I feel uncomfortable.

And that is bad because?

Well, people will know something is wrong with me…

And what is so bad about that?

People will think I am crazy…

And what does that say about me?

Well, it says that I am crazy.

Become an expert at identifying your assumptions and negative thoughts. Be as specific as you can when identifying a thought and become a thought detective asking yourself questions such as:

Where is the evidence for this thinking?

How do I know that my thoughts are true? Is is fact?

What other explanations could there be?

Is it helpful for me to think this way?

What would someone else say/do in this situation?

The more able we become at disputing our negative thoughts, the less intense the negative associated emotion will be and the more adept we are at looking at what we are telling ourselves, the better we become at discovering our core beliefs- these are ideas that lay the foundations for our negative thoughts and the most common ones I have come across are: I am  not love-able or I am not good enough.

See if you can figure out what your core beliefs are. They often take the form of a “if this..then that” statement. Eg. if I socialise, no one will like me.

The next step is to try find real life situations where we can test out our core belief. Start with a small experiment. Again – more often than not (I have assisted many clients in putting together behavioural experiments to test out beliefs) we find that our core belief is not true. When this happens, our need to believe and hold on to a core belief that limits us lessens. It loses it’s power as we prove to ourselves the exact opposite of what we thought.

Repetition is key – keep challenging, keep looking for evidence and keep setting up situations where you can test out your core beliefs (also known as “rules for living”.)

Tips for a healthy happy life:

Keep a balanced routine and healthy lifestyle

Develop a good social network – the key to contentment!

Develop a good professional network

Expect slip ups, failures and down days.

Don’t let fear get the better of you and remember that we often all feel anxious when we are out and about. especially on down days. Don’t be hard on yourself and stop the high expectations. Learn to live simply and never take life too seriously.

Mandy X



10 Interesting psychology facts


brain photo

10 Interesting psychology facts


1)People who have cars with bumper stickers are more likely to exhibit road rage.** You may want to think twice before laying on the horn. A study at Colorado State University found drivers who use decals, dashboard hulas, and vanity plates, are more likely to be road ragers than others. Researchers say it comes down to the fact that people who mark their territory appear to be a bit more aggressive.

2)You attract what you show to the world. – So if you want it, reflect it. Happiness, freedom, and peace of mind are always attained by giving them out to others without expectation. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are eventually helped. You have two hands; one to help yourself, the second to help those around you.

3)According to studies, you’ll be happier spending your money on experiences rather than possessions.

4)Happiness has become an increasingly popular field focused on the scientific study of emotional well-being. Research has suggested that people often sacrifice things that make them happy such as vacations or going out to certain events, in order to afford possessions (such as property)  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/realestate/homeownership-the-key-to-happiness.html?_r=0

5)Kids are more highly strung today, with high school students showing the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the 1950’s.

Approximately 49% of the general population suffer or have suffered from anxiety, depression or substance abuse. In particular, there is proof that the collective human race is becoming more anxious every decade and there are many speculative reasons for that. For instance, people move more, have less interaction with their communities, change jobs, are less likely to get married and more likely to live alone. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anxiety-files/200804/how-big-problem-is-anxiety

6)There is actually a phobia for losing one’s phone. Nomophobia is a term describing the fear of being without a mobile device, or beyond mobile phone contact (Elmore,2014) The term is an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia” which was coiled during a 2010 study by the UK Post Office. According to the study, 54% of those questioned said they experienced nomophobia. And overall, women were likely to suffer from nomophobia than men (Merz, 2013).

7)When we hug, the chemical that the brain release is the hormone oxytocin. It has been hypothesized that oxytocin, a hormone recognized for its role in social attachment and facilitations of social interactions, is also important in the formation of trust. (Baumagartner, 2008)

8)Desensitization is defined as the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it. In a study conducted recently, parents were subjected to watching movies that have violence and sex have showed that there was an increase in acceptance to both types of content, even to the extent of the willingness to show it to their children. (Romer, et. Al. 2014). There is also evidence of desensitization among people who play video games (Bushman, 2007).


9)Mirror neurons are the brain’s hardware for harmonizing individuals to their environment (Matousek, 2011). Mirror neurons allow us to grasp the minds of others not through conceptual reasoning but through direct stimulation. It is because of mirror neurons that you blush when you see someone else humiliated, flinch when someone else is struck, and can’t resist the urge to laugh when seeing a group struck with giggles (Rizzolatti, circa 1990). It has been said that these neurons give us the capability for empathy, allowing us to feel what other people feel – theoretically both physically and emotionally (Ramachandran, 2012).

10)  It isn’t true that we only use 10% of our brain capacity. We do in fact use most of our brain power.

Mandy X





What’s the truth?


truth photo

What’s the truth?

It’s a very good thing that many ‘truths’ exist. What do you believe to be true about you…about the world? These beliefs will have been formed over your life time – some may be accurate and some not. But according to what and to whom? Who decides what the truth actually is?

There are so many things that we do not understand and don’t even know about – consider the vast Universe and how little we know about the truth that exists out there. What I am getting at is that your ‘truth’ can be challenged – especially if your beliefs and the things you believe to be true stifle and limit you in some way.

What do you want to believe about you? There are some boundaries of course – you may want to believe that you are Shymalgyan from Planet ZigZag but that could end up causing you more trouble than it’s worth. No, what I am getting at is that you can choose your truth, what you want to believe about you and your life is far more accessible than you realise.

Why not see yourself as competent and amazing? Who is the expert in this who can scientifically prove otherwise? Believe that you are successful and you are more likely to find and be ready for opportunities that can lead to success. When you have faith in the thought and hold it inside, it edges you closer to that becoming a reality. As they say “you have to be on the pitch to score a goal” and if you don’t believe something then you aren’t giving yourself the best chance of it becoming true for you.

I know a thought can seem transient and temporary but the more you focus on these thoughts and repeat them, the more real they become. “Act as if” or “fake it to make it” are common sayings relevant to this type of strategy. When you feel down and self critical, ask yourself where the big fat Rule Book of Life is that states these ideas you hold are true. There isn’t one – have a rethink and replace those negative thoughts with ones that help you feel brighter about yourself. You can ask yourself why you should ignore the negative thoughts (you may be preprogrammed to think negatively about yourself) but you can just as easily ask yourself why you should ignore positive empowering thoughts too.

I have managed to transform my thinking to a much healthier platform even if it felt a little stilted at the beginning. I still have bad days but my quality of life is better and the tough times don’t throw me as much as they used to. I am also a lot less emotionally volatile than I used to be when I was younger! I am living proof that choosing what you want to believe is a brilliant strategy than can open doors and change your attitude.

Mandy X


Photo by mamnaimie piotr