By Jenny Gould, 29-Mar-2013 11:48:00Read more...
By Jenny Gould, 22-Jan-2013 12:11:00
YOUR THOUGHTS AFFECT YOUR FEELINGS - so and try to become aware of all the negative 'instructions' you're giving to your subconscious. What are your most regularly played negative thoughts? That's the first step to taking a rational look at them. Distract yourself, move your body (works wonders for changing your mood) and try to stop thinking and analysing so much. It's not easy, but with a little help you can learn this. You can take control!
Your self-defeating beliefs will limit your ability to deal with difficult times. Try to become aware of your NATS (negative automatic thoughts) when you feel stressed so that we can then challenge them and replace them with more realistic, helpful thoughts. These will help to dissipate those unhelpful irrational beliefs rather than reinforcing them. Start asking yourself ‘How is this thinking helping me’. To be rational a thought must be true, helpful and logical.
Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged. Resilience is about keeping going even when things are difficult or frustrating! If you begin to feel negative, do something to change your mood. Think about what works for you.
Challenging and changing ingrained beliefs and thinking habits requires both thinking and acting differently - if we continue to act and think in the same way nothing will change and we keep repeating the same pattern. It takes time and practice, so don't berate yourself for slipping back when you do. Those old self-defeating thoughts (and goal-defeating ideas) will resurface every now and again - but you will gradually get better at it. Listen out for the gremlin sitting on your shoulder, and try to recognise when your mood is becoming negative. Give yourself a talking to - perhaps use a 'coping statement' which will help you - such as ‘it doesn’t matter’, 'I don't think like that any more', 'I'm fine whatever happens' - anything that works for you. Then give yourself a pat on the back!
CBT model of psychology (ABC) explains that our attitudes and beliefs affect our thoughts, which directly affect our feelings, and so our mood. Challenging our beliefs takes effort but is really worthwhile doing. Basically the more rigid your beliefs and demands about the world, yourself and others, the more stressed you will feel. Look out for the ‘shoulds’ ‘musts’ ‘have to’s’, ’ought to’s’.
When you catch yourself thinking ‘I should’ – ask ‘who said so?’ What’s the worst that can happen if you don’t do this thing. Or do you prefer to do it because it fits into your bigger picture? Replace ‘should’ with something more helpful - more of a preference than a demand, e.g I would prefer not to have to do this report, but if it needs doing then I’d better get on with it. Then it’s your choice. We always have choice. If something is boring – try ‘it’s tedious, but I can handle it.’
Remember we choose our thoughts, and since our thoughts directly affect our feelings, we can choose how we feel
When you find yourself feeling upset or stressed, try ‘tuning in’ to find out what’s really going on. Ask ‘why am I really feeling like this?’. When you have found what appears to be the underlying reason, try to address that rather than reacting to the moment.
Our rigid beliefs and demands tend to lead to LFT, low frustration tolerance. We get annoyed easily, find ourselves being judgemental, finding fault, making generalisations etc etc – all of these can be about the world, other people or OURSELVES. Becoming aware of and challenging your thinking will help with this.
By Jenny Gould, 07-Dec-2012 17:58:00
Your life is a journey not a destination. Everything you do gives you experience and teaches you more about yourself and the world. Perfectionists often spend lots of time trying to make the ‘right’ decision, and sometimes if the anxiety becomes too intense they will avoid making any decisions. Instead they accept the status quo and miss opportunities to make progress in life. Being indecisive, holding onto your options, doubting, avoiding commitment can be expensive – in terms of time, energy spent, lost opportunities. There’s a lot of truth in the old adage “Not to decide is to decide – and often for the worse”.
Keep in mind that whatever you chose doesn’t need to define the rest of your life, and every choice has benefits to offer you. We’ve all heard people say “I’m in a no win situation”. Instead, try to think of each choice in terms of ‘no lose’, after all you never really know what would have happened if you’d taken another path? And to be honest, how often are the consequences of a decision ‘catastrophic’.
Focus on being more accepting and pleased with any positive outcomes from your decisions. As long as you remain overwhelmingly concerned about a negative outcome, you’ll never want to make a decision. On the other hand, if you can be ok with whatever happens, you’ll be much more able to make a decision. What you are actually doing is lowering the amount riding on having the most perfect outcome, and allow yourself to settle for second best sometimes. Approaching things this way allows for complete freedom of choice without thinking in terms of failure.
When it comes to important decisions, of course you will want to consider all the options, but then you need to go with your ‘gut feeling’ and pursue that with all your energy. You may feel apprehensive about change, but if you connect with your most visceral feelings you’ll know what feels right. Here’s one way of knowing if it’s simply apprehension about change or really feels wrong. The former will usually involve lots of mental activity - going over options, worrying about how things will be. The latter is a much more physical feeling, an unpleasant feeling in your ‘gut’. If you’re feeling this, then all the thinking in the world won’t make it feel right.
Whatever you decide, whether a major or minor decision, once you’ve made your decision, swing into action and don’t look back. What makes a decision seem good or bad is largely dependent on what you tell yourself after you’ve made it.
No more sitting on the sidelines ‘waiting’ for the perfect job, relationship, house, business opportunity. Or waiting for the perfect time to begin writing that book, retraining, going for promotion, joining a choir, or starting a family. Go for what you want in life. Take responsibility for your own future – making mistakes along the way no doubt, but at least you went for it!
By Jenny Gould, 28-Sep-2012 19:47:00
If this is you, you have my sympathy. You probably feel your boss doesn't trust you; that your work is never quite good enough (there may be a total lack of positive feedback); they breathe down your neck and want to know every detail of what you're doing; their controlling behaviour prevents you from coming up with new ideas or generally showing initiative; you spend more time reporting back to them that actually doing the work; you may feel frustrated and your career stifled; they are also likely to be stressed and difficult to communicate with - and stress is contagious so you feel it too!
So what can you do, other than leave the job and move on (which is always an option)?
We all have to 'manage' our boss. We have to teach them how to manage us effectively and by doing so we help them to become better managers. It may require some effort, but think of it as an investment, after all you need each other in order to be successful.
Ask him (or her) to be clear about what he expects of you. What is your level of responsibility? How often do you need to report back? Does he need to be copied in on this or that? Ask good questions and take notes.
Keep him informed.Tell him that you will keep him in the loop, that you will ensure he has the information he needs to feel confident that everything is under control - then make sure you do that! This will build greater trust and gradually you will be given more leeway and allowed to get on with doing things your own way. Be patient - it may take a while but I think it will be worth it.
Ask for regular one-to-one sessions to catch up. This way you can keep them informed, but also you have a space for asking questions and encouraging him to provide some coaching for you. Be aware though, managers all to easily postpone these meetings when anything more pressing comes along, so let him know they are important to you and to your success in the job. You may need to remind them that your success is their success.
Communicate your confidence in yourself and your ideas. If you come across as positive and assertive he will respect your determination to take responsibility for your own decisions.
You may need to say you feel overly controlled and that this is affecting your ability to do the job well. Explain how you are feeling and give examples of situations and behaviour which causes you to feel this way. Be careful how you say it though as perfectionists are particularly sensitive to criticism. Make it clear that you want to find a way of working that is acceptable to both of you.
Inject a little humour when you can. Your perfectionistic manager is almost certainly taking himself and the work too seriously, so should be encouraged to lighten up a little. Used appropriately, humour goes a long way towards keeping things in perspective, and building better relationships - both vital to success.
Extract from "Overcoming Perfectionism" by Jenny Gould Published by www.bookboon.com
By Jenny Gould, 23-Sep-2012 15:51:00
Are you constantly working harder and faster, and putting in longer hours? Do you spend almost all of your time thinking about, or doing some form of work? The classic ‘workaholic’ even when not at work is dogged by thoughts and worries about their responsibilities. They become hyper-stimulated and find it very difficult to wind down or switch off. They find it almost impossible to relax, to feel free - they can’t seem to stop.
The driven personality is often known as a Type A Personality. They experience more stress than others and are more susceptible to health problems – you have 40% more chance of a heart attack if you demonstrate extreme Type A behaviour, as follows:
Aggressive or hostile
Fast walking, talking, speaking
Finishes others’ sentences
Does too many things at once
But you can learn to modify this behaviour if you decide to. If you are working long hours – who is making you? Or are you choosing to? For many obsessive workaholics their sense of identity depends far too much on their professional role, and if they are less than outstanding, then they are ‘worthless’. One stressed and unhappy client told me “I don’t know who I am outside of my work any more”. Her work/life balance desperately needed redressing.
Why not take a leaf out of the Type B’s book? Take a more relaxed, more laid back, less urgent and more balanced approach to life. This type experiences less conflict with others and is able to work at a more constant pace. You might expect the Type A to be the more successful, but there is no appreciable difference between the two in this regard. There are several possible explanations for this. Type A’s may alienate others because of their drive and may miss out on important learning opportunities in their quest to get ahead. The Type B on the other hand, might have a reputation for better ‘people’ skills and may learn a wider array of skills. In reality we all have characteristics of both types, but we do tend towards one or the other. However it isn’t set in stone – we can always choose to change our behaviour.
Becoming less driven means taking more time for yourself . Make sure you have a lunch break, perhaps go for a walk, you’ll feel more relaxed and more energised if you do. Don’t work late or take work home as a regular thing – every now and again is fine, but not as a rule. Long working hours does not equate to high performance. If your job requires you to work from home, confine it to one room, preferably one you can shut the door on and walk away from.
Just a word of caution – if you are spending too much time at work instead of at home with your family, perhaps there’s a reason you’re avoiding going home. Be honest with yourself. If that’s the case perhaps you should urgently turn your attention to your home life in an effort to sort things out before it’s too late.
And make it a rule not to work late into the evening otherwise your sleep will be affected. You really do need time to relax and have some fun – to recharge your batteries. People like me see too many clients suffering from ‘burn out’ – where their batteries are not just low, but flat. When that happens it tends to take some time to recover. Your health and well being must be your top priority.
An extract from 'Overcoming Perfectionism' by Jenny Gould, available at www.bookboon.com
By Jenny Gould, 18-Sep-2012 09:39:00
It can be very challenging living with a perfectionist, and of course much will depend upon the degree of their perfectionism and your own personality. But there is no doubt that being on the receiving end of their obsessions and their demanding behaviour can be very painful and contribute to a wide spectrum of interpersonal problems. In the end you may decide to end the relationship, but there are some strategies that might help bring about positive change. Most of the following suggestions are aimed at partners of perfectionists, however they will also be helpful if you have a perfectionist in your household or in your immediate family:
Don’t become a slave to their perfectionism just because they want things done their way. For example if they are obsessive about tidiness and order it wouldn’t be right for you to spend all your time trying to appease them to try and keep the peace. Instead offer to help, but don’t allow things to get to the stage where you’re doing all the work just to satisfy their demand for things to be done a certain way.
Don’t take it personally. If you feel relentlessly criticised by your perfectionist, remember that their senses are so finely tuned that they would find fault with the most saintly of people. If they seem to always ignore or discount your ideas or opinions, remember they do truly fear being influenced or controlled by others. That means that they would behave in this way with anyone they were close to. I’m not suggesting you make endless excuses for bad behaviour, however remembering that it isn’t about you can make their actions and comments a great deal less hurtful.
Avoid digging your heels in or acting defensively as this will only cause you to take up opposing positions and exacerbate the situation. Decide what you can tolerate (and perhaps choose to ignore) and what you can’t put up with. Then focus on improving communication and understanding with regard to the latter specifically.
Your opinions are valid! Don’t be tempted to agree with everything the other person says or deny your own personal values, opinions, likes and dislikes. Obsessives tend to spend their lives analysing what is the most logical or efficient course of action, but that still doesn’t mean you should be bullied or shamed into going along with it. You’re entitled to have your own ideas as to what’s important, what’s trivial, right or wrong. Think about it before you agree to do something you don’t agree with - take time to think it over. You may of course decide to agree to it because you care for them, but don’t feel obliged to ignore your own wishes and opinions just to keep the peace.
One thing you can do which can help considerably is to show you are trustworthy, reliable and consistent. Because perfectionists yearn for certainty and predictability, they tend to place a lot of importance on honesty and straight-talking. If you tend to be a ‘people pleaser’ and find it difficult to say what you want and need, this can be interpreted as indecisiveness or a weakness by a perfectionist. It would be well worth learning to be more assertive.
It’s important to recognize when perfectionism becomes abusive. Although of course it would be ridiculous to suggest that all perfectionists become abusive, perfectionism can set the stage for abuse. If you feel compelled to bow to your partner’s demands out of fear of retribution - physical or otherwise - then this isn't a healthy situation. A person who is a perfectionist does not have the right to impose his or her will on someone in an unhealthy way.
Focus on building your own self-esteem and independence. If you can nurture your own self-worth then you won’t depend on positive feedback from anyone else. You are setting yourself up for a life of emotional turbulence if you rely on the approval or praise of a perfectionist, after all they are much better at expressing what’s wrong, not what’s right! They feel the need to keep their emotions in check in order to avoid feeling vulnerable, which is why they find it difficult to show positive feelings or appreciation.
Being needy or too dependent on a perfectionist is not a good idea - it will make them anxious and may lead to them withdrawing from you. They are more likely to remain close to you (and respect you) if you are involved in your own interests and not putting all your energy into your relationship with them. If you sense you are becoming too dependent then take steps to rediscover who you are, and strive to become a whole person, independent of any relationship. It may feel strange to start with, but fight any feelings of anxiety or isolation, and you have so much to gain. Never give the perfectionist the idea that your happiness depends entirely on reassurance from them – and make sure it doesn’t!
Don’t pressurise them. Any direct confrontation or effort to force the person to change will almost certainly end in failure. Instead it’s more likely to encourage them to reassert their dominance and result in a power struggle. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should silently tolerate the situation. Tell them clearly how you feel and your reasons for asking them to make changes. Rather than making judgemental or demanding statements such as “you must change”, try “I would prefer you to do this because (give reason)”.
Blaming and criticising will not help, and try to avoid exaggeration, ‘always/never’ or ‘all or nothing’ statements. Forget who’s wrong or right, instead focus on being reasonable and looking for solutions. Remember that we can only control our own behaviour, but that when one person changes, it changes the dynamics of the relationship and encourages the other person to change too.
Appreciate and re-enforce positive changes. Show appreciation where appropriate (don’t overdo it) and try to adopt a more light-hearted cheerful attitude. And even if you feel inclined to, don’t deliberately withhold affection as a means of on-going punishment. Better to be up front about what’s upset you and deal with it in an adult way.
(Extract from my book Overcoming Perfectionism - download free at http://bookboon.com/en/textbooks/career-personal-development/overcoming-perfectionism
By Jenny Gould, 20-May-2012 20:45:00
The lead up to the exams
-Leave plenty of time for revision. You’ll increase your self-confidence and
avoid the stress of last minute cramming.
-Study where you study best. Create a pleasant work space and leave it tidy –
it’ll encourage you to get started next time.
-Find a routine that works for you.
-Plan your work, make a list, prioritise, and then work on the most important first.
Break it down into small steps. Tick off each step.
-Make separate folders for each class, or coursework project. Perhaps colour
code your subjects.
-Focus, focus, focus! Don’t allow yourself to be easily distracted. Remember
you’re in the driving seat of your life! Take control!
-Revise with friends – test each other.
-Focus on starting – say “I’ll just…” Get used to getting down to work.
-Pace yourself – plan your revision so you have time for fun and relaxation too.
If you push too hard you’ll suffer and be less effective.
-Take regular breaks. You’ll be more productive, have more energy and better
-Reward yourself – promise yourself a treat when you’ve completed a certain
piece of work/revision, eg watch a TV programme, have a relaxing hot bath….
-Deal with problems. What’s the problem exactly? Need to ask someone? Don’t
waste time and energy worrying – do something about it!
-Accept that the work has to be done and decide to tackle it head on.
-Don’t bottle things up.Talk to your friends/parents/anyone about your
problems. It will really help!!
-Don’t compare yourself with others - you’re on a hiding to nothing if you do.
-Thoughts and feelings are just passing through – don’t get swept away by
them. Calmly accept them – they are not you!!
-Learn relaxation techniques (….close your eyes, breathe deeply, imagine
tension melting away, every time breath out, feel more and more relaxed…)
-Exercise – the hormones it releases reduce stress and make you feel good!
-Ensure a good sleep routine – warm bath, oils, candles. And don’t worry if you can’t sleep – you’ll cope!
-Remember - there is life after exams!!!
The Exams Themselves
-Go for a quick walk before the exam, it’ll make you feel less nervous.
-Arrive with time to spare' don’t risk being late and feeling even more
-Believe in yourself - think like a winner. Remember, no-one can know it all!
-If your mind goes blank, don’t panic!! Take time to read the questions. There's no rush.
-Use slow 'circular' deep breathing (often panic attacks are triggered by hyperventilation, i.e. over-breathing). Consciously relax your shoulders every time you breathe out.
-Remember everyone will be feeling pretty much like you – even though you’re convinced they all know more than you do!!
-Give yourself a good talking to. Think 'strong' thoughts - ‘I can do this, ‘It’ll be fine’
Most of all keep things in perspective. It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t go well. You can always retake them!
-Watch for symptoms of stress: change in behaviour, sleep problems, stomach, headaches, nightmares - eating, smoking, drugs
-Take pressure off - cut some slack re chores, priorities, moodiness.
-Offer support, talk gently eg “I can see you’re upset/angry ” (DON’T say ‘snap out of it!’) Walk and talk together – break down problems.
- Praise effort not achievement, otherwise kids can grow up believing that your approval depends on them
-Encourage to seek help if concerned – it’s a strength not a weakness.
-Don’t project your own anxiety and frustrations about the outcome onto your child! Deal with your own anxiety – otherwise that makes everything worse.
-Be calm, reassuring…keep everything in perspective – academic achievement is not the only path to success!!!
-It’s your relationship that matters – reassure them you are there for them whatever happens.
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