Psychological insights , life coaching tips & tools from Chartered Psychologist and Solution Focused Life coach & author, Dr Gary Wood (includes PsyCentral Blog). Birmingham, Edinburgh, Telephone, Skype
Anyone who knows me knows that I love books, that means proper books. I’m a tactile learner, I love the touch of real paper. For me if I’m reading a real ‘page-turner’, I actually want to turn the page (not swipe a screen). The internet is a wonderful thing but, for me, nothing beats wandering around a book shop and making a discovery. My favourite book shop is Watkins Books in London. It’s an esoteric bookshop and has been established over 100 years. Every time I visit London, a trip to Watkins is an absolute must. Just a walk along the little alley (Cecil Court) feels like a trip back in time. It’s also been a long-standing ambition to give a talk there and recently that ambition was realized and fortunately filmed for posterity. I was also interviewed in preparation for the talk (see link below).
One of the main strands of my work is life coaching. Clients approach me about work-life balance, career change, general personal development and of course confidence building. My coaching (and training) practice is based in Birmingham and Edinburgh, UK, although through wonders of technology I offer coaching nationally and internationally via Skype.If you happen to have purchased my book, I even deduct the cost of it from a block booking of coaching. If you’d like to ask find out more (or ask questions about the book), please get in touch:
Although I use my ‘phone and computer diaries for basic reminders, I still use a paper-based desk diary. Maybe it’s because there are more mechanical and cognitive processes involved in writing in a diary that I find it helps to make information more memorable. I still use good old-fashioned handwriting to help me to remember lectures and talks too.
So if you were ‘lucky’ enough to get a paper-based diary as a gift make use of it by making it your strengths and gratitude diary. Whenever you get an opportunity to use your skills and strengths, write it in your diary. When something positive happens, write it in your diary. When you get the chance for a random act of kindness, write it in your diary. Do this throughout the year so that at the end of the year you get to really take stock of the good things in your life.
It’s easy to remember the ‘bad stuff’ and culturally we often say that ‘bad news comes in threes’. This sets up the expectation to look for the negative. There is no standard multi-pack for good news, so using your diary can help to balance the negative filters. This also helps to increase optimism. Also, taking stock of your strengths and skills can help to boost self confidence and esteem.
I suspect I’m not the only one who is disgusted by the Easter egg hunt at the JobCentre Plus contractor Skills Training Centre UK (STC) in Southwark, South London. More than 150 unemployed people have been invited to look for 35 chocolate eggs hidden in the STC offices. Prizes include payment for a licence to work on building sites, vouchers to buy clothes for interview, and the chance to become a security guard.
However, I doubt whether anyone who has been in a job centre will be that surprised. The last time I had to use the service I was sent on a course run by some private training company to update my CV and show me how to use the phone, and lick a stamp! The best advice I got was to lie on my CV! I was told to ‘play down’ my qualifications as I was likely to put employers off!
And now we have this so called fun and innovative approach to job seeking. It’s nothing of the sort. It sounds as if some bright spark devoid of any imagination, creativity or respect for human dignity has spent too long watching the reality TV programme Big Brother. It begs the question of what happens next year, chicken costumes or maybe eating worms or maybe selling a few tickets to have an audience to complete the humiliation? Unemployment can have a devastating effect on self-confidence and self-esteem and I’m hard pressed to see how humiliating people is going to help with this.
It’s all the more worrying the the organiser of this fiasco Catrina Lynch does see there’s a problem with the approach and some jobsworth at the Department for Work and Pensions has said: ‘We encourage providers to develop innovative ways of addressing unemployment. The most important thing is to find ways to get people back into work.’
Clearly, there should be an Easter egg hunt for the idiots who think this is a good way to treat human beings. We could have “choccie-woccie eggy-weggies” filled with invitations to training courses on ‘how to treat people’ or better still containing their P45s! Maybe this would put these ‘people’ back in touch with values of respect, compassion and professionalism.
Walking on hot coals: Does this really build confidence?
Popular notions of confidence-building tell us that ‘if we can walk on hot coals, we can do anything”. Indeed many people pay handsomely, in over-hyped personal development courses to do the ‘walk of fire’. The fact that the lack of toasted tootsies is more to do with principles of heat conduction than any personal transformation is neither here nor there. Apart from the deceit, the main problem is that people often tend to lack confidence in more mundane areas of their lives. I don’t know about you but there’s not much call for dancing on hot coals down my local high street. The same applies to any dare devil stunts that are supposed to effect an instant personal transformation: they have little currency in the real world, and can end up doing more harm than good.
Watching a well-known TV illusionist / hypnotist coaching someone through daredevil stunts seemed to bring about a magical change. The shy man seemed to transform into a supremely confident individual, moving effortlessly in social situations that previously would have overwhelmed him. However, the end sequence was somewhat alarmingly. Assuming this was for real, it was set-up for the newly confident man to witness a bag-snatch. Instead of just standing by helplessly, he chased the bag-snatcher down an alley and started fighting over the bag. Now this seems amazing but was it just out-and-out recklessness?
The missing ingredient from the equation was self-esteem. The jiggery-pokery had not instilled confidence but recklessness without fear for personal safety. This indicates low self-worth. Essentially, the risk-taking gives a rush of adrenaline that masks feelings of worthlessness. This has been seen in sexual health campaigns that have focused on confidence at the expense of esteem. If you increase the confidence of people with low self esteem, they end up taking risks. Both confidence and esteem need to go hand-in-hand.
Self-esteem is an evaluation of our self-worth and we can start by monitoring this by listening to our own inner dialogue – the way we talk to ourselves. We tend to internalize the ‘put-downs’ of others and repeat them in an endless tape-loop. Building self-esteem is a relatively straightforward process but it takes more than ‘smoke and mirrors’: it takes time.
Any of us can benefit from a review of our ‘self-talk’ and re-scripting those habitual put-downs so that we open up our options rather than close them down. Here’s a little something to get the process started: