Sunday, 30 March 2014

VIDEO Rule From The Shadows: Psychology Of Power

Friday, 28 March 2014

Why Money Does Not Bring Happiness

One day I hope to be able to answer this question from my own experience, but until then...

If money doesn’t bring happiness, then why do people behave as though it does?

It seems only natural that happiness should flow from having more money. Even if they don’t admit it, people still behave as though it were true. More money means you can have what you want and do what you want. The house you dream of? It’s yours. The new car you desire? Here are the keys. The freedom to enjoy your favourite pastimes? Here’s your racket, the court is down there, just past the pool.

So the puzzle is this: why do social scientists consistently find only moderate relationships between having more money and being happy? Some have even suggested that this moderate connection might be exaggerated. In reality money might have very little to do with happiness at all.

Most puzzling, though, is that people often seem aware at some level that money won’t make them happy. And yet they continue to work away earning money they don’t objectively need.

First, though, let’s look at the three reasons money doesn’t make us happy:

1. It’s relative income that’s important. As I’ve noted previously, money is relative. It turns out we don’t mind so much about our actual level of income, so long as we’re earning more than other people around us. Unfortunately as we earn more money we’re likely to be surrounded by richer people so we often end up failing to take advantage of the positive comparison.
2. Material goods don’t make us happy. Acquiring things like houses and cars only have a transient effect on happiness. People’s desires for material possessions crank up at the same, or greater rate, than their salaries. Again, this means that despite considerably more luxurious possessions, people end up no happier. There’s even evidence that materialism make us less happy.
3. People don’t shift to enjoyable activities when they are rich. People who earn more money don’t spend their time enjoying themselves, they spend their time at work, in activities likely to cause them more stress and tension. This may be because of ‘the focusing illusion’. When people think about earning more money they probably imagine they would use the money on recreational activities. In fact, to earn the money, they have to spend more time at work, and commuting to and from work. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Top 10 Qualities Of A Great Leader

Having a great idea, and assembling a team to bring that concept to life is the first step in creating a successful business venture. While finding a new and unique idea is rare enough; the ability to successfully execute this idea is what separates the dreamers from the entrepreneurs. However you see yourself, whatever your age may be, as soon as you make that exciting first hire, you have taken the first steps in becoming a powerful leader. When money is tight, stress levels are high, and the visions of instant success don’t happen like you thought, it’s easy to let those emotions get to you, and thereby your team. Take a breath, calm yourself down, and remind yourself of the leader you are and would like to become. Here are some key qualities that every good leader should possess, and learn to emphasize.
1. Honesty

Whatever ethical plane you hold yourself to, when you are responsible for a team of people, its important to raise the bar even higher. Your business and its employees are a reflection of yourself, and if you make honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit.

As we do at RockThePost, the crowd funding platform for entrepreneurs and small businesses I co-founded, try to make a list of values and core beliefs that both you and your brand represent, and post this in your office. Promote a healthy interoffice lifestyle, and encourage your team to live up to these standards. By emphasizing these standards, and displaying them yourself, you will hopefully influence the office environment into a friendly and helpful workspace.

2. Ability to Delegate

Finessing your brand vision is essential to creating an organized and efficient business, but if you don’t learn to trust your team with that vision, you might never progress to the next stage. Its important to remember that trusting your team with your idea is a sign of strength, not weakness. Delegating tasks to the appropriate departments is one of the most important skills you can develop as your business grows. The emails and tasks will begin to pile up, and the more you stretch yourself thin, the lower the quality of your work will become, and the less you will produce.

The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and capitalizing on them. Find out what each team member enjoys doing most. Chances are if they find that task more enjoyable, they will likely put more thought and effort behind it. This will not only prove to your team that you trust and believe in them, but will also free up your time to focus on the higher level tasks, that should not be delegated. It’s a fine balance, but one that will have a huge impact on the productivity of your business.

3. Communication

Knowing what you want accomplished may seem clear in your head, but if you try to explain it to someone else and are met with a blank expression, you know there is a problem. If this has been your experience, then you may want to focus on honing your communication skills. Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.

Training new members and creating a productive work environment all depend on healthy lines of communication. Whether that stems from an open door policy to your office, or making it a point to talk to your staff on a daily basis, making yourself available to discuss interoffice issues is vital. Your team will learn to trust and depend on you, and will be less hesitant to work harder.

4. Sense of Humor

If your website crashes, you lose that major client, or your funding dries up, guiding your team through the process without panicking is as challenging as it is important. Morale is linked to productivity, and it’s your job as the team leader to instill a positive energy. That’s where your sense of humor will finally pay off. Encourage your team to laugh at the mistakes instead of crying. If you are constantly learning to find the humor in the struggles, your work environment will become a happy and healthy space, where your employees look forward to working in, rather than dreading it. Make it a point to crack jokes with your team and encourage personal discussions of weekend plans and trips. It’s these short breaks from the task at hand that help keep productivity levels high and morale even higher.

At RockThePost, we place a huge emphasis on humor and a light atmosphere. Our office is dog friendly, and we really believe it is the small, light hearted moments in the day that help keep our work creative and fresh. One tradition that we like to do and brings the team closer is we plan a fun prank on all new employees, on their first day. It breaks the ice and immediately creates that sense of familiarity.

5. Confidence

There may be days where the future of your brand is worrisome and things aren’t going according to plan. This is true with any business, large or small, and the most important thing is not to panic. Part of your job as a leader is to put out fires and maintain the team morale. Keep up your confidence level, and assure everyone that setbacks are natural and the important thing is to focus on the larger goal. As the leader, by staying calm and confident, you will help keep the team feeling the same. Remember, your team will take cues from you, so if you exude a level of calm damage control, your team will pick up on that feeling. The key objective is to keep everyone working and moving ahead.

6. Commitment

If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality content, you’re going to need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone else, showing that hard work is being done on every level. By proving your commitment to the brand and your role, you will not only earn the respect of your team, but will also instill that same hardworking energy among your staff. It’s important to show your commitment not only to the work at hand, but also to your promises. If you pledged to host a holiday party, or uphold summer Fridays, keep your word. You want to create a reputation for not just working hard, but also be known as a fair leader. Once you have gained the respect of your team, they are more likely to deliver the peak amount of quality work possible.

7. Positive Attitude

You want to keep your team motivated towards the continued success of the company, and keep the energy levels up. Whether that means providing snacks, coffee, relationship advice, or even just an occasional beer in the office, remember that everyone on your team is a person. Keep the office mood a fine balance between productivity and playfulness.

If your team is feeling happy and upbeat, chances are they won’t mind staying that extra hour to finish a report, or devoting their best work to the brand.

8. Creativity

Some decisions will not always be so clear-cut. You may be forced at times to deviate from your set course and make an on the fly decision. This is where your creativity will prove to be vital. It is during these critical situations that your team will look to you for guidance and you may be forced to make a quick decision. As a leader, its important to learn to think outside the box and to choose which of two bad choices is the best option. Don’t immediately choose the first or easiest possibility; sometimes its best to give these issues some thought, and even turn to your team for guidance. By utilizing all possible options before making a rash decision, you can typically reach the end conclusion you were aiming for.

9. Intuition

When leading a team through uncharted waters, there is no roadmap on what to do. Everything is uncertain, and the higher the risk, the higher the pressure. That is where your natural intuition has to kick in. Guiding your team through the process of your day-to-day tasks can be honed down to a science. But when something unexpected occurs, or you are thrown into a new scenario, your team will look to you for guidance. Drawing on past experience is a good reflex, as is reaching out to your mentors for support. Eventually though, the tough decisions will be up to you to decide and you will need to depend on your gut instinct for answers. Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team learning to trust you.

10. Ability to Inspire

Creating a business often involves a bit of forecasting. Especially in the beginning stages of a startup, inspiring your team to see the vision of the successes to come is vital. Make your team feel invested in the accomplishments of the company. Whether everyone owns a piece of equity, or you operate on a bonus system, generating enthusiasm for the hard work you are all putting in is so important. Being able to inspire your team is great for focusing on the future goals, but it is also important for the current issues. When you are all mired deep in work, morale is low, and energy levels are fading, recognize that everyone needs a break now and then. Acknowledge the work that everyone has dedicated and commend the team on each of their efforts. It is your job to keep spirits up, and that begins with an appreciation for the hard work.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Limits Of Hypnosis

I get asked a lot about the problems that hypnotherapy can be used for, but sometimes it is easier to answer what hypnosis cannot be used for. This is a segment from that answers the question nicely:

With all the touting of what hypnosis can do, you might be inclined to ask, “is there anything hypnosis can’t do?

The answer is yes. There are two things that hypnosis can’t do. The first is, it can’t be used to defy the laws of nature. If something is impossible, hypnosis does not make it possible. If it is just difficult, or if it requires being in a particular state of mind in order to do it, then it can facilitate it, but it is not magic. You have to know what state of mind is the right one in order to accomplish whatever it is, and you have to know the right things to say or think in order to get into that state of mind. That is the power and benefit of the hypnotist: They understand the relationship between words and state of mind. If you need to get into a particular state for whatever reason, they can help to get you there.

You are always in control.

The other thing hypnosis can’t do is make you do something against your will. Hypnosis is an entirely interactive and voluntary experience. You are guided into an altered state of consciousness through words. You have to do or imagine what the words say or it will not have any effect. And at any point, if you don’t want to be in that state of consciousness any more, you don’t have to be. You can snap back to normal in an instant. If the hypnotist tells you to do something, and you don’t want to do it, you won’t do it! If you are asked a question that you do not want to answer, you don’t have to answer! You can even lie, if you want… it’s not a truth serum. You are always in control.

True, there are people who understand what makes people tick, and they are master manipulators, and can seemingly make people do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do. But that is not hypnosis. That is manipulation. You must not confuse the two. And hypnotherapy is all about empowering you to accomplish your goals, not tricking you into doing things that are not in your best interests.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

VIDEO Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Overview

Friday, 21 March 2014

Hypnotherapy And Mental Health Discrimination

 During my work as a hypnotherapist, I’ve often been told that it’s not safe to work with someone who has a diagnosed depressive illness. I’ve heard this from seniors in my field and from newer therapists who in turn are repeating what they were told.
Others say it’s ok to work with a depressed person as long as they’re not bipolar. And let me be clear, these people are not only saying that hypnotherapy isn’t an effective treatment for bipolar disorder itself, they’re saying that we shouldn’t hypnotise a bipolar person at all, for any reason.

So even if the client only wanted to quit smoking, we shouldn’t let them through the doors for fear of them having a psychotic episode! These opinions are generally based on stereotypes that don’t take into account the wide range of experiences that people on the bipolar spectrum can have.
I’d like to say, "actually, I have bipolar disorder."

I sit and listen to this, and I’d like to say, “actually, I have bipolar disorder.” I imagine the embarrassed silence that would follow. If it’s dangerous for a mentally ill person to receive hypnotherapy, how dangerous must it be for one to give it? I keep quiet not so much because I’m scared of being discredited – more because I don’t want to embarrass others by showing them how far inside their own mouth their foot is! I end up protecting them.

I don’t think many people who know me as a professional would ever consider that I might have a mental health condition, let alone one as famously ‘serious’ as I have. You could say that’s a tribute to my success but I also think it’s a sign of how much stigma still exists. My ability to function as a therapist – and in life generally - contradicts many of the popular stereotypes about someone with my diagnosis. I feel I’m living proof of how outdated and unhelpful those stereotypes are.
I felt I had to keep silent
But I don’t want to have to talk about my most personal, private experiences when I’m at work. And often I can’t; when a client comes to me for help, they don’t want me to start talking about my own issues. A while ago, one woman contacted me to say that her GP had told her not to continue with hypnotherapy, because it wasn’t safe given her current depressed state. I felt that stigma had dealt me a double-blow: as a therapist trying to earn a living, I’d lost a client. And as a mental health patient, it was a reminder of how often we are told that we can’t trust our own minds, choose our own forms of therapy, or recognise when something is or isn’t safe for us. But In this case, like so many others, I felt I had to keep silent.

When I first began training in hypnotherapy, I hadn’t yet been diagnosed as having bipolar. But I told my tutor (now my supervisor) about my history of depression, and when my diagnosis did change a few years ago, I kept him up to speed. I’ve had nothing but encouragement from him, as well as from my partner, close friends and family – and even from my psychiatrist, who fortunately has never seen a problem with me doing the work that I do.
I'm gradually beginning to write more about my mental health
But so far, I’ve always been very selective with who I do let in on the ‘secret.’ I am even cagey around most people I know socially, because they too know what I do for a living, and I’m embarrassed; concerned about the perceived conflict between these different parts of my life. It’s hard for me not to feel ashamed or apologetic about my illness. I think, how can I expect others to view me as being competent, professional, reliable or creditworthy, when I’m also part of a group that’s seen as being volatile, delusional and psychotic?

I’m gradually beginning to write more about my mental health and the conflicts it brings up and I’m expanding my ideas of who I can and can’t ‘tell.’ In fact, I’ve yet to really have a bad response from anyone I have directly talked to. But there are still many occasions when I don’t have the opportunity for self-disclosure - or don’t feel I should have to share personal information. If the stigma around mental illness reduced, I think fewer people would repeat the stereotypes or generalisations they’d heard without stopping to think about how their words might affect other people in the room.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Catching A Yawn Less Likely With Age

People are less likely to yawn when others do as they get older, a study has found. 
Contagious yawning is linked more closely to a person's age than their ability to empathise, as previously thought, US-based scientists said. It also showed a stronger link to age than tiredness or energy levels.

Researchers are now looking at whether the ability to catch yawns from other people is inherited, with the hope of helping treat mental health disorders. Autism and schizophrenia sufferers are reportedly less able to catch yawns, researchers said, so understanding the genes that might code for contagious yawning could illuminate new pathways for treatment.

In the study, published in the journal Plos One, 328 participants were shown a three-minute video showing other people yawning. Each subject had to click a button every time they yawned.

Levels of tiredness
Overall, 68% of the participants yawned. Of those, 82% of people aged under 25 yawned, compared with 60% of people aged between 25 and 49, and 41% of people aged over 50.

Dr Elizabeth Cirulli, assistant professor of medicine at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, led the study.

She said: "This is the first study to look at a whole bunch of factors. It is the largest study, in terms of the number of people involved, to date."

Dr Cirulli said she did not know why contagious yawning decreased with age. She added that although age was the most important predictor of contagious yawning, only 8% of the variation in whether or not a participant yawned was explained by their age.

"The vast majority of variation in the contagious yawning response was just not explained," said Dr Cirulli. The study used questionnaires to test the participants' empathy, levels of tiredness and sleep patterns. Meanwhile, intelligence was assessed using cognitive tests.

Neurological 'nitty-gritty'
Robert R Provine, professor of psychology at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County, said the study was "unique" as it marked the first time a link between ageing and contagious yawning had been shown.

He said the study would "help to get down to the neurological nitty-gritty of contagious behaviours" and mental health disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

Prof Provine said the findings could also help to understand why laughing and coughing were so contagious.

He added: "Contagious acts such as yawning and laughing remind us that we are often mindless beasts of the herd, not rational beings in full conscious control of our behaviour."

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

How To Win An Arguement

When Daniel Battaglia was trying to expand his car parking business to Perth, he found himself in a public spat with a mayor.

Nedlands mayor Max Hipkins took to the media last year to denounce Battaglia's website as illegal because he said it turned residences into businesses by renting out their driveways and garages for parking.

The dispute played out in a debate on breakfast TV when Battaglia's view that his business was no different to home owners taking in a flatmate eventually prevailed and he was allowed to continue his business.

“My tactics were to stand up for myself, respect him, reach out to him, share my views and provide my evidence in terms of other websites doing similar things,” Battaglia says.

In business, arguments and disputes are unavoidable, be they with staff, suppliers, clients or authorities. They can be costly, time consuming and distracting. But using a few key tactics can help businesses get a better outcome.

Here are five tips:
1. Listen to the other side
Chyonne Kreltszheim spent 12 years as a lawyer, trying to win arguments by mustering all the facts and arguing her side of the debate to the other person.

But she's learnt that a more effective technique is instead of forcing your opinion on the other person, to ask lots of questions to understand what they believe and why.

“If you find out that they have got incomplete information or they've got incorrect information, you can correct that information and provide them with some of your own facts or observations,” says Kreltszheim, principal consultant at CMA Learning Group, which teaches negotiation, influence and conflict management.

“Then ask them about their assumptions. Maybe they're interpreting the facts in a way that leads to their conclusions and that's why they're not accepting your conclusion.”

2. Explain your logic
“We always recommend a balance of what we call advocacy and inquiry,” says Kreltszheim. “The more you can understand of another person's perspective, the more scope you have to change that perspective rather than simply pushing your conclusion onto the other person.”

Get the other side to go through the same thorough process that you've gone through to reach your conclusions – otherwise you're doing nothing more than substituting your opinion for their opinion.

“Connect the dots for them, then explain your facts and conclusions are based on the assumptions you've made," says Kreltszheim.

After that, you try to get "alignment" – or agreement – on the stages of the argument. First you get alignment on the facts and then on the interpretation.

3. Think about what 'winning' means
Step back from the argument and ask yourself: is winning about getting a good outcome, or is it about proving the other person wrong?

Getting too caught up in “right versus wrong” can get in the way of achieving a good outcome, which of course is what the business will benefit from. “It's something to check in with yourself about,” says Kreltszheim.

If you focus on proving your opponent wrong above all else, you tend to lose sight of the bigger picture and can damage the longer-term business relationship.

4. Adapt your strategy
Many people rely only on one negotiation strategy. But Andrew Heys, who teaches negotiation skills at the graduate school of management at Macquarie University in Sydney says there are five negotiation strategies – altruism; promising something; ingratiation; the direct request and explanation. You need to pick the most appropriate.

If you're arguing with a person who seems kind hearted, you can employ altruism and ask that they agree as a favour or because it's the right thing to do.

But if you have a transactional relationship, you'd probably do better to get agreement by promising something. It doesn't have to be exactly related to the argument – “you might give them the best ham at Christmas if you're a butcher,” says Heys.

5. Change your communication style
Another technique Heys advocates is to adapt your communication style to the other person, because it helps build rapport. “If they're a very formal person, you might want to present your information or yourself in a more formal manner,” he says.

Also, use the same words that the other person uses and adapt to their pace of communication. “It's about saying 'how do I present this information in a way that's going to be digestible for the other side so they can see where I'm coming from',” says Heys.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

VIDEO Psychology Of The Interview: Who Gets Chosen?

Friday, 14 March 2014

Hypnosis For Longevity

One of the most common barriers to considering the possibility of a radically extended health span is our beliefs, or assumptions around aging and death.
Typically, as the idea of radical longevity is encountered for the first time, people tend to balk, and offer an extended list of reactionary defenses of the status quo, sometimes stridently so.
Many of us in the longevity or Transhumanist community have noticed that if we frame the issue in a more nuanced way, the automatic defenses around the inherited collection of beliefs or meta-frame around aging and death can be bypassed somewhat.
If you ask someone if they would want to become blind, deaf, totally confused, forgetful, weak, ugly and powerless, they would likely say no.
If you ask someone if the want to die this very moment, they would likely say no.
And so I wonder, if they don’t want to die in this moment, why would they want to die in a different moment?
People seem to have a sort of Stockholm syndrome relationship to death and aging, the learned helplessness surrounding this issue has generated within us complex strategies to cope.
If you are reading this, you may have already processed many of these so called “deathist” beliefs and are well on your way towards fully embracing the possibility or an indefinite lifespan.
Even so, we may still be holding hidden beliefs or assumptions that keep us from being fully congruent with the goal of an indefinite lifespan.
Imagine yourself behaving exactly how you want to behave, then step into that.
E.g., Perhaps you could see yourself, dissociated as if you were watching a movie about yourself, at 150 years old, with all the sights sounds and feelings, you have made it to a time when medicine has advanced to the point where indefinite lifespan can be achieved, and you have positioned yourself to take advantage of these future technologys.
Next, you can step into this experience as it it were completely real – how does it feel?
Do you feel a lack of motivation?
Are you exited and thrilled?
Or perhaps you feel some negative feelings
You can program your unconscious mind to automatically behave in a way that moves you toward that goal, but not if you have many contrary beliefs or feelings.
If you have any objections surface, perhaps that all of your friends have passed away, or maybe that you feel selfish etc. can you re-frame that resistance with a contrary story such as
Some of my friend are still here, and I have made new and satisfying friendships
I devote some of my time each day helping others, or making the world a better place..
After you have processed any objections or negative feelings, step back into the experience, and discover how it feels, keep repeating this until it feels fantastic, you should have a powerful positive emotion around this – that is the reaction you want.
  • Visualize yourself getting what you want
  • step into it first hand
  • if it doesn’t feel the way you want it, make adjustments and do it again
  • Note that at this point you don’t have to know exactly how to do it…
  • Also, make sure that it is phrased in the positive e.g., Not – I don’t want to be dead in 100 years, but instead – I am young healthy and alive in 150 years.
If you would like personal assistance with this, or take this to an even greater level, contact me via email.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Psychology Of Parenthood

As a new parent, I can tell you that there seems to be a surprising lack of guidance from science about how to have (and raise) a child. Since Catherine and I first learned we were expecting, the biggest piece of advice we have received from friends has been, “don’t listen to advice,” referencing the fact that every child is different and opinions vary wildly about what does (or doesn’t) help a tiny infant grow into a flourishing and successful adult.

From a scientific perspective the problems are threefold. First, there is the age-old debate of nature vs. nurture. It is difficult to know how much of whom we become is due to our upbringing versus how much is due to our genetic makeup. Traditionally, we like to take credit for all of our good qualities, and blame our parents for all the ways we are screwed up. In reality, the credit and the blame are not so easy to distribute. Second, once we accept that the environment plays an important role in human development, the number of environmental factors that bring us from infancy to adulthood is so great that it is difficult to determine the impact of any one of them in isolation. And finally, for ethical reasons, it is difficult to do a placebo controlled experiment since we don’t want to deny children anything that could help them with their positive growth.

So like millions of parents before us, my wife and I had to muddle our way through the miracle of childbirth on our own. Most of the books that are out there on pregnancy and childbirth (and I read many preparing for the birth of our son) seem to concern themselves with two things: either reassuring you that everything is going to be OK and that everything you are experiencing is normal; or providing you a list of all of the things that could possibly go wrong and what needs to be done to insure that they don’t. What is missing from the literature is the positive side of the equation: What should we do when everything is going OK to make it even better? There are books on preventing marital discord, coping with complications, and care and feeding of infants. But how do you grow closer as a couple when you’re already close, have a great birthing experience when the complications are few, and set your newborn on the pathway to a lifetime of flourishing?

Having just had my first child, I am far from an expert on the subject, but since no one has written the book on “positive psychology for new parents” (yet), I’ll simply share with you the things from my own experience and my own studies of positive psychology that we found useful as we went through our pregnancy:

1. Future Time Perspective: Nothing can jolt you into a future time perspective like learning that you are about to have a child. The good news is research suggests that a future time perspective can be healthy, since thinking of the future is what motivates us to do what we need to do today to create the future we most desire. When you are about to embark on the voyage of parenthood, it’s a good time to think about how you see yourself as a parent, and what kind of children you want to raise. We spent many nights, up late (the “up late” part is not recommended since sleep becomes vital, but hey, it happens,) imagining our life as a family and discussing everything from how we would get our son to eat his vegetables to where we thought he might go to college.

2. Mindfulness: Future time perspective can become unhealthy when you become so obsessed with planning for the future that you are not enjoying the present. When a new child comes there is much to prepare, plan, and work for. A parent naturally wants to spend their time and energy helping their child to grow into a better future. But sometimes that can be best achieved by just enjoying these amazing moments as they happen. Going through a pregnancy and then a birth are some of the most incredible experiences of life. It is important to savor them as they come. Mindfulness training can help to relieve the anxieties of pregnancy and birth and can help parents to remain calm when sleep is limited once the baby arrives. Mindfulness helped us to bring our awareness back to the present, after too much daydreaming about our son’s illustrious future.

3. Gratitude: There are lots of things to worry about during a pregnancy. But there are lots of things to appreciate too. This is a good time to practice expressing gratitude to your partner every day for the things you appreciate most. Practicing gratitude will help you to savor these special moments, but also will keep you close as a couple during times when fluctuations in sex drive, mood, and body image can allow insecurities to creep in. During the pregnancy, we got into the habit of expressing gratitude to each other each night before we went to bed, and sending short gratitude notes to each other during the day. This definitely brought us together, not only as a couple, but as a family.

4. Other people matter: It takes a village to raise a child. Now is the time to reach out to family and connect with other friends who are having children. We found that having our son opened our eyes to a whole new community of parents that we loved becoming a part of. This is also a good time to renew your romantic commitment to your partner. When, decades from now, your child grows up and moves out on his or her own, will the two of you still be together? What will that relationship look like? Catherine and I have vowed to hold our own relationship as sacred, even as we form new bonds of love with our son.

5. Realistic optimism: Labor and childbirth can be painful—a fact of life that I discussed in great detail in my Psychology of Wellbeing article, “Why is Childbirth so Freakin’ Painful?” If someone is pessimistic, it is easy to learn about all of the things that can go wrong and begin to dwell on them. Labor is stressful enough without letting our ruminations make it even worse. But optimism has its downside too. An optimist who expects labor to be easy or “according to plan” is setting themselves up for a lot of frustration and disappointment. As a labor coach, I felt my job was to define reality and give hope. “This is going to be hard, and anything could happen, but you are going to get through it, and it is going to be worth it in the end.”

By writing this article, I turn this list over to the positive psychology community and my community of readers. What else would you add? What applications from the research have you yourself applied? What would you suggest to new parents? If positive psychology is to concern itself with human flourishing, then it seems only natural that it would need to follow that quest all the way to the origins of life itself. Where does flourishing begin if not in the womb?

- See more at:

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Psychology Of The Job Interview

The job market is phenomenally competitive these days and if you're fortunate enough to get an interview, that means one thing: pressure. If you've done all you can in terms of practical preparation (bought the suit, researched the company, rehearsed the tough questions) the next priority is to prepare mentally and you can use cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to help you.
CBT is a widely recognised treatment used within both the NHS and private practice to help people deal with psychological challenges. CBT has grown in popularity due to its scientific evidence base and practical approach. You don't need a psychological problem to benefit from CBT as you can apply its techniques to optimise your mental strategy at interview.
One of the most important concepts in CBT is the notion that the way we view situations determines the way we feel and act (for better or worse). If you consider this in relation to your career opportunities, you will see that the way you think about the interview (before and during) will affect the way you feel emotionally and thus influence your behaviour.
As a starting point, it's useful to identify common unhelpful thinking styles as they are a trap that unprepared interviewees frequently fall into. Consider whether you are engaging in any of the following:

All or nothing thinking: Of course you want the job very much. But if you tell yourself that you absolutely must get it, chances are you'll increase the pressure and cause your anxiety level to rise even higher. Try to think flexibly and tell yourself that it's not a life or death situation. Even if you don't get this job the experience will help you to refine your interview technique and place you in a better position for future opportunities.

Emotional reasoning: Although CBT posits that the way we think affects how we feel, it's often a two-way process and our mood can influence our perception of the situation and our resulting behaviour. It's natural to feel nervous on the day of the interview because the outcome is very important. So it's helpful to acknowledge 'butterflies' as normal and then focus on the task in hand. Don't take this feeling of nervousness as a 'danger signal' that the interview will go badly. Consider instead the benefits of a little adrenaline to sharpen your performance.

Mind reading/unhelpful interpretations: Interview panels are daunting at the best of times and the individuals involved can be inscrutable or, at worst, slightly aggressive. Try not to take this personally. If you fixate on the interviewer's facial expressions and body language, you may imagine that they are forming a negative opinion of you and allow this thought to undermine your confidence. If they look a bit grim, tell yourself that it's due to their formal interview style and carry on regardless.

The ABC model is a simple diagnostic tool used within CBT. It will help you to identify any thinking errors you might make before or during the interview. You may wish to try this as a paper and pen exercise at first, but with practice you will become adept at carrying out ABC formulations mentally.

A = Adversity (the challenge – your personal goal). Try to identify which specific aspects of the forthcoming interview are causing you concern. This will help you to tackle each one head on rather than being overshadowed by a vague sense of unease on the day.
B = Beliefs (thoughts or beliefs about the situation). Use the list of unhelpful thinking styles above as a reference and define any other negative thoughts you may have. Try to be as objective as possible challenging these thoughts on the basis of their evidence, realism and usefulness. Once you have done this, develop a more constructive thinking strategy that will boost your confidence at interview.
C = Consequences (how you feel and act). Notice the way you feel when engaging in unhelpful thinking (increased anxiety). Do these thoughts and feelings undermine your preparation for the interview (through lack of focus)?
Hopefully you will experience a reduction in anxiety after you have challenged your unhelpful thinking and be able to focus your attention on constructive action in preparing for the interview.

Steve Sheward is a cognitive behavioural therapist (CBT) and senior manager within the career service of Prospects - an education, employment and training company

Sunday, 9 March 2014

VIDEO Understanding Other People: 5 Secrets Of Communication

Friday, 7 March 2014

Using The Environment In Hypnosis

If you live in the United Kingdom, you are probably well aware of how mercurial the weather can be. From one minute to the next, gleaming sunlight is eclipsed by furrows of dark cloud, plunging everything into a dismal darkness. If you are fortunate, the clouds soon drift by and the sun peeks through again.

I first considered the potential influence of the weather as an impromptu ‘hypnotic convincer’ during a session a couple of months ago. It was a mild day, although cloudy, and we were both seated by a large window. I was finishing off with some typical ego-strengthening suggestions, and just as I mentioned ‘you are finding yourself radiating warmth and optimism, as you move forward into a brighter, happier lifestyle,’ the clouds parted and the most brilliant sunlight emerged.

If your eyes are closed it is still possible to become aware of such changes. A sudden warmth fills the room, prickling the minute hairs on the arms and face, and the darkness decreases ever so slightly as a blanket of light confronts the closed eyelids. It was sheer coincidence that the weather shifted just as I was suggesting warmth and brightness but my client appeared to respond positively, with the same visible indicators they might demonstrate after a successful convincer. This got me thinking.

For my next session I went through with my treatment plan as usual, but each time the skies cleared during the induction (or suggestions), I experimented with an improvised metaphor of warmth and brightness. If clouds loomed and the room started to grow dark, I gave suggestions of going deeper into hypnosis, as descending is often associated with darkening.

Using Noise To Your Advantage

Like more or less every hypnotherapist on the planet, there are cars occasionally passing outside the window of my consulting room. Fortunately the sound is minimal (as the room is soundproofed) but if you listen out for them they can be heard drifting by and gradually disappearing.

I was demonstrating some mindfulness techniques to a client when I improvised an exercise to make the sound of the cars passing by to symbolise the coming and going of their thoughts. Usually I give examples of the thoughts being carried by on banners, or like photographs floating down a stream, but the sound of cars passing by seemed most appropriate on this occasion, considering my client was an insomniac who occasionally listened to cars driving up and down the road while they were trying to sleep.

Because the sound was in our current environment, it was easy for them to practice this during the session. They were also able to take what they learned during the session with them, and apply it at home.

An awareness of the surroundings, I think, is perhaps something to take into account. Although it is unlikely that this will have any real impact on treatment outcomes, there can be no harm in making suggestions as seamless and congruent as possible. In some occasions - like the above example - it may even prove to be useful.

Jon Robinson


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Psychology Of Snoring: The War On Sleep Apnea

The war against snoring has lately gotten very public. A major hotel chain is marketing "snore absorption rooms" in some of its locations in Europe and the Middle East: sound-proofed rooms filled anti-snoring beds and pillows. The hotel chain has also inaugurated what it calls "snore patrols." Within designated quiet zones in the hotel, employees monitor the noise from patrons' snoring — if a guest's snoring reaches a certain noise level, they can expect a knock on their door!

Meanwhile, there's talk of this new celebrity trend: the snoratorium, a soundproof bedroom designed for the snorer-in-residence to sleep in luxury and comfort — and away from anyone who might be disturbed by their noisy sleep habits. (Celebrity couples aren't the only ones retreating to separate rooms in search of undisturbed sleep. Separate bedrooms are an increasingly common choice for couples.)

I'm all in favor of a war on snoring, but I'd rather see a focus on eliminating snoring as a health problem, rather than finding inventive ways to mask the sound, or sending partners to separate bedrooms. Snoring should never be ignored; it is a sign of disordered sleep and can have serious health consequences, especially if the snoring is accompanied by Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes your airway to close, cutting off your breathing during sleep. In the case of sleep apnea, this can happen a handful of times during the night. People who suffer from moderate to severe sleep apnea stop breathing many times over during the course of a night's sleep, as frequently as once a minute or more. Sleep apnea of any degree prevents you from getting restful sleep, and can lead to chronic sleep deprivation, which is associated with a litany of serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.

A new report from the US Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality focuses on obstructive sleep apnea in adults, it's related health complications, and the possible options for treatment. The good news is that there are several effective and safe treatment options for sleep apnea. The bad news is that sleep apnea remains significantly under-diagnosed — many snorers out there have no idea that they are suffering from this disorder. The National Institutes of Health estimate that 12 million adults have been diagnosed with OSA — but there are likely millions more who have yet to be diagnosed.

Not everyone who snores has OSA. But snoring is a key symptom of sleep apnea. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:

• Waking feeling tired and un-refreshed
• Excessive sleepiness during the day
• Morning headaches
• Difficulty with concentration, memory and focus
• Moodiness
• Chronic congestion
• Someone observes your disrupted breathing

If you recognize any of these symptoms, it's time to have a conversation with your doctor about an evaluation for OSA. A diagnosis of sleep apnea always starts with a conversation with your physician. In some cases, the process may also include a stay at a sleep clinic, or sleeping at home with a monitor that measures disruptions to breathing.

If you've been diagnosed with sleep apnea, what comes next? There are a number of treatments for OSA that have proven effective.

• A CPAP, or Continuous positive airway pressure machine, is the most common treatment option for sleep apnea. Sleepers wear a mask which pushes a constant stream of air through the airway, preventing the airway from collapsing and cutting off breathing. CPAP machines have proven to be very effective in treating sleep apnea and eliminating the snoring that so often accompanies it. The machine often takes some getting used to for patients, but the rewards — restful sleep, protection against health problems associated with OSA — are worth it.
• A MAD, or Mandibular advancement device, also called an oral appliance, is a mouthpiece that keeps the jaw in a forward position and the airway open during sleep. An oral appliance is custom fitted by a dentist. There are over-the-counter mouthpieces sold as anti-snoring devices, but these are not the same thing as the oral appliance; you should speak to your doctor before using an anti-snoring mouth guard.
• There is a fairly new treatment available, called Provent, that uses a small disposable one way valve placed over each nostril that can be used as alternative to CPAP. Provent requires a doctor's prescription.

These treatment options for sleep apnea have been well researched. We know they are safe, and we know they work. There are a surgical options for sleep apnea, which involves removal of tissue at the back of the throat to widen the airway. It's not yet clear that surgery is as effective as the other treatment choices available, but we know surgery involves more inherent risk.

Let's not overlook lifestyle changes-losing weight, exercising, cutting out alcohol-may reduce your sleep apnea, and will absolutely improve your health.

So let's engage in the war on snoring-but let's make sure we're attacking the problem in the right way.

Sweet Dreams,
Michael J. Breus, PhD

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Shock Hypnosis

When I was ten or eleven I used to climb trees. 

We used to play in a wood near where I lived. There was a particular tree overhanging a slight drop of about eight or nine feet. Me and my pals would dive out to the branches, grabbing them with our hands, and hang suspended above the drop. Typical boyish daredevil fun; we'd never even heard of health and safety back then. 

And there was a time when I leapt out for the overhanging branch - and my hands slipped. The force of the leap drove my legs upwards, and as my hands left the branch I did a full back flip in mid air. My friends could see what was happening to me physically, and I have to say it must have looked pretty cool, because I actually did a full rotation and landed more or less unharmed on the ground like a proper gymnast. What they couldn't know is what was happening to my consciousness during that split second. 

Yes, you've guessed it, everything went into slow motion, I felt absolutely calm and relaxed, my mind felt wide open to any experience, but there was no hope or fear - just a sense of being, of a strange kind of timeless existence. A split second to my mates felt like eternity to me. When I landed, it was like coming out of a dream or awakening from a hypnotic trance. I felt like I'd been some place else. And only afterwards did my heart rate speed up. But by that time I was busy trying to look totally unruffled. All the normal aspects of my mind had returned, such as self consciousness, imagination, anxiety and so forth, but in the air I had been momentarily free of all mental clutter. My consciousness had narrowed down to a pin point. Now it was again busy and crowded. 

When we are expecting one pattern of events and an entirely unexpected pattern happens instead, strange things happen to our state of mind. Of course, this fast track entry to a wide awake hypnotic state isn't restricted to me. Countless people have reported time distortion, as well as visual and auditory alterations during sudden shock experiences. They don't tend to think of this as instant shock hypnosis but that is precisely what it is. 

The Rapid Eye Movement - or REM - state is usually connected to dreaming, and is so called because during REM your eyeballs flicker from side to side. Yet REM can also occur when we are awake. Foetuses in the womb experience REM more than at any other time and it's through the REM state that instinctive responses are laid down - before you are born. These instincts are then later matched to environmental triggers in the world - for example, the instincts to cry, to eat and to speak are activated by the infant's real experiences. 

But life is complex and if something unexpected occurs, we need a new response to that trigger so we can deal with it in future. We need to update our instinctive responses because, for example, how can a newborn baby know to fear a loaded gun pointed at them? In order to form a new instinctive response we need to enter the REM state - otherwise known as hypnosis. This state of natural shock hypnosis means we become much more suggestible and therefore able to learn a new instinctive pattern. 

During REM dreaming at night your body experiences a kind of paralysis called catalepsy because acting out your dreams is bad for survival - and nature doesn't want that. More evidence that shock is a fast track into the REM state is that we can become frozen by shock. We enter the REM state and we experience catalepsy. This freezing during shock may last a second or minutes for some people. Flip a guinea pig on its back suddenly and it will freeze. That's how you do animal hypnosis! 

In all animals, including humans, shock hypnosis is triggered by the orientation response. When something startling grabs your attention, an electrical charge travels up from your brain stem through your mid brain and into your cortex. This electrical charge is called a PGO spike. 

When we enter shock hypnosis, which of course is much quicker than progressive relaxation hypnosis, we are wide open to suggestion and new instinctive programming. If somebody had been able to whisper a hypnotic suggestion in my ear during my split second flip, then chances are I would have been effectively programmed by that suggestion. This is what happens when a stage hypnotist creates a shock and fires the orientation response. For example, when they tip a subject backwards - creating the shock - they are then able to deliver their command. 

The great Milton Erickson would often interrupt an expected pattern and replace it with another - creating mild shock - so he could make therapeutic suggestions. The famous Erickson handshake is pure pattern interruption and can induce deep hypnosis instantly for some people. 

Understanding the power of shock and its connection to hypnosis is hugely important as it can illuminate other areas of life for us. 

For example, bullies can program people to be fearful by doing unexpected things or by suddenly shouting. This leaves you feeling you don't know where you are with them, which means your brain is wide open to receive any pattern that is suggested to it. The bully may then create the pattern of fear. Bullies can make us experience post-hypnotic phenomena such as feeling fearful when we go back into the environment where the bullying took place, whether the bully is there or not. Think about bullies you have known - they will have been inducing a kind of shock hypnosis in their victims by behaving unexpectedly. 

When we think of hypnosis we usually think of relaxation, of a calm voice lulling us into serenity and peace. It's true that progressive relaxation is a wonderful way to enter hypnosis or REM. Progressive relaxation mirrors what your mind and body do naturally as you drift off to sleep and enter the REM state naturally at night. Relaxation has many health and mind benefits but it is not an essential aspect of the REM state - we can be hypnotized - like the startled bunny caught in the headlights - without being relaxed. Both types of hypnosis can update the way we instinctively respond to life. We prefer to use relaxation hypnosis with our clients because of the added benefits of relaxation. 

My tree experience years ago didn't put me off climbing trees, but the anxiety I felt just after the hypnotic experience did program my young mind with to be more cautious - which means I'm still here today. 

In summary 

Emergencies naturally hypnotise us and people who want to manipulate you make use of this. This knowledge should make certain aspects of life clearer to you, and protect you against those who would use shock hypnosis against you.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

VIDEO Psychology And Magic