Tag: NLP

Do you mind read before a date?

ImageIt was the first day of the new year and Vikki decided she’d been alone for long enough. Divorced for three years, she hadn’t had a single date since. Yet she longed to have a special someone in her life, and her biological clock was ticking so loudly it was deafening at times.

Right, she thought, logging on, I’m going to find me a man.

She signed up to a couple of internet dating sites. Several of her friends had met interesting men through them.

She was surprised with the choice; there were quite a few guys in her age group who lived within an hour of her home. At least half a dozen were worth contacting.

I’ll just have a coffee before I contact them, she thought.

As she sat there sipping her drink, she started to think:

‘He’ll think I’m not attractive enough.’

‘He’s slim and I could do with losing some weight. He won’t fancy me.’

‘He’s sure to think I’m too old for him, even though we’re the same age. Men always want someone younger.’

She closed down the websites with a sigh. This new year she is still single and the biological clock is ticking ever louder.

Vikki had been struck down by another faulty thinking type – Mind Reading.

Knowing very little about the guys on the website she mind read them. She decided that she knew what they would think about her, before they’d even as much as exchanged emails.

Mind reading is an effective way to sabotage yourself. We probably all do it at times, but some people do it so much, it stops them getting on with their life.

Sound like you? Do you hesitate to act assertively because you ‘mind read’ the person you want to speak to, assuming they will be thinking negatively about you?

In an earlier blog, I highlighted some questions that will help you overcome faulty thinking. So, catch your faulty thoughts and ask yourself:

  • Is that true?
  • Is it verifiably true?
  • Would people who care for me say this about me?
  • Is the thought unhelpful, stopping me from doing what I want to do?
  • What would be more empowering to think?

*** Try this! ***

Challenge your thoughts with these questions and you can start to change your beliefs. Consider what you would say to someone who thought these negative things about themselves. What advice would you give them?

Get yourself a notebook, one that is small enough to carry around. Each time someone pays you a compliment, write it down. It doesn’t have to be a big compliment, even a ‘thank you, that’s great’ is an acknowledgement of something you did well. As you write down the compliment, you might feel uncomfortable. That’s okay, you’re just on the road to letting go of old hurtful feelings. Relax your body and repeat the compliment to yourself, out loud or in your head. Do this a few times until you can read it comfortably. If any negative, and contradictory, thoughts pop into your head, gently acknowledge them and let them drift away. Return to your compliment. Keep this practice going until you have filled a notebook, then get another one if you need to. Doing this will help you to appreciate yourself.

Give it a try. What have you got to lose?


Do you have any questions about assertiveness? Are there any topics you’d like me to write about? I’d love to hear from you. You can write in the comments box below.

Strong Emotions Make You Stupid!

When I was training to be a hypnotherapist, I remember being told Strong Emotions make you stupid!

Now, there’s a thought. It took me a while to think about mistakes I’d made in my life and, sure enough, they’d all been linked to strong emotions (quite a few of them hormonal!). The amygdala, the bit of the brain that regulates our behaviour, gets highjacked by strong emotions. This means that our decisions may be flawed and we may not behave as sensibly or assertively as we would like.

Here’s an example. Tracey and Julie had been friends for many years. Both single, they’d always hoped for the right relationship, but neither had achieved what they wishes.  Still, they enjoyed being young and single and spending time together.

Unexpectedly, Tracey met Mr Right at a conference, and they soon become a couple. Julie was upset; let’s face it, her amygdala was overwhelmed and she became terribly jealous. Her friend was no longer available as readily as before, and Mr Right had to be taken into consideration with all planned get-togethers.

Instead of assertively discussing her fears, and finding a new way for the friendship to continue, Julie acted sulkily and became demanding. Tracey felt torn – her new partner was wonderful company, but she wanted to give Julie attention too. Increasingly, time with Julie was no longer fun. Her sulks and demands made her just hard work. Tracey tried for a long time, and several times tried to address the issue assertively with her friend.

Unfortunately, Julie was not responsive. Eventually, Tracey gave up and withdrew from the friendship. Julie’s lack of assertiveness caused a self-fulfilling prophesy to come true. She lost her good friend. Not because of Mr Right, but because of her own behaviour.

*** Try this***

If you have issues you need to discuss with someone, plan ahead for the conversation. Write yourself a script or practice with a friend or in front of the mirror. Use calming techniques if you need to. Choose a quiet time when you are both calm and unlikely to be interrupted. If you are not sure how to word things, you may well find ideas in my book How to be Assertive, available on kindle. You’ll also find some calming techniques there.

Talk yourself Assertive for 2104!

Do you ever find that what you say to yourself undermines what you say to others? That your inner dialogue cuts the rug from under your feet when you are trying to be assertive? If so, you are not alone. Many people have negative self talk. Luckily, even if you’ve had it your whole life, you can change it. Let’s look at some examples:

Positive self-talk

‘Now, let’s see, what’s the best way to do that?’

‘I made a mess of that, how can I sort it out?’

‘Hmm, I look okay in this.’

Negative self-talk

‘It’s hopeless, I’ll never finish this on time.’

‘I messed that up, I’m a complete idiot.’

‘I look so fat in this outfit, I hate my body.’

Signs of negative self-talk

*  feeling like a victim

*  using ‘universal’ words such as ‘everyone’, ‘no-one’, ‘always’, ‘never’

*  using commanding words such as ‘should’, ‘must’, ‘have-to’

*  excessive worry and/or guilt

*  telling yourself off

*  dwelling excessively on old hurts

If you find yourself using negative inner-dialogue, don’t blame yourself. That would just be more negative self-talk. Be compassionate to yourself. Speak to yourself in a kindly tone. Gently acknowledge the thought –  ‘Oh, there’s that negative thought again.’

Now ask yourself ‘What would be more helpful to think?’ or ‘What would a more positive person think?’

Try out the thought for size. Say it to yourself as if it were true. Relax your body as you do so. Repeat this often enough and you will weaken the hold the negative self-talk has on you, increase your confidence and therefore enhance your ability to be more assertive.

What would you like to know about being assertive? Leave a message at the bottom of this page and I will do my best to help.

Faulty Thinking ruins Janice’s day…

It was a dark, cold, December night. The rain blew horizontally across the platform as she waited for the train. It was already twenty minutes late. Her fingers were going numb as she held her briefcase; she didn’t dare put in on the ground, too many puddles.

There was no waiting room in this isolated Fen location and the pathetic ‘shelter’ laughed at her attempts to keep dry. She could see a nearby road. Cars sped by, their drivers warm and dry, no doubt looking forward to getting home soon. Even without delays she knew her journey would take three hours. It was always the same when she worked here for a day – two trains, a tube ride and a twenty minute walk each way. She knew she’d get home exhausted, ratty and wanting nothing more than to get to bed. Not much fun for her husband a kids.

If only she was brave enough to use her GPS, she could have driven here in an hour and half. But she just knew she couldn’t learn to use technology. It always went wrong in her hands; it would probably blow up or something.

Janice is a victim of ‘faulty thinking’. A capable, intelligent woman, she believes that she can’t use technology so she doesn’t try.

What is ‘Faulty Thinking”? 

Faulty thinking consists of thoughts that are:

a) not based on fact, but on (often unconscious) beliefs

b) unhelpful.

Should we believe all our thoughts?

Not necessarily, and not if those thoughts are not helpful. Let’s look at just one type of faulty thinking – the tendency to believe all our thoughts.

Thoughts just pop into our head, we don’t ask them to come, sometimes we wish they didn’t come.

Let’s have a look at some common unhelpful thoughts that meet our criteria above: they’re not based on fact, and are unhelpful.

‘I’m a fat cow’

Isn’t this awful? Women, in particular, are often so amazingly critical of themselves that they call themselves unbelievably ugly names. They’d never say this to someone else. Sure, you may be above a healthy body weight, but you are not a cow. You are a unique human being with many fine qualities: your weight does not define who you are.

‘I’m useless’

I’ve never come across a useless person yet. Some people are challenging, others under-motivated, but no-one is useless. Janice is a victim of this thinking, and it affects her confidence to try to learn technology. So she often tells herself she’s useless, when in fact she is super skilled at her job, has many friends and is a kind and loving mother and wife.

‘I couldn’t do that’

It’s perfectly true that we can’t all do everything we want. I’d be taller if I could, but short of major surgery, it’s not going to happen. But almost everyone can do so much more than they believe. Believing negative thoughts about your capability can stop you even trying to do something.

Where do these thoughts come from?

The simple answer is that they come from a variety of sources: from our upbringing, from people we know; from the media, from the world around us. All these influences shape our thoughts, as well as our feelings and behaviour.

The good news is that we don’t have to believe our thoughts! Isn’t that amazing!

Lots of our negative thoughts are untrue; some are even downright lies. We wouldn’t believe them if someone else said them. So don’t be afraid to question those rogue thoughts. Ask yourself:

  • is this true?
  • is this verifiably true?
  • is this thought helpful?
  • what would be more helpful to believe?

Going back to the examples above, what would more helpful thoughts be?

‘I’m a fat cow’  can become ‘I need to lose some weight, but I’m still a worthwhile person.’

‘I’m useless’ can become ‘I’m not very good at technical things, but there are plenty of other things I do well.’

‘I couldn’t do that’ can become ‘I could learn how to do that.’

 Try this!

Try these new, empowering thoughts on for size

Remember, you are not responsible for the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can choose what to do with them.

Here’s a great tip. If you catch yourself believing an unhelpful thought, Stop! Relax your body, and ask yourself what you could think instead. Identify a thought that is more positive and empowering.

Now, with your body relaxed, think the new thought in a kindly and compassionate tone. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it yet. Just repeating this new thought to yourself will mean you start to change your brain patterns. This means that eventually you will find the new thought has replaced the old one. After all, this type of thinking is just a habit, and habits can be changed.

Imagine enjoying your life free from those old, hurtful thoughts. Go on, give this technique a try. What have you got to lose?

You can read more about faulty thinking in my book ‘How to be Assertive’. Click on the ad on this page to find it on amazon. You might like to download a sample to see if it’s for you.

Use visualisation to beat worries

worried headache man

This very effective way of overcoming worry works on

your emotional brain by literally allowing you to ‘see’ things differently. You may need to practice the visualisations several times before they reduce the immediate emotional impact of worry.

If you’re not good at visualising, just sense this in what ever way works for you.

Visualisation One

Sit somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Get a mental picture of whatever is worrying you. If it is difficult to visualise imagine a gloomy rain cloud with the name of the worry written on it. Relax your body. Next imagine a huge box, big enough to contain the worry. Place the worry in it. Now place the box outside the door knowing that you can pick it up again or leave it as you decide.

Visualisation Two

Relax your body. Get a mental picture of whatever is worrying you. If you can, make the picture black and white. Put a frame round the picture – it is now a photograph. Shrink the picture until it is quite small. Now imagine a distant wall. Put the picture on it. It’s there in the distance but you can’t really make out the detail. If you ever need to refer to it, you know where to find it, otherwise leave it where it is.

Does shyness stop you being assertive?

Does shyness stop you being assertive? It can certainly lead to passive behaviour, particularly in social situations.

Shyness often comes about when we are turning our attention inwards. We think too much about what others may think about us. Often we ‘mind read’ people, and assume that people will be thinking negative things about us.

So, what can you do about shyness?

Turn your attention outwards – away from yourself. There are a number of ways you can do this:Image

* really listen to what the other person is saying (instead of worrying what they think of you). Aim to make the conversation enjoyable for them.

* if you don’t know what to say, look around the room and comment on something you see. Perhaps a beautiful mirror or an attractive view. Alternatively, ask the person a question about themselves (most non-shy people love talking about themselves). Or give them a sincere compliment (most people like that).

* be aware of what is happening in the world or the local community. This will give you something to talk about.

And do some mental rehearsal before you go to the event where you would normally be shy. Imagine yourself being there, see yourself looking relaxed and at ease, chatting easily to people. As you do this, relax your body because this will give your brain the message that this image is valid. You’ll be priming your brain to act differently when you are at the event.

Shyness can be overcome. Start today to take active steps to change things for the better.

Scary people? Not any more!

I was delivering some team building for a committee recently. The members were incredibly varied.


ImageSome were ground floor workers, some were managers and others were directors. One was the managing director. There had been an issue with lack of feedback to senior managers about problems the workers were facing, and the problems were causing low morale.

What, I wondered, caused this lack of communication? Were the managers so busy with their computers, blue sky thinking or whatever that they tended to ignore their staff. Hey, lots of managers do this. People can be a pain – you know – irrational, demanding, difficult. I bet you’ve worked for a boss who thinks like that. They’d rather email people than say ‘Good morning!’

But perhaps that wasn’t the answer, or not the whole answer. Maybe the workers had an ‘us and them’ approach. After all, many people are intimidated by people with a title grander than their own. And many people have been bought up with a ‘respect your elders and betters’ belief. My grandmother regularly used to say, ‘They all go to the toilet like us, dear!’ But at the same time, she would never have dreamed of challenging any professional person on anything at all. In fact, she called them Toffs.

I’ve always noticed how even people in authority are the same as everyone else. A varied bunch: some approachable and kind, some difficult and aloof, others somewhere in between.

If you find yourself hesitating to speak assertively to someone with more professional power than you, you can try this trick…

Get a mental image of the person. 

Got it?

Now give them Mickey Mouse ears and big red nose.

Smiling yet?

Add a revolving bow tie.

What colour was the bow tie?

Now dress them in a big, baggy t-shirt and tight, tight cycle shorts. 

Stomach turning yet?

Odd shoes and socks complete the picture.

How scary are they now? 

If you think this is too disrespectful or might make you laugh at an inconvenient moment, there is an alternative. Simply make your mental image of them black and white, small and distant.