We Are a Product of Our Thinking Style


I always remember as a kid, my parents, teachers and other adults would tell me that if I kept pulling silly faces, I would eventually get stuck in one of those faces. At the time I thought,”I’ll just keep pulling different faces so that I can’t get stuck”, which is one way of looking at it and I now realise, especially now that I have my own kids, that at that age we are so much more expressive and versatile. We pulled faces to express how we were feeling because we didn’t have the vocabulary to get the message across as effectively.

Obviously we can’t actually get stuck when we pull faces, even though as a kid there is that element of doubt because adults told you that was fact and there is a similarity with how we develop our thinking. Overtime we create our own way of thinking that is influenced from a variety of external sources and we blend all this input into creating our own style of thinking. We also set limits (beliefs) on ourselves that often say we can not change the way we think, that’s just how I am.

Thankfully that’s a load of bullshit, because we can change the way we think and when we do, we perceive and feel very differently the world around us, the relationships we have, the language (words) we choose to use and our behaviour changes as a result of this.

Have a look at the list below and get a sense of which style/s you have dipped into or perhaps feel stuck in at the moment. We all experience a variety of these throughout our lives that depend on what happens to us and depression, anxiety, stress and trauma can lead us down a negative path that can feel very restrictive. Yet we can learn to change them into a positive style over time, it is the same as with any other habit we develop, we need to find something positive to replace it with, otherwise there is temptation to fall back into the old habit.

I have a little exercise for you that will help you see the possibilities for changing the way you think, if your current style is holding you back.  Ok, for each style below, write down the opposite and also something you can do everyday to help you adopt this opposite as your new way of thinking. There may be more than one thing you could do and another tip is to make them easy and short to do, this will keep you motivated and enthusiastic and more than one method will reinforce and strengthen your chances of changing that negative thinking style.

As with any new skill, it takes time and practice so you will need to commit yourself to 15-20 minutes everyday, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things. You can also use this to help a friend, colleague or loved one change their style too.

15 Styles of Distorted Thinking

Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them, while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. A single detail may be picked out, and the whole event becomes colored by this detail. When you pull negative things out of context, isolated from all the good experiences around you, you make them larger and more awful than they really are.

Polarised Thinking: The hallmark of this distortion is an insistence on dichotomous choices. Things are black or white, good or bad. You tend to perceive everything at the extremes, with very little room for a middle ground. The greatest danger in polarized thinking is its impact on how you judge yourself. For example-You have to be perfect or you’re a failure.

Overgeneralization: You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again. ‘Always’ and ‘never’ are cues that this style of thinking is being utilized. This distortion can lead to a restricted life, as you avoid future failures based on the single incident or event.

Mind Reading: Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you. Mind reading depends on a process called projection. You imagine that people feel the same way you do and react to things the same way you do. Therefore, you don’t watch or listen carefully enough to notice that they are actually different. Mind readers jump to conclusions that are true for them, without checking whether they are true for the other person.

Catastrophising: You expect disaster. You notice or hear about a problem and start “what if’s.” What if that happens to me? What if tragedy strikes? There are no limits to a really fertile catastrophic imagination. An underlying catalyst for this style of thinking is that you do not trust in yourself and your capacity to adapt to change.

Personalisation: This is the tendency to relate everything around you to yourself. For example, thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter, better looking, etc. The underlying assumption is that your worth is in question. You are therefore continually forced to test your value as a person by measuring yourself against others. If you come out better, you get a moment’s relief. If you come up short, you feel diminished. The basic thinking error is that you interpret each experience, each conversation, each look as a clue to your worth and value.

Control Fallacies: There are two ways you can distort your sense of power and control. If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate. The fallacy of internal control has you responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you. Feeling externally controlled keeps you stuck. You don’t believe you can really affect the basic shape of your life, let alone make any difference in the world. The truth of the matter is that we are constantly making decisions, and that every decision affects our lives. On the other hand, the fallacy of internal control leaves you exhausted as you attempt to fill the needs of everyone around you, and feel responsible in doing so (and guilty when you cannot).

Fallacy of Fairness: You feel resentful because you think you know what’s fair, but other people won’t agree with you. Fairness is so conveniently defined, so temptingly self-serving, that each person gets locked into his or her own point of view. It is tempting to make assumptions about how things would change if people were only fair or really valued you. But the other person hardly ever sees it that way, and you end up causing yourself a lot of pain and an ever-growing resentment.

Blaming: You hold other people responsible for your pain, or take the other tack and blame yourself for every problem. Blaming often involves making someone else responsible for choices and decisions that are actually our own responsibility. In blame systems, you deny your right (and responsibility) to assert your needs, say no, or go elsewhere for what you want.

Shoulds: You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act. People who break the rules anger you, and you feel guilty if you violate the rules. The rules are right and indisputable and, as a result, you are often in the position of judging and finding fault (in yourself and in others). Cue words indicating the presence of this distortion are should, ought, and must.

Emotional Reasoning: You believe that what you feel must be true-automatically. If you feel stupid or boring, then you must be stupid and boring. If you feel guilty, then you must have done something wrong. The problem with emotional reasoning is that our emotions interact and correlate with our thinking process. Therefore, if you have distorted thoughts and beliefs, your emotions will reflect these distortions.

Fallacy of Change: You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough. You need to change people because your hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them. The truth is the only person you can really control or have much hope of changing is yourself. The underlying assumption of this thinking style is that your happiness depends on the actions of others. Your happiness actually depends on the thousands of large and small choices you make in your life.

Global Labeling: You generalize one or two qualities (in yourself or others) into a negative global judgment. Global labeling ignores all contrary evidence, creating a view of the world that can be stereotyped and one-dimensional. Labeling yourself can have a negative and insidious impact upon your self-esteem; while labeling others can lead to snap-judgments, relationship problems, and prejudice.

Being Right: You feel continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness. Having to be ‘right’ often makes you hard of hearing. You aren’t interested in the possible veracity of a differing opinion, only in defending your own. Being right becomes more important than an honest and caring relationship.

Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score. You fell bitter when the reward doesn’t come as expected. The problem is that while you are always doing the ‘right thing,’ if your heart really isn’t in it, you are physically and emotionally depleting yourself.

*From Thoughts & Feelings by McKay, Davis, & Fanning. New Harbinger, 1981.

These styles of thinking (or cognitive distortions) were gleaned from the work of several authors, including Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck, and David Burns, among others.

P.S.    I love this mind map by Adam Sicinski

Image

Good Times


Image

I have spent a number of months working really hard to get a few things in place, that includes new clients and contracts both private and corporate for training and therapy. Now it is all falling into place and although it will take a few more weeks until everything is fully up and running, the bulk of the hard work is over and the fun can begin.

None of this would have been possible if I had not practiced what I preach and used my goal setting strategy. Yet again it has proven invaluable and pretty much on schedule, because I set a goal of having these things in place by my birthday, which is actually today and I am sitting here working from home with a big smile on face. Not because it’s my birthday, although that does help, it is down to the fact that what seemed like a million miles away last year when I started planning it all, is now within touching distance.

Now, I have the attention span of a goldfish and this takes some doing for me to maintain that focus consistently and setting out clear, precise goals with well-formed outcomes and having them printed out on my wall makes a huge difference for me. Yes I love what I do for a living and I need to create a safe and comfortable future for my kids, so I have plenty of incentives to stay on track and get the work done, which has included many late nights and early starts. I’m sure there are many of you out there who have young kids and if you’ve ever tried working from home, particularly at the weekend, it is quite a challenge to get anything done, because rightly so, kids want to be with you and play games or sit and watch TV with you. All so much easier to do than work!!

If you haven’t seen my goal setting pdf, take a look at the Free Stuff tab on here as I have put it back there for another week, it is my birthday week after all and I’m feeling generous. Have a look at the other stuff there as well and once you’ve read it I’d love to hear your thoughts on it and I’d also love to hear about how you’ve used it and how it works for you.

Have a great week, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

Simon 🙂

New Research into Nicotine Withdrawal


Image

The article below raises a number of points that support my Break Free from Smoking Programme.

This highlights how important it is for smokers to be fully committed and fully prepared to stop smoking and choose to do something else instead before they make the break from smoking.

Clear, precise goals are crucial in this process and will hugely increase the smokers ability to succeed in breaking the old relationship to smoking and creating a new one where they do not feel that smoking fits anymore and choose to do something else. When willpower is deemed to be the way forwards, success is reduced because there is still an emotional attachment to cigarettes.

Breaking this attachment and emotional connection to cigarettes, breaks the relationship and allows smokers to make better choices that can develop a more positive, healthy and beneficial relationship with some other activity.

It is an interesting read.

http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2014/03/lerman/

Weight Loss Success with Hypnosis and Coaching


Image

I now have places available on my Brain2Body Lifestyle Change and Weight loss Programme as the most recent attendees have finished the programme. You can find a pdf for information in the “Free Stuff” tab that provides a summary of what is entailed in the programme for people who are interested. This programme is for people who have tried the multitude of diets, weight loss groups etc and have not succeeded in maintaining or even achieving their weight loss goals. This is because these groups do not deal with the real issues behind emotional eating, binge eating, comfort, boredom, stress eating etc.

This programme does with exactly those areas, it works from inside your mind, allowing you to make the right kinds of changes for you to achieve your goals. There are five precision hypnosis sessions that target the key areas that keep people heading down the wrong path and lead them away from their weight loss goals.

Instead of going back to the same weight loss groups or trying a different one every time you want to lose weight, have a read of the information booklet and feel free to email me any questions you may have about the programme. I can also put you in touch with others who have already gone through it and have made some amazing changes to their relationship to food, defused their emotional triggers, have become complete health magnets and are well on their way to achieving their ideal body. Speaking to people who have already done it and are achieving success in other areas of their lives as a result of what they learn and discover on this programme is invaluable for you and gives you a sneaky peak at what you could achieve for yourself.

I have seen some huge changes and some extremely happy clients and it will take you 5-10 minutes to read the pdf and it may be the most important 5-10 minutes for you this year.

Simon

Speed reading with a difference


I read an article today about a new App that enables people to read up to 1000 words a minute. This is phenomenal and you get a taste of what that could be like when you click on the link below.

This is incredible and could potentially save me and many others out there who need to read research papers and some dry academic/technical books and papers, an huge amount of time. This technology speeds up the process of relaxed focus use din hypnosis to aid speed reading and I have used this myself over the years. However, the rate at which you can increase reading speed with this new technology appears at the moment, to be incredibly fast.

Some interesting times ahead I feel. Anyway, check out the link below and test it out for yourself and make your own mind up about it.

Have fun.

Simon 🙂

http://elitedaily.com/news/technology/this-insane-new-app-will-allow-you-to-read-novels-in-under-90-minutes/

Unquenchable thirst for knowledge and how to use it wisely


I’m currently learning how to train/teach more effectively, it’s part of my commitment to myself and to the people who pay to come on my courses, that I will do everything in my power to be the very best I can be at what I do. This principle is something I live by in every aspect of my life and it keeps me heading in the direction I want my life to go in. What I am learning is called the 4MAT Cycle of Teaching and Learning, which makes  sense when you begin to understand what it is and how it works.

4mat-cycle-8

I had to write a post about how neuroscience research applies to teaching and learning and my research threw up some interesting information which I thought I would share with you.

In a recent survey of teachers in the UK, almost 90 per cent thought that a knowledge of the brain was important, or very important, in the design of educational programmes. Indeed, for at least two decades, educational programmes claiming to be ‘brain-based’ have been flourishing in the UK. Unfortunately, these programmes have usually been produced without the involvement of neuroscientific expertise, are rarely evaluated in their effectiveness and are often unscientific in their approach. Perhaps this is unsurprising since, although the central role of the brain in learning may appear self-evident, formal dialogue between neuroscience and education is a relatively new phenomenon.

So what does/can neuroscience bring to education? It can:

  1. Produce a common language and understanding about learning. This will inform attitudes, educational approaches and the quality of discussion around an increasing range of educational issues such as those associated with ADHD and dyslexia
  2. Prompt further, more educationally-focused, scientific inquiry into how science can continue to advance teaching methods to engage learners at every turn
  3. Develop multidisciplinary projects and forums that can identify tractable and useful research questions, develop collaborative research to address them, scrutinise neuromyths and evaluate programmes of ‘brain-based’ learning
  4. Provide greater preparedness for imminent social, cultural and scientific change, because change is occurring faster and faster and in order to keep up with this rapid pace, teaching must collaborate with science to ensure that both teachers and learners are given the best possible opportunities to excel.

In every phase of education, from early years to later life, there are educational issues whose understanding requires concepts about brain function. The debate about how this knowledge should be included in educational thinking has only just begun and it must continue to grow from should be included into can and must be included.

The 4MAT Cycle fits rather nicely with how the brain works because the brain is often described in terms of two hemispheres, left and right, joined together by a mass of fibres known as the corpus callosum. These can further be divided into four lobes: the frontal, parietal, occipital and temporal. Each lobe has been associated with a different set of cognitive functions. The frontal lobe may, perhaps, be of particular interest to educators due to its involvement with many different aspects of reasoning as well as movement. The temporal lobe is associated with some aspects of memory, as well as auditory skills. The parietal lobes are heavily involved in integrating information from different sources and have also been associated with some types of mathematical skill. The occipital lobes are critical regions for visual processing.

However, it is not advisable to consider any one part of the brain as being solely involved with any one task. Any everyday task recruits a large and broadly distributed set of neural networks that communicate with each other in a complex fashion.

Neuroscience has shown the surprising extent to which the brain is still developing in adolescence, particularly in the frontal and parietal cortices where synaptic pruning (where infrequently used connections are eliminated) does not begin until after puberty. A second type of change occurring in these brain regions during puberty involves myelination. This is the process by which the axons, carrying messages from and to neurons, become insulated by a fatty substance called myelin, thus improving the efficiency with which information is communicated in the brain. In the frontal and parietal lobes, myelination increases considerably throughout adolescence and, to a less dramatic extent, throughout adulthood, favouring an increase in the speed with which neural communication occurs in these areas.

Taking these considerations together, you might expect the teenage brain to be less ready than an adult brain to carry out a range of different processes. These include directing attention, planning future tasks, inhibiting inappropriate behaviour, multitasking, and a variety of socially-orientated tasks. Indeed, psychological testing has even shown a ‘pubertal dip’ in some areas of performance, such as matching pictures of facial expressions to descriptors.

Although in adult brains the changes are less radical than during childhood, the brain continues to change and develop through adulthood. With increasing age, of course, the brain does become less malleable, and we begin to lose neurons at an increasing rate, although the educational effects of this loss are still not well understood. However, there is also evidence that neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons) continues in at least one part of the brain in adulthood. This is in the hippocampus, an area with an important role in learning and memory.

The brain’s continuing plasticity suggests that it is well designed for lifelong learning and adaptation to new situations and experiences, and such adaptation can even bring about significant changes in its structure. Therefore, there is considerable evidence to support that we can continue to learn thoughout our lives.

Our ever increasing knowledge of the brain is producing expectations of new educational insights, and many such insights are already beginning to surface. At the same time, neuroscientists are becoming increasingly interested in how the brain functions in complex environments more closely resembling those found in classrooms. Education thus appears set to become an interesting area of challenge for cognitive neuroscience, as it attempts to explore new contexts. Some neuroscientists have even suggested that education might be considered as “a process of optimal adaptation such that learning is guided to ensure proper brain development and functionality”. This sense of increasing mutual interest underlies calls for a two-way dialogue between neuroscience and education that could helpfully inform both areas.

There is a growing need for collaborations between neuroscience, psychology and education that embrace insights and understanding from each perspective, and that involve educators and scientists working together at each stage. These collaborations are not straightforward, because the philosophies of education and natural science are very different – with various forms of psychology, bridging the two. Educational research, with its roots in social science, places strong emphasis upon the importance of social context and the interpretation of meaning. Natural science, on the other hand, is more concerned with controlled experimental testing of hypotheses and the development of generalisable cause-effect mechanisms. This suggests that collaborative research projects may need to extend the cognitive neuroscience model of brain->mind->behaviour, to incorporate processes of social construction pertinent to learning. Although challenging, such interdisciplinary projects may be the most effective way to co-construct and communicate concepts involving neuroscience, psychology and education that are both scientifically sound and educationally relevant.

Neuroscience is still at an early stage in our understanding of the brain. Most of what we know comes from scientific experimentation, in environments that differ greatly from everyday learning contexts. Another limitation in applying recent studies is their focus upon individual cognitive factors rather than the complex abilities required in everyday or academic settings. And, even in respect of these basic cognitive factors, many recent findings have served to emphasise how much more there is to know.

 This provides an exciting opportunity with so much yet to be discovered, that teaching and learning will only continue to benefit from the rapid advances in neuroscience and it’s growing partnership with teaching, although a fair degree of caution is necessary while the hypotheses, experiments and testing is verified for accuracy and efficacy in the teaching environment to ensure the very best for our learners.

Source reference:

http://www.tlrp.org/pub/documents/Neuroscience%20Commentary%20FINAL.pdf

The many health benefits of Intermittent Fasting


I’m sure you’ve probably heard about Intermittent Fasting or IF. It’s not hard to find articles about it on virtually every fitness or nutrition site on the internet.

I’ve been a coach  for over a 20 years providing health & fitness and  sports specific nutrition and training advice and IF has been the one thing that has been consistently effective for so many clients, as well as myself and I am still excited about it. 

My excitement comes from the long list of proven benefits, not limited to:

  • Fast fat loss
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Huge spikes in Growth Hormone
  • Enhancing brain function
  • Reducing cholesterol and blood pressure

Fasting is fantastic and insanely effective.

And, there is one more outrageously awesome benefit of IF: reducing inflammation.

Inflammation as I’m sure you know, is a necessary and natural process that repairs any damage in our bodies. Ultimately, inflammation is your body’s attempt to protect itself by removing damaged cells and any irritants. It is the beginning of the healing process. After an injury, immediately reducing inflammation isn’t always the best course of action. You want some inflammation to induce healing. As the injury heals though you want to be able to control inflammation and reduce as necessary.

Inflammation is a very good thing and a necessity for healing. However, if it is chronic inflammation, that causes concern. Chronic inflammation is long term. It occurs when the body is unable to remove the irritant.

It is in your best interest to keep chronic inflammation under control as it has been linked to higher risks of numerous conditions and diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s to name a few.

But chronic inflammation isn’t only a result from an acute injury. Chronic inflammation is often a result of our lifestyle factors. Things such as poor dietary decisions (too much sugar and processed food), gut health issues, food intolerance, stress, exhaustion and not enough exercise all play a role in keeping you inflamed.

Yet another reason for eating better and getting more exercise.

Now, lets bring in Intermittent Fasting.

If you’re not aware Intermittent Fasting is the occasional and intentional skipping of meals in order to put the body in a fasted state, short term. There are many different ways to go about IF but the most popular ways are daily 16 hour fasts (skipping breakfast) or 24 hour fasts (skipping breakfast and lunch) one or two times a week. Most methods come with very similar outcomes so picking one that works best for you is just fine. In a minute I’ll let you know how you can get started with IF.

 

brain2body-cover

 

So, back to IF and inflammation:

Numerous studies have shown that Intermittent Fasting is a great tool to help reduce inflammation. There are 2  studies carried out in the last 7 years that spring to mind that have made the benefits of IF for reducing inflammation abundantly clear.

A study in 2012 and another in 2007 conducted with people during the month of Ramadan fasting, both came to the same conclusions. The researchers compared the subjects taking part in the fasting to a control group eating 3 meals a day.

The studies both found that the individuals that were fasting had significant reductions in inflammation markers interleukin-6, C-reactive protein and homocysteine. In simpler terms, by partaking in fasting they reduced inflammation in their body.

The other important thing to note is that during the studies there was no difference in caloric intake between the individuals fasting and the control group. When the fasting group was free to eat, they consumed as many calories during the day as the group eating three meals a day. This is important to note, as it wasn’t calorie restriction reducing inflammation is was the periods of fasting.

It is in your best health interest to get a handle on inflammation. So how can you get started with IF?

  • My recommendation for my own nutrition clients is to get started with a 24 hour fast. Pick one day this week where you will be free to go 24 hours without food. Most people will eat dinner the night before, fast throughout the day and have a normal size dinner that night. You may prefer to eat breakfast and then go without food until the next days breakfast. Ultimately the timing doesn’t matter, just go 24 hours without calories.
  • During the fast it is important to stay hydrated. Try to drink at least 2-3 litres of water during the day. Black coffee and green tea (another anti inflammatory) are also permitted. Just make sure you’re not getting calories in your beverages.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids will also help you curb waves of hunger which will surface and then go away throughout the day. Respond to hunger by taking in more fluids and it will soon pass.

The 24 hour fast is much easier then it sounds and gets even easier the second time around, when you know what to expect. You can partake in one or two 24 hour fasts each week. Don’t do any more than two per week.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

If your pregnant or diabetic, fasting in most instances is not right for you. Consult with your doctor before fasting.

To recap, if you are interested in fast fat loss, improved insulin sensitivity, huge spikes in Growth Hormone, enhancing brain function, reducing cholesterol, reducing blood pressure or ridding yourself of chronic inflammation then give Intermittent Fasting a go, I think you will be very pleasantly surprised as to how good it makes you feel.

It has made a huge impact in my life over the last couple of years. I am leaner, more energetic and feel healthier then ever. I know it can make a similar impact in your life.

 For a thorough scientifically researched and evidenced book on the benefits of and how to adapt Intermittent Fasting into your lifestyle, read my book available on Kindle and iBooks. You can click on the image above or below to go straight to Amazon to download it today.

brain2body-cover