Mind-Matters Podcast Series #4: Judith Hammond


This episode is a conversation with Judith Hammond who I first met in 2013 as we were on the same NLP Trainers course. Judith tals about being abused by her mother physically, mentally, verbally and psychologically/emotionally.

Judith explains how this conditioned her through her life and how she coped with this and work place bullying, abusive relationships and always managing to find the reserves to be there for her own kids despite all this.

It’s a deep and emotional conversation full of amazing insight into her life and how she has dealt with traumatic experiences. I have no doubt that like me, you will gain so much from it.

If you enjoyed listening to this episode and the others then please share them with your friends, family, colleagues and leave your thoughts and comments and your own experiences.

 

 

ICARUS Online in the News


At the beginning of the week I was interviewed by a journalist from my local paper the Press and Jornal and talked about the work that me and David Bellamy are doing to help bring change to the military charities sector and also to speed up access to treatment for veterans, uniformed services & their immediate families.

Have a read and please share.

Thanks

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeenshire/1438690/turriff-based-ex-marine-sets-up-new-helpline-for-former-military-personnel/

What is Mental Strength and Do You Have It?


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I’m fairly certain that most people would like to think that they have what it takes to succeed; determination, grit, Mental Strength, resilience.

But how do you know for sure? After all you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

Until recently Mental Strength (toughness) was generally subjective. We would look at a business person, an athlete, or an artist achieve great success in the face of adversity and say, “WOW…they must be really mentally strong to get through that!”

We would determine a person’s Mental Strength by their success. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a way to measure this.

So What is Mental Strength?

An excellent place to start is defining what mental toughness is. Until recently there hasn’t been a solid description of what mental toughness is. Then in 2012 after numerous case studies and research Clough & Strycharczyk developed this widely accepted definition of mental toughness.

“Mental Toughness is a personality trait which determines in large part how people deal with challenge, stressors and pressure …. irrespective of prevailing circumstances.”

It is also defined as:

“An ability to overcome adversity and persevere through difficult and challenging situations or circumstances, to remain focused on the process.”

What is So Important About Mental Strength?

Through research, several benefits of being mentally strong have emerged. They are:

  • Performance: Individuals perform more effectively in terms of volume and quality of work.
  • Positive Behavior: The higher the level of Mental Strength, the more the individual demonstrates positive behaviors.
  • Well-being: The greater the level of Mental Strength, the greater the sense of well-being.
  • Aspirations: Studies show that Mental Strength appears to be positively correlated with career aspirations and aspirations in general.
  • Employability: There is a clear relationship between an individual’s Mental Strength and their ability to not only get a job, but to get the job they want.
  • Completion Rates: A mentally strong person is more likely to complete a project on time and on target.
  • Other Considerations: Developing psychological or emotional resilience and Mental Strength is a very important life skill.

What Exactly Makes Up Mental Strength?

There are four major components of Mental Strength and they are:

Control – Control means having a sense of self-worth and describes the extent to which a person feels in control of their life and their circumstances. Importantly, it also describes the extent to which they can control the display of their emotions.

A mentally strong person will usually “get on with it” irrespective of how they feel and their positive approach can often lift the spirits of those around them.

Commitment – Commitment is about goal orientation and ‘stickability’ and describes the extent to which someone is prepared to set goals for what they need to do and make measurable promises that, once made, they will work hard to deliver on.

Control and Commitment, when combined, are what most people mean when they think of resilience. They are indeed a solid response to adversity, but resilience is largely a passive quality and is only one part of Mental Strength.

Challenge – Challenge describes the extent to which the individual will push back their boundaries, embrace change and accept risk. It’s also about how they see all outcomes – good and bad.

Mentally strong people view challenges, change and adversity as opportunities rather than threats and will relish the chance to learn and grow in new and unknown situation. Someone whose challenge score is high will typically enjoy new places, new people, innovation and creativity.

Confidence – Confidence completes the picture and describes the self-belief an individual has in their own abilities and the interpersonal confidence they have to influence others and deal with conflict and challenge. When faced with a challenge, mentally strong people scoring high in confidence, will possess the self-belief to deal with the situation and the inner strength to stand their ground when needed. Their confidence enables them to represent their view boldly and be comfortable in handling objections.

To be Mentally Strong there are four main areas in which you need to excel at. They are:

1. Control: Individuals who score high on this scale feel that they are in control of their work and of their work environment. At the high end of the scale they will be able to handle lots of things at the same time. At the other end, they may only be comfortable handling one thing at a time.

  • Control (emotion) – Individuals scoring highly on this scale are better able to control their emotions. They are better able to keep anxieties in check.
  • Control (life) – Individuals scoring higher on this scale are more likely to believe that they control their lives. They feel that they can make a difference.

2. Challenge (sometimes called change orientation): Describes the extent to which individuals see problems as opportunities. At one end of the scale we find those who thrive in continually changing environments. At the other end, we find those who prefer to minimize their exposure to change and the problems that come with that.

3. Commitment: Sometimes described as “stickability”, this describes the ability for an individual to carry out tasks successfully despite any problems or obstacles which arise whilst achieving the goal. Consequently, an individual who scores at the high end of the scale will be able to handle and achieve things to tough unyielding deadlines.

4. Confidence: Individuals who are high in confidence have the self-belief to successfully complete tasks, which may be considered too difficult by individuals with similar abilities but with lower confidence. At the other end of the scale individuals will be unsettled by setbacks and will feel undermined by these.

  • Confidence (abilities): Individuals scoring highly on this scale are more likely to believe that they are truly worthwhile.
  • Confidence (interpersonal): Individuals scoring highly on this scale tend to be more assertive. They are less likely to be intimidated in social settings and are more likely to cope with difficult or awkward people.

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Can You Develop Mental Strength?

Absolutely, yes you can!

Mental Strength is a malleable personality trait which means it can be developed.

Developing Mental Strength generally happens by teaching you to handle stress more effectively through making fundamental changes to the way you think about problems and by teaching you the tactics and strategies that mentally tough people use.

Either approach can work, although the program needs to be tailored as you will likely have a unique profile with different strengths and development needs. The Mental Strength Programme offers reflection and a conversation with an experienced Mental Strength Coach, you would commit to a purposeful practice using the appropriate techniques. These techniques fall into 5 categories:

  1. Positive Thinking: There are many techniques for developing a “can do” mindset which include self-talk and stopping or reframing negative thoughts.
  2. Mental Rehearsal: This involves developing your ability to first imagine something in your head to help you deal with a real event.
  3. Energy Management: Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques will enable you to deal with those panic moments when things seem out of control, producing a physiological reaction.
  4. Goal Setting: Tools and techniques that support the development of your sense of purpose and how to set about achieving it.
  5. Attention Control: Used extensively in sports to teach athletes how to focus better and longer, as well as developing mindfulness, which is learning how to notice what is happening around you.

How to Measure Mental Strength

Now that we know each component of Mental Strength, the next step is to measure it. This is done by assessing Readiness to Change and Emotional Intelligence.

These Questionnaires are a dynamic and revealing diagnostic test that identifies the resilience and mental toughness of individuals. The tool can be used to enable a program of interventions to help the learner change their Mental Strength, or it can show someone how to adopt the behaviours that a mentally strong person would have.

These Questionnaires are online assessments and are accessed via links and takes just 20-30 minutes to complete. Results are generated quickly and presented in Pdf reports that are emailed to you immediately ofter completion of each assessment.

Where is Mental Strength Useful?

Being Mentally Strong has been proven to be beneficial in improving performance, increasing positivity and aspirations, creating greater well-being as well as a calmer and lower stress response to change.

As a result, the Mental Toughness Questionnaire has many useful applications. Especially for people and organizations that are subject to pressures and challenges or wherever performance, behavior and well-being is an issue.

The Mental Strength Assessment is Widely Used in Businesses for:

  • Training & Development
  • Leadership Development
  • Coaching
  • Organisation Development
  • Performance
  • Talent Management
  • Career Transition and Outplacement
  • Work-Life Balance

The Mental Strength Assessment is Widely Used in Sport

The beneficial impact of Mental Strength is well understood by most coaches and athletes. The key areas are:

  • Performance
  • Positive Behaviour
  • Well-being
  • Aspirations

The Mental Strength Assessment is extremely effective in the Sports sector using language applicable in the sporting world. The results enable coaches, trainers and athletes to make better assessments and identify why they do or do not perform under pressure.

It can also explain why some athletes are better suited at contact sports and why some perform better in team sports than in solitary sports. It also explains why an athlete of lesser ability can often and will often beat an athlete of greater ability.

There are assessments for specific sports so your report can be geared precisely to give you the competitive advantage.

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In Summary

We have:

  • The ability to define and describe an important aspect of our personality – Mental Strength.
  • A concept which is accessible to everyone and which helps to explain performance, well-being and behaviour.
  • Psychometric assessments which measure an individual’s Mental Strength for readiness to change and emotional intelligence.
    A Mental Strength Development program which delivers measurable results.

 

If you feel you want to develop the level of mental strength you want/need in order to live life like a warrior being  kind, compassionate, ruthless in your determination to succeed yet remaining ethically and morally sound, resilient to failures and cheerful when the shit hits the fan. Then get in touch with me to discuss the options below.

  1. Self directed – go through the assessments yourself and the online course in your own time with no input from me
  2. 8 Week coaching Programme – go through the assessments and the online course, plus 8 weekly coaching calls to fine tune your progress and development and ensure you achieve your aim.

Whatever you decide I salute you for considering your options and making an informed decision for yourself and your future.

Here’s to your success and your mental strength.

Simon

How We Encode Our Success or Failure with Our Thinking


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“You can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned, and you’re down to your reflexes – that means your [preparation:]. That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, well, you’re going to get found out now, under the bright lights.”

Joe Frazier

Today that quote is proving invaluable to me because today is proving to be a challenging day, and for no clear conscious reason as yet. I woke up in the middle of the night last night, not from a nightmare or any dream that I can remember but with an ominous feeling of what I can only describe as dread. I didn’t sleep much after that and lay there in bed with my heart racing until my alarm went off.

The day so far has been spent wrestling with my mind as the darkness that I lock away tries to overwhelm me and, I know that I will win this battle today.

Now why am I telling you this?

Well I know that there are many people out there who have had, and likely will have similar experiences to this, it’s a natural part of life.  I am a highly positive person and I am also very well aware as a psychologist what is happening. My life has been full of unusual experiences, some fun and some terrifying and exhilarating. This mixture of positive and negative experiences are all part of who I am and sometimes the negative takes over and leads me towards a path I do not want to tread because it is dark, threatening and dangerous. This path is virtually impossible to brighten as it seems to absorb all light like a black hole encompassing anything and everything.

I am grateful that I have learned to side-step off that path early on and use what I have learned and keep myself focused on what I do want; how I do want to think, how I do want to feel and remain focused on those things no matter how exhausting that can be at times like this.

It’s extremely difficult to explain to someone that has never had this kind of experience because it’s not something you can see, or touch or hear, it is a purely kinaesthetic experience. This is purely thoughts and feelings that create the mental state and this intangible element is hard for some to grasp.

There has been a huge amount of research over the years into how our mindset; our thoughts, feelings, language and behaviour, and how that affects our physical health as well as our mental health, and a field of science called Epigenetics grew from it and has shown that our beliefs can affect us at the cellular level.

One of the best-researched books about our language and responses to both positive and negative events in life is Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Seligman. In a 25-year research study, Seligman proved that our mindset, manifested in our language and behavior, is a predictor of our success. In other words, what you think and say (your words and language) is proven to manifest in your life.

I continue to be baffled by individuals who wonder why their life is a mess when their entire mindset is defeatist and pessimistic. They are blind to their own undoing.

Seligman proved that how we respond (think, say, do) to our circumstances, both successes and failures, directly correlates to our accomplishments in life. Someone might argue that it can’t be that simple, but from Seligman’s research, it is.

To push your thinking limits even further, Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, has confirmed that our thoughts can actually adjust our DNA, at minimum, how our DNA decides to respond to different stressors or events. Contrary to popular understanding, it is not your genes that predict your predisposition to your health condition, but rather your thoughts that act on your genes.

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Your thought life is highly influencing your condition in your life, including, but not limited to, your health, relationships, career, and achievements. Understand that regardless of your background, Personal Style, personality, or environment, you can learn optimism, measure it, and teach it to yourself and others.

If we are going to live our lives on purpose with passion, it is going to take resilience and mental strength and those who give up easily are generally pessimistic in their mindset. They get caught in a cycle of hopelessness, and can’t see their way out of their troubles or challenges. However, optimistic individuals face identical roadblocks and they overcome them to realise their own success and victory.

There are three principles or factors that comprise the primary work for Dr. Seligman’s optimist and pessimistic framework.

  1. Permanent vs. Temporary
  2. Specific vs. Universal
  3. Personalisation (internal vs. external) Elements

1. Optimistic Mindset Item One: Permanent vs. Temporary
Failure makes everyone at least momentarily helpless. However, those who are optimistic bounce back almost instantly. Those who are highly pessimistic remain helpless for days or perhaps months, even after very minor setbacks.

2. Optimistic Mindset Item Two: Specific vs. Universal
The optimist believes that bad events have specific causes, while good events enhance everything they do; the pessimist believes that bad events have universal causes and that good events are caused by specific factors.

3. Optimistic Mindset Item Three: Personalisation: Internal vs. External
When bad things happen, we can blame ourselves (internal), or we can transfer fault to circumstances (external). People who blame themselves when they fail have low self-esteem as a consequence. They think they are worthless, talent-less, and unlovable. People who blame external events when bad events happen do not lose self-esteem when negative events occur. Overall they like themselves better than those who blame themselves. The optimistic style of explaining good events is the opposite of explaining negative events. It is internal, rather than external. People who believe that they cause good things to happen tend to like themselves better than people who believe that good things come from other people or circumstances.

The Importance of Hope
Whether we have hope depends on two dimensions of our explanatory style (the words and responses we use): pervasiveness and permanence. Finding temporary and specific causes for misfortune is the art of hope – temporary causes limit helplessness in time, and specific causes limit helplessness to the original situation. On the other hand, permanent causes produce helplessness through all our endeavors. Finding permanent and universal causes for misfortune is the practice of despair. People who make permanent and universal explanations for their troubles tend to collapse under pressure, both for a long time and across situations. In Seligman’s work, no item is more important as your levels of hopelessness or hopefulness.

It’s important to remember the three principles of Dr. Seligmans’ optimistic and pessimistic mindsets; how they apply to your life, and why being conscious of them will help you avoid (and reverse) the cycle of despair and hopelessness. Living a life On Purpose, by definition, is a life full of HOPE. When life throws you a curve ball, where does your mind take you? Are you a glass half-empty or glass half-full kind of person? Your answer matters, To You.

“Each of us has two distinct choices to make about what we will do with our lives. The first choice we can make is to be less than we have the capacity to be. To earn less. To have less. To read less and think less. To try less and discipline ourselves less. These are the choices that lead to an empty life. These are the choices that, once made, lead to a life of constant apprehension instead of a life of wondrous anticipation.  And the second choice? To do it all! To become all that we can possibly be. To read every book that we possibly can. To earn as much as we possibly can. To give and share as much as we possibly can. To strive and produce and accomplish as much as we possibly can.”

Jim Rohn

If this post helps just one person today then it has done it’s job and if you feel you want or need to talk in more detail then please get in touch.

Here’s to your mental strength and success.

Simon

Physical and Mental Strength


Courage and Determination

I’m fortunate because my work involves physical and mental coaching and training, which is a lot of fun and gives me variety from day to day. I also have the huge privilege of seeing my clients lives change over time and sometimes in a very short space of time, which is amazing to see.

I had a suggestion given to me just recently about offering virtual live training via Facebook use their Live Streaming facility and this really intrigued me as to how I can make this work. So, I set up a closed FB Group to keep it completely private for everyone that subscribes and have posted videos of two circuits so far that include lots of little psychological tips.

These days I find shorter more intense physical training suits me better than long drawn out sessions. Partly because I get bored easily and can’t be bothered with spending a long time training, unless it’s out for a long walk in the hills. Also because my body can’t hack it either, I really struggle with long training sessions. So, the other day I recorded a demo session of a full body circuit that I concocted that ticks all the boxes for me. It takes about 20 minutes to complete, it involves muscular strength and stamina, it gets my heart rate up providing me with a good cardiovascular workout and it’s intense, it hurts and it forces me to push myself when it hurts to stick to the time limit I set myself for it.

I’ve tarted the video up so it’s not just the raw basic video from my phone camera and I hope you find it useful and that you test out the circuit for yourself too.

This is one of my favourite circuits at the moment, it is a real test of determination to get it finished within the time frame and it works your entire body, and I can still do it with my limited range of movement in my left shoulder.

Be prepared to sweat, a lot when you do this. It is my favourite Friday circuit because it means I empty my tank before the weekend starts and I can eat a little bit of all the things I may have craved throughout the week and eat them guilt free.

Try it out and let me know how you get on and how you adapt it with your own interesting additions.