World class coaching club launches

I’m Suzy, editor of Psychologies and I am so happy to share this exciting news. We've launched a new online coaching club exclusive to our print subscribers, and we'd like to invite you to start enjoying the benefits - for free. So with your monthly subscription, not only do you get our fabulous magazine but a whole new level of support going forward; with live coaching videos from the top experts out there, practical downloadable coaching worksheets and access to the incredible Psychologies subscriber community. Not yet a subscriber - what are you waiting for. Click here for our fantastic subscription offers - just £2.10 per issue!

Psychologies Life Leap

You may want to change your job, or you may want to re-invent yourself or perhaps you want to re-invent the way you’re living your life, or create a new business or BIG change in your life. One of our tag lines at Psychologies – is ‘your life, your way’. It’s about defining what success means to you on your own terms; living a life that makes you happy and makes you feel fulfilled. That's why we've created our new Life Leap coaching club exclusively for you, our subscribers. Each month you'll get access to a coaching programme which sits alongside the dossier in the magazine, to give you extra resources such as workbooks and coaching videos to help you make real change in your life. Interested? Click here to register now: it’s free for print subscribers.

Stop procrastinating, start taking action.

Do you:

  • Want to change your life but always procrastinate?
  • Consistently set goals that you never reach?
  • Indulge in negative habits – drinking too much wine, eating junk, never exercising?
  • Always take on too much and never achieve what you want to achieve.
  • Consistently break promises to yourself.
  • Wake up every morning and think ‘there has to be another way’.



Do you want to:
  • Set achievable goals and make them happen.
  • Set yourself up to succeed versus fail.
  • Build healthy habits that feed your energy.
  • Live a life of inspiration versus desperation.
  • Think differently, not just do something different.
  • Be the creator of your life, not the victim of it.

Get the professional support you need – for free.

At Psychologies we believe with a little help, support and inspiration, it’s far easier to make those changes. In our new Life Leap coaching club, we have world-class experts who are going to be working with you over the next year – we’ve got everyone from Gabriel Bernstein, who Oprah calls a ‘new thought leader’ to Shaa Wasmund, MBE, best-selling author and award-winning entrepreneur coming to help and support us to move forward with inspirational live masterclasses. Plus each month you'll get a full coaching programme, with interactive workbooks, videos and live online coaching sessions, created by the top Barefoot coaches in the country, including Becca Forshaw, Louise Rodgers and Simon Hague. 

Plus every month, there will be:

  • Practical downloadable weekly workbooks and journaling prompts
  • Weekly coaching videos
  • Themed Podcasts
  • Monthly live coaching sessions with top Barefoot coaches 
  • Plus an exclusive Facebook community forum where members can chat, interact and get support

To start getting coached today, simply register using your unique subscriber Customer ID here.

You are not alone.

And of course, I’ll be here – not only am I the editor of Psychologies, but I’ve also been a coach for the last 18 years so I’ll be coaching you every month and also inviting the top coaches in the country to come and coach you too – on navigating these life leaps. And, we’ll also have each other. We’re just starting to build our Life Leap Community – we’ve put the call out for ambassadors – who are already in the process of making their own life leaps and we’ve been inundated by brave women who are already making big changes, so we’ll be in great company.

Here's what Alison has to say:

Alison Hammond 2

Be brave, make the leap

At the heart of the Life Leap Club is courage. To make any changes in your life, you need to brave – but that can be incredibly scary. So it will be great to be able to lean on each other when the going gets tough and work together on our mindsets. Because as we know, sometimes change does not always feel positive -  if you're made redundant, or your relationship breaks down, or we lose someone we love, it can feel awful. However, although we might not have the ability to change what’s happening out there, we do have the power to change the way we see it – or react to it – and that’s something we always have control over. So we will be working a lot on our mindset here, in order to make anything feel possible.

In the Life Leap Club we’ll be mostly encouraging each other to be brave, to be honest about what’s going on. It's is not about being mindlessly positive - it's about being real and being kind to yourself and each other as we take a really deep breath and begin our journey towards creating a life that we truly love. The best thing is it’s free as part of your subscription to Psychologies, so not only will you get our beautiful magazine but you also get free access to the exclusive coaching within the Life Leap Club. 

One of our top contributing coaches is Simon Hague. Simon is a trained and qualified Barefoot Coach providing coaching to his many clients and supervision to other coaches. He enables his clients to see through the complexities and conflicting needs of living in an increasingly chaotic world. This helps them to create a decluttered calmness and focus that takes them forward to their desired outcome. Check out his coaching programmes 'GO SLOW: Simplify Your life' and 'Improve Your Sleep and Wake Up Happier'.

In GO SLOW: Simplify Your life, we ask why does life feel so hard sometimes, and discover how to make it feel easier. Over the next four weeks you'll be taken on a journey using simple and practical tools to give your life a shake-up and find new easier, more streamlined ways to live your life. What if your life could be all about flow, ease and gently taking baby steps every day, which bring you joy?

Click here to register now: it’s free.

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How to get a good night's sleep:a podcast with UKCP

We all sleep. But when we start to experience issues with getting rest how do we know when it is time to reach out for psychological support?

In this episode, UKCP’s CEO Sarah Niblock talks to UKCP psychotherapist Heather Darwall-Smith to find out how prevalent sleep issues are and how psychotherapy can help us find relief. Listen here:

women stretching in bed after good night's sleep

Are you struggling with insomnia or waking up in the night with disrupted sleeping patterns? Getting enough sleep is critical for our physical and emotional wellbeing. Learn more about the science of sleep and the stories we tell our ourselves that keep us awake at night in this special dossier report...

by Psychologies

by Psychologies

Test: Why are you so hard on yourself?

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How to deal with a bully at work

Bullies are always 100 per cent responsible for their behaviour. But, the repeated use of the wrong strategy to deal with a bully – such as avoiding and complying – can result in in you becoming stuck in a bullying dynamic.

Complying is the desire to submit as a way of getting through a challenging encounter with a bully. If you ‘submit’, often you do so in an attempt to preserve your connection with the bully. You hope that doing what the bully wants will enable you to keep the relationship as viable as possible. The desire to retain some form of connection with a workplace bully is understandable, but there is a difference between:

• Wanting to preserve a working relationship with a non-bullying, but challenging, colleague

And:

• The strategy of compliance or submission towards a workplace bully. 

The former makes complete sense, no matter how difficult it may be in practice. The latter isn’t wise. A bullying colleague is a dangerous person to want to preserve connection with. 

Avoiding is motivated by the desire to prevent potentially overwhelming levels of anxiety and fear, which result from encounters with the bully. Many of us may feel paralysed and disabled when in the presence of bully. To avoid feeling this toxic mixture of incapacity and fear you are likely to avoid situations where you will encounter the bully, and avoid confronting abusive behaviour during or after an encounter with the bully. 

Every time the bully’s aggressive behaviour goes unchallenged, they receive the message that they can continue to attack as and when they want to, and there will be no consequences for them to deal with. For many of targets, the fear of confronting is actually a fear that, if they do confront, the bully will retaliate even more powerfully and destroy them. And it is quite true that an ineffective, emotional confrontation won’t go well for many of us, because a skilled bully will hear the wobble in your voice and turn your emotion back onto you. 

Avoidance and compliance have their place as strategies for dealing with workplace bullying – but only in the short term as one-off methods of managing the surprise and shock of being bullied. If they become established ways in which the target handles the bully they become counter-productive, making it straightforward for the bully to carry on bullying.

However, the good news is that a skilled, clean and clear confrontation will alter the bullying dynamic at the time of an attack. A skilful rejoinder results in the bully going onto the back foot, and the balance of power between you and the bully alters in the favour of you. Learning how to confront safely and skilfully is a key goal for people vulnerable to workplace bullying. 

It’s about identifying the choices you have, behaviourally, verbally and intellectually, which at the moment of attack, changes the balance of power. As soon as it’s altered once, the bully is wrong-footed and you can regain some of your power, self-control and self-belief.

For example, if the bully says to you: ‘That report that you wrote was absolutely rubbish.’ This is a fuzzy, unclear, general criticism. In this example, let’s imagine the report was OK – maybe not perfect, but certainly good enough, and you might find yourself saying: ‘Oh sorry, can you tell me what’s wrong with it?’ And what they’ve done is open the door for the next piece of abuse from the bully: unjust, unfair, and undermining.

A better response would be to say: ‘Ok, what I just heard is that you think my work is really poor. So what I’d like you do to is write down your criticisms of it and then you, me and my manager can discuss them.’ Now, most bullies won’t take up that challenge because the point of the criticism wasn’t that the report was wholly inadequate, but was simply to undermine your self-esteem. If you make it clear that you are not affected by the bully’s statement, and instead hold the bully responsible for what they said, the dynamic is changed completely and the bully gets the message the tactic of undermining doesn’t work.

 For more tips:

• Access free downloads on how to recover from and combat workplace bullying from oadeassociates.com/downloads

• Read Free Yourself from Workplace Bullying: Become Bully-Proof and Regain Control of Your Life (Mint Hall Publishing, £21.99)

Photograph: Getty Images

careers

by Psychologies

TEST: How do you get on with your mother?

Focus on your relationship with your mother: negotiating your role as a grown-up child, understanding your mother's influence - good and bad - and discover what sort of daughter you are. Take this test to discover how you get on with your mother.  

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by Psychologies

Let’s play

As we become older and busier, the opportunity to play diminishes and we begin to view the idea of spontaneous pleasure as a frivolous extra, a distraction from ‘real’ life.

Yet play is important for emotional and intellectual development. According to the California-based National Institute For Play, that ability to let go, explore and push boundaries can help us solve problems, while doing things with our hands (modelling clay, painting eggs) helps our brains find solutions. Genuine play can also allow us to enjoy the moment rather than focus on the end goal. Or, as Dr Stuart Brown, the institute’s founder, says, ‘the opposite of play is not work, it’s depression’.

Children learn about the world through exploration, role play and imagination. As we grow towards adulthood, we become less spontaneous and more self-conscious. It is this self-awareness and fear of judgement that inhibits a desire to play, yet this desire is very important in adulthood if we want to experiment, explore and push boundaries. Tim Brown, CEO of global design consultancy Ideo, places great emphasis on the connection between childhood play and creative thinking.

That childlike impulse to experiment and continually ask questions is crucial for adult creativity. Children are more engaged in open possibilities, says Brown. They look at an old cardboard box and ask not just ‘What is it?’ but ‘What can it do?’ Tapping in to that childlike experimentation to encourage our creativity is something he refers to as ‘serious play’. 

To illustrate these connections, he suggests a simple exercise. ‘If you’re in a group, take it in turns to make quick sketches of one another and note your reactions. What you’ll hear is lots of people saying sorry and plenty of embarrassment,’ he says. ‘This is because we fear the judgement of our peers. Ask kids to do the same exercise and there’ll be no embarrassment at all.’ ‘It’s a playful activity that we need to re-learn,’ says Brown. ‘The adult desire to be original and self-edit just isn’t that productive. Instead, going for it like a child and getting something into the real world quickly, whether it’s a drawing, prototype or concept, is a much more creative form of play.’

Counter-intuitive as it may seem, cultivating a sense of spontaneity in our adult lives does take some careful planning. As Brown says, ‘we need rules to break rules’. Two rules that he employs in his creative meetings are ‘Defer judgement’ and ‘Go for quantity’. Staff are encouraged to write down lists of ideas without self-editing with the aim, Brown says, ‘of quickly getting ideas on the table’.

Even if there are rules to encourage our playful side, all forms of play require an emotional letting go — whether it’s laughing, horsing around with friends, flirting or teasing. These are moments when the intellect — and that judgemental inner voice — are quiet, moments that become crucial for forging bonds of trust. ‘Many people have spoken to me of their sadness that they no longer “play”,’ says psychotherapist Martin Lloyd-Elliott. ‘But it is something you can rediscover,’ he says.

What we miss is the playfulness of a team sport where we can feel part of a group and compete without taking ourselves too seriously. Card games and mahjong are traditional forms of adult play that have an almost sacred place in the players’ week, while reading groups offer opportunities for connecting, expressing yourself and exploring different ideas in an intimate, supportive atmosphere. ‘You can seek play in many areas of your life, whether it’s sport, cooking or doing the crossword — as long as there’s a playful aspect to the task and you’re not spoiling it by judging,’ says Lloyd-Elliot. ‘With judgement comes criticism — the enemy of play.’

Photograph: Jupiterimages

Better You

by Psychologies

Boost your mental energy

1. Create habits which replete both physical and mental reserves. Habitually, taking a daily nap provides the dual benefit of no longer needing to decide about napping, plus the physical restorative gains. The same goes for cultivating a daily habit of meditation, or scheduling regular comedy club nights to benefit from the energy-booster of laughter.

2. Frame goals positively

According to Caroline Adams Miller and Michael B Frisch, authors of Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide (Sterling, £10.99), avoiding something takes more mental and physical energy than approaching it. So ‘reframe’ goals in the positive. For example, instead of saying, ‘I can’t drink wine on weeknights,’ try, ‘I can drink wine, but I choose not to.’

3. Get in tune with your body and refuel your mind 

‘Regulate energy throughout the day by being attuned to your body,’ suggests Emiliya Zhivotovskaya, founder of The Flourishing Centre and CAPP. She says, ‘Awareness enables compassion, which enables care.’ Feeling low mid-afternoon? Ask questions. Why do you feel like a sugar hit? Perhaps it’s thirst, rather than your penchant for Hobnobs.

Cheryl Rickman is a positive psychology practitioner, and author of The Flourish Handbook (Creativespace, £11.99). Visit flourishhandbook.com to take part in the 30-Day Flourish Challenge.

Better You

by Psychologies

How our mothers make us

You may view your mother as a close friend and confidante, relying on her judgement and approval to maintain your self-esteem — or maybe you keep her at arm’s length to protect your independence and identity.

Whether you feel close to your mother or not, this crucial bond will have an impact on all the other relationships in your life.

‘Whatever I achieve is never quite good enough for my mother,’ says Caroline, a 42-year-old art lecturer. ‘She had extremely high standards for herself and always felt mediocre, even though she was an established artist. She views me through the same lens.’

Narcissistic mothers like Caroline’s are often too overwhelmed by their own needs to pay attention or recognise their children’s needs. Daughters can often feel very negative as a result but, as Stephen Poulter, author of The Mother Factor, says, ‘Try to reflect on your mother’s style without feeling too critical of her. Developing insight is the only way to take ourselves beyond blame.’

Rachel, 38, used to confide in her mother and then feel let down when she would worry, rather than containing Rachel’s anxiety and offering support. ‘If I had a problem, she would somehow make it her own, and I would end up reassuring her. Now I make a real effort not to over-share. I try and work through problems before I burden her. It feels a lot healthier and we get on better as a result.’

In close relationships there is often a key emotional issue that triggers anxiety and insecurity, re-activating childlike responses that can feel irrational and overwhelming. ‘Whenever I feel my partner trying to manage me or attempt to organise my life, my response is irrationally extreme,’ says Anne, 35, a full-time mother. ‘He’ll always say, “I’m only trying to help; I’m not your mother,” and that’s when the penny drops. My reaction isn’t really about him at all.’

Anne says her own mother could be very controlling. ‘She found it difficult to let me explore, be myself and take risks,’ she says. ‘So if anyone tries to hem me in, it pushes a button.’

‘When these emotional triggers are set off, try to take a step back,’ advises relationship psychologist Jacqui Marson. ‘Think about what you’re projecting onto your partner and be aware that these feelings are based on childlike notions of feeling powerless, thwarted or criticised. Being able to take a dispassionate view of these patterns is an important beginning.’ When daughters become mothers themselves, they emulate their mother’s style of parenting or react against it.

‘My mother was very inconsistent,’ recalls Nina, 37. ‘She was a young mum and there was little sense of routine or predictability. Sometimes I remember her letting me eat bags of sweets for tea. She was really a child herself.’ It’s not a mothering style Nina wants her own daughter to experience. ‘I’ve deliberately gone the other way. There are strict mealtimes and bedtimes. I want her to feel safe and know where she is — something I never felt myself.’

Yet there are dangers in reacting so strongly in the opposite direction, says psychologist Dr Rebecca McGuire-Snieckus. ‘If, for example, your own mother was always highly judgemental, and you go the other way and never criticise your child, it’s just as unhelpful for her self-esteem. Be more mindful and try to find a middle point.’

Relationships

by Psychologies

Should I stay in my marriage or leave it?

My husband and I have been together for over 10 years; we have two fantastic kids who are 11 and 14, but the spark has gone in our marriage. Not just gone – extinguished completely. Not only do I not love him, I despise him. Everything he does irritates me. He doesn’t help at all around the house, and doesn’t make an effort to communicate. I used to make an effort, but now I think, why should I bother? We can spend days just not talking at all. He has health issues but he makes no effort to find a positive solution. I have tried to be supportive but he’s just constantly negative and, after a couple of years of trying everything I can to turn my marriage around, I’m now exhausted. I’m ready to give up. Any last words of advice before I do? Name supplied

I won’t try to talk you out of leaving, but instead will offer my own experience and observations about what to expect. You might also look at the work of Mavis Hetherington, an outstanding researcher on long-term outcomes for divorce. Meanwhile this is what I learned from my interviews with other people about their divorces.

The experience of divorce is worse than most people expect in the short term. The shame and sense of personal failure is persistent, no matter that the public stigma has diminished. It’s still a hugely challenging experience to admit your dream of a happy marriage has failed. Awful things will be said and done, you will experience times of choking panic and probably financial anxiety. At the time, I identified with the Virginia Woolf character in The Hours who says: ‘I am living a life I have no wish to live’.

Perspectives on divorce differ, depending on whether you are the leaver or the left. The public story is usually that the person who leaves is the bad guy, and the one being left a victim. You are the potential leaver; you have been suffering invisibly for some time, but your husband will have a lot of shock and anger before he catches on to what is truly happening.

Does he understand how real and close the danger is? It’s common for physical health issues to affect mental health too and he may not be thinking straight. Have you tried getting him into discussion mediated by a third party at all – a counsellor, or even a member of his family whom you trust?

The key is how good you can make your divorce. My standard advice is to be as generous as you possibly can, especially in fostering your children’s relationship with their dad. We want children to learn to take responsibility for their actions, and the consequences, even when that is tough.

So, even when you are hurting, you still have a responsibility to make this as good as possible for your children. Do bear in mind that no-one actually knows how divorce affects children, because there are issues with running controlled experiments. You’d have to assess the outcomes for children who have stayed stuck within an unhappy marriage.

My own summary would be: divorce will bring you some bad times, but a bad marriage is definitely worse. Wishing you love, strength and generosity.

Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email [email protected], with ‘MARY’ in the subject line

More inspiration:

Read For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered by E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly (WW Norton, £11.99)

Relationships

by Psychologies