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Thriving Through Cancer: Perspectives from an oncology nurse

 

A guide to helping manage your thinking and feeling more in control throughout treatment and beyond

 

Thriving through cancer

 

Cancer touches the lives of everyone. If we have not had cancer ourselves, we all know someone, be it a family member, friend or work colleague who has. The ‘C’ word has so many connotations causing people to automatically fear the worst.  This is not helped by the catastrophic language and frequent myths portrayed in the media, reinforcing a sense of worry and helplessness.  When anyone is given a cancer diagnosis their whole world is turned up-side-down.  This news is met with a huge raft of emotions.  However, once the shock of an initial diagnosis has passed, there can be a significant variation in how individuals and their families cope.  Having worked as a paediatric oncology nurse for the last 8 years, I have always been interested to understand how some families manage adversity so well without any detrimental effect to their mental health, whilst other families really struggle.  It was not until several years ago when I went through the Thrive Programme myself and then trained to be a Thrive Consultant that I started to get a clearer answer to this question. What are the key psychological components needed to not just survive through cancer but Thrive?  

Psychological Foundations

To enable us to effectively manage our thinking and not crumble during periods of adversity, it is important to have strong psychological foundations and challenge limiting beliefs and unhelpful thinking styles that are creating symptoms such as stress, anxiety, phobias and depression.  Having a healthy self-esteem, low social anxiety, feeling powerful and in control of our experiences and having good coping skills are all key to not only surviving through cancer but thriving.  None of us were born with low self-esteem social anxiety or a belief that we are powerless to change our lives.  We have learnt these unhelpful ways of viewing the world. But the great news is that these can easily be changed.

Taking Back Control

The extent to which a person feels they have power and control over their lives is really key to how well they are going to be able to manage their emotions at diagnosis and during treatment.  In psychology speak, this is called locus of control.  An internal locus of control is when we believe we are in the ‘driving seat’ of our own lives, whilst an external locus of control (LOC) is when we believe our lives are controlled by luck, chance, other people or any external force outside our control. We may have an internal LOC for some aspects of our lives, for example our work, however, in other aspects this may be external. 

Of course there are many situations with a cancer diagnosis that are beyond the control of the individual, for example, treatment schedules, appointments for scans, blood tests and theatre slots. There are also inevitable side effects to chemotherapy and radiotherapy that are beyond the control of the individual. Some of these are important indicators that treatment is working, such as hair loss and a lowered immune system.  Some side effects are predictable but there are of course individual differences. Preventative strategies are used to help alleviate side effects such as nausea and vomiting.  Having an internal locus of control in relation to a cancer diagnosis is also about developing great coping skills for those things we cannot control.  It is the recognition that this is happening but there is a choice in how we respond to it.  Two people can have the same diagnosis, with the same grade of tumour, yet how these people respond emotionally to having a cancer diagnosis could be very different.  One person may approach the situation with real grit and determination that they are going to do everything in their power to help themselves get through this situation, whilst another person may become depressed, anxious or angry.  Of course these emotions are completely understandable with many questions be asked such as ‘why me’ or ‘why my child/partner’.  However, acceptance of the situation needs to come and with it a way of thinking that is going to create good coping skills.  We cannot change the diagnosis, but we can change how we think about it in order to develop a healthier emotional response.

A strong desire for control should not be mistaken for having good coping skills. When someone is trying to control every aspect of a situation, it really means they are feeling very overwhelmed and helpless. ‘Micro-managing’ a situation or just avoiding it all together does not allow us to develop coping skills.  It is really important to learn to tolerate and face up to situations that we may find uncomfortable.  We can then slowly build up the evidence that we can tolerate situations in a healthy way. Instead of asking the question, “What’s happening to me?” it is more helpful to ask: “What am I doing to make myself stressed, anxious or depressed?”  If we realise that we are doing this to ourselves that we can do something about it.

There have been thousands of studies on the detrimental impact of an external locus of control in relation to our physical and mental well-being. For example Gale et al (2008) analysed results from the 1970 British Cohort Study where thousands of British adults were followed from birth.  They found that those with an internal LOC at 10 years old were less likely to be overweight at the age of 30. Whilst Sturmer et al (2006) found that those with an internal LOC in relation to health had a lower risk of a heart attack. Roper and Login (1977) compared 2 groups of pensioners in a nursing home.  One group was told it was their responsibility to take care of their well-being and also was given a plant to look after.  In the other group they were told that it was the job of the staff to make them feel happy and that they would care for their plant.  The mortality rate prior to the study was 25% over an 18 month period.  18 months after the study, this was 30% for the group where the staff was responsible for their happiness and only 15% for the responsibility induced group. 

Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is just a belief related to our self-worth and how we view ourselves.  It is nothing to do with what other people think of us, just how we see ourselves.  Self-esteem is not fixed and can be changed in the matter of weeks.  Some people are incredibly harsh on them-selves and have an inner voice that is really self- critical.  In order to manage your thinking effectively during cancer treatment, it is really important to be kind to yourself and give yourself a break. To increase your self-esteem and make it more stable, it needs to be internal.  By this I mean that you are not relying on other people to make you feel good about yourself.  This can be really exhausting as every time someone praises you, your self-esteem is high, but if someone criticise you, your self-esteem plummets. In order to make it more internal, it is really important to process events in a positive way.  You may believe this could be difficult if you have just been diagnosed with cancer, but with practice it isn’t.  It’s about recognising the things you have achieved that you would normally do any way but not recognise as positive.  It could be the way you were calm and in control at the last visit to your consultant, talking to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while or going for a walk.  Write your positives down 3 or more times a day in a journal or on your phone.  For each one think about what made this a positive experience, what you would say to someone else who had this experience and what does this show you?  This exercise will really help you to feel better about yourself.

 Social Anxiety                                                                                                                    

As with low self-esteem, social anxiety is just another limiting belief that can prevent us from managing our thinking effectively and dealing with situations in a helpful and positive way.  It is a fear of being judged by others. If we have high social anxiety and fear asking questions during diagnosis or treatment with a consultant, this can lead to greater feelings of helplessness, frustration, hopelessness and a sense that your needs are not being met.  It is really important to ask questions and say if you don’t understand something rather than just agreeing to please others. Remember consent for treatment or entry onto a clinical trial is informed; you have a choice and you need to understand what your options are. No one expects you to take on board all the information at once; there is far too much to absorb. I always say to families to write a list of questions before their next visit.  This is a great way to feel more in control.

Social anxiety and body image are also connected.   When your hair starts to fall out you may worry about people staring at you.  It may help you to feel more in control of the situation by getting your hair cut shorter and talking through different options such as wearing a head scarf, trying on some wigs or hats.  If people do look at you, it’s likely to be through empathy and nothing malicious intended. Remember social anxiety is not real.  If you are smiling, getting on with your life in-between courses of treatment, everyone with have respect and admiration for you.  It’s about learning to tolerate feeling a little bit uncomfortable and this will help your confidence and give you evidence that you can cope well with different situations. 

 Visualisation and Rehearsal

In my role as an oncology nurse, I observe patients feeling sick before they have even been given any chemotherapy; sometimes it can happen as they are just walking into the unit. This is due to anticipatory anxiety.  They may have had some nausea or vomiting in a prior course of treatment and become anxious that this is going to happen again.  A great way to combat this anticipatory anxiety is to practice rehearsing what you want to happen rather than what you fear will happen.  Your imagination is so powerful it will always win so we need to get it working with us rather than against us.

As Thrive Programme Consultants, we use the analogy of the Jaws film to explain anticipatory anxiety. If we watched Jaws or a horror film with no sound, it really wouldn’t be very scary! Visualise and rehearse in your head about feeling calm and in control and that you are not going to be sick.  You may have been sick during a previous course of chemo, but you are now on new anti-emetic tablets that actually did help much better last time.  Write down the evidence or do a small video diary to remind yourself that you were absolutely fine last time.  The more evidence, the stronger your belief in your coping skills.  The same principles apply with anticipatory anxiety in relation to injections, getting blood taken or any painful procedures.  If you let your imagination take hold and become really anxious about how much it will hurt, it really will be painful as your muscles will tense.  I know it’s really irritating when someone says ‘try to relax’ but it’s about finding a strategy that works for you. Never be afraid to tell a nurse or doctor how you want something done.  This is your way to exert some control.  You cannot control that fact that you may need a certain procedure or injection as it is part of your treatment, but you can control how you can manage your thoughts and how the injection is given or bloods taken.  

Mind Your Language!

Language and thought are inter-connected so it’s important to be mindful of this.  If we start using really catastrophic language, we will inevitably make ourselves feel worse.  If we play things down, rather than making language melodramatic, it helps us to manage our thinking more effectively.  Start recognising what your inner voice is saying to you.  Is it helpful and kind or is it putting you down and telling you that you are worthless and stupid.  Many people have a very low opinion of themselves.  They certainly wouldn’t talk to others as they talk to themselves.  So start being kind!  The following is a really helpful mantra that we use with our clients going through the Thrive Programme:

“The thought that is in my mind right now: is it helpful?  If not, then either change it for one that is, or bin it”!

Secondary Gains and Colluding

If you are living with a cancer diagnosis, your loved ones will want to do everything in their power to help you through this experience and give you great support.  However, being overly sympathetic can often have the opposite effect.  It is lovely to have tea and sympathy but it can reinforce a sense of helplessness.  Secondary gains are about all that extra attention you are getting since your diagnosis.  For someone with low self-esteem this can feel really great.  However, it is re-enforcing a sick role and an external LOC. It is really important that your loved ones support and challenge any unhelpful beliefs or behaviours, not collude with you.  Colluding really does cement a sense of helplessness.  Online support groups can also have the same effect.  It is often good to chat to people who are going through a similar experience as these people really understand what you are going through.  This sounds great in principle but what is the nature of this support? Is it helping you to feel more powerful and in control? Or is about talking through how awful things are and how terrible you are going to feel.  It is important that your loved ones are able to gently challenge you and give you the inner strength to recognise how you are creating stress and anxiety yourself.

Mind-Body Connection – Psychoneuroimmunology

How we manager our emotions is not only important for our psychological health but also on our physical health.  If we process an event internally, believing we have choice in how we respond we will manage stress better.  Everyone gets stressed but it’s how we manage it that is important.  Poorly managed stressed and anxiety can cause not only psychological problems but also can impact on our immune system.  This connection is called psychoneuroimmunology (PNI).  PNI is the interaction between psychological processes, the immune system, endocrine system and the nervous system in the body.  When we are stressed we are more prone is getting minor illnesses due to a weakened immune system.  Stress can cause a flare up of eczema, muscle tension, aches pains etc.  There is a significant body of research that links anger and anxiety to a greater risk of heart attacks.

There have been many studies that have looked at stress, anxiety and depression in relation to cancer survival and as a risk factor for developing cancer in the first place. Anderson et al (2008) conducted a randomised control trial comparing survival rates of breast cancer patients who had received a psychological intervention to reduce stress compared to those who hadn’t.  Results indicated psychological interventions delivered as part of the study did indeed improve survival rates.  Lengacher et al (2008) found patients with breast cancer who went through guided imagery and relaxation had higher natural killer cells (immune cells which kill infected and tumour cells).

Psychological factors appear to predict survival lengths for a number of different types of cancers including breast cancer, melanoma, cancer of the kidney and small-cell lung cancer.  Results from a study following patients for 8 years indicated that where cancer and depression coexisted, there was an increased risk of death (Onitilo et al 2006).   Mols et al (2013) found that cancer survivors who are depressed are twice as likely to die prematurely compared to those who were not depressed irrespective of the cancer site.  Although there appears to be a growing body of research indicating a correlation between caner survival and psychological well-being, the results are mixed. Studies have different criteria making it very difficult at this point in time to determine the exact mechanisms at work in regards to PNI and cancer.  However, the evidence does appear to suggest that psychological well-being during cancer treatment is more important than merely improving quality of life. Clearly more randomised controlled trials are needed to determine the most significant factors.

 The Stockdale Paradox

With a cancer diagnosis, there may be lots of friends, relatives or health care professionals that are telling you to be positive.  This I suspect may be incredibly irritating and put you under more pressure because you feel you should be positive.  However, having a realistic appraisal of the situation, maintaining perspective and realising that you have a choice in how you respond can be an alternative way forward.  The Stockdale Paradox is a helpful way to look at such circumstances.  Admiral Jim Stockdale was a prisoner of war for 7 years in Vietnam.  He was tortured on numerous occasions along with his fellow prisoners.  He developed a number of different psychological survival strategies to help him and his fellow prisoners cope with the situation.  Unlike most of the other prisoners, Stockdale got out of the prisoner of war camp almost completely psychologically intact and was able to carry on with his life.

I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which in retrospect I would not trade”

He never got depressed.  Perhaps you are thinking this is because he was the most optimistic.  No he wasn’t and this is the paradox.  The optimists kept hoping to be rescued by Christmas or Easter, but when this didn’t happen, they started to give up and as a consequence die.

“This is a very important lesson.  You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end-which you can never afford to lose-with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever that may be”

This is all about maintaining perspective, having an internal LOC and the belief that you can tolerate and influence situations that you face.  Even if you are in a prisoner of war camp stuck in a cell, there is still a choice.

An example of someone who was able to apply this to his own life was a man called James Reck.  He smoked heavily and had also just lost his wife.  He went through the Thrive Programme in 6 sessions, felt better and stopped smoking.  Several weeks later he was given the terrible news that he had terminal lung cancer and only 12 months to live.  You are probably thinking that this would be a real set-back for him and he would start smoking again and be really depressed, however this was not what happened! He was very happy, positive and calm.  James understood that the cancer was happening to him, which is of course external, but he realised that he had the coping skills to deal with this.  He could control how he responded.  When asked how he was coping with negative thoughts he said that he doesn’t actually create any negative thoughts and feelings!  This is incredible but it is true. It is not about being blindly optimistic, believing that things will somehow magically get better.  Instead it is about maintaining perspective, having a realistic appraisal of the situation, being positive that you have the skills and resources to manage your thinking affectively even in difficult circumstances.

James Reck was truly thriving despite his prognosis.  He has unfortunately passed away now, but his thriving legacy lives on through his video testimonial on the Thrive Programme website: http://www.thriveprogramme.org/thrivers/

Post Traumatic Growth: Resilience and Beyond

Post traumatic growth is the notion that an individual who has been through a traumatic experience can make positive life changes as a result of this event.  Resilience is about bouncing back to where you were.  Post traumatic growth is about bouncing forward and fostering personal growth from a traumatic event.  Individuals who experience post traumatic growth have gained a greater clarity for what is important in their life.  Things in life a person may previously have thought important may now appear trivial.  Post traumatic growth can help you forge stronger family relationships and change your philosophy on life. Instead of letting a traumatic events affect you in a negative way, post traumatic growth is about a re-evaluation of life, a way of looking forward, not back.  You can see many new possibilities and goals.  It is never the event itself, but how we process it that is crucial to our emotional well-being. The past has happened and there is nothing we can do about it, but we can change our thoughts about it now in order to move forward and make positive changes in the future.  I have seen so many examples of post traumatic growth in my nursing career: families who have a child with a cancer diagnosis raising loads of money for charity by doing sporting challenges; families who have lost a child who set up charitable foundations in their name to raise money for further research and to support other families.  These families have been through extremely challenging times, but despite this trauma, they are able to move forward and create something positive.   Of course they will never forget what has happened and nor should they, but they are able to make a positive future.

Thriving Not Just Surviving

Having a healthy emotional response to cancer is so important but also completely achievable. Any unhelpful thinking styles and beliefs have been created by ourselves, but the great thing is that we can learn to get rid of them. Nothing is fixed, our brains are malleable and we can all learn to change our thoughts into more helpful ones. This will not only improve our quality of life but help us overcome depression, anxiety and improve our immune system and physical well-being.

 References

Anderson, B., L., Yang, H-C., Farrar, W., Golden-Kreutz, D., Emery, C., Thornton, D., Young, D., and Carson, W. Psychological intervention improves survival for breast cancer patients: A randomized clinical trial. Cancer, Online: November 17, 2008; Print Issue Date: December 15, 2008 DOI: 10.1002/cncr.23969

Gale, C.R, Batty, G.D, and Deary, I.J (2008). ‘Locus of Control at Age 10 years and Health Outcomes and Behaviours at Age 30 Years: The 1970 British Cohort Study’.  Psychosomatic Medicine, 70 397-403

Lengacher, C.A, Bennett, M.P, Gonzalez, L, Gilvary, D, Cox, C.E, Cantor, A, Jacobse, P.B, Yang, C, and Djeu, J (2008). ‘Immune responses to guided imagery during breast cancer treatment’.  Biological Research Nursing, 9 (3) 205-214

Mols, F. et al. (2013), Depressive symptoms are a risk factor for all-cause mortality: results from a prospective population-based study among 3,080 cancer survivors from the PROFILES registry, Journal of Cancer Survivorship. DOI 10.1007/s11764-013-0286-6

Onitilo, A, Nietert, P.J and Egede, L.E (2006) Effects of depression on all-cause mortality in adults with cancer and differential effects by cancer site.  General Hospital Psychiatry 28 (2006) 296 -402

Rodin, J, and Langer, E.J, (1977). ‘Long –Term Effects of a Control-Relevant Intervention with the Institutionalized Aged’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35 (12) 897-902

Sturmer, T, Hasselbach, P, and Amelang, M (2006). ‘Personality, lifestyle, and risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer: follow-up of population based cohort’.  British Medical Journal BMJ, 332 (7554) 1359-1362

 

Blog contributed by Sue Tetley, Paediatric Oncology Nurse and Thrive Programme Consultant

 

 

 

The Thrive Programme: Beyond the sticking plaster approach to children’s mental health

 

 

 

 

tackling mental health in school, offer preventative strategies

The lack of mental health provision for children has reached a crisis point.  According to a recent Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) report published last year, 3 children in every classroom have a clinically diagnosable mental health condition.  The report suggests cuts in the NHS and local authority budgets of early intervention programmes have left children unable to access timely support.  Government plans to provide more support in the form of mental health first aid to schools is clearly very welcome; however, such proposals won’t stem the flow of children developing mental health problems in the first place. 

Sticking plaster approaches are not long term solutions”

Schools on the ‘Front Line’

With Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), being severely stretched, schools have found themselves having to cope with an increasing number of young people requiring mental health support without any adequate provision.  According to the IPPR report, Education, Education, Mental Health (2016), 90% of head teachers have reported an increase in mental health problems in their schools over the past five years.  It is thought around 1 in 10 children are affected by mental ill health (Layard 2011).

Schools at the heart of the solution

There is  growing evidence and support for preventative strategies to stop children developing mental health problems in the first place. It is the same approach adopted for the prevention of disease in physical health.  If we eat healthily and do more exercise we will prevent a whole raft of diseases such a type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  Preventative measures in mental as well as physical health are always far better than intervening when there is a problem.

As children spend a significant proportion of their time within schools, it is important that they play a key role in providing preventative strategies.  The current approach is very adhoc with some schools providing a better culture for nurturing well-being and mental health than others.

Harnessing a well-being approach to mental health in schools

The Thrive Programme offers a well-being model to mental health. This is also the approach advocated by positive psychologists.  It is centred on getting children and young people to flourish, equipping them with the self-awareness, skills and resources so they learn to live a happy and fulfilling life.

The Thrive Programme Approach

thrive programme approach

The aim of the Thrive Programme is to get individuals from anywhere on the ‘Struggling’ or ‘Resilient’ range to Thriving.  It is not about focusing on symptoms, but about giving everyone whether they are 8 or 80 strong psychological foundations, providing them with the skills and self-insight to cure themselves of the issues that are stopping them living life to  the full. 

 

Bounce Programme in Education

Optimising Psychological Well-being in children and young people

Many schools have started to implement strategies to enhance mental well-being. ‘Resilience’ and ‘Growth Mind-set’ are key buzzwords at the moment in education.  However, the Thrive Programme offers something different, bringing together all the keys skills and concepts from psychology for optimal well-being.  It focuses on developing strong psychological foundations in children: an internal locus of control and healthy self-esteem.  Locus of control is about how much someone feels they are in the driving seat of their life rather than how much their life is controlled my external forces.  Clearly there are many things that children cannot control about their lives but for those things that they can’t, it’s about giving them great coping skills. The programme helps develop resilience and beyond, self-confidence, emotional intelligence and self-efficacy (the belief one has to complete a task or reach a goal). The programme will challenge any unhelpful beliefs and thinking styles a child may have that is stopping them from flourishing and being happy in life.  It helps children develop a growth mind-set where they start enjoying their learning rather than just being focused on an end goal.  It teaches them to not fear failure and when things get tough to not give up on achieving their goal.

What specific issues can it help with?

  • Bullying
  • Cyber bullying
  • Sexting
  • Anxiety
  • Learned helplessness
  • Depression
  • Exam stress and anxiety
  • Truancy
  • Motivation
  • Behavioural issues
  • And many others issues that are stopping a child flourishing

The Bounce Programme is an especially adapted version of the Thrive Programme to enable it to be implemented within a school environment.  A Thrive Programme Consultant with specialist training in the Bounce Programme can deliver the sessions to small groups of children or the teachers can be taught how to deliver the bounce programme with the support of Thrive Consultants.  The Bounce programme follows the Thrive for Teenage book and adapts the delivery according to the specific needs of the group.  The programme is very interactive.  It is easy to understand, evidence based, empowering and can achieve rapid positive results in weeks.

 

 

Thrive programme for Teenagers

 

How has the bounce programme made a difference in schools?

The Bounce programme has been rolled out in a number of schools in Scotland as well as a young offender’s institute.  An example of the effectiveness of the programme can be seen from a group of six 13 and 14 year olds in a school in the East of England.  Rob Kelly, the founder of the Thrive Programme, took this group of students who had behavioural, motivational and self-esteem issues through the programme.  As a result of going through the programme, their achievement increased, attendance improved, self-esteem increased and they felt a greater sense of power and control over their behaviour, leading to better behaviour.

The future

With a growing impetus to drive forward preventative strategies in schools, it is hoped that numbers of children developing mental health issues will start dropping.  This will then lead to less complex and costly interventions in adulthood.  The sticking plaster approach is certainly not the way forward.  It is hoped that childhood mental well-being approaches using applied positive psychology such as Bounce, the Thrive Programme in Education are more broadly used within schools in the future.

References

Layard, R (2011) ‘The Time for Action’, New Scientist 210(2808)

Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) (2016) Education, education, mental health: Supporting secondary schools to play a central role in early intervention mental health services http://www.ippr.org/publications/education-education-mental-health

 

 

Post contributed by Sue Tetley, Thrive Programme Consultant

Tips of the Month December – How to have a stress free Christmas!

 

December tips of the month

With the festive season now upon us, many people find this time of year particularly stressful so here are some tips to help:

 

  • Get organised in advance about buying presents, putting up Christmas decorations and planning food over the festive period.

 

  • Maintain perspective! If something doesn’t get done it doesn’t really matter.  If someone forgets to buy the sprouts, leaves great aunt Mavis’s lavender perfume present at home, is it the end of the world?! 

 

  • Mind Your Language! You can help maintain perspective by being aware of your language and ensuring it does not become very catastrophic and melodramatic.  Remember that language and thought are interconnected so if you keep using language such as ‘awful’, ‘dreadful’,’ terrible’ etc.  you are going to make yourself feel more stressed.

 

  • Give yourself a break! You’re a not superwoman  or man.  No one is perfect.  We all have these high expectations over Christmas that we will all get together as a family and it will be like one of those Disney Christmas films where there will be a beautiful country house with everyone singing Christmas carols round the piano and it will suddenly start snowing!  The Christmas table will be set with the most amazing matching china and all the food will taste  like Delia had been round to cook it all!  Take the rose tinted specs off, this isn’t reality!  Yes the chairs are all different heights and the plates and dishes may have a few chips and don’t match, but who cares.  It’s ok to buy pre made cakes and other Christmas food rather than putting loads of pressure on yourself to bake everything.

 

  • Overcome your social anxiety. Many people do suffer from social anxiety and this seems to come to the forefront over Christmas. People invite relatives and friends around and get really stressed that they will be judged about the house, the cooking, the tidiness etc.  Social anxiety is not real.  It is only how that person perceives the situation.  The friends or relatives are likely not bothered or just grateful to be asked round.  Even if they are judging you, does it really matter? They can do Christmas next year!

 

  • Think about the things that are important, not the small insignificant material things. Gratitude is a great antidote to negative thinking.

 

  • Imagine having a great stress free Christmas, rather than thinking about all the things that could go wrong. Enjoy yourself and just think “is this really worth getting stressed about”?  If the answer is no, replace the thought with something more helpful. 

 

  • You are making yourself feel stressed! If someone is starting to irritate you over the Christmas holiday, remember that they aren’t making you feel grumpy, stressed, annoyed, YOU are doing this to yourself. It’s your choice how you respond. Take yourself away from the situation. It is really worth getting stressed about? 

 

  • Know when to stop. You can go on and on buying presents, cleaning and preparing food but it’s important to just give yourself a deadline.  If it’s not done by then, it’s not going to happen.

 

  • Escape. Sometimes we just need to get away from things.  Go for a bath, go for a walk or create a reason to go out for something if you feel like you need your own space.

 

  • Get some exercise. Go for a long walk or a run on Christmas day or Boxing Day.  It will help clear your head and you will feel much better.

 

  • Delegate. Some people, particularly perfectionists struggle to delegate to anyone as they don’t believe they could do as good a job as themselves.  However, people like helping and want things to do rather than watching you running round like a headless chicken!

 

  • Above all have fun, relax, and enjoy watching people opening their presents and children getting super excited. Play some silly games and savour the moment.

 

 

 

TIPS OF THE MONTH NOVEMBER

Seasonal Affective Disorder

tips of the month

 

Did you know that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been proven in a number of recent studies to not exist.  Many people attribute the cold weather and lack of sunlight to their low moods during the winter. Dr LoBello et al in their recent study published by the Association of Psychological Science in the USA, suggested that being depressed in the winter months is not evidence that someone is depressed due to winter.

So why do many people get the ‘winter blues’ some of you will be thinking?  Having a low mood in winter is nothing to do with the weather or any other external factor.  It’s related to our beliefs, how in control we feel in our lives and what we think of ourselves.  Someone who felt really in control of their life, had great coping skills to manage difficult situations, had high self-esteem and had the ability to challenge any unhelpful beliefs wouldn’t feel depressed in the winter.

Here are some tips to help us to feel happier during the winter months:

 

Realise that no external factors such as the weather or other people are causing us to feel low.  If we recognise we are doing it to ourselves, we can do something about it.

 

Find some regular exercise you enjoy: walking, running, dancing, football etc. Regular exercise has been proven to have significant positive impact on our psychological well -being. Exercise is a really powerful way to lift the mood.  It gives us a feeling of calm and well-being, releases endorphins that energise us and give us that feel good factor. 

 

Set yourself some goals and plan different activities.  It’s always good to have things to look forward to: days out, catching up with friends, going on holiday.

 

Get out the house each day.  You may find it cold or raining, but if you have some warm waterproof clothes, you will be prepared for anything!  If there is a little reward of a cup of tea and cake in a café at the end of it even better!

 

Challenge any unhelpful beliefs you have, for example about the weather.  These beliefs are not real; they are only how you see things.  If they are unhelpful, bin them and replace them with some more helpful thoughts and beliefs that will help you feel more positive and in control.

 

 Remember to write down your positives each day and think of all the things you have achieved, not beat yourself up about all the things you haven’t done.  See my tips of the month for September.

September Tips of the Month Boosting Self-Esteem

Boosting Self-Esteem

tips of the month

 

Welcome to the  first tips of the month post!  Each month Thrive with Sue will post some great tips that will help you to feel more positive and in control of your life.  The first is on self-esteem.  This is something that is not fixed and can easily be changed in a matter of weeks.  Boosting your self-esteem will have a significant positive impact on your life.
  • Process your positives each day. Write a list of what you have achieved.  Update this a few times a day on paper, your phone or computer.  For each item think about why this was a good thing, what made this a positive experience and what would you say to others who had achieved this.  Examples include: walking the dog, doing some housework, going for a walk, going to the gym, contacting a friend you haven’t spoken to for a while, getting a new client or business contact, getting something done that you have been avoiding.
As you can see this list doesn’t have to include running a marathon, passing a test, walking 10 miles! Most people just think  about all the things they need to do rather than what they have actually achieved.  We often dismiss all our achievements thinking that’s something I should do anyway.  It’s important we are able to boost our own self-esteem, rather than it being reliant on what others say to us.  This exercise really helps.
  • Write down what kind of day you want. Don’t wait until mid-afternoon to realise your day is not going to plan.  Decide first thing in the morning or even the night before. Visualise and imagine what you want to happen.  Take control.
  • Each day think about what you are grateful for. This will help put things in perspective and make you think about what you have, rather than want you want.
  • Savour each moment rather than thinking about the past or what comes next, otherwise you end up missing out on the here and now.

THE SECRETS TO STRESS FREE FLYING

 

Great strategies to overcome your fear of flying and understand how it was created.

 

 

fear or flying

I have spoken to many people recently about flying and it is really surprising how many have a fear or phobia about getting on an aeroplane.  It is suggested in the research that around 6% of people in the Western world have a full blown flying phobia and around 50% of the population have some fear or anxiety about flying!  This is a staggering amount of people.  If you look up the most common phobias in a search engine, fear of flying always seems to be within the top 10.

So what is going on to make people so fearful?  Statistically flying is by far the safest mode of transport, yet there are more people with a fear or phobia about flying than any other means of transport.  An interesting study took place in Norway (Ekeberg, Fauske and Berg-Hansen, 2014), comparing anxiety about flying pre and post 9/11.  They concluded that there was no difference in the level of anxiety about flying in 2002, compared to 1986.  This study therefore suggests that a fear of flying is nothing to do with external events.  Even planes flying into the twin towers did not increase the rate of people with a fear of flying!

 

Where does a phobia or fear of flying come from?

No one is born with fears or phobias.  They are created in our minds.  A fear of flying is about feeling helpless and out of control.  An individual may have a huge desire for control, but the control is taken away from them when they are flying.  When feeling helpless and out of control, individuals process information in an external way: they think about external factors that could go wrong, like the plane crashing, turbulence, strange noises, sensations and become hypervigilant to their surroundings.  They may look to the air crew for reassurance, observing how calm they are!

There is a conflict between how powerful and in control the individual wants to be and how powerful and in control they actually are.  For some people the ultimate way to control the situation is to not fly.  They may have never flown before, yet they are too frightened to step onto a plane.  Other individuals still fly despite their fears, however, they have a huge amount of anxiety and often get through the flight by means of drugs such a diazepam or a few in flight drinks.

Sense of Power and Control

In psychology speak; this is called Locus of Control.  It is how much we believe we are in control of our lives and how much we believe our lives are controlled by external forces such as the weather, other people, the past, superstition etc.  A phobia or fear is developed when a person experiences something frightening or stressful and then reacts in a powerless, external and often catastrophic way.  They think the reason they are frightened is due to something like turbulence or the plane making a strange noise.   A fear or phobia is nothing to do with the actual event/object/animal; it’s about the individual’s unhelpful thinking styles, beliefs and looking externally for answers.   Everyone on the plane will experience the same noises and sensations, but not all will be frightened.  The individuals who have a more internal sense of power and control with regard to flying will be able to recognise that they are feeling a little anxious, but know that they are doing this to themselves. They know their anxiety is nothing to do with anything external.

Developing an internal sense of power and control about a fear or phobia doesn’t mean you have to be in control at all times.  It’s about developing great coping skills to manage your thinking effectively.  You don’t have to love flying; it’s about tolerating it and developing some coping strategies for calming yourself down.

Most fears and phobias are nothing to do with past traumas, otherwise everyone who had been on a flight where some of the engines stopped or there was an emergency landing would be equally traumatised.  The same goes for fear of spiders, dogs, lifts, driving etc.  Most phobias occur due to a person’s inability to manage their thinking effectively.  Fear and phobias that have occurred from past traumas have been maintained due to an individual rethinking over and over an event in an external powerless way, reinforcing the fear.

Flight Myth Busters and FAQ

What happens if all the engines stop?

If you are on a 747 and 1, 2 or 3 engines stop, the pilots would change their course and head to the nearest airport. They would either sort the problem out or take off again or you would continue your flight on another aircraft.  If all the engines stop, the pilots would again head to the nearest airport and sort the engines out from there and you would change flights.  From a cruising height of 30000 feet, a 747 can glide for around 100 miles.  However, having to land with the loss of 4 engines has never happened in all the history of aviation.  Think about how many millions and millions of flight there have been.

What happens if the plane is hit by lightning?

Absolutely nothing except perhaps a black mark.  Planes get hit by lightning around once a year.  Planes are made in such a way as to be protected from the effects of lightening.  All the electrical systems are protected and aeroplanes are made from aluminium which is a great conductor so electricity will pass straight through.

How safe is flying compared to other modes of transport?

According to the latest statistics from 2015, the odds of being killed on a single airline flight are 1 in 29.4 million.  To put this in perspective according to the World Health Organisation in 2015, there were 1.25 million road traffic deaths in that year.  The Aviation Safety Network report 560 airline accident fatalities for 2015.

What is turbulence?  Can it be dangerous?

There are many different causes of turbulence and it is one of the things nervous flyers fear the most.  Turbulence is rather aggravating even for the crew who are trying to serve you meals and refreshments, but it is perfectly normal.  Even in the most severe turbulence, the plane will only fractionally change altitude.  Clear air turbulence is the most common form (CAT).  This turbulence is caused when the plane goes into the jet stream which is a fast flowing horizontal strip of air, a bit like a river, sometimes thousands of miles long but may be only a few miles wide and deep.  If the plane cuts across this jet stream and faster flowing air interacts with slower moving air, this can cause turbulence. CAT is hard to detect as it can’t be picked up on a radar so often it can only be avoided my listening to reports from other aircrafts.

What are Air Pockets?

This is another form of turbulence.  It may feel like you are falling a long way, but you are not!  The altitude of the plane will have only fractionally changed.  You are going through different wind speeds and air temperatures, which will again cause some turbulence.  This is all normal.

Tips to overcome your fears and phobias

  •  Learn to tolerate things that are not directly in your control.  You don’t have to love flying.

 

  •  Learn to calm yourself down by rehearsing what you want to happen rather than what you fear will happen. Rehearse the flight in your head, thinking about how calm and in control you will be of your thoughts.  Get your imagination on your side.  Your mind is so powerful, use it to help you. 

 

  • Practice positive self talk. ‘I know I have the skills to tolerate this and calm myself down’.  ‘Why am I making myself feel anxious, I know I can cope with this and I have a lovely holiday to look forward to!’

 

  • Research lots of geeky facts about flying.  Become an aviation expert.  This is a constructive way of feeling more in control.  In this way, when you hear a certain noise, you know exactly what this is.  There are lots of different websites that take you through the normal sounds that planes make. Play these sounds to yourself a few times to become familiar with them.

 

  • Distraction can also be good.  Absorb yourself in a few in flight movies or a book.

 

  • Become really self -aware and monitor your stress levels.  If you recognise they are creeping up, use the above techniques to help.  Get your family or friends you are travelling with to read this as well.  Tell them some helpful strategies to reinforce feeling calm and in control of your thoughts.

 

  • Remember your fear is only in your head, it is not real.  Start believing in yourself that you can change the way you think about flying.

 

  • Watch your language.  Language controls thought.  So if you start using really catastrophic language, it will make you feel much worse.

 

References

Kelly, R (2015).  Fly Happy.  Beat your flying phobia quickly and easily.  Rob Kelly Publishing, Cambridge

Ekeberg, O, Fauske, B, and Berg-Hansen B (2014). Norwegian airline passengers are not more afraid of flying after the terror act of September 11.  The flight anxiety, however, is significantly attributed to acts of terrorism.  Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 55 464-468

 

fly happy

 

THRIVING THROUGH INFERTILITY

 

How I went through seven years of failed treatment and came out feeling better than I have in my whole life!

 

Thriving through infertility

Thriving through infertility

 

Going through infertility can be a really difficult time.  It can cause tension between partners, friends and family members.  When lots of friends are having babies, you can find yourself avoiding their company and instead gravitating to your single friends and those with no children.  IVF can be mentally and physically challenging. If you are not managing your thinking effectively, the process can be like a roller coaster ride.

“There are highs,  there are lows, tears and laughter.  I know, I’ve been there.  Seven or so years of treatment, many thousands of pounds worse off, no child at the end, but feeling more positive and happy than I have ever done in my whole life!”

 This all sounds rather bizarre, but it’s quite true.  Let me explain.  Throughout all my treatment I tried absolutely anything I could to keep myself calm and maximize the chances of it working: reflexology, mindfulness, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, massages, tailor made pill combination based on my hair analysis and even bee propolis! Don’t get me wrong some of these really did relax me short term, and there may be health benefits to some of them, but I had no understanding how they worked.  I was totally relying on someone or something making me feel more calm and relaxed.  I would have tried anything, especially in that 2 or so week period in time when you are waiting to see if the treatment has worked.

 

The nurses and doctors at the clinic tell you to relax and keep calm.  This really wasn’t helping!  The more I tried to relax, the more stressed I got that I wasn’t relaxing.  The clinic gives you a list of things you shouldn’t do at this time and it is so easy to become paranoid that you have done one of these contraband things.  Sometimes you lose perspective and forget that millions of women get pregnant, break all these rules as they are unaware they are pregnant. I would go for a walk, carry some shopping, have just a warm bath and then worry I had done something wrong.  I wouldn’t even drive through a local village that I loved during this 2 week wait as on several occasions this was where I had been when I realized the treatment hadn’t worked!!  It all sounds quite irrational now thinking back, but that was what I believed.

 

After each failed cycle, I would throw myself into work, taking it out on the garden weeds, getting fit again by entering a triathlon, half marathon or training to walk the three national peaks.  Anything to stop me thinking about the treatment. I was resilient and stubborn.  I would always bounce back and never needed any drugs for anxiety or depression. I had some really close family and friends who were amazingly supportive, however, I was just surviving and certainly not thriving.

So what changed?

How did I go from seeing things a little like this:

changing perspective

 

To seeing it more like this:

more positive perspective

The Thrive Programme

Prior to my 5th cycle of IVF treatment, I decided to try the Thrive Programme. I had no idea what it was, but thought I would give it a go.  There was nothing to lose and lots to be gained. So I did the programme a year and a half ago. I remember doing the quiz based on locus of control (how much you believe you are in control of your life) the first session and was initially pleased I had got such a high score.  Being a perfectionist this was clearly a good thing, right?

I was a little cynical about the programme, nothing else had really worked, why would this be any different?  However when I started working my way through the book and doing all the exercises with a consultant, it really clicked.  I understood the research from studying psychology at university and the pragmatic approach appealed to me.  Even my rather cynical husband had to admit I was calmer than I had been in a long time.  Being a straight talking northern man, he liked the approach of learning how to just get on with it and help yourself.

 

Thrive helped by showing me:

 How to feel more in control

I learnt about locus of control (LOC),the extent to which you feel you are in control of your life and how much you feel your life is controlled by external factors. I started to understand the importance of gaining an internal LOC of control where you believe you are in control of what happens to you, rather than other people, fate, the weather, superstition etc.  It really helped me feel less helpless about the treatment.  Yes I realised I couldn’t control the ultimate outcome, but I could control how I responded to my present situation. I could control my thoughts and negative beliefs.

How to be kind to myself

To not be so harsh on myself, get stressed and worried about small insignificant things.  I became very self-aware and realized how critical I was on myself.  No one would have spoken to me like I spoke to myself.  I developed positive self-talk and recognized when I was being really harsh.  I really loved the saying in the Thrive Programme book

“The thought that is in my mind right now: is it helpful?  If not, then either change it for one that is, or bin it!”

 

It took a lot of practice, but I am quite good at this now, detecting straight away unhelpful thoughts.  I also learnt the connection between language and thought and that if I wasn’t feeling great to play it down and distract myself rather than being really catastrophic.

To rehearse and visualise what I want to happen

I learnt something called Coue’s Law.  This is essentially imagining what you want to happen, rather than what you fear will happen.  I did not imagine being pregnant as this was out of my control.  Instead I imagined being calm and in control of my emotions.  Visualizing and mentally rehearsing each step of the process, from the different procedures and injections to getting the results.  I became much better at administering my intramuscular progesterone injections as well.  I could relax myself so it was less painful, imagining again what I wanted to happen, rather than how painful I feared it was going to be.

The Stockdale Paradox.

When reading this section of the Thrive Programme book, it really rang true to my situation. Jim Stockdale was a US Naval officer who was a prisoner of war in the Vietnam War. Despite being tortured, he never doubted that he would survive, escape and make it the defining moment of his life. The paradox was that he was actually not the most optimistic, those who were gave up hope and died.  Instead he had an unwavering belief that he would prevail. He never doubted his coping skills, but he was realistic about his current situation.  I really like the Stockdale analogy I could see how the Stockdale approach could help me manage my current situation.  To maintain my mental health, I needed to adapt to my situation and face the current reality.  How could I go from just being resilient and surviving each cycle to it actually being the defining moment of my life? Throughout the whole process I knew the importance of adapting my goals and expectations.  At the beginning of the process, I never imagined I would be in the situation where I had done 4 cycles of IUI and 4 cycles of IVF.  But if I didn’t adapt to the changing situation and the failed cycles this is when I would succumb to depression. This was happening and it was up to me how I choose to deal with it.

How to gain better coping skills

I learnt that you can’t control everything. Instead it’s about having great coping skills to manage uncertainly and deal with adversity. I gained a lot of self-insight into my need to be in control, but I learnt that this was actually a sign of being out of control and feeling fairly helpless.  If I developed a more internal LOC I knew I would feel less of a need to micro-manage my life!

How to boost my  self esteem

By processing my positives each day, thinking about what I had achieved and what I would say to others who had done the same, my self-esteem increased dramatically over the space of a month.  So from seeing myself as a fairly worthless human being, I was starting to like myself and feel more confident in my own ability.  I wasn’t relying so much on other people telling me I was good at something to feel better about myself.

I felt more empowered and more assertive to question my treatment and ask what they were going to do differently.  I armed myself with lots of knowledge.  I can happily say that I did everything I could to maximize the chances of success.  I have no regrets about what we did.

 

So what am I doing now?

Yes the future is bright and does actually look quite orange!  I am running my own business as a Thrive Programme Consultant, helping others as the programme helped me. Previously I had put myself in a box believing that I was a certain kind of person and I did a certain kind of thing.  I now know this was a limiting, rather unhelpful belief. The ceiling of my limited expectations of myself has been blown away.  I now know that I can do anything I put my mind to if I put in lots of effort and believe in myself.  I know that it doesn’t matter what other people think, I will just go out there and do it.  Yes the treatment didn’t work but it’s not how you get there but what you end up with that matters.  It was a relief when we had finally made the decision to stop.  I had taken back control of my life. Another chapter now begins and we are in the process of adopting.

 

References

Brooks, C.H (1922). The practice of autosuggestion, by the method of Emile Coue, Gresham Press in Kelly, R. (2015) Rob Kelly Thrive -Health. Happiness. Success.  Cambridge: Rob Kelly Publishing

Collins, J (2001).  Good to Great: Why some Companies Make the Leap…and Other’s Don’t.  Random House Business in Kelly, R. (2015) Rob Kelly Thrive- Health. Happiness. Success.  Cambridge: Rob Kelly Publishing

Kelly, R.(2015) Rob Kelly Thrive -Health. Happiness. Success.  Cambridge: Rob Kelly Publishing

LEARNING FROM IRONMEN-FORGING MENTAL TOUGHNESS

 

Goal setting, learning from endurance athletes

Ironman Triathlete on the 112 mile bike ride

 

Determined, highly driven and tough minded are the character traits needed when competing in ultra-marathons, ironman triathlons or long distance endurance adventures. These can be beneficial to us all and translated to non-sport related activities.

I have been fascinated for many years by Ironman Triathletes and adventurers who push themselves to their physical limit.  Although I have never really had the inclination myself to climb the highest peaks on each continent, run round the world on my own or compete in an Ironman Triathlon, I find those who do very inspirational.  Like my husband who competed in an Ironman Triathlon several years ago, many individuals who do these events are not top athletes.  However, they have developed the qualities professional sports people use every day in order to succeed.  Whether your goal for this year is to lose weight, get fit by running your first half marathon or start learning to play a new musical instrument, self-discipline, mental toughness, grit, high self- efficacy are all qualities that help us to achieve our goals.

 

Self Discipline

 Professional sports people have this in spades. Without it they would not be able to get up at 5.00 am to go and train in the pool or the gym.  It’s about delayed gratification and impulse control.   The idea of waiting for a greater reward instead of some instant gratification is something that affects us all to a lesser or greater extent.  There have been some interesting studies on impulse control, the most famous being the Marshmallow Test (Mischel et al 1970, Mischel, 1978, Mischel et al, 1989) where a group of 4-6 year old children were asked individually to go in a room with no distractions.  In the room was a table with a marshmallow, the child could either choose a treat straight away or they could wait and then get two treats.  Only about 30% of the children were able to delay their gratification until the stipulated time. These children were followed up as teenagers and then as adults. There were increased behavioural problems, lower academic ability and more difficulty maintaining relationships for the children who would only wait less than 30 seconds.  A lack of self-discipline can have huge implications on our lives.  We make poor financial decisions and get into debt as a result. By setting ourselves achievable goals, working towards a main goal, we can keep ourselves motivated.  If we are motivated and determined to achieve a goal, we are more likely to be self-disciplined.

 

Mental Toughness and Grit

 

Mental toughness and GRIT

Ironman triathletes completing their 2.5 mile open water swim

Seligman (2011) describes Grit as a ‘never yielding form of self-discipline’ and a form of ‘extreme persistence’.  Those who score high on Grit are highly passionate about their sport or their specific discipline. They persist and persevere to achieve their goal no matter how difficult.  According to Professor Anders Ericsson, high expertise is not god given genius, it’s about deliberate practice.  Those who score high on Grit spend 1000’s of hours honing their skills to be the best.

 

Scores on the Duckworth and Seligman, (2005) grit test has shown strong predictions for final grades, test scores, school attendance, hours doing homework and hours watching TV.  These have been shown to be better predictors than a teenage IQ. Many teenagers do not reach their academic potential not because they are not bright enough, but because they don’t put in the time and lack the self-discipline (Duckworth and Seligman, 2005)

Self-Efficacy

This is very much connected to Grit. This is a person’s belief in their ability to achieve a particular goal.  A professional athlete or a professional musician has a firm conviction in their own skill within their specialist field.  They have years of evidence in support of their ability. According to Maddux, (2002) there are huge benefits to having high self-efficacy: reduced likelihood of depression and anxiety and success of healthy behaviour changes, including exercise, diet, safe sex and alcohol abuse.  When people have high levels of self -efficacy they do more goal setting (Hefferon and Boniwell, 2011).  The greater goal setting is down to their self-belief that if they stick to the goal and work hard, they will succeed.  If you firmly believe you have the ability to succeed at a given task you have been trained for, then you generally will.  As soon as you start doubting yourself and those negative thoughts creep in, it won’t happen. As Coue’s Law of reversed effort states: 

‘When the imagination and the will are in conflict, the imagination invariably gains the day’ (Brooks, 1922)

If you imagine failing or not being able to complete a race; falling off your bike, missing a golf shot; tripping up etc then this is what will happen.  The key is to get your imagination to be your friend so you are able visualise what you want to happen, rather than what you fear will happen.

What can we do?

The great thing about self-discipline, grit, self -efficacy and any other psychological traits or intelligence is that our brain is very malleable. Only part of our brain is hard wired and controlled by genetics.  This is very positive as we have the ability to change our mind-set. We are not all going to be top sports people or professional musicians, but we can certainly improve our performance.  We can practice different tasks and train our brains to think in a different way so new neural connections will grow and the unhelpful neural pathways will die ( Davidson, 2012)

As discussed, mentally rehearsing what you want to achieve rather than what you fear will happen is a very powerful tool.   Positive visualisation is very beneficial and sports psychologists use this regularly to help professional athletes.  By mentally rehearsing different scenarios on race day no matter what happens they know they have the skills to cope.  We can all do this in our everyday lives imagining ourselves having a productive and stress free day at work where we are able to cope with any challenging situations calmly and effectively. It’s also a great strategy for exams, interviews, public speaking or driving test preparation.

I set myself two physical challenges over the next 6 months: to do a 70 mile bike ride and to teach myself how to do front crawl. I will use my Thrive Programme Journal to help me record realistic measurable short term goals.  If I only set myself one end goal, it would be very easy to become de-motivated.  However, by using short term goals I am increasing my self-efficacy and the belief I can succeed.  My husband did the same for his Ironman Triathlon training and used a short term goal strategy on the day itself.  On race day, he only ever looked 15-20 minutes ahead.  If he thought about having to swim 2.5 miles, cycle 112 miles and then run 26 miles, it would have been too overwhelming.  But if your goals are the next 20 minutes, this is a manageable chunk.  This is how he kept moving for 14 hours and his imagination remained on his side.  Long distance events are far more about being mentally tough than athletic ability.  There are many of our friends who are far more naturally athletic, but would never be able to complete an endurance event as they do not have the grit, motivation or will power to keep going and do the training.

 

Many people put themselves in a category and label themselves: “I’m not sporty, I would never be able to do this”.  But there are so many examples out there of people achieving amazing things through sheer will power and determination.  Even if you are naturally athletic, there is no way you could just go and run a marathon having done no training.  Look at Jo Brand who has just walked across the UK, this is extremely impressive or Andy Holgate, the author of ‘Can’t Swim, can’t Ride, Can’t Run: From Common Man to Ironman’.  He went from overweight librarian to an Ironman! So with a recipe of grit, touch mindedness, self-discipline, belief and motivation, the world is your oyster!

 

References

Brooks, C.H (1922).  The practice of autosuggestion, by the method of Emile Coue, Gresham Press in  Kelly, R. (2015)  Rob Kelly Thrive -Health. Happiness. Success.  Cambridge: Rob Kelly Publishing

Davidson, R & Begley, S (2012)  The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How it’s Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel and Live- and How You Can Change Them. London: Hodder and Stoughton

Duckworth  A. L & Seligman M.E.P. (2005).  Self-discipline outdoes IQ predicting academic performance in adolescents.  Psychological Science, 16, 939-944 (pdf)

Hefferon, K & Boniwell, I. (2011) Positive Psychology -Theory , Research and Applications.  Maidenhead: Open University Press

Maddux, J (2002)  Self-efficacy:  The power of believing you can. In C.R. Snyder and S.J. Lopez (eds)  Handbook of Positive Psychology (pp. 277-87). New York: Oxford University Press in Hefferon, K & Boniwell, I. (2011) Positive Psychology -Theory , Research and Applications.  Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Mischel, W. (1978)  How children postpone pleasure. Human Nature, 1 (12): 50-5. In Hefferon, K & Boniwell, I. (2011) Positive Psychology -Theory , Research and Applications.  Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Mischel, W. & Ebbesen, E.B. (1970)  Attention in delay of gratification.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16 (2):329-337 in Hefferon, K & Boniwell, I. (2011) Positive Psychology -Theory , Research and Applications.  Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Seligman, M. (2011).  Flourish: A New Understanding of HAPPINESS AND WELL-BEING- and How to Achieve Them. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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