Phil Pearl: Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London.

10 Harley Street, W1G 9PF. 

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Tel: 020 7467 8548. Email: phil@mental-toughness.co.uk 

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Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
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All content © Phil Pearl
 

Here are some previous mental toughness articles.

Mental Toughness Versus Uncertainty 

Five Key Principles of Mental Toughness and Resilience

"Think of it as part of the act of killing"

Staying Goal Directed

The labels we wear on the inside

Wake up to reality

Preferring Not Demanding

High Frustration Tolerance

Get A Grip!

Black and White

Life has no meaning

What's your excuse?

Interview with the Vampire 

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Mental Toughness Versus Uncertainty 

You may already know that hypnotherapy is effective for issues such as Smoking and Weight loss, but what about the more thorny issues of everyday living and existence? Can hypnotherapy help with issues such as finding meaning in life and living in an uncertain world? In the following article, the focus is on mental toughness and uncertainty. Even though we may crave predictability and security, we all have to live with doubt and the resulting anxiety. In life, anxiety is inevitable; it will either motivate us or overwhelm us. In order to live and succeed in an uncertain world we need what I call existential mental toughness.

In order to retain our mental toughness and confidence, we need to be realistic and accept the contingencies of life and existence. This is not always easy as life is uncertain and the future unwritten. We are evolutionally hardwired to be anxious and to worry about the unknown. So it's unsurprising that we have tried everything from interpreting dreams and reading the stars, to consulting clairvoyants, in order to assuage our anxiety about the future.

Certainty about the future (and the past) gives us a sense of meaning and purpose in the world and the universe - life makes sense. But what if there really is no certainty, no plan and no reward? What if life is just random, meaningless and groundless? What if the universe really doesn't care? Then, perhaps we need existential mental toughness to get a grip and make the most of a random existence.

Thrown into the World

We do not choose to be born, nor do we choose when and where we are born. We are thrown into the world. At some stage in our development we realise that we exist as individuals and can distinguish ourselves from others. Who and what we become is our responsibility; it is based on the choices we make. Even if life's conditions constrain us, we still have the freedom, choice and responsibility to decide what we will do and who we will become in each moment. We are our choices. We are our actions. No excuses.

Anxiety and Risk

Given the uncertainty and randomness of life, it is inevitable that we will suffer from some anxiety. In order to contain our anxiety and maintain our false sense of security, we may live restricted lives by limiting our choices and actions. Through risk avoidance and procrastination, our world becomes smaller. A safe life - can be a dangerous life.

The good news is that anxiety can be a catalyst for change and push us towards new experiences that enrich our lives with meaning. Using hypnotherapy we can explore what the anxiety is really telling us, what choices we have and what action we can confidently take. Change starts with anxiety.

So, how can we decide if we are living our lives to their fullest potential? Consider if you had to live your life exactly the same, over and over again for all eternity. As Nietzsche once asked, what if:

"This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence - even this spider and this moon-light between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!" (Nietzsche, 1882)

So, if you had to live your life the same over and over again, would you be happy with your choices and actions, would you change anything? To give meaning and purpose to our existence, each of us has to invent our own philosophy of life. We all need to find our own truth, however what is true for us today might not be appropriate tomorrow.

Ask yourself these two essential (and existential) questions each day.

1.     Who am I?

2.     What am I going to do? 

Bibliography:

Nietzsche, F. (1882). Die fröhliche Wissenschaft. Translated by Walter Kaufmann

 

 

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

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Five Key Principles of Mental Toughness and Resilience

 

 

Throughout our lives we face change and challenges. Nothing stays the same; the good times don't last but neither do the bad times. People and places come and go; the world changes and so does our place within it. To survive the changes we need to be adaptable and refocus on our objectives. We may have to modify who we are and how we are, in order to face the new realities. We must strive to find opportunity in adversity. Of course, all of this is easier said than done. In this article I have highlighted five key principles of mental toughness and resilience.

 

Rational Thinking


We are what we think. When we change our thoughts, we change how we feel and act. Rational thinking and rational beliefs are the foundations of mental toughness and resilience; they assist us in our aims, objectives and survival. Rational beliefs are flexible and non-extreme; they are based on reality and the available evidence. The emphasis is on seeing things as they really are and keeping any negative attributes in perspective and in proportion, so that we do not over-react emotionally or avoid challenges. If our thinking and beliefs are dogmatic, rigid or extreme we remain trapped in the past and are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. The key is to ask ourselves "how is thinking or behaving this way helping me to feel good or achieve my goals?"
 
Rational thinking is resilient thinking and helps us build our tolerance for frustration and discomfort without making "mountains out of molehills" or seeing a situation as being worse than it really is. The fact is that things could always be worse. Our rational thoughts and beliefs are essential to overcoming unhelpful emotions and behaviour such as anxiety, depression and avoidance. By changing our thinking, we change who we are, how we feel and what we do.


Responsibility
 
Mental toughness means that we take ultimate responsibility for our thoughts, emotions and behaviour, together with responsibility for our decisions and the likely consequences of our actions. Events and conditions will of course have an impact and an affect on us, but we are responsible for the things that come within our domain of influence. Events can only upset us if we allow them to. Nothing and no one can bother or disturb us unless we grant them permission to do so. We choose what we think, how we feel and what we do.


To be resilient we need to take responsibility, otherwise we will tend to view ourselves as pawns and victims. We may blame everyone and everything for our conditions rather than take active steps to change whatever we are capable of. At times we may all seek to blame the government or this or that corporation for the way our lives are, but the ultimate responsibility is still ours. We are ultimately in control.


Adaptability
 
For mental toughness and mental health in general, we need to be adaptable. We may seem mentally healthy when we are suited to the conditions around us, such as our jobs, relationships and home. However, if these conditions change and we are unable to adapt, then we are at risk of poor mental health. Change is uncomfortable but we need to accept some discomfort and pain in order to learn, adapt and survive. If we remain static and fixed in our outlook, the world moves on and leaves us behind.

 
Resilient people do not see themselves as victims of change. They do not complain "why me" and demand that bad things must not happen to them. Resilient people see bad events as a normal (although unwelcome) part of life; they adjust to the new reality. Evolution favours those who can adapt to new environments and realities; we must be relentless in our adaptability, ingenuity and creativity to survive. This is true of individuals and organisations
 

Commitment
 
Mental toughness and commitment is having a clear idea of what we want out of life - our goals, objectives and purpose. If we don't know where we are going, then any road will take us there. It is healthy if our commitments extend to different areas of our lives such as our relationships, careers, health and home rather than be focused in just one or two areas. It is also helpful to be committed to things outside of ourselves such as charity work, local groups or political concerns. A key aspect of commitment is that it provides us with meaning in our lives. If we ask ourselves, "What is the meaning of life?" then our commitments and goals should provide the answer.

 
Having goals and being resilient means that we will keep going and problem solve in the face of setbacks and difficulties. When life knocks us down, we will pick ourselves up again. We will tolerate short-term frustration and discomfort for our long-term gain. Resilience and persistence are key; most people simply give up. 


Confidence
 
Confidence is our belief in our ability to get things done. Our confidence will vary according to different circumstances and events. For mental toughness and resilience we need to consistently increase the areas where we feel confident. We may prefer to stay within our comfort zones but the world changes and eventually all comfort zones will become uncomfortable. Our comfort zones become comfort traps.


To be more confident we need to be accurate in our appraisal of threats. If we perceive that challenges are unrealistically dangerous or threatening, then we will not take action. If we avoid failure then we also avoid success, so we need to take calculated risks and step out side of our comfort zones. To be resilient we need to be less concerned how others may view us and what we believe they are thinking or saying about us. We need to challenge our self-imposed limits and our restricted views of reality. We don't see things as they are; we only see things as we are.


© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

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"Think of it as part of the act of killing"

Many people head their articles or book chapters with a quote; this lends gravitas, authority and authenticity to what follows. On the whole I like a good quote, although seeing the same quotes and anecdotes repeatedly, (Edison and his light bulbs, Colonel Sanders and his chickens) starts to grate after a while.

With that in mind, here is a quote that changed my life, from "The Book of Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi (translated by Thomas Cleary). Have a read and I'll explain why.


"FIVE KINDS OF GUARD"

"The five kinds of guard are the upper position, middle position, lower position, right-hand guard, and left-hand guard. Although the guard may be divided into five kinds, all of them are for the purpose of killing people. There are no other kinds of guard besides these five.

Whatever guard you adopt, do not think of it as being on guard; think of it as part of the act of killing".

I found The Book of Five Rings for the handsome sum of fifty pence in Oxfam. At the time I was operations manager for a media firm. I headed 12 managers and 160 staff across three day and night shifts in a business that ran 24/7 and only closed on Christmas Day. Getting everyone moving in the same direction was often a challenge, as we were a feisty bunch, with sizable egos. There were many heated conversations and passionate arguments. I have to admit that sometimes, I would come out of a meeting and feel as though I had taken a right good kicking. 

When we are under attack, people will look for our soft and vulnerable points; they aim at our emotions and our pride. This can knock us off balance, cause us to lose confidence and feel hurt and angry. If our pride is hurt, we may counter attack irrationally and ineffectively and this will make us look even weaker.

Rather than have a weak counter attack it is better to guard and admit that you may not have all the answers, need more time, even acknowledge mistakes, or oversights and apologise. Do not show anger but strive for inward calm, put your ego on hold and demonstrate unwavering equanimity.

Have patience, have perspective, and have perseverance. Use mental toughness. Not all conflicts are won in a few easy moves. Do not think of it as being on guard; think of it as part of the act of killing. Have confidence. You will persevere. You will win.

The greatest battles are those we fight inside of ourselves, often we need to be on guard. In this case, do not think of it as being on guard; think of it as part of the act of living.

"The Book of Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi, translated by Thomas Cleary published by Shambhala. 

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

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Staying Goal Directed

We are all encouraged to have goals - to set objectives and have targets. When we think of goals, usually we only consider the big long-term goals, such as buying a home. However it is often our everyday goals and actions which we need to focus on and have mental toughness in order to increase our happiness and make life more enjoyable. Our thoughts, emotions and behaviour can either support or undermine us in our pursuit of goals and objectives. Goal directed thinking and behaviour supports us in our aims, objectives and survival. In this article I have included some tips and examples to keep you goal directed, mentally tough and mindful of your everyday goals.

Staying goal directed means that we are personally responsible for our thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Therefore we are personally responsible for our outcomes and are in control.
It is our thinking and beliefs that cause us to have negative or harmful emotions such as anger, frustration and irritation. These emotions can then have an impact on our behaviour towards situations and other people. For example, I may go to a party - think that I'm unattractive (thoughts) - feel depressed (emotions) - drink two bottles of wine (behaviour) - have a fight with my best friend (outcome). Does this sound familiar? (My number is at the top of the page)

So, by recognising that our thoughts and behaviour are not supporting us and are self-defeating, we can dispute them and choose realistic thoughts to maintain perspective and stay goal directed. To stay goal directed we could ask ourselves simple questions about our current situation and circumstances.

What is my goal here?

To have a pleasant journey
To enjoy my evening
To have a loving relationship
To get on with people
To improve my confidence
To effectively communicate with my children
To stay healthy
To have a successful career
To work harmoniously with my colleagues

When having negative thoughts and emotions we can stay goal directed by asking ourselves this pragmatic question:

How does thinking or behaving this way help me to feel good or achieve my goals?

Does being angry at peoples' noisy ipods and phones help me relax and have a pleasant journey?
Does worrying about how I look help me enjoy my evening?
Does blaming my partner and staying angry help me have a loving relationship?
Does demanding that others have the same beliefs as I do, help me get on with people?
Does avoiding uncomfortable situations help me improve my confidence?
Does shouting help me to communicate with my children?
Does eating fatty foods help me stay healthy?
Does being late help me have a successful career?
Does blaming and labelling my colleagues help the team effort?

Simple isn't it? As long as we remain mindful of our goals and objectives in everyday situations we can adapt our thinking and behaviour to obtain those goals. It's just a case of taking a moment to reflect on our goals, before harmful emotions such as anger take a hold of our actions.

Put this mental toughness and resilience principle into practice today, maybe before you make that phone call, enter that meeting or… go on that date.

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport
Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

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The labels we wear on the inside.

You may often hear the phrase "you are what you eat" and clearly there is some truth in that; we are constantly reminded by the media and government to eat healthily. However, what we think is more important and in particular, that inner critical voice which we hear all day long. Our inner voice either supports us and makes us feel good or undermines our self-esteem and self-worth causing us to feel down and low in confidence. With that in mind I have included in this article a common thinking error called labelling, which can make anyone feel lousy. The simple truth is "You are what you think!"

These days we are more brand aware than ever before. We may not all wear designer clothes or drive expensive cars or even eat designer food, but we are all aware of brands and labels. We make conscious and unconscious judgements about people, their identity and status based on the items they use. Consequently, we will then make judgements and evaluations about our own identity and self-worth.

We may also label others and ourselves by traits, behaviours and actions. Rather than look at the whole person and all their good and bad points, a specific evaluation is accorded to their whole being. For example, "He did a stupid thing, therefore he is stupid". "She broke a plate, therefore she is clumsy". It is more helpful to acknowledge when we and others have done something wrong or made a specific error. For example "that was a silly mistake" "that didn't go down too well", then we can distinguish between the actions and the person as a whole.

Labelling people makes it more difficult to get on with others and causes hostility if we see them as one-dimensional For example "that guy is a jerk", "She's an idiot". I once worked in a company where one of the IT staff made an error that caused the network to temporarily crash, he soon became known as "TITI" (Titty - The IT Idiot). Needless to say this was very upsetting for the individual concerned - he left a short time afterwards. Labelling is more than name-calling; it is mud that sticks.

When directed at ourselves labelling can cause diminished confidence and self-esteem, guilt, self-loathing and depression. We will often acquire negative labels in childhood and early relationships; it is important that we challenge and dispel them rather than continue to wear them on the inside.

A useful exercise is to monitor your inner critic; that voice that you hear through the day that says things such as "I'm not smart enough", "I'm boring and uninteresting" "I'm too old" "I'm unattractive". Write these comments down and then dispute, challenge and replace them with more helpful and rational statements such as "I've learned a lot and continue to learn", "I am as interesting as anyone; I have my unique style", "Age is an irrelevance", "I'm as attractive as anyone". This takes a bit of effort, but "you're worth it". You will feel better about yourself, increase your self-esteem and confidence then discard unwanted mental baggage.

Choose your labels with care!

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London


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Wake up to reality

It is true that we are all hypnotised to some extent. We can become conditioned to react in certain ways and adhere to old beliefs about the world, others and ourselves that are no longer helpful or useful. Some people may worry that they cannot be hypnotised, when in fact they have already hypnotised themselves. For example, they may have convinced themselves that they are "bad", "not good enough" of little value and have low confidence or self worth. As a hypnotherapist it is often my job to de-hypnotise people from their restricted views and beliefs, so that they can better adapt to the changing reality in their lives. In this article, I have included some thoughts on updating our maps of reality. Sometimes we are all in a self-imposed trance and need to wake up to reality.

Our view of reality is shaped through our experiences. We form an internal map with which we navigate through the world. If our map is accurate, we know where we are and how to get where we want to go. The closer our map is to the truth of reality, the better our vision to see obstacles and navigate around them. As reality changes we need to update and revise our maps and this takes effort and work. Not only does the world around us change, but also our place within it. At times we may be healthy and at other times sick, or rich and powerful or poor and vulnerable. Some people will stop adding to their map after adolescence, many will stop by middle age. People who have ceased adding to their maps remain convinced that their map is accurate and therefore their view of the world becomes fixed and dogmatic; they are no longer interested in updating new data. Their view of reality is tired, jaded, out of date and unproductive. Consequently, life becomes more difficult and frustrating. For those of you in the UK who have seen the TV program "Grumpy old men/women" this is an example of people desperately holding onto outdated maps and becoming increasingly frustrated with a changing world.

Updating our maps in light of new and sometimes sudden information can be a painful process. In order to avoid this pain we may ignore the new reality or rebel against it. We may try to change reality and mould it into our outdated maps. We may transfer our maps that helped us survive in childhood into adulthood where they are no longer appropriate.
Change and reality is avoided when it is painful. Stress can be defined as change and fear of change. Revising our maps, seeking truth and reality takes confidence and courage. Moving away from delusion and suffering discomfort is vital to our continued survival, therefore we must learn to welcome pain in order to find and sustain reality and truth. This applies to individuals as well as organisations.

Hypnotherapy and Rational Thinking are effective tools to challenge and update your thinking and beliefs so that they are adaptive and "getting you where you want to go" You can learn how to use your creative subconscious to guide you towards your goals. You can update your self-image and build your confidence and self-esteem.

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

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Preferring Not Demanding

The following article looks at "demanding" and "preferring". Understanding the difference between these types of irrational and rational thinking is key to mental toughness, resilience and confidence. Demands are rigid thinking patterns and rules, where we insist that others, the world and ourselves must be a certain way, in order for us to be happy. Albert Ellis, who pioneered Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), called this rigid thinking "demandingness".

Demands are rigid and inflexible rules about how other people, ourselves and life must or must not be, in order for us to be happy. Having rigid beliefs and rules can make us anxious, frustrated and depressed. Demands will often contain the words "must" and "should", such as:

"Everyone must like and approve of me".

"I must be absolutely competent in everything I do".

"The world should always be a fair place".

Preferences are flexible ideas regarding how we would like things to be, without demanding and insisting that they must always be that way, such as:

"It would be nice if everyone liked and approved of me, but they don't have to".

"I want to be competent in everything I do, but I don't have to be."

"I would like the world to be a fair place, but unfortunately it doesn't have to be the way, that I want it to be".

Having preferences rather than demands does not mean that we shouldn't have high values or standards; the point is whether our demands are pragmatic and helping us in our aims and objectives, or are rigid, unrealistic and impractical. The key is to be flexible and accept that people and things will not always go our way and that having rigid and fixed rules is unhelpful and irrational.

Here's an example regarding perfectionism. Let's suppose that I have a demanding rule that "I must give an absolutely, perfect presentation or I will look hopeless and inept". If I hold on to this irrational belief, the consequences are likely to be that I will be unnecessarily anxious, and my worry will cause me to lose sleep. I will over-prepare and have too many notes, which will cause further worry as to how I will cram all the material into a set presentation time. I will be over-nervous and worry that I will freeze and my mind will go blank. I may predict catastrophe, attach too much importance to the presentation and imagine I will lose my job.

Alternatively, I can hold a preference such as "I would like to do a perfect presentation, but it does not have to be 100 per-cent perfect". In this case I am more likely to focus on covering the essential points rather than worrying about trying to be perfect. I will have greater confidence and realise that there is no such thing as a "perfect" presentation. And besides, it is unrealistic to expect that all of the audience will be paying attention, all of the time. If the audience are students, it is likely that they will have hangovers or be tired.

Here's another example for anyone visiting or living in London and using the Tube trains; where we are expected to let passengers off of the train before boarding. If I have the demand that "people must always let me off the train first, before they start getting on" then I am going to be upset and annoyed on a regular basis, as often people will start getting on in order to get a seat. Of course, a lot of the time people will wait for me to get off, before they get on, but because I have such a rigid and demanding rule, I will still feel tense in the anticipation that my rule will be broken at any second.

Alternatively, rather than have such a rigid and demanding rule, I can hold a preference such as "I would prefer it if people let me off first, but in reality this will not always be so". By holding a preference rather than a demand, I am being realistic and can accept that others do not have the same rules. By holding a flexible preference I am less likely to become angry or upset.

Often we seek to change other people and become frustrated in our attempts, however we can change ourselves and how we react to other people and events; we can remain in control and fully responsible for our actions, thoughts and emotions.

Being flexible and able to adapt is key to mental toughness and resilience

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

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High Frustration Tolerance

Here is an essential principle of mental toughness and resilience

We all experience frustration when our needs, wants and demands are not met, or when we are faced with obstacles that impede our progress. Frustration is a fact of life; therefore our ability to tolerate frustration is crucial to the successful achievement of our long-term goals.

When we are easily frustrated and upset, we are said to have, Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT). If, on the other hand, we are less disturbed or upset by short-term frustrations, and persevere through difficulties, we are said to have High Frustration Tolerance (HFT). Developing High Frustration Tolerance is vital to good mental health and a key element of mental toughness and resilience.

We all know that in our everyday lives, we will face obstacles, difficulties and hassles. People will let us down, trains won't run, cars won't start, we will have to queue and wait to be served, items will be out of stock and call centres will be busy. Amazingly enough, we habitually demand that these things do not happen, and that life should always be… the way we want it… easy, fast and without any hassle. So we may often complain, bleat, moan and rage. We may cry and whine that we are being "stressed out" or scream that we can't stand it! The psychologist, Albert Ellis, called this can't-stand-it-itis.

Having mental toughness means, that we must accept responsibility for our thoughts, emotions and behaviour. If we have Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT) it is within our power and within our control to change the beliefs that cause us to feel frustrated.

Here are some of the common beliefs that cause LFT

  • I must not be frustrated
  • I cannot stand to be inconvenienced
  • My life should be easy
  • Things should always work properly
  • It's awful when things don't go my way
  • I must be comfortable at all times
  • I can't stand to do things that are boring or unpleasant
  • I cannot stand to endure poor service, stupidity and lack of attention

Here's an example. Many people get frustrated when queuing and waiting at supermarket checkouts but with some people their frustration gets way out of proportion. Some people get so angry at not being served quickly, that after a few minutes of huffing, puffing and tutting, they finally throw a tantrum, dump their groceries on the floor and run out swearing at everyone… It's hardly grown up behaviour is it? Also, they will still need to get their food at some point, so it's not pragmatic and goal directed behaviour either… Not big, not clever.

Here are some common thoughts that people have in this instance

  • I cannot stand to queue and wait
  • I'll be here forever; I CAN'T STAND IT!
  • I cannot stand waiting for slow and idiotic people
  • This is really boring and dreadful
  • I'll go mad if they don't move faster
  • If I don't get out of here my head will explode
  • I must be served right away, NOW!

Here are some common beliefs

  • It's terrible to have to stand and wait in the 21st century
  • Why can't they organise things effectively
  • It's awful to waste my time like this
  • People should focus on what they're doing and move faster
  • There should be more tills open for my convenience
  • My time must always be spent efficiently
  • There should be a separate queue for idiots

Does any of this seem familiar? (my contact details are at the top). An effective way to combat Low Frustration Tolerance is to dispute the thoughts and beliefs that underpin it. Again, the focus is on preferring not demanding. Here are some coping statements for supermarket queuing or waiting in traffic.

  • Get a grip; it's not life or death
  • It's inconvenient but I can cope with it
  • Of course I can stand it, it's really not that bad
  • Sometimes things don't go my way. TOUGH!
  • There is no law of the universe that says things must be the way I want them
  • I don't like it but I can handle it
  • I would prefer not to queue but it's not a disaster if I have to
  • It's a hassle but I can live with it
  • Dry your eyes and stop crying
  • Get real; I won't be here forever
  • Stop whining and whinging

As well as disputing our thoughts and beliefs, we can also use behavioural disputing. Behavioural disputing is a great way to test whether we really "could not stand it", or whether we would really go mad and our heads explode. To do this we could choose the longest and slowest checkout queue and when we got near to the front, leave the queue and go to the back again. Similarly when in traffic queues rather than weave in and out to the "faster lanes" we could stay in the slowest lane and gain tolerance and control over frustration.

Small children are used to having their needs and demands met; they are inexperienced and when faced with frustrations, they cry, scream and throw tantrums. As we get older and become adults, we learn that frustration is a normal, everyday part of life. Therefore, we need to develop High Frustration Tolerance, persist through difficulties, dry our eyes and have mental toughness.

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

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Get A Grip!
 

Bad events do happen, unpredictable events happen. For mental toughness we need to strive to keep negative events, together with our responses in proportion. We need to gain perspective, as some events are clearly worse than others. We are responsible for how bad we perceive events to be and it is within our control how we react to them. It is the attitudes and beliefs that we take to events (and not the events themselves), which determine whether we will be overwhelmed and become victims, or whether we will be resilient and recover. Our thoughts, emotions, behaviour and physiology are within our control.

When we are faced with unwelcome events and circumstances, we may often lose perspective and get things out of proportion; we may "awfulise" and "catastrophise". We may see small events as catastrophes or awful when they are just the inconveniences, errors and frustrations of everyday life. If our responses are out of step with these small events, then we will have an even greater difficulty handling the truly bad events. With this in mind, here is an excellent technique for mental toughness.

It's not the end of the world

"Awfulising" and "catastrophic thinking" are terms used in cognitive therapies which describe a tendency to exaggerate the negative aspects and consequences of past, present or future events. Awfulising and catastrophic thinking make serious events such as divorce, redundancy or injury even more distressing. This type of thinking can also occur with everyday events such as being late for an appointment, missing a phone call or someone being rude to us. We may "blow things up out of proportion" and what may be a minor irritation or event gets magnified; things can be seen as "horrible", "terrible", "awful", "tragic" or "the worst that can happen". We can quickly lose perspective and think, "we are doomed and it's the end of the world!" Awfulising stems from rigid and demanding beliefs such as, "shoulds", "musts" and "have to" that have been violated by or others, ourselves or life's events.

Anti-Awfulising scale

In order to get things into a more realistic perspective and not see things worse than they are, we can use the anti-awfulising scale. This works by rating events from 0 - 99 in terms of how awful or catastrophic they seem. For example, if we say that at the low end of the scale, with an awfulness rating of 1, is sitting at home watching a bad movie whilst drinking cold tea, and at the other end of the scale with a rating of 99, is something truly awful and catastrophic such as a loved one dying, serious illness or being critically injured in an accident. Then we can rate other upsets in-between these extremes.

When upset about something we may initially give the event a high rating and see it as terrible and awful, but if we use the anti-awfulising scale we can then accept that this is an exaggeration and get a more realistic perspective on the situation. Changing our thinking will get our emotions, behaviour and physiology back in control. For example, we will be less likely to be angry, strike out and have raised blood pressure or be anxious, avoid people, similar situations and have panic attacks.

Most of the everyday events that upset us, will be nowhere near the 99 rating and may not even be as high as 5, such as missing the bus, losing a parking space or disagreeing with someone. When an event happens that is more distressing such as losing a job or a relationship ending, we may again give this an initial high score, over 85. However, in time and after some reflection we will once more be able to gain a clearer perspective and get things back into proportion. We will accept that we are not the first person to lose a job or a relationship and won't be the last. Also we know that people do recover and regain their confidence from these adverse events and find new relationships and jobs.

Anti-Awfulising Questions - Get some perspective!

Here are anti-awfulising questions, ask yourself

  • Is this really awful or catastrophic?
  • Where is it on the anti-awfulising scale?
  • Is this really a disaster?
  • Does anyone else really care about it?
  • How would someone with a positive attitude view this problem?
  • Will this matter in 3 years' time, 1 year's time, 1 week's time, 1 hour's time?
  • What's the worst that will happen and how likely is that?
  • How is this catastrophising helping me to reach my goals?
  • How does this awfulising make me feel better?
  • How does this help my confidence?
  • What's the good thing about this problem?
  • How can I turn this to my advantage?
  • Is this really the end of the world? 

The fact is, that no matter how bad an event is - it could always be worse.

Use the anti-awfulising scale for mental toughness and get things into perspective and proportion

Life is tough, you are tougher.
Stop awfulising. Stop catastrophising.

Stick with it, persevere, get a grip.

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
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Black and White

In our mission to maintain mental toughness and mental strength we need to look at and dispute the errors in our thinking. These "thinking errors" are referred to as inferences by cognitive therapists. Inferences are assumptions of what we think is going on, has happened or will happen. They are statements of what we believe are the facts and go beyond the immediate and observable evidence. They can, be true or false, helpful or unhelpful, rational or irrational. Inferences are often gross distortions of reality. This article focuses on one of the most common and unhelpful forms of inferences called "Black and White" thinking. 

As suggested in the name, black and white thinking occurs when we think of things as being polarised to either one extreme or the other, without acknowledging or taking into account the possibility of any grey areas or middle ground. Such as,

The boss is always right.
If you don't love me, you must hate me.
If you are not smart, then you must be stupid.
If you are not thin, then you are fat.
If you are not for us, then you are against us.
If it's not true, then it's a lie.

All or nothing
Stay or go
Right or wrong
Yes or no
Good or evil

Excellent or awful

Love or hate
Winners or losers

Here's an everyday example. A student may view an exam result of 95% or above as evidence that he is intelligent, whereas a score of 85% will prove that he is brainless and thick. As we can see from this example, black and white thinking is common in those of us with perfectionist traits and can lead to feelings of inferiority.

Black and white thinking can also lead to anxiety and low self-worth. For example, if we are at a social event and someone we find attractive doesn't make eye contact, we may jump to the negative conclusion that we are disliked and ugly, then lose our confidence. However, if they smile at us, we may jump to the opposite conclusion and see this as proof, that we are desirable and worthwhile.


Sometimes, when we are stressed and emotionally overwhelmed we may fall into black and white thinking. When we are anxious and cannot think and reason clearly, we may opt for an "either…or…" solution. Doing this may give us quick relief from our distress and bring a temporary end to our discomfort but we may have lost the chance to come up with a more flexible, practical or helpful solution. This is the self-defeating thinking that we used as frustrated children, when our thinking was less developed. When people are stressed they often regress and "throw their toys out of the pram".
For example:

"If I can't have designer trainers, I don't want anything",
"If I'm in goal, I'm not playing… it's my ball and I'm going home"
"If you don't call me, you don't care about me"
"I want my stapler or I can't work"
"Who took my chair, I'm leaving"

"I must have my mug or no coffee"...boo hoo…sob, sob…whinge, whinge…"


If this sounds like your office, my details are at the top of the page.


During times of global recession and uncertainty, it is understandable that some people may get overwhelmed, distressed and lose their confidence. However, we must resist the urge to revert to simplistic and polarised thinking. In a recession we need progressive thinking rather than regressive thinking. It's also worth bearing in mind, that black and white thinking is used in cults were no alternatives are given and freethinking is not allowed.


Stay flexible, remain creative, adapt and survive

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

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Life has no meaning

Here at Mental Toughness HQ we like to go after the "big fish" and ask the difficult questions. So along with the usual questions about their health and circumstances I will often ask clients "what and where is the meaning in your life?" In short, what I am getting at here is:

What's your purpose in living and being? - What's the point of you?

It's an easy and straightforward question…isn't it? Maybe not, but for mental toughness, resilience and good mental health in general, we need to be able to answer this question. Read on and hopefully I can give you some useful pointers or at the very least, something to think about and consider.

Commitment and Meaning

One of the key components within mental toughness and resilience is having commitments in our lives. Commitments are our goals and purposes, our aims and objectives; the things that we regard as important and give us meaning in our lives. It really doesn't matter what our commitments are or what other people think of them, as long as they are meaningful to us. Our commitments give us a direction and destination in our lives, rather like an internal Sat Nav. They provide us with a healthy tension between what we have already accomplished and what we still wish to do. The meaning in our commitments gives us resilience because we will keep going and deal with setbacks and frustration in order to fulfil our purpose. We will learn from mistakes and solve problems rather than give up. If we have a strong enough "why" we will strive to find the "how".

It is healthy if our commitments extend to different areas of our lives such as

Relationships
Family
Fun and recreation
Careers
Health
Personal development
Education
SpiritualPhysical environment

It is also helpful to be committed to things outside of ourselves such as charity work, local groups, social or political concerns. In the current recession many small and local charities have been forced to make staff redundant and are now suffering from overstretched resources, just when they are needed most. You could make a real difference by volunteering and giving a few hours of your time to help. You would also be increasing your mental strength and confidence by adding another area of purpose and meaning to your life.

The meaning of life exists more in the outside world, rather than in our internal world. If we are directed towards something or someone outside of ourselves and have a cause to serve, we become less aware of ourselves. By focusing on the outside world we are less likely to ruminate, self-criticise and become depressed. Activity gives us meaning and a sense of control over our lives; we stop moaning and complaining about the world and actually gain the confidence to do something about it.

What if we have no commitments and meaning?

If we have no sense of meaning or commitment in our lives, then we are more at risk of poor mental health, low confidence and self-worth. A vacuum is created that can be filled with boredom, sadness, anger, violence, addictions and depression. We may have already achieved some important goals in different areas of our lives and completed projects that were important to us. It can be the case that after achieving many of our goals we become sad and wonder what it's all for; the meaning that was once there, has now gone. Our circumstances and the world around us may have changed from the end of a relationship, a death of someone close to us, changing jobs or moving home. Our mental health is at risk when the environment changes and we do not adapt. As our lives and the conditions around us change we need to find new goals and meaning. The meaning of life changes but never ends.

Each one of us is responsible for what our lives mean; life has no meaning, unless we provide it. If we ask ourselves, "What is the meaning of life?" then our commitments and goals should provide the answer. If we don't have meaning in our lives, then we are just fidgeting until we die.

So, back to my original question: What's the point of you?

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
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What's your excuse?

Can we really change who we are and how we think and behave? Can a leopard change its spots? I recently had this conversation with someone who wondered whether a therapist is merely painting over the "leopard's spots" and that underneath we all stay the same. Well, the fact is that I don't see many leopards in my consulting room but I do see humans that change all the time. A healthy attitude to change is essential for mental toughness, confidence and resilience. Read on and I'll discuss this issue further.

The essential difference between a leopard, cat, tree (or any other living thing) and a human is that other living things have their life path and purpose mapped out already. A leopard will become a leopard and do what a leopard does; a tree will do what a tree does. The instruction manual is built in.

As for us humans, it is our responsibility of who and what we become in each moment. We are self-aware and possess self-determination. We are thrown into the world like actors on to a stage without any script or stage directions. We have no instruction manual. Therefore who we are and what we become is our responsibility. Of course there are factors that influence who we are today and I have listed some of these below, but the essential point that I'm trying to make here, is that we cannot overuse these factors as excuses for our future.

Parents and culture

We could say that who we are is a result of our upbringing or culture. We may have accepted messages and information about ourselves other people and the world. For example that we are "lazy", "no good", "won't amount to anything" or "not meant to succeed". We may have accepted ideas regarding other people and cultures that they have low intelligence or are barbarous, mean, and controlling. It could be that we believe the world is generally unsafe, uncaring or unfriendly. The fact is that we may have kept these ideas alive and continued to accept them uncritically and not re-evaluated them. If we have done so, then that is our decision and we are responsible for continuing to believe them.

DNA and genetics

With regard to our DNA and genetics then it is a fact that we will have little choice; we inherit 50% from our parents and 25% from each pair of grandparents. This will affect our physiology and physical health; we may be more predisposed to some sports or activities although we will only succeed in these if we have the right tuition and mentoring. We may also inherit predispositions to physical and mental illness. Our genetics may have an effect but we are not pedigree show dogs or racehorses, rather we are self aware, freethinking humans and still decide what our destiny is at each point in time.

Pushed by the environment

It is sometimes suggested that we are only a product of our environment and if you change the environment you will change the person. Consider these examples, if you stop poverty, then you will stop crime because people commit crime when they are poor. If you punish a thief and reward him for constructive actions then he will be rehabilitated. The oppressed have "no choice" but to become terrorists. Teach a youth to play table tennis and he'll give up selling drugs and knifing his rivals. I think you'll agree that life isn't that simple and people still have choices within their environment.

Pulled by internal drives

Are we only at the mercy of our internal drives such as the drives for pleasure, power and finding meaning? We are not always rational conscious human beings. Our unconscious drives and instincts for pleasure, warmth, comfort, physical contact and sex will influence our thoughts and actions. The new field of evolutionary psychology, which looks at our current behaviour from the benefits that they served our cavemen ancestors, concludes that many of our unconscious drives are about achieving an evolutionary benefit and passing on our genes. So we are also driven by evolution. We are also pulled by our need for power and striving to be superior. We may compensate for our weaknesses in one area by mastering another and be driven by unconscious goals. For example, we may excel at art if we are unsuited to sports. We may also strive to find meaning in conscious goals and activities in life, such as work and family. By being aware of these drives and instincts we still have control and responsibility for our lives.

So given all of the above, do we have free will and can we change?

I think you know my answer. If we believe that we are only the product of our upbringing, culture, biological, environmental, psychological and evolutionary drives then we are just victims of outside influences and internal conditions. As humans we have freedom to rise above our environment and circumstances; we are free to take a stand and change at any time.

A leopard can't change its spots because it's a leopard, but you can squeeze yours and change your problems into goals. Give up the notion that the past is all-important; we all have a past but we don't have to be the past.

If you need my help then feel free to get in touch without any obligations. Below is a simple exercise to get you started.

Adapt and evolve
Regards
Phil Pearl


What are your excuses?

Often we change the facts (or what we think are the facts) about our lives into excuses for not doing the things we can do or want to do. Have a look at the example below then make your own list. When you're done, make the decision that you will no longer use these facts as excuses for not changing and doing what you can and want to do. We can't change the past, but we can live better in the present and future.

Family history

My father died when I was young
I was the youngest child
I lacked support
I was over-protected
I have lost contact with my siblings
I wasn't close to my stepmother

Social background, class and environment

I come from a poor background
I come from a rich background
I was surrounded by people who had low aspirations and no confidence
I got in with the wrong crowd
My community lacked resources and support
My community was very strict and too morally righteous

Education

I hated school and got poor results
My school and teachers were appalling
I was excluded
I never went to university
I studied the wrong subjects
I studied the subjects that my parents wanted me to

Physical

I'm too young/old
I'm not physically health
I'm too short/tall/fat/thin
I'm not good looking enough
I'm bald

I have diabetes/high blood pressure/dyslexic

Resources

I have no steady income
I share a flat
I'm no good at money
I haven't a car
I can't use a computer
I work as a waitress in a cocktail bar

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
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Interview with the Vampire

Recently, I have been helping interview people to work on a nightshift, for company in London. In addition to the candidates' skills and experience I am keen to find out what thinking, beliefs and attitudes they hold and get some insight into what makes them tick. As you might expect I have my own style in order to get the right people and talent for the positions on offer.

Interviews are tough; we only have a very short time to make an impression and sell ourselves. We all make promises at job interviews, but do we mean them, or keep them? Read on and let's look at this further.

It is important to recognise that the interviewer is representing the whole company, including the directors, managers, team members as well as the shareholders and stakeholders. Many of the questions asked at interviews are similar for all jobs. For example, what are your weaknesses and strengths? Do you prefer working alone or in a team? What have been your most significant accomplishments? All of these questions can be prepared for in advance so that you can answer directly and confidently.

Interviewing and hiring people to work within a deadline driven, nightshift team can be particularly difficult. Nightshifts attract a diverse crowd that may not fit into the normal corporate nine to five. Some people adapt well to an almost vampire-like existence while others collapse after a few nights; it is mentally, physically and emotionally demanding work. Appearances count for nothing; talent, attitude and stamina count for everything. With this in mind, the essential question is:

If we hired you, what could we rely on you for, without fail?

How confidently and congruently could you answer this question? Would you say things like honesty, reliability, enthusiasm, and determination, hard working, going the extra mile? Many people do, so I ask what these words and concepts mean to the interviewee. I then write down their answers in full view, so that we are both clear. I also note their confidence; body language, expression, voice pitch, skin tone, pulse, breathing and eye contact. I will then advise the candidate that I expect them to hold true to these written and agreed promises; that they should always keep this in mind. I will further advise them, that if they do not live up to these promises and commitments, I will consider that I have been sold faulty goods, which do not do, what they claim to do or "what they say on the tin". I will consider this a breach of trade descriptions and expect a full refund.

We will all fall down on our promises and commitments at some point; we are all fallible human beings. However, some of us are clearly more fallible than others. In business there is no end of people who will let you down, mess you around and waste your time. In some ways this is good news because if you can make a reputation for yourself as a person with integrity, then you will stand out and shine against a sea of dull mediocrity. 

What about other areas of our lives? Do we make similar promises to others who are important to us? Are our replies given with true conviction or are we just mouthing empty words and going through the motions?

What about you? Are you a person of integrity and honour? Are you true to yourself? It's worth taking some time to think about and consider. We all need to establish our character, our brand name, our mission statement for work and life. In essence, what it is we stand for. Getting this right gives as inner confidence; we are surer of whom we are and where we are going.

Now, suppose that your present or future partner was going to interview you and ask you the same question - what can I rely on you for, without fail? How would you respond?

What if your present or future son or daughter, asked you the same question?

What about your mother and father?

Finally, stand in front of the mirror and ask the same question of yourself

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness Coaching, Training and Hypnotherapy London

Mental Toughness For Life, Work and Sport

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence London
Mental Toughness For Life

Call or email me for a free pre-consultation discussion by telephone, without any obligations.

Mental Toughness Coaching, Training & Hypnotherapy London

10 Harley Street, London, W1G 9PF.


Tel: 020 7467 8548
phil@mental-toughness.co.uk

© Phil Pearl DCH DHP MCH GHR Reg.
Hypnotherapy London
Mental Toughness. Resilience. Confidence.
Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.
Life Coaching. CBT Coaching. Existential Coaching. Existential Hypnotherapy.

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