Posted in Weekly Blog

Body Language

In this group we looked at how body language impacts us in a couple of ways; in feeling powerful and in flirtation. Amy Cuddy (Ted talk below) talks about powerful and powerless body language, so we tried out being in the different positions and noticed what it felt like. In the positions where we made ourselves smaller and protected people felt a mixture of it was harder to breathe, a bit crushed, a bit vulnerable, and for some it felt safer. When we tried the more open, expansive positions this gave a little more confidence, some people thought that in some circumstances maybe it could be a bit arrogant so we discussed context and appropriateness.

Flirtation! Now this can be a minefield when we start to try and interpret our own body language towards someone we like or try and read other’s as we wonder ‘are they flirting with me?’ So we had fun with the points raised by the Ted talk below in considering how humour, open body language, touch, attention, proximity and eye contact are signs of flirting or showing a genuine interest in another person. It is interesting to note that when feelings are reciprocated, a close proximity and longer eye contact is welcome, but if we are not interested, that feels uncomfortable for us or vice versa. So, it can be quite be tricky to navigate these unspoken social cues. This is where having a bit of awareness in reading the signs can be helpful. Personally my favourite is in which direction are the feet pointing! If it’s towards the exit this is a helpful sign.

We reflected on ‘how do you walk into a room?’ We thought of this in line with Amy Cuddy’s encouragement to fake it til you become it. She believed that she didn’t belong but behaved as if she did. Finally she realised she had come to feel like she belonged.

We considered the power of words over our body language; we tried an experiment where it seemed that negative words may actually deplete us physically where as affirming, kind, compassionate and encouraging words give us strength.

Posted in Weekly Blog

The Impact of Bullying

At today’s group we looked at how bullying can affect us. We looked at it from the view point of both the aggressor and victim. People who use bullying behavior often have very low self-worth and enjoy putting others down in order to make them feel better about themself. This person is behaving from a fearful place and is most likely very vulnerable. If you have been the victim of bullying this may feel hard to believe.

We did an exercise where we looked at people’s experience of bullying behaviour.

One is a statement about past experiences while the other is in the present looking forward. Below is the template used;

“Bullying made me feel like I am…”
“Today I honour myself by choosing to feel that I am…”

Below is a written example of how it may be used;

“Bullying made me feel like I am worthless and deserving of this behaviour. “
“Today I honour myself by choosing to feel that I am a worthwhile person who values themself. I will not let people control me and can use these past experiences to help myself and others”.

Click here for article on bullying from theconversation.com

Posted in Uncategorized, Weekly Blog

Who are my true friends?

The group said that the qualities which made a good friend were loyalty, that means that someone can be trusted to not repeat what was shared in confidence. People enjoyed common interests but also different interests in friendship. A good friend would be understanding, encouraging, and able to tell you hard things even though its difficult because they care about you and what is in your best interests.  Good friendships are encouraging, growing, equal and mutual which means support is given both ways when needed.  Boundaries are understood and respected, as are values.  Honesty, authenticity and being genuine were seen as important qualities in a friend.  We also discussed ‘the eggshell factor’ meaning that there was balance in the relationship about being to directly tackle ‘anything in the room’ and an ability to break tension and awkwardness and the freedom to be honest and not having to play games around each other, able to have a dialogue about what is going on.

Good friendship qualities are being discreet, kind and fun and sharing humour. It was highlighted that the importance of friend relationships can be a bit underrated in society because there is such a focus on dating and marriage when actually friends are so important and no less necessary even  if you are in a relationship! Some of the group recognised that sometimes a lack of friends is to do with circumstance and not an individuals ability to make friends. We may look at how to make friends in a future group, as this can feel difficult in some seasons in life, for example moving to a new place, following the breakdown of a relationship or having low confidence.  A shared history was also seen as a good contributor in a friendship, and especially shared values as people thought it would be quite difficult to be friends if someone had extreme views which conflicted with closely held values. 

Things which people thought were not indicative of true friendship were abuse, control, belittling, sarcasm, not really caring but exploiting and taking advantage and someone who is not genuinely interested in how you are but is all about their own self interest.

Posted in Weekly Blog

Can I Accept Compliments?

Today we looked at what compliments meant to people. We broke the discussion into four key points;

  1. How do you find giving compliments?
  2. How do you find receiving compliments?
  3. What are the rules/beliefs you attach to giving and receiving compliments?
  4. Is there any difference between confidence and arrogance?

Group members did not seem to have too much of a problem in giving others compliments.

What was a big challenge for them was being able to accept compliments. Receiving compliments made them feel slightly awkward and uncomfortable. Some of the examples and beliefs for this were;

  • “I find compliments hard to believe due to my low sense of self-worth”
  • “They don’t really mean it and are just being nice”
  • ” They are just sweetening me up as they want something”
  • ” They will find out the real me and not like it”
  • ” They are doing this as a joke at my expense”
  • “I don’t want people to think I’m a big head”

We then finally discussed whether local culture plays a part in these beliefs. In the U.K. we can tend to be very self-depreciating finding it hard to big ourselves up for fear of ridicule from others. Is it a confidence thing and we don’t wan’t to be seen as arrogant? There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. so where is the fine line? Below is a snippet of an interesting article from Dr Leisha Bailey on this

*Arrogant people build themselves up by putting others down – to “win”. Buddhism asserts that arrogance is to judge one’s self-worth by comparison with others. Arrogant people feel good about themselves only through affirming their superiority to others. Genuinely confident people feel great about themselves without comparing themselves with others. Arrogant people tend to bluff their way to success and often have difficulty listening to others. This person will avoid risks or blame others or circumstances if things do not work out as expected*

*Confidence is not a belief that one is always right or a sense of being unable to fail. True confidence welcomes alternative perspectives and opinions. A confident person rarely will be found lecturing or preaching to others on how they are wrong. Believing you are always right and unable to accept influence from others can make one obnoxious to be around. Confidence is being willing to be wrong and knowing you’ll be OK if you are. A truly self-confident person is able to show vulnerability and admit to past mistakes.*

*Taken from Dr Leisa Bailey*

Posted in Weekly Blog

Tolerance and attitudes in society

In this session we decided to have a look at our own unconscious biases and prejudice. It can be very easy to be judgmental of other peoples prejudice (Yes! I know that’s ironic). It can be easy to get self-righteous about the prejudice of others without being aware of our own as per a spectacular piece of graffiti which used to grace a bridge in Edinburgh saying “Go Home Bigots”. And here I am self-righteously judging their prejudice, and so it goes on!

We looked at the ‘Unconscious Prejudice Questionnaire’ which we did notice some of the language maybe had an unconscious prejudice of it’s own. People quietly reflected upon areas where they maybe did have a bias, we noticed that sometimes we are afraid to admit this. But people did share biases and we noticed that often these were connected to personal experience.

Everyone has implicit biases and prejudice, these come from family upbringing, cultural norms, media portrayal of certain groups and about people groups with whom we are not familiar or not educated about-ignorance is not always bliss, nor is it helpful. Businesses, recruitment and community suffer when we discriminate due to unconscious bias, we miss out on skill, diversity and different perspectives. As is often the case in our conclusion, keeping an open mind, being open to be educated and as we did in this session and be honest about the thoughts you are uncomfortable with.

Posted in Weekly Blog

Escapism through movie characters

Group members talked about who their favourite movie characters were and why. They agreed that fictional characters provides them a feeling of escapism from their everyday lives. Movie characters can be form part of our public consciousenss in the same way as pieces of music do.

Imagining how your movie character would deal with someone who has bullied you can help inspire you with a little bit more strength. Equally a very anxious child can imagine having superhero powers like Spiderman to keep them safe.

Below is an example from Spiderman;

Posted in Weekly Blog

Overcoming Fear of Failure

The word failure in of itself can create quite a negative feeling for people by conjuring up feelings of humiliation, disappointment, smashed expectations and things that went wrong. We explored the difference between what failure actually is, and what it means for us and our identity.

Failure is something which did not work, or something we did not do. When we start to apply failure personally; ‘I am a failure’ we can get into upsetting territory. Maybe if we view failure as something at which we tried but wasn’t for us, perhaps we gave it our best, but whatever happened, we did not succeed, seen in this way we can view failure as something from which we learn, and not something we should make people feel bad for. We talked about not being invested in the outcome, but just being able to be free to be you in the process and encouraging the same in others; if we are not stressed about the outcome we are more likely to be creative, productive and work from a place of joy rather than anxiety.

Group members reflected that not succeeding at something can be helpful for teaching humility, building resilience and quite possibly leading us down an alternative route altogether to be successful in something we hadn’t imagined or set out to do. Derek Redmond and his father did not set out to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona intent on becoming on of the most inspirational, moving, father and son examples. More likely they set out to set a record and win gold. However, the hamstring injury totally changed what was achieved that day. Failure also teaches determination and not losing heart-look at Edison and his 10000 light bulbs!

Someone in the group suggested that the difference between success and failure is a good story! And Nelson Mandela famously quoted Marianne Williamson:


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

What exactly did she mean by this? Have we sometimes got so comfortable in not succeeding to the point of not trying something different, and we can get comfortable in the negative story that we tell ourselves about ourselves that we wouldn’t know what to do with success and needing to change our story?

Is the fear of failure greater than the hope of success? Has being stuck become more comfortable than the discomfort of risking doing something new?

Group members reflected on changes and successes they have made and observed each other making over time as we have been meeting together.