Posted in Weekly Blog

Decision making and responsibility

make-good-decisions

Do you feel that you struggle to make decisions?  Do you feel defeated trying to choose a cereal in the supermarket, or tormented about whether to attend your niece’s wedding?  We make so many decisions daily, and life is scattered with huge life changing decisions with a myriad of implications.  Popping into Starbucks for a coffee alone offers you no less that 80,000 ways to take your caffeine, or maybe no caffeine, or milk, full fat, semi or skimmed, or soya, latte or americano, tall or grande…..you get the picture (!) So how do we cope with making decisions.  Or do we not?  Or is not making a decision actually making a decision?

First of all in the group we looked at what is it about making a decision that can feel difficult? People said not knowing the outcome, the fear that if it goes wrong it’s all your fault.  People also said that a history of making bad decisions makes it hard to trust yourself and so decreases confidence.  Overthinking and rumination over the potential ‘what if’s’ of a decision provokes anxiety and procrastination.  And a final difficulty cited is that once a decision has been made you may then be tied to the consequences of it, and that is scary.

So, the second part of our discussion was around responsibility-the level at which we are able to accept responsibility probably promotes our decision making abilities.

Taking no responsibility leads to blaming everyone else, whereas taking all the responsibility is blaming yourself for everything.

We had a think about what these two elements look like: Not taking any responsibility manifests in procrastination, always letting others decide, not paying bills, not contributing, not thinking of others, avoidance, not willing to look at oneself, unhealthy coping mechanisms [to escape e.g. alcohol or sleep], and blaming others.  Taking all the responsibility conversely involves always making decisions for others, taking the blame for everything, putting others before self, only seeing the negative in yourself, dis empowering others, not trusting others which can lead to micromanagement and bullying. Another direction of over responsibility is taking so much care of others that it can lead to obsessive compulsive behaviours trying to protect everything.

The question was posed to the group ‘Do you actually know what decision is best to make, but fear and doubt are what comes in creating confusion and reluctance to decide’.  Interestingly people mostly did seem to concur that they did in fact know what to do, so it isn’t the not knowing that creates a barrier to deciding but rather the implications of the made decisions.  People did chat too that as well as not making or avoiding decisions, sometimes they just make very impulsive choices, we talked about whether at times these were self-sabotaging behaviours.

There are some things we can do to help in combating decision fatigue.  A study of an Israeli prison parole board showed that prisoners appearing earlier in the day were more likely to receive parole for no other reason than by the end of the day the judges were tired and less likely to have the mental energy to make a decision regarding a prisoner’s release.  This study is cited in the New York Times in an article about decision fatigue. 

It is no different for us, when we are tired, hungry or it’s the end of the day having already made thousands of decisions, it becomes more difficult to decide.  So sometimes putting an important decision off until the morning may be wise, and planning and organising can significantly reduce the pressure of having to make extra decisions.

9 tips here to make better choices.

 

Posted in Weekly Blog

Food – friend or foe?

emotional-eating-300x300

 

Today we looked at what food meant to us. To assist us in this we used the questions below as a guide;

  • What is your favourite food and how does it make you feel?.
  • Do you cope with your emotions by using foods? If yes, what kind of foods do you
    consume at such a time?
  •  Do you know what you are trying to fill? (FILLING A VOID E.g Feeling lonely/
    disappointed or empty. SELF-MEDICATING)
  • How do you feel after consuming food to cope with emotions?
  • E.g. Guilty, know it is not good for my health….)
  • Do you cope with emotions by not eating and by depriving yourself of food?
    Is food your friend or foe?
  • Do you know when you have had enough to eat and stop?
  • How else might we listen to and cope with our emotional hunger?

Some people talked about pleasant associations with food in a nostalgic way, like family gatherings with sunday roast or mince and tatties. For others food has become a coping mechanism providing some comfort whether it be eating too much or too little. Of course, both over a period of time can be equally damaging to our health. If people feel they have no control in their lives this may be the one place they feel they do.  Unlike others dependencies we cannot avoid food- so we need to be informed, relearn
our physical hunger because then we can trust ourselves to make good choices
and to attend to emotional hunger in other ways.

INTERESTING FOOD FACTS
Foodie Fact 1-
Do you know that some foods (like Pringles) are engineered to keep us eating and wanting
more and to ignore signals our brain is sending that we are full. Sugar, Salt, fat, additives,
combined in a snack/nibble or a sweet treat. Such foods actually light up the pleasure
centres in our brains as much as taking cocaine would! So neurologically we
become addicted to them and we ignore that we have had enough.

Foodie Fact 2-
If we consume lots of calorie dense foods which lack good nutrients such as; a
McDonalds, pizza or fish and chips our body might well be signalling it is starving and
needs more grub, because it is needing some vitamins and minerals not in fast foods. So
we want to eat more and often we will deride ourselves for being greedy or lacking will
power.

Foodie Fact 3-
Food information is so confusing and conflicting it is hard to work out what we should be eating. So here’s what ‘experts’ agree on-
• Reduce or stop eating processed foods (white bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes & fast food.
• Eat your greens! Fruit and vegetables.
• Be loving and compassionate to yourself as you make some alterations. Start small
with little changes, over time they all add up.

 

Posted in Weekly Blog

Strengths

hqdefault

“I don’t see what others see in me”.  This is a saying that we can hear a lot of in society throughout all walks of life. Is this a default position we go to or are there cultural reasons for it? Certainly here in Scotland and the rest of the U.K. there does seem to be more of a tendency to play down our strengths as to do otherwise could leave you feeling uncomfortable. Is there a fear that by acknowledging our strengths we may be seen by others as ‘getting too big for your boots’ or ‘playing your own trumpet’. Does finding the fine line between confidence and arrogance play a part in our fear? You only have to look at celebrities who are universally loved by people all over the world who also can struggle and use self-depreciating comments such as; “What if I get found out, and am not as good as people seem to think I am?” This may seem like a silly thing to say given all the evidence to the contrary, but it does show that  they are only human and can have insecurities like anyone.

Group members shared their own experiences of how they found acknowledging their strengths. Some people actually felt that it would be much easier to list their short comings.  We then did an exercise where we asked people to write down the strengths and qualities they saw in one other and pass it back to the person so they could see the qualities others saw in them.  While people found it nice doing this they still found it a challenge to take in and believe what people saw in them.

Today’s subject felt very relevant as this group is very much based on helping people build up their sense of worth.  The hope being that through doing this it can play a part in being able to acknowledge their strengths without totally dismissing them.

Posted in Weekly Blog

Fear Of Failure

33594234-manque-la-violation-de-la-liberté-des-droits-humains-jeune-femme-solitaire-assis-dans-un-bocal-de-verr

At today’s group we looked at the fear of failure.  Although our fears come from a protective place they can ultimately leave us feeling stuck and unfulfilled in parts of our life. If you’ve suffered disappointments in life it feel such a risk to try something new and it not working out. To avoid these disappointing feelings people may decide it safer to stay in the situation they know. In this case the fear of failure can feel more powerful than the possibility of success. It can feel so scary to take that leap of faith into the unknown. Group members gave examples of how they overcame fears and how it became the making of them. The thing to remember is that even if you try something and it does not work out you can always try something else. This of course does not take away the feelings of disappointment but it certainly does not make you a failure. We are learning all the time, particularly in the hard times.  If we think back to being a toddler and learning to walk we do fall at times but we get back up and gradually learn to walk. Below is an inspiring video of people who have faced disappointments but managed to keep on trying new things.

Posted in Weekly Blog

Having fun increases our well-being

dreamstime_m_15187219

While preparing for our group programme in advance we are always mindful of the need to make sure it is finely balanced between light topics and others that are a bit heavier. After having a few deeper sessions it felt nice to mix it up today having a session on fun!  It’s something that is so important for our well-being which sadly at times we can all too readily dismiss as un-important.

We did an exercise using spiritual cards and asked group members to choose a card that meant something to them. People found this useful as it provided an outlet to communicate how they felt. After this we played the card game adaption of the popular game show, ‘Catchphrase’. By the end of the game the scores between the two teams were fairly equal!

We finished with a look at what people’s favourite movies where and why. This evoked a discussion about the emotional attachment certain films held for people. Some of the films chosen were, ‘Cinema Paradiso’, ‘Kung Fu Panda’, ‘Back To The Future’, ‘Riding In Cars With Boys’, E.T., ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’, ‘Mary and Max’ and ‘The Godfather’ It was so nice to feel the passion and energy this brought to the conclusion of todays’ group!

Pop corn with soda and movie shows

Posted in Weekly Blog

Exploring Mental Health Diagnoses

1200px-Mental_Disorder_Silhouette

We posed the question to people in the group as to whether receiving a mental health diagnosis had been a helpful experience. For those who had experienced a correct diagnosis and accessed the right treatment, this was extremely helpful as they could now understand what was happening and what to do to best look after themselves.  For people where it had taken a bit of a journey to make a correct diagnosis, and where treatment for a condition which was not theirs was given, this was unhelpful and distressing and in some cases caused more damage.  We talked a little about the diagnosis of  BPD-Borderline Personality Disorder, this is a bit of a controversial diagnosis; it suggests that there is something wrong with a person’s personality. Using the term ‘disorder’ can leave people feeling upset and stigmatised.  The diagnosis is confusing and little understood; it is a clinical diagnosis based on a collection of symptoms, which are often parallel to the effects of trauma.  However, it is not an actual defined disease or condition, more possibly a reaction to adverse life events, and therefore not a permanent condition or state of being.  

We talked a bit more about how people sometimes felt stigmatised or defined by some of the words used to describe some mental health conditions:

Mental health words

People felt that some of these were quite descriptive, sometimes in an unhelpful way leading to assumptions and stigma and a lack of understanding.  Others felt that the not so descriptive terms could be helpful as they had experienced that if someone genuinely cared and was interested they would ask about the persons mental health condition in a way as to understand how it actually affected them.

Receiving a diagnosis can feel helpful and liberating for some while for others it may be another way of keeping stigma and unhelpful terms used in society alive.