If You Only Buy One Book This Christmas

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So, I wrote a book. It’s available to buy right now as you’re reading this and it would be awfully remiss of me if I didn’t blog about my book in my own actual blog so, here it is.

 

It’s called The Four Thoughts That F*ck You Up (and how to fix them) and it’s a hopefully humorous and insightful (I leave that for you to decide) book about rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT).

 

REBT was invented in the mid 1950s by a psychotherapist called Albert Ellis. It’s actually considered to be the first form of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) to be developed. And it’s brilliant.

 

REBT is the form of CBT that I practice and promote. It follows the philosophy that it is not the events in life that disturb you, but what you tell yourself about those events that disturbs you. So if you are thinking, feeling and acting in ways that you don’t like, but don’t seem to be able to change, it’s not because of the thing, but down to what you tell yourself about the thing, change what it is that you tell yourself and you get to change how you think, feel and act.

 

Now, it’s not saying when stuff happens, that it doesn’t have an influence, because it does but, it’s only an influence. So, even in the face of something difficult, or challenging, or downright negative, you can still remain in control (or regain control if you think you’ve lost it) by looking at what you tell yourself in the face of that difficult, challenging or negative thing.

 

This means that nobody makes you angry, nothing makes you anxious, and nobody and nothing can drive you to drink, drugs, distraction, despair or doughnuts. It’s what you tell yourself about those things and people that does that.

 

REBT says that there is always a thing (or an activating event) and a reaction to that thing (a consequence) but, between the thing and the reaction there will be a specific thought process (known as a belief) that drive the reaction about the thing.

 

So, REBT is all about beliefs. My book is all about the four beliefs that REBT says lie at the heart of psychological disturbance (i.e., that f*ck you up) and the four healthy equivalents that can help keep you calm and rational. It also has a step-by-step guide to help you work on a specific problem

 

Someone recently asked me why I wrote it. That answer could be a whole blog in itself but, briefly, I’ve been in practice now for over 15 years and just for once, when I was finishing therapy with someone and they asked if there is any reading material I could suggest, I wanted to be able to say, “why yes, there is this very book right here.”

 

And now I can.

 

It’s available on Amazon and Waterstones and WHSmith, or directly from the Penguin Random House website and it’s available from all good online bookshops in your country, area and/or territory (so it’s not just available in the UK).

 

I am reliably informed that it is both “super-wise” and “warm and funny.” And it wasn’t my friends that said that. It would make for a good Christmas stocking filler, or last-minute Christmas gift idea. And for those of you looking a little further ahead, it would be a great way of coming up with and sticking to any one of a number of New Year’s resolutions.

 

If you haven’t bought it yet, I hope you consider buying a copy. If you have already bought one, I thank you for doing so. And, either way, I hope you will enjoy it, are enjoying it and/or have enjoyed it.

 

Personally, as much as I enjoyed writing it, I will never forget the thrill of standing in the WHSmith bookshop in Paddington station on the day of publication and seeing out on the shelves already.

 

All the feels.

 

 

 

Life Lessons are not Always Appreciated

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It would appear that symbols of triumph over adversity are sadly lost on some people, even when said symbols are quite literally flourishing right in front of them.

 

I’m lucky in that the housing development I live in is built on the edge of what was once a churchyard. The church is long gone, but the grounds remain, and so what is now a lovely little park actually sits on my doorstep. It features a large lawn, a war memorial, several trees, squirrels galore, park benches and even a picnic table. It also often contains people walking their dogs or just chilling out in the space.

 

It’s certainly a beautiful view from my living room windows and one that I never fail to appreciate.

 

Sadly, in the four years that I’ve lived here several trees have been lost to the storms, felled by ferocious winds that are now a constant feature of the British weather.

 

One such tree was literally split in two by a particular violent episode about two years back. One half of it fell to the floor and one half remained. However, the remnants of its once proud boughs and trunk were, for safety’s sake, quickly chain sawed down to a mere stump that stood a little over waist height.

 

Undaunted by the spate of adversity it had faced, the tree stump decided to carry on regardless. The following spring, tiny shoots poked their way out from the reduced trunk and quickly grew into small branches. Each branch sprouted buds that blossomed and became leaves. For two whole summers, it wore those branches and leaves like a verdant, pagan crown. You can see the results in the picture at the top of this post.

 

I loved that tree stump; it was like a glorious “fuck you” and “bring it on!” to the challenges that life can chuck your way.

 

Sadly, as of today, that stump is no more. Bristol City Council in its infinite wisdom, or lack thereof, decided to butcher it, to take a chainsaw to that glorious symbol of fortitude and reduce it down to a mere plinth.

 

It will neither bud nor blossom again.

 

If asked for a comment, I’m sure some official at the council would say something bland and officious about health and safety.

 

You can survive any predicament in life, except for the things that kill you, and while that tree survived the storms, it could not survive officialdom.

 

Goodbye valiant little tree stump, I will always value the life lessons you taught me even if Bristol City Council will not.

October Mental Health

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It’s cold, it’s wet, winter is on its way and it’s getting darker for longer. Seasonally Adjusted Disorder aside, there’s a lot to feel down about this month but there is also a lot you can do about it as, mental health and wellbeing-wise, there’s quite a bit going on this October. Not only do we have World Mental Health Day, but we also have that perennial NHS stop smoking initiative, Stoptober. Stopping smoking will do wonders, not only for your physical health but also for your mental health. But, what exactly is the link between smoking and mental health?

Most people who smoke say smoking relaxes them but it can’t. It just can’t. Nicotine is a stimulant you see, not a relaxant. Smoke too much and you become over stimulated and more prone, therefore, to stress and anxiety. Studies have also shown that, over time, smokers are more likely to become depressed than non-smokers. 

When you quit the fags, however, you’re more likely to feel more calm and positive. There’s a strong correlation between quitting and improved life satisfaction levels.  You’ll feel more in control for a start. Some studies have suggested that the beneficial effects of stopping smoking on anxiety and depression can equal that of medications often prescribed for the two conditions.

By the by hypnotherapy (of which I am both a proponent and a practitioner) is one of the more successful methods for stopping smoking.

World Mental Health Day, meanwhile, is an opportunity for us all, at both a professional (i.e., at work) and personal level (i.e. in our day-to-day lives), to increase awareness of and decrease the stigma attached to mental health issues.

I personally would like to get to the point where going for a mental health check up is seen as just as important and just as routine as going to the doctors or the dentists.

Held every year on 10 October, the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is suicide (and more importantly) suicide prevention.

Every year 80,000 people around the world take their own life and many more attempt it. Here in the UK, it is the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34 years.

Do you have a mental health advocate where you work? If so, ask them what they have planned for the day.

Or perhaps, think about what you can do to help.

For more information on World Mental Health Day click here and for more information on Stoptober click here.

Happy Talk, Keep Talking Happy Talk

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Almost all human beings have a tendency to focus on the negative. This is a bit of a bummer when you think about it. Enter then, positive psychology, which is the science of thinking, feeling and acting yourself into a happier state of mind. Want to know more? Read more

Men, Mental Health, Barbershops and Talking

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It’s good to talk, isn’t it? Male or female, young or old, it’s good to have someone to turn to in times of trouble, yes? And yet, despite the many inroads made in raising mental health issues, men still struggle with talking about their feelings, or reaching out if they’re in difficulty. Which is problematic to say the least. And, it needs to change, but how? Read more

Mental Health is Normal

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I think one of the most surprising things about psychotherapy is that, despite the many, many strides in mental health awareness, more than a fair few people are still loathe to admit that they just might have mental health issues. But, guess what? Having a mental health issue is completely normal. Read more

Stop Saying Sorry (unless you mean it)

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Going against what Elton John famously sang, sorry doesn’t seem to be the hardest word at all. In fact, it’s thrown around every day and everywhere with a wild and empty abandon. And that is a sad, sad situation. Read more

Stress: take back control

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Earlier this month, I talked about stress and how, according to a massive survey last year, three out of every four Brits are feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope. I also mentioned that therapy could help you to regain control. And it can, only not always in the way that you think.  But, what does that mean exactly? Read more

Stress: It’s out of control

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Stress is a big problem the world over but, here in the UK, we seem all seem to be that little bit extra stressed, and in ways that have nothing to do with Brexit. Read more

There Is No Try!

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Yoda said it best when he told Luke Skywalker in the movie The Empire Strikes Back, “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” But, what did he mean? What was the lesson, and why was it an important one?  Read more