Inside Your Head Episode 10

My introduction focuses on a recent lived experience in which a line in a film triggered a distant memory loaded with overpowering emotions. I describe what happened, why this memory was so overwhelming, and the tactics I have used to soothe myself and cope with this incident in the hope that hearing my experience might one day be useful to you.

The main interview is with Orna Ross,. Not only is she an accomplished and award-winning author and poet, she is also the Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), a worldwide organisation that brings together self-publishing creatives to support each other and gain access to useful services such as graphic designers, illustrators, editors, publishing outlets like Amazon and IngramSpark and legal experts.

But more than this, Orna is someone who is steeped in the lore of creativity and flow, and she draws upon her own experience, eastern philosophy and scientific techniques to help people to release their own creativity and make a success of it via self-publishing routes, bypassing traditional ‘gatekeepers’. We mention works like Flow and Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler, as well as Orna’s own project that is under development.

Finally, the Relaxation on the Beach guided meditation uses a relaxing body scan and focuses on the breath before helping you to draw upon happy memories to enble you face difficult times in the future.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Orna can be found on Twitter @OrnaRoss , her website is https://www.ornaross.com and her Patreon is https://www.patreon.com/OrnaRoss

Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Flow: The Psychology of Happiness by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.

 

Inside Your Head Episode 9

In my introduction, I explore a link I have realised exists between mindfulness, Transactional Analysis and Attachment Theory as ways to regulate our emotions. I also read out a wonderful thread I found on Twitter by Miranda @mir_and_a entitled How to Stop Out of Control Emotions. (Thanks for granting permission, Miranda!)

My interview is with the amazing Kari Olsen-Porthouse who creates choirs and singing groups. Kari has had an amazing career path, including working as a primary school teacher and working in an advertising agency. Now she runs her own business going into other companies and creating choirs amongst the staff members to raise morale. Following a bout of Covid, she was inspired to thank the NHS staff who had helped her and set about creating The Liberty Singers for ICU staff who have been at the front line during the pandemic, many of whom suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues as a result of the constant strain of the work they do.

As well as creating the choirs (which have members throughout the UK who meet regularly over Zoom), Kari has masterminded the recording of a single to raise money for charity: you can listen to Every Breath You Take (We Watch Over You) on Spotify and other music sources. kari is a truly inspiring person, and you can get in touch via her Twitter account @libertysinger73 .

Our Relaxation on the Beach guided meditation is all about exercising mindfulness in difficult conversations. We explore various ways in which you can learn to respond, rather than react to what the other person is saying, as well as learning to truly listen and pay attention to what is being said.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Transactional Analysis (Wikipedia)
I’m Ok, You’re Ok: A practical guide to Transactional Analysis by Thomas A. Harris M.D.

Attachment Theory (Wikipedia)
Attached: Are you Anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the science of adult attachment can help you find – and keep – love by Dr Amire Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller

Mindfulness (Wikipedia)
Calm – you can try their meditations and mindfulness guides for free. There are a host of books on meditation and mindfulness out there, but I actually find listening to an app or audiobook easier. If you’re skeptical, start with my (free) Relaxation on the Beach Episode 1 available here, or a simple book like 10% Happier by Dan Harris.
You might also find sites like The Mindfulness Meditation Institute site useful.

Kari Olsen-Porthouse and the Liberty Singers

Every Breath You Take by the ICU Liberty Singers

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.

 

Inside Your Head Episode 8

In my introduction, I talk about the necessity of exercising caution when reading self-help books, especially those penned by big-name celebrities and overnight successes. Even if written with a genuine desire to help others, the author may look back on their path to success with confirmation bias (or survivorship bias) which can seriously skew the usefulness of the text. An important thing to realise about the apparent evidence of their route to success is that correlation does not equal causation (you can read some amusing examples here and a very good explanation in connection with data here). And of course, remember that if the advice in these books worked all the time, there would be a great many more millionaires and happy marriages than there actually are.

I also give a clue about the subject matter for the next episode’s introduction, inspired by a conversation with a friend.

The main interview is with Dr Roger Bretherton from the University of Lincoln with whom I discuss the growing field of Character Strength and Positive Psychology. Roger does most of his work addressing businesses and large organisations, helping them to get the best from their employees but also, critically, forcing the management to take responsibility for how their own strengths and attitudes affect the organisation and employee performance.

There is an online questionnaire that you might like to take (I did) at The VIA Institute on Character website – like me, you can just get the free report if you don’t fancy paying for a more in-depth version. But I think you might find the results fascinating, and it will certainly help you to get the most from my conversation with Roger.

We also talk about the differences between traditional psychology, and its approach which focuses on repairing damage, and the new and growing field of positive psychology, which aims to focus on the character strengths and positive aspects of the client/patient’s personality, enabling them to build greater resilience and to gain greater overall satisfaction from life.

Our conversation also touches briefly on different approaches to spirituality and even imposter syndrome! I really enjoyed this conversation with Roger and I think you will find him a stimulating guest to listen to.

In the Relaxation on the Beach guided meditation, we work on forgiveness towards others for their failings and transgressions that have hurt us, and we also seek forgiveness for ourselves for any hurt we may have caused others, however inadvertently. Be aware that it might be a good idea to think about less difficult situations to begin with, working up to tackling issues with more difficult or important people in your life after trying this a couple of times.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Confirmation bias
Survivorship bias
Mental Floss: 10 Times Correlation Was Not Causation
Towards Data Science: 4 Reasons Why Correlation Does NOT Imply Causation

Dr Roger Bretherton from the University of Lincoln
Questionnaire on the VIA Institute of Character website
The God Lab: 8 spiritual experiments you can try at homePositive Psychology (Wikipedia)

 

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.

 

Inside Your Head Episode 7

In the introduction, I talk about one of my passions – the wonders of language – speculating on how language came into being at all. After all, without language, almost nothing else in modern life would be possible and language has been called ‘the tool that unlocks all other tools’. I venture into neuroscience, pinpointing which parts of the brain are responsible for handling language, and I take a brief look at the study of how language – even just little grunts and ‘non words’ – can be crucial in the way we communicate with each other, as an introduction to the subject of Conversational Analysis.

The main interview is with Deidré Wallace, a Harley Street psychotherapist and relationship counsellor. She explains how she doesn’t offer relationship advice, but offers relationship knowledge instead. She explains how problems in relationships can usually be traced back to our childhoods and how our parents behaved and their values. I found particularly valuable information on her blog about abandonment issues, and how that can affect us in numerous ways in later life. These issues can begin in very early childhood, and Deidré explains the concept of “The Gaze”, and how as soon as the immediate mother/child bond is broken, this can potentially initiate a series of behaviours between mother and child that can have lifelong effects. We also discuss how we need to be aware that these issues can affect our career choices, as well as our relationship choices. Deidré has an extensive blog at https://relationshipknowledge.com where you can find out a great deal more about these topics.

Finally, our Relaxation on the Beach guided meditation focuses on gratitude, and how even the little things in life can inspire us to feel better about ourselves and the world.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Deidré Wallace’s blog

Deidré on Twitter

Deidré on Facebook

Harvey Sacks Social Science & Conversational Analysis by David Silverman

Language and the Mind audiobook course

The One-Minute Gratitude Journal by Brenda Nathan

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.

 

Inside Your Head Episode 6

My introduction focuses on stories, their place in our culture and importance, and the stories we tell ourselves, especially in relationships. We need to be careful that we are aware that we can be acting as scriptwriter and director in our own life movie playing in our heads, but the other participants may not want to follow our script!

The main interview is with Michael Peterson, an ex-Canadian army chaplain, now an Anglican vicar, whose work has dealt with a wide range of issues. In the army, he provided pastoral care for families, but also counselling for military personnel who served abroad – including in Afghanistan and Libya – who suffered life-changing injuries and PTSD, though he remains impressed at how stoic many of them were.

But Michael’s primary story addresses the loss of his wife to ovarian cancer over a period of more than two years, and the additional challenges created by her having Type 1 Diabetes and other complications. [WARNING: some parts of the interview with Michael deal with difficult subject matter – cancer, medical detail, death and grief – that some listeners may find upsetting.] But both he and his late wife faced this terrible situation with dignity, their faith being a cornerstone of their resilience. Michael also talks about the fact that having acted as a counsellor himself for many years, he found himself reaching out for therapy to help him cope during this difficult time.

But his story is not all doom and gloom, and it has what can only be described as a surprisingly happy ending. I’m sure you’ll agree that Michael is a remarkable guest, and I was incredibly impressed with how he managed to tell his harrowing story in such a calm and measured way. (And this was the first time he had ever related these events to a stranger.)

Finally, I pick up the subject of stories again in my Relaxation on the Beach meditation, and how we can use compassion to free ourselves from rumination and anxiety.

Resources and bonus material for this show

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

Into the Woods by John Yorke

The Writer’s Journey by Chrisopher Vogler

Resilient by Rick Hanson

Royal Canadian Army Chaplain Corps (Wikipedia)

What Exactly Does a Military Chaplain Do? (ChristianWeek)

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.