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 5

I open the show by reviewing Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch PH.D. in the introduction. Guy Winch makes the point that whilst almost all of us have at least a basic idea of how to treat physical wounds or injuries, whether minor household mishaps or even more serious ones, such as if we witness an accident and step in to help, when it comes to emotional wounds, many of us don’t even know where to begin and are left floundering and miserable – and we can even make things worse if we’re not careful.

Examining seven types of emotional wound – rejection, loneliness, loss & trauma, guilt, rumination, failure and low self-esteem – Winch provides a step-by-step guide as to how we should apply both immediate and longer-term treatment to salve these psychological injuries, and is careful to point out how to spot whether a problem is so serious that the ‘patient’ is better off seeking professional help, rather than attempting to solve the problem themselves. This, of course, also applies to friends, colleagues and loved ones who may be well-intentioned in wanting to help, but may not be the best person to apply the treatments.

In order to show how the book works, I take an in-depth look at the section on rejection, because it is both the most common form of emotional wound, inflicts the most pain on the patient (and that pain has been proven to be real, visceral pain) and also something that impacted me personally during my own breakdown.

In the main part of the show, I interview Clare Josa whose latest book Ditching Imposter Syndrome is the culmination of her journey through a varied career that has included engineering, market research, yoga and meditation amongst other things. A remarkable woman who earned  FIrst Class degree in Engineering after writing her dissertation in German (!), Clare became one of the first people in Europe to qualify in Six Sigma quality control, and went on to become Head of Market Research at Dyson. It was during her time as an engineer, however, that Clare experienced her own serious bout of imposter syndrome, and overcoming this psychological barrier has latterly become her life’s work.

The author of eight books ranging from novels, through meditation and mindfulness guides to volumes about personal and business success, Clare is a sought-after public speaker, an NLP Trainer and led the EU VAT campaign that managed to break all the rules and actually overturn legislation imposed by the European Union in 2015-16 (which is when Clare and I first met). Clare brings real science to everything she does, debunking myths and making the mysterious simple. Her unique approach manages to combine factors such as ancient wisdom and the latest neuroscience, creativity and ‘getting out of your own way’, so you’re in for an exciting ride covering many of the bases that Inside Your Head was created to examine!

Clare is very much someone who ‘walks the walk’ in her own life, and is a charismatic and enthusiastic guest – I’m sure you’ll enjoy listening to her.

As usual, the show ends with another “Relaxation on the Beach” meditation and this time, I introduce the technique of finding calm by ‘noting’ your thoughts and letting them go, rather than becoming embroiled in them.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure and Other everyday Hurts by Guy Winch

Clare Josa’s website

The Ditching Imposter Syndrome website

The Ditching Imposter Syndrome podcast

Clare’s books on Amazon

Clare on LinkedIn

Clare on Twitter

Clare on Facebook

Six Sigma (Wikipedia)

NLP (Wikipedia)

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.

 

Inside Your Head Episode 3

The show opens with my introduction to the subject of self-compassion, focusing on the remarkable book Self Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Kristen Neff PhD.

The significance of the book is that it enables me to use my own experience of the last year to highlight the danger of self-loathing and self-criticism that can lead to one making desperate and potentially irreversible choices – in short, I nearly committed suicide early in 2021 and this is the book that, along with the care of a few loving friends, helped set me on the road to recovery. Though I can only give the barest introduction to the subject here, I hope that I have managed to convey just how powerful a tool self-compassion can be in healing emotional wounds and banishing the demons of self-criticism, making us not only better equipped to care for ourselves, but to care for others too.

The interview with Samantha Stockin brings a contrast to the first two shows which featured experts in particular fields. Our guest today reveals her own lived experience as someone who suffers mental health challenges, and even more extraordinary, explores the notion of inter-generational depression, by which the dreadful experiences of earlier generations may well have ‘wounded’ the family’s DNA such that mental health problems become prevalent in later generations.

But Samantha is also an inspiring individual because she acts as a ‘Mental Health Champion’ in a large bank, offering emotional first aid to colleagues who are suffering mental health challenges. I’m very grateful to Samantha for having the courage to talk so openly about her issues in a way that will, I hope, be of value to you, the listener.

Finally, the Relaxation on the Beach meditation deals this time with self-compassion, taking what I discussed in the introduction and applying it in a way that enables you to cope with difficult situations in your life, both by recognising that our problems are part of our common humanity and finding a voice within ourselves to soothe what ails us.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Self Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Kristen Neff PhD

Compassion for the Self-Critic

Transgenerational Trauma (Wikipedia)

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.