I’ll start with a postscript to my recent posts. My wife and I have just returned from a weekend visiting our daughter in Yorkshire. Whilst there we visited the Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford.
One exhibition had a large display of news photographs – including one from the Albert Hall, London in 1930. A public meeting was held by family, friends and other supporters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, five days after his death. The photograph depicts an empty chair, left vacant for Conan Doyle in the expectation he would communicate with the meeting in some way. He didn’t.
My other point relates to my last post about the manager of the England football team. Apart from speculating about Britney’s suitability, I mentioned how the sacked manager, Steve McClaren was being vilified in the media. The main thread of the post was “You canâ€™t really care what others say“. Since writing the post I read one of the more reasoned articles that looked at why McClaren had been a poor manager.
Simon Barnes, in The Times, said:-
“McClaren’s main failing was he courted popularity first and success second. This warped priority could only lead to disaster. One decision after another was based on his desire to be liked. That made him a manager seeking to avoid blame, and that is the same as avoiding responsibility.
As I said in the previous post, some of the successful people (such as politicians) are also the most disliked. Fortunately most of us don’t have to contend with being criticised or disliked by the media. But if we are in the habit of worrying what of others think or say about us, it can be as painful as if it was in the papers.
A commenter on Perhaps Britney Should manage England says he cannot just “switch off”. As I have said in thinking – automatic thoughts, we get in the habit of thinking negatively from an early age so as we become adults our automatic thoughts are negative. And like any habit, the more entrenched it has become, the more difficult it can be to change.
There are two basic techniques to challenge negative self talk. One is distraction. This simply means mentally switching away when you find yourself listening to this negative inner voice. One technique is to cause some physical disturbance – clap your hands, flick or pinch your wrist (e.g. use an elastic/rubber band), say “no” or “stop” out loud.
This may sound silly or ineffective. But ultimately you are trying to disrupt a mental habit that is totally non productive and quite destructive. Distraction itself will take practice and can be reinforced by practicing focusing your attention on other things. If you’re sat in front of the TV and find you’re listening to your self talk rather than the TV, keep bringing your attention back to the show you are watching. Or really focus on some aspect of your environment or what you are doing. For example, if you’re out walking look closely at the flowers or trees, pick out details you normally don’t notice. Be aware of all the different sensations your senses are picking up.
I’ll return to this and look at the second technique in the next post.