Sunday, December 20, 2015

Its not your fault but it is your responsibility

Imagine this.  Your grandfather bequeaths you his pet dog.You have always liked the dog. It's cuddly, it's great with kids, it can do tricks.  And you have to take it, it was your grandfather's dying wish.   There's just one tricky thing about the dog. He hates cats, and given the chance will kill them.

You take the dog, You didn't really have a choice, You are now in possession of a dangerous dog.

Is it your fault? No, it was your grandfather's dying wish that you look after the dog well.
Is it your responsibility to make sure the dog doesn't kill cats? What do you think?
Is it your responsibility to keep the dog on a lead, to keep a look out for cats, and go in the other direction whenever you have the dog out for a walk and spot a cat?

How does this connect with you?

We all have tricky brains. Our brain has evolved to keep us safe from prehistoric dangers so  we are all prone to be more angry and anxious (to name but two tricky emotions) than is often helpful.
Many of you may  have had tricky lives so far. You didn't choose to be born into the family you were born into. You didn't choose to  have all the difficult experiences you have had. You didn't choose to have a tricky brain.

It's not your fault.

But it is your responsibility.

It's  not your fault  but it is your problem. It's your responibility to learn how to deal with a tricky brain and tricky emotions.
The dog owner should not  blame herself for owning a dangerous dog. You should not  blame yourself for owning a tricky brain.
But the dog owner should accept responsibility to keep everyone  safe.  You should  try to learn about and develop ways of keeping yourself and others safe.

It is your responsibility to try to become a better version of yourself.

Yoda would say  that's it's your responsibility to do more than just try ....

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Modern Stoic Meditations #4: The Serenity Prayer

You may have already encountered this saying, the Serenity Prayer, perhaps on a tablemat in a souvenir shop or as the prayer associated with AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). You may have written it off either as a clich├ęd truism or as applicable only to alcoholics. If so, can I ask you to now reread the Serenity Prayer, now, slowly, as if you were reading it the first time? You may end up believing, like me, that far from offering trite advice it contains the essence of Stoic wisdom. You just have to  look at the first sentence of Epictetus's Handbook to discover the Stoic roots of the Serenity Prayer.

Why do I like the Serenity Prayer so much? Let’s look at each of the three parts  in turn.

First, have the serenity to accept what you can’t change. Think about some things that you really, really can’t change. Perhaps the fact you weren’t born a millionaire, or that the world is not always a fair place. What is the best attitude you can take to these realities? To get angry? No, you’ll only make a bad situation worse. To try to put things right? By definition, no, because these are thing that you can’t change, so it will just be wasted energy. Accepting the situation and not letting it disturb your peace of mind is the only appropriate response.

What about things that you can (and should) change? Although by definition these are things we can change, this doesn’t mean it’s easy, popular or risk-free to do so. It’s not easy to change oneself into being a more patient person (but it can be done). It is not always popular to campaign for something you believe in (but things can change as a result). We can change these things, but we need courage to do so.

Finally, and above all, we need the wisdom to tell the difference between the things we can change and the things we can’t change. We can’t change the fact that we were not born a millionaire, but we can put effort into becoming richer, or change our attitude to not being so wealthy. We can’t make the world a completely fair place, but we can make the world a fairer place. Usually there will be some aspects of a situation we can change, and some aspects we can’t. We need to distinguish which is which and then change courageously or accept serenely as appropriate

What I like most about the Serenity Prayer is how easy it is to recall and apply in difficult situations. Such a situation happened to me a while ago, a few days before I was due to go abroad to a conference I really wanted to go to. Having finished lunch in a restaurant, I checked in my trouser pocket for my wallet –only to discover that it wasn’t there. I looked next in my jacket pocket – no wallet. Neither was it in my briefcase or anywhere else. I tried to think back to when I last saw it, and recalled having it on entering a train station a few hours before. I also remembered someone bumping into me rather carelessly (or so I thought at the time) soon after. I guessed the rest. What to do? It must have been several hours ago that he stole my wallet. Thoughts began to race through my mind. What else did I have in my wallet? Had he already bankrupted me by using my credit cards? If only I’d taken a different journey…. If only I’d checked my pocket after he’d bumped into me… Maybe I’d have to cancel my conference trip …

Luckily, before these thoughts got completely out of control, I remembered the Serenity Prayer. I had to accept with serenity what I could not change. Well, I could not change the fact that my wallet had been stolen. There was no point beating myself up or fretting about these unchangeables – that would cause me to be even more upset and also stop me thinking about what I could change. So, what could I change? Well, obviously I could limit my liability – first thing was to phone the bank. Then I could arrange for the credit card company to see if they could send me new cards before my travel – there was just sufficient time for them to do so. In future, I resolved, I would be more alert to people bumping into me. Using the Serenity Prayer helped me deal constructively with this mini-crisis, and it has helped me many times since. Forget the table mat image and AA associations and focus on the underlying Stoic message and it can be of great assistance to you too.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Modern Stoic Meditations #3: Stoic advice on how to be more self-controlled

On Monday, we looked at how Stoicism can help us be more compassionate by using negative visualisation to imagine difficult people, then remembering how we are all fallible human beings to help us be more compassionate and less irritable.

Yesterday we cited Epictetus’s dictum “Persist and Resist”, focusing on how Stoicism can help us be more persistent – in modern parlance, show more “grit”. Today’s modern Stoic meditation will look at the other half of Epictetus’s dictum, and help us all to be more self-controlled.

How many of us can honestly say we are very self-controlled? According to research by the Values in Action Institute (VIA), not many, as self-control comes out near the bottom of the 24 mini-virtues (“strengths”) in terms of how much responders say they own it.  Yet, as Walter Mischel’s best-seller The Marshmellow Test, shows, it is a very important virtue – strongly linked with achievement, well-being and health.

So how can Stoicism help us be more self-controlled?

The first important thing to remember, according to the Stoics, is that self-control is within our power.

As Marcus Aurelius reminds us,  “You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” (Meditations). 

So why is it that we so often aren’t self-controlled? Too often we succumb to  thoughts that allow us to make an exception, just this once. We might use that most  non-Stoic saying  of Oscar Wilde “I can resist everything except temptation” to rationalise our action.“

"Nonsense!” reply the Stoics, "You can resist temptation, you are just allowing unhelpful thoughts to rule you. Instead, be ruled by thoughts about the benefits of self-control. Remind yourself of the benefits of self-control and the  problems with the lack of self-control. If you are on a diet, bring to mind the benefits of losing weight.  If you are about to get angry, remember the problems that anger has caused you in the past."
 All this is very good advice. Self-control is within your power. Thoughts that might lead you into temptation can be resisted.  

Seneca has one more helpful piece of advice. "The greatest remedy for anger is delay." Again, modern psychology supports the Stoics. Taking a number of slow breaths is a very useful way to control any impulse – it calms the body down and gives time for reason to convince us to do the right thing.

Let’s put all of this together and imagine being self-controlled like a good Stoic.  So close your eyes and think of an area of life where you would like to be more self-controlled – it could be regarding food, drink or showing irritation. Next imagine that temptation comes your way and practice saying to yourself “Resist, Resist.” If you notice thoughts tempting you not to resist, say to yourself “I have the power to resist.”  Picture vividly in your mind’s eye the worst problems that might be caused by your lack of self-control. Then think of the benefits to you if you are self-controlled. Finally, take a few deep breaths, and imagine yourself over-coming unhelpful desires.  Like an actor learning her lines,  you will eventually learn to perfect your script to  help you be more self-controlled.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Modern Stoic Meditations #2: Persist, Persist

According to Favorinus, Epictetus would also say that there were two vices much blacker and more serious than the rest: lack of persistence and lack of self-control. The former means we cannot bear or endure hardships that we have to endure, the latter means that we cannot resist pleasures or other things we ought to resist. ‘Two words,’ he says, ‘should be committed to memory and obeyed by alternately exhorting and restraining ourselves, words that will ensure we lead a mainly blameless and untroubled life.’ These two words, he used to say, were ‘persist and resist’.”

Epictetus, Fragment 10, “Discourses and Selected Writings”

Anyone who says that philosophers are too obscure or complicated should be made to read that quote.  Stoicism couldn’t be simpler. We must commit the words “Persist and Resist” to memory and keep saying them to ourselves. Move over mindfulness,  recite the “persist and resist” mantra instead.

Contemporary psychologists  have vindicated the importance of persisting and resisting.  Psychologist Angela Duckworth has led research on grit  - which she defines as the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals.  Walter Mischel, famous for his Marshmallow Test,  has for many years argued that self-control –the  quality that allows you to stop yourself from doing things you want to do but that might not be in your best interest - is key to achievement and well-being, So when Epictetus tells us that persisting and resisting are key, he is clearly on to something.

In today’s meditation I will focus on persistence, and how Stoicism help us persist. 

We already know that we can use it as a mantra, how else can Stoicism help us?
At the time when we feel like giving up, we can train ourselves to become aware of the negative  thoughts that make us feel that way. We can then remind ourselves  “This negative thought is  just an impression in my mind and not an objective fact like it claims to be.”  For example, if I am trying to write an article and the thought 
“You will never finish it” comes into my mind”, I can respond by reminding myself that "This is just a thought, not a fact."

As well as negative thoughts, people often give up because of a setback. Here the Stoic advice to think of what the sage would do in this situation is valuable. When it comes to dealing with setbacks, I really admire the attitudes of Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison. Churchill said "Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." Thomas Edison suggested "Negative results are just what I want. They're just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don't." When asked by a journalist how he had coped with failing in his first 10000 attempts to invent the lightbulb he responded “I   had not failed. I had just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”  

The Stoics give us one more relevant piece of wisdom in the analogy of the archer. An archer should take accurate aim, and then accept  fate if the arrow gets blown off course. In the same way we should focus on what is under our control and not get discouraged if fate prevents success. We should control the controllables.

So the Stoics give us four excellent pieces of advice when it comes to persisting and developing grit. We can use the mantra “persist”, we can challenge the validity of discouraging thoughts, we can reframe failure in the same way as the sages on success and failure do, and we can focus on what we can control and leave the rest to fate.

Let’s spend a few moments using a visualisation to help us build up the virtue of persistence.

So think of something you want to achieve – it could be completing Stoic Week, or changing career, or getting fitter – or something else that is important to you.  Imagine trying to achieve this and then something getting in the way. Now in your mind’s eye imagine saying to yourself “Persist, Persist”. Next imagine a negative thought getting in the way – perhaps “I’ll try again next year when circumstances are better”. Remind yourself that this thought is just an opinion, it’s not an objective fact. Reflect, like Thomas Edison did, on what you can learn from this setback. Perhaps you’ve learnt another way not to do it! Finally think of something you can do that is under your control to take you in the right direction. Imagine doing it, whilst repeating to yourself–persist, persist, persist. Then imagining yourself persisting until you succeed.

Tomorrow we will look at the second part of Epictetus’s mantra- Resist – how to be more self-controlled.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Modern Stoic Meditations #1 - Stoic Compassion

This week as part of Stoic Week I'm going to be writing my own set of Stoic Mediations, one meditation per day.  Each day I will begin with a Stoic quote, and then reflect on how it can help us all  live wisely and happily.

 I'm starting today with a famous quote from Marcus Aurelius

Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him, For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away. 

Marcus Aurelius Meditations, Book 2 

So we should all  remind ourselves that, like Marcus, we will encounter all sorts of people today.  On our way to work, we are quite likely to come across unthoughtful drivers or inconsiderate commuters. We can't control them. But we can control our response to them. If we manage our response to us well, then they don't have the power to make us behave like them. They don't have the power to make us not be anything but the best versions of ourselves.

Yet we know that unless we are on guard, the rude driver or the inconsiderate person we come across in our work may  upset us.  Help is at hand. We can remind ourselves that they do not mean to be like this. It is because they know no better. Like us, they are struggling, fallible human beings.   

When I think of everyone I encounter as a fellow  fallible human beings - a  brother or a  sister - I feel more compassionate. I could well be behaving like them if I had their genes, or their parents, or their education. 

A negative visualisation can help Marcus and the rest of us  here. So let's spend a few moments imagining things going wrong today. Let's imagine in our mind's eye people not behaving how we wish them to behave. Then imagine ourselves dealing  well with the situation, remembering that like us they  are struggling fallible human beings. 

Today I will  focus on what I can control. I can't control other people or their behaviour but I can exercise my capacity to be wise and virtuous.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Stoic Week and Stoicon Coming soon - sign up now!

It's almost time for Stoic Week again, and this year there at least 3 good reasons to take part.

First, you can join thousands of others worldwide aiming to live like a Stoic for a week.
  This year the focus is on the philosopher-Emperor Marcus Aurelius, whose Meditations helped him in the battlefields and have inspired many since. Stoic Week is taking place this year from Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th November and you can register now.  As well as a revised handbook we are encouraging participants to blog their own Stoic meditations, Marcus Aurelius-style. 

The second reason to take part in Stoic Week is the Stoicon taking place.   Jules Evans has put together an impressive programme.

Date: 7th November 2015
Location: The Francis Bancroft building, Queen Mary University Mile End road campus. See map here – it’s building number 31.
Registration starts at 8.15 AM and the first talk commences at 9 AM.

Cick here to book your ticket. Signing up on the LPC websitewill not get you entry or a ticket! Tickets cost £30 for the day including lunch and the evening drinks. 
The Schedule 

9.30 -  9.40 - Welcome

9.40 - 10.00 Massimo Pigliucci : How I became a Stoic after a midlife crisis
Well-known skeptic philosopher Massimo Pigliucci will talk about his decision to become a Stoic earlier this year. Why did he ‘convert’, how does Stoicism relate to his atheism, and what does it practically mean to be a Stoic?
10.00 - 10.20 William Irvine:  Stoic life-tests and how to pass them
William Irvine, author of The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, will talk about how Stoicism can help all of us cope with the daily tests that life throws our way.
10.20 - 10.30 - Q&A
10.30 - 11.00 Bettany Hughes: The geniuses of the ancient world
Bettany Hughes, author of The Hemlock Cup and presenter of a recent BBC series on ancient philosophy, will discuss the similarities between Greek and Eastern philosophies, and the differences.
Break 11.00 - 11.30
11.30 - 11.45 Donald Robertson: Stoicism and CBT
Donald Robertson, therapist and author of The Philosophy of CBT, will look at how Stoicism inspired Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and what CBT left out. Could a more explicitly Stoic form of CBT be applied in clinical settings?
11.45 - 12.15 Vincent Deary: What are the problems with modern Stoicism
Vincent Deary, therapist and author of How We Are, will suggest some of the ways the revival of Stoicism could be unhelpful, particularly in an over-emphasis on resilience and self-reliance.
12.15 - 1 Discussion
Lunch in the Octagon Hall 1 - 2 (including poster session, book-shop etc)
Workshops  2-3, then 3.15 - 4.15 
***Attendees will get the chance to attend two of the below****

Professor Chris Gill: Marcus Aurelius and Stoic virtue
Chris Gill will examine the idea of virtue in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and the core Stoic idea that virtue is sufficient for happiness. Can this be true today?
Dr John Sellars: The Stoic worldview: physics, religion, science
In this workshop we shall discuss what the Stoics say about Nature, the relationship between their physics and ethics, the extent to which Stoicism might be compatible with religious belief or contemporary science, and whether we can separate their practical life guidance from the wider claims they make about the nature of what exists.
Elen Buzare: Body, Soul and Spirit in Stoic and Christian meditation
Writer Elen Buzare will explore Stoic meditation and compare it to the ‘hesychast’ meditation tradition in Orthodox Christianity
Tim LeBon: How to become virtuous - Lessons from Compassionate Mind Training
In this practical workshop, therapist Tim LeBon will explore how ancient philosophy and modern third wave psychology (especially Compassionate Focussed Therapy) can combine to help us become for virtuous in our daily lives
Professor Sherman Clark: ‘How now Horatio’ - Stoicism and friendship
Stoicism, while it can seem bleak, can not merely help conquer distress but can also highlight the possibility of a deep—and deeply human—form of joy, through friendship.
Gabriele Galluzo: Aristotle and happiness
Professor Galluzo will look at Aristotelian philosophy, its conception of eudaimonia or happiness, and how this philosophy of the good life differs from Stoicism, putting more of an emphasis on the necessity of relationships, money and political freedom for happiness. Is Aristotle’s model of the good life more realistic than the Stoics?
Donald Robertson: Stoic visualization techniques   
In this workshop, we will explore and try out Stoic visualization techniques, including the ‘View From Above’, and how they helped people transform their perspective and alter their emotional state. Does it still work today?
Jules Evans: Platonic ecstasy in a material world
Jules will examine the idea of going beyond reason to achieve ecstasy - union with the divine - in the philosophy of Plato and Neo-Platonists like Plotinus, and how this idea is at the heart of Christian mysticism, from Augustine to Thomas Traherne and beyond. How hard is it for non-monks to achieve this sort of ecstasy?And how credible is Plato's dualistic theory of matter and soul today? 
Final key-note:  Emily Wilson on Seneca 4.30 - 5
Emily Wilson, author of Seneca: A Life, will explore the paradoxical and controversial figure of Seneca - Stoic ascetic, and one of the richest men in Nero’s court. Was he really a ‘proper Stoic’, or was it just talk?
Drinks In the Octagon Hall of Queen Mary, University of London 5.30 - 7

Click HERE to book your tickets!

The third reason to take part in Stoic Week is to help us in our research to build an empirlcal base for Modern Stoicism. Over the last 3 years we've learnt that taking part in Stoic Week is on average associated with a significant increase in well-being, and also that many Stoic attitudes and behaviour are positively associated with flourishing.  This year we are expanding the research so it will be a great help if you take part and fill in the questionnaires before and after Stoic week.

Friday, September 25, 2015

What you doing Thursday evening? How about learning to live a flourishing, happy life with me at City University?

This Thursday we start our 10 week exploration of how psychology can help you and everyone lead a happier, more successful, more meaningful and flourishing life. Yes folks, it's positive psychology.
There are still places left, see details below about how to enrol

for more details

Sunday, September 20, 2015

3 Things I Learnt from my stay in Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies

I recently returned from a really great holiday  in the Canadian Rockies, Vancouver and Vancouver Island. The positive psychologist in me isn't satisfied with just enjoying the holiday; he also wants to take stock and reflect on what I can learn from it. So here, whilst the memories are still fresh, are good things about Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies

1) Connect with nature

Canada is the second largest country in the world (yes its bigger than the USA, Australia and China) yet there are only eleven countries less densely populated.  So mankind hasnt spoilt things for other species - and long may that last. We saw black bears. elk, eagles, kingfishers in the Rockies - it was wonderful  to see these beautiful beasts thriving in their natural habitat. But best of all was seeing some grizzly bears in Bute Inlet. 

A grizzly bear in Bute Inlet, Canada

Sure enough, we saw some grizzlies - 10 in all  including mother and cubs. The bears have learnt to ignore humans, because they have realised that - here, at least- we aren't a threat. Our guide told us how he had seen a young cub being whacked by his mother's paw when he got anxious about nearby humans- conditioning him into not doing it next time. The thing that the grizzlies should be looking out for is male bears. because if an adult male gets the opportunity it will murder the cubs. Why would it do that I hear you asking?  So the female will come on heat again - it doesn't reflect well on the male of the species, does it?

Salmon Fishing Grizzly Bear Style

The reason the bears can be seen so easily is that they have gone fishin' - there is a plentiful suppy of summon,.This is how to catch  salmon - no rod required. 

2) Feel Awe
“Awesome” was a word we heard a lot on the trip. We  found ourselves saying it too  about the  wide open spaces, encounters with wild animals, the mountains, the lakes and Canada in general

Takakkaw falls near Field. Canada

I felt most in awe at Takakkaw Falls near Field in  British Columbia. The waterfall is aptly named - Takakkaw literally means "it is magnificent". I couldn't help thinking of  Viktor Frankl's reflection 

Let us ask a mountain-climber who has beheld the alpine sunset and is so moved by the splendor of nature that he feels cold shudders running down his spine – let us ask him whether after such an experience his life can ever again seem wholly meaningless

One of many awesome Canadian lakes where you can go kayaking or canooing

3) Friendliness

We found Canada and its people extremely friendly. There was of course the  occasional exception. Step forward the lady at Immigration for the "Grumpiest person we met on our holiday" award.
Friendliness was epitomised by a  smiling "You're welcome" response to our many "Thank yous" Yes, I know it's an American habit, and sometimes may have been for tips Yet it made me feel welcome - much more than  the typical  British "No Problem" which automatically makes me think there might have been a problem.
Almost  everyone was friendly - even in the large city of Vancouver which would definitely go into my top three cities to revisit (Copenhagen and Prague being the other two).

So, I hear you say, thank you for sharing thoughts about your nice holiday, how can it help us?
 Well, you could do worse than consider a similar trip -  our itineray was arranged by and Mark did a really good job in designing a full, varied and enjoyable holiday.

More generally,  when something good happens, it's a good habit to reflect on the underlying values - and then aim to satisfy these values more in other contexts. The three values I think most contributed to it being nice were those described above - connecting with nature, feeling awe and friendliness.
So how can you get more of these without going all the way to Canada? Well, you can find pretty awesome things in London if you are looking for them - think of the bridges over the Thames, Westminster Abbey, the paintings in our galleries. The British Countryside has its own charm and delight - many is the time when going to one of my favourite haunts, Pewley Down, I say "Gosh, if you were on holiday here wouldn't you think it was wonderful!

Pewley Down, Guildford - a pretty awesome place ...

Hope you found these thoughts helpful - and, if so, of course you are  most welcome!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

London 1 day Practical Workshop in CBT Sunday 27/09/15

There has been a lot of enthusiasm to learn more about CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) following the 1 day and 10 week courses I run. For the first time, next Sunday we are doing a one day skills follow up at the City Lit. There are still places left, so if you know some CBT but would like to gain more experience working with fellow students in honing up your CBT skills then call

CBT skills in practice

Dates: 27/09/15 
Time: 10:30 - 17:30 
Location:  Keeley Street
Tutor: Tim LeBon

What is the course about?

This course is a one day skills follow up to 'CBT for person-centred counsellors' (PT548). Other students may enquire but please do not enquire unless you are confident in using thought records and other basic CBT skills and want more practical experience with fellow trainees

What will we cover?

This course will include pair and triad work to practise skills such as cognitive re-structuring, guided discovery and planning behavioural experiments.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Perform cognitive restructuring (thought records), use guided discovery and plan behavioural experiments.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is aimed at those with prior knowledge and experience of CBT. You need to have completed 'CBT for person-centred counsellors' (PT548).

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will consist mainly of skills practice, supported by some theoretical work.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Psychology of Inside Out: Meet Disgust

Purpose:  To prevent you from being poisoned physically or socially.

Appearance:  Green and in a permanent snear

Catchphrase: “Ugh!”

When in charge makes you: Look out for things that will make you look silly or get ‘poisoned’

Favourite pastimes: Making yourself look cool

Moment of glory: Coming up with the plan to use anger’s energy to let joy and sadness back into headquarters

Moment of shame: Agreeing to anger’s plan in the first place

·        Keeps you safe from not fitting in socially
·        Keeps you from eating something disgusting or dangerous

·        Can be over-sensitive to the wrong things (such as broccoli!)
·        Can be hurtful to others (when expressing contempt and being sarcastic)

How to manage wisely
Listen to what disgust has to say but don’t assume it is wise and be careful that it doesn’t lead you to hurt others

Contempt, aversion, disapproval

Meet Mindy Kaling as Disgust

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Psychology of Inside Out: Meet Anger

Purpose: Stops people from treating your unfairly

Appearance: Short, red, bursts into flames when really angry

Catchphrase: “Congratulations, San Francisco, you’ve just RUINED PIZZA. First the Hawaiians, and now you”

When in charge makes you: Look out for injustices and then react very strongly to them without thinking

Favourite pastime: Reading the  “The Mind Reader” newspaper

Moment of Glory:  Using its energy to make a hole to let Joy and Sadness back  into headquarters

Moment of Shame: That lightbulb moment of devising  the escape plan and convincing the other emotions it was such a good idea

·        Can stop others taking advantage of you
·        Can give you energy to take action

·        Often  over-sensitive to perceived injustice (who wouldn’t be, if your favourite reading was “The Mind Reader”)
·        Can express itself in an unhelpful way (like escaping to Minnesota)

How to manage wisely:
Notice what anger is making you aware of, take a breath and decide whether that’s the whole story and how best to deal with it constructively

Relatives: Fury, annoyance, irritation

Meet Lewis Black as Anger

Other articles on this blog on Inside Out

Meet Joy

Meet Sadness

Meet Fear

Meet Disgust

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Psychology of Inside Out: Meet Sadness

Purpose: To help you get support when you need it

Appearance: Blue

Catchphrase: “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems”

When in charge, makes you:- Slow down and think a lot, usually in a negative way

Favourite Pastime:  Sitting down and crying

Moments of Glory: When Riley misses the winning goal at hockey her being sad leads to her friends and family making her realise how much she is loved.  Consoling Bing Bong when his rocket is taken from him.

Moment of Shame: Riley crying in front of everyone in her first day at her new school

·        Helps you understand and empathise with other people when they are sad
·        May give you time to slow down and try to understand what is going wrong
·        Lets people know you need support

·        Sadness can be overwhelming
·        Can be unhelpful to focus only on sad things
·        Can take the joy out of a situation

 How to manage wisely:
When something bad has happened, allow yourself to feel sad and to express sadness
At the same time don’t let sadness spoil things with negative thinking when things are going well

Relatives: Depression, Sorrow, Dejection

Meet Phyllis Smith as Sadness

Other articles on this blog on Inside Out

Meet Joy

Meet Anger

Meet Fear

Meet Disgust