Tag: brains

A Simple Trick to Sidestep Self-Criticism

[this article was originally written for Puttylike]

Sometimes I’m ashamed to share my work. You might think that’s understandable (particularly if you’ve been exposed to many of my posts before!) but this isn’t just a healthy sense of shame at my evident limitations. 

Often, it’s fear of my own unoriginality. That inner voice of shame tells me to scrap my work, and to only return when I’ve finally created something truly original.

It’s hard not to listen to that voice, but over the years of living with it I’ve developed a technique that helps me to manage it when it speaks up. And I call this technique the Absurdity Principle.*

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How to Change Your Life with One Small Move

IMG_1760 by Robert Couse-Baker, on Flickr

Original Photo © Robert Couse-Baker, Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr.
CC BY 2.0

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Recently, the principles of Feng Shui—an ancient Chinese art which advocates a system of placement within a space to harmonise various energies—became incredibly important to me.

(By sheer coincidence, there was an unpleasant job I didn’t want to do, and spending the afternoon rearranging my office seemed preferable.)

After some time browsing Feng Shui websites, I ended up rotating my desk 90 degrees. From now on, I would sit in what one of the websites referred to as the “position of command.” (Basically, my desk would face the door instead of the wall.)

To my astonishment, this actually helped: Continue reading

A Simple Idea to Help With Repetitive Anxiety

[content: a quick tip for repetitive anxiety]

In the past, I’d regularly get trapped in the exact same worry over and over.

Often, it would be health anxiety. For example, I’d experience a symptom of some kind. And I’d immediately imagine that this symptom was coming from the worst possible cause. Perhaps a pain would be in my leg, and I’d think “that’s a blood clot, travelling to my lungs to kill me”.

For the rest of the day—week? month?—I’d struggle to concentrate on anything else, constantly fighting to keep my attention from the impending doom.

After years of living through this exact cycle, I realised I wasn’t learning anything. It was just the same thing, over and over and over again.

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When Should We Run Away From Our Problems?

I run away by Simy_Orifici, on Flickr

Original Photo © Simy_Orifici, Simy_Orifici on Flickr.
CC BY-ND 2.0

[status: pretty obvious stuff, but may be helpful to people – like me – who tend to overthink things]

Recently, somebody asked me for advice about making a big decision.

Obviously, the fact they were asking me demonstrates terrible judgement, so I told them whatever decision they THOUGHT they should make, they should probably do the opposite.

I kid, of course. But I was interested in why they were asking: Continue reading

Why Good Advice Might Be Bad Advice (and vice versa)

Go to Italy. by QuinnDombrowski, on Flickr

Original Photo © Quinn Dombrowski, QuinnDombrowski on Flickr.
CC BY-SA 2.0


[post status: a little rough, but there’s something useful buried in here!]

Here’s some advice you might hear if you’re dealing with anxiety:

“It doesn’t matter WHY you’re struggling, accept the feelings and focus instead on the present”

Sounds great. But, then, so does this: “we should confront and heal our past traumas so they stop bothering us in the present”!

And these good-sounding bits of advice seem to be contradictory..!

How are we supposed to know WHEN to confront past traumas, and when to let go and focus on the present?

(And I bet you’ve come across loads more of these seemingly-contradictory pairs of advice.)

Here’s an answer I often return to:

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You Can’t Not Do Things, You Can Only Do Them

[Another quick post today.]

Sometimes it seems as if the solution to a problem is to NOT do something.

For example, if our problem is “I can’t stop thinking about this person” it might seem that we simply have to stop thinking about them.

Obvious, right?

No. Actually, that’s impossible.

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Sort of Fake It till you Sort of Make It

[post status: a quick & messy throwaway thought]

It’s a two-way street between our feelings and our actions. Sometimes we perform well because we’re confident, but acting confident also helps our performance.

Hence the popular advice: “Fake it till you make it!”

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Do You Feel the Need to Be Impressive?

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Hi, my name’s Neil Hughes and, because I’m human, I want you to be impressed by me.

This is a normal urge. We are social animals, so it’s natural to be concerned about our status within the tribe.

Our brains: Am I important? What do people think when they meet me?

As ever, there’s both a healthy mindset and an unhealthy mindset about our own impressiveness. Here’s an example of each:

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Why You’re So Confused About What You Want

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

There’s lots of advice out there on how to achieve your dreams.

But what if I don’t know what my dream even is?! How on earth do I move on when I have difficulty realising what I even want?

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The Past is The Past is The Past

Time by dkalo, on Flickr

Original Photo © Dimitris Kalogeropoylos, dkalo on Flickr.
CC BY-SA 2.0

[Status: Only a quick undeveloped realisation.]

Isn’t it weird that something that happened years ago “feels like yesterday”, while something that happened last week “feels like forever ago”?

Well actually, I’ve just realised it might not be weird at all.

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