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Professional Development

Are You Assertive?

Everyone recalls a time or a particular situation when we wish we had been more assertive. Assertive communication is all about putting our point of view over – clearly and calmly, free from the distortion of mood or circumstances – so that we can best communicate how we feel about something and what we need as a result.

Health and Nutrition Can Improve Your Studies

 One of the biggest concerns for anyone studying a course is finding the time and motivation to commit to it. This is easier for some people than others, depending on a number of different aspects which are prevalent in your life. One of these aspects is having a good diet and being healthy. 

Don’t Try to Manage Time, Manage Your Activities

You can’t really “manage” time, which is why I’m not the biggest fan of the term “time management”. I use it only – and then only very reluctantly – because that’s the term most people are familiar with.

But in actuality, the only thing you can control is what you do with your time; you’re really managing your activities, not your time.

This may seem like a silly distinction, but this small shift in thinking can profoundly and positively affect your productivity. 

Negative Thoughts in the Witness Box

Challenging unhelpful negative thoughts is a skill. These thoughts are not facts, and by challenging them we can differentiate between what is real and what is distorted emotional interpretation. When we temper and control the emotional black-and-white thinking, which comes from an agitated emotional brain, we can better access our thinking rational brain (our higher intelligence) and see things with a far clearer perspective. This is good emotional intelligence, not least because it is fair, realistic and balanced.

Unhelpful Thinking Tendencies (Part II)

Once we are aware of any one or more unhelpful thinking tendencies, we can then begin challenging unnecessarily negative thoughts and practise using different language which better reflects the shades of grey of reality, training the brain to move further away from instinctive black-and-white (emotional) thinking. Here are some examples of some typical black-and-white thinking styles and possible contrasting ways of looking at things.

Being Aware of Unhelpful Thinking Tendencies

Unhelpful ThinkingThe conscious (thinking) brain and the subconscious (emotional) brain

Our brain is a complex and fascinating organ. The thinking (conscious) brain operates at an intellectual level, giving us perspective and good problem-solving capability. When it works in healthy harmony with our emotional (subconscious) brain, we function at our best and can be at our most robust and resilient in dealing with whatever life throws at us. Research has shown that the emotional brain processes around 2 million pieces of information every second. In contrast, the thinking brain can hold only between five and nine things in conscious awareness at any one time. So, of necessity, all the pieces of information that the emotional brain deals with (like blinking, regulating blood pressure, telling us when we need food, etc., as well as the range of feelings and thoughts which it generates) need to be filtered before being brought into conscious awareness. The brain’s own filter mechanism is capable of developing and retaining unhelpful negative processes, the three most usual culprits being deletion, distortion and generalisation.

Thinking Outside the Box

If at first you don’t succeed – take a different approach!

There are two ways of tackling a problem – logically and creatively. Most people use the former approach. However, many problems just cannot be solved logically, because we are used to making assumptions about the information that we gather in an effort to try and overcome the problem. It is important, with problem solving, to beware of having fixed ideas.

Challenging Negative Self-Talk

There are times when we talk to ourselves critically. Perhaps we just think it, or perhaps we voice it out loud. “I’ll never get this right.” “I’m such an idiot.”

Phrases like this are a sure sign that emotional hijacking is at work. If we become aware that this is going on, however, we can challenge the thought rather than become a helpless victim to it. Challenging allows us to better control our emotions. The emotions are sure to be giving us some message, but the real message is more than likely to be obscured by emotional hijacking and so we risk misinterpreting what is actually going on.


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