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Healthy Body Image

Healthy Body Image

The lovely Madeline Shaw is well known for her amazing recipes on her well being website.  She asked me how to inform her readers on how to get a healthy body image.  As summer is coming up I wanted to share this one with you before you hit the beach so that you go with the right mindset!

7 LIFE CHANGING TIPS FOR A HEALTHIER BODY IMAGE

Developing a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to a woman’s happiness and wellness. Many men and woman have feelings about the way they look and they also have quite stringent ideas and feelings about how other people look too! Sadly we are in a society where we are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images, images that are photo shopped or ‘slimmed down’ and this is unhelpful if your body image isn’t strong and confident. Ultimately if we have a healthy body image, we are eating normally, feeling good and taking care of our health but, if we don’t have a healthy body image we are likely to be eating emotionally or in some form of diet disaster. Struggling with body image is not uncommon and I teach people that this can be changed by the way you think, instead of trying to change your body!

1. CALM DOWN
Stressing out about your body is not helping you. Take a breath and relax. The first thing you need to learn to do is get your head right. If you are constantly judging yourself and being mean to yourself it is going to make everything worse. Remove your judgements. When you judge yourself for your size you are being really mean. Taking away the judgement means you LEARN so much more. Exploring why you think what you think about yourself and asking yourself kind questions speeds up the process of understanding yourself and therefore changing your perspective and your behaviour. Judging yourself means you remain stuck and closed. Quit the judgement and be kind.

2. DEAL WITH EMOTIONAL EATING
If you are eating emotionally i.e. when you are not physically hungry, talk to yourself. I know this sounds weird but I use this with my clients A LOT. The next time you are standing at the fridge with the door open using a teaspoon to get to that last bit of Nutella at the bottom of the jar ask yourself this question ‘ If I didn’t care about this Nutella right now, what else would be going on for me?’ The answers will amaze you……..I hate my job, my boyfriend doesn’t understand me, I’m scared about this upcoming exam etc., etc., Once you have some real answers you can start to look at the real stuff going on. Because, it is never about the Nutella……

3. YOU ARE MORE THAN THE SIZE OR SHAPE OF YOUR BODY.
Today’s society tells women that to be ‘worthy’ you have to be tiny. It’s not true. Quit conforming and start questioning. Question everything – who is telling you to be worth something you have to be a certain size? Who is telling you that to be beautiful you have to be thin? It’s likely to be something you have seen, read or heard. These people might not be right! Remember you are living in a society which body bashes all day long. We live in a culture where people feel it’s ok to comment on your size and shape. It isn’t. Everyone is different and everyone has something about them that is truly unique and beautiful.

4. HEALTHY IS MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN ANY SIZE.
It is not true that one size is more beautiful than another. The truth is in fact that ‘healthy is beautiful’! Start thinking about ‘health’ rather than ‘size’. Remember that reading magazines and looking at six packs on Instagram all day just contributes to the brain washing of your society and culture. It’s important to remember that a lot of pictures are photoshopped and doctored. Most ‘real’ people look real that includes scars, stretch marks and spots! If you are going to obsess over social media and pictures in magazines do it with the right head on! Get cool with being imperfect. I’m not sure about you but the last thing I want to be is perfect. Why? because I know that perfect does not exist so I am not going to aim for something that isn’t real. Instead, focus on getting cool with your perfect imperfections. We are all perfectly imperfect and trust me, in the years of coaching I have done, the thousands of clients I have seen, I am yet to meet a ‘perfect’ one. So if you think you know someone who is perfect, I would suggest stepping out of your imaginary world and looking at the facts.

5. YOU CAN ALWAYS DO A SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX.
I love social media, it’s a huge part of my business but at the same time I know that all the pictures of people on there having a great time and looking like they have fabulous lives doesn’t mean I choose to think my life is any less. Remember that people will only post pictures on social media of them looking great. Think about the terribly sad life of L’wren Scott. Her pictures were all private jets and couture clothes. Behind it she was terribly unhappy. Don’t believe the hype. People have real lives no matter what they post on Social Media. Everyone is dealing with something.

6. STOP PLACING YOURSELF AS ‘LESS THAN’. YOU ARE NOT. YOU ARE EQUAL TO.
There will be some things that you can do and some things that others can do. There will be some things you cannot do that others can. This is called life. If we could all do and look and be exactly the same as each other, what kind of boring world would that be? Step into your uniqueness and own it.

7. LESS COMPARISON
Lastly, if you still feel the need to compare, take a look at where those thoughts stem from. Did you learn somewhere that you were not enough? If so, question the hell out of that thought and teach yourself to turn it around. It isn’t true. We are all given a set of beliefs and we all, as adults, have a choice as to whether we choose to hold onto those beliefs or challenge and change them. My suggestion is any belief you think is keeping you small or holding you back needs to be worked on. Challenge it, look for evidence to prove the opposite is true and then go out into the big wide world with a thought that feels amazing. Because the truth is, YOU ARE
See the full article on Madeleine’s site here


Rejection

Rejection

I received a really interesting email from a GQ reader this week asking  ‘When loneliness, a lack of self-confidence and insecurity all conspire against you, what do you do? I wanted to share the answer I had for him here as I think this is an important read for anyone who struggles with rejection.

Dear GQ Therapist

I don’t know why, but I feel like no one likes me. I have always found it hard to make friends and it is a feeling that I still get now I am at work. What am I doing wrong?

Human beings are a social species, and yet many people feel like they “just don’t fit in” with everyone else. A recent UK study found that one in ten people didn’t feel they had a close friend, while one in five never or rarely felt loved. So, while we may feel alone in thinking “nobody likes me”, we actually have that emotion in common with a great many people. Moreover, those who feel this sense of isolation also fail to realise that the reason it is so easy to perceive themselves as an outcast or to feel rejected, disliked or simply not good enough, has much less to do with your external circumstances and everything to do with an internal critic – something we all possess.

A psychologist, Dr Robert Firestone, once conducted research using a scale that measured individuals’ self-destructive thoughts and he found the most common critical thought people had toward themselves was that they “are not like other people”. It’s so interesting to me that this is a critical thought when it should in fact be a positive thing. Just think, if we were all the same, what a boring world it would be.

Before I give you a few tips on silencing that inner critic, I want you to know that there is no one in the world that “everyone likes”. It simply isn’t realistic. No one likes everyone, so those expectations you have placed on yourself are just not cool. Second, you don’t “feel” no one likes you… you think it. There is a big difference between what you think and what you feel. Getting your thoughts straight really matters when it comes to mind management. When you understand that you are in control of your thoughts, you can then become in control of your feelings.

A thought that says “no one likes me” is a thought that is not only negative, but also clearly not true. It simply cannot be that there are four billion people on the planet and no one likes you. Get my drift? So, it would be a great idea if you could look at your thoughts more factually. Asking yourself questions that start to promote a more truthful and realistic thought process.

Again, I am going to say that you “think” it is hard to make friends – not because it is true, but because you think it is. If you think it is hard to make friends, it will be. If you think that you could try to just make one friend by the end of the month, it gets easier…

Now, I want to help you understand, and then politely tell this inner critic where to go. First, it is important to get conscious. Start to notice when your thought process shifts and your inner critic starts to talk. Maybe you’re on a date and it starts with, “She doesn’t even like you.” Or you may be in a meeting and when you finally speak up, you have a thought like, “You’re not making any sense. Everyone is looking at you. You are an idiot.” As an exercise, write down those critical thoughts in a notepad, so you can start to get properly conscious of what you are saying to you.

Second, take a look at those nasty thoughts and ask yourself, ‘Would you speak to your best friend like that?’ The answer is almost certainly no. Would you speak to your other half like that or your kids? Doubtful. You see, when you are conscious of what you are saying to yourself, it’s likely you will become more ready to change it. A recent quote by Amy Poehler: “Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works. Even demons gotta sleep.”

Third, once you’ve identified the critical thoughts, it’s essential to challenge them. So if your inner critic tells you to stay isolated or not go out, you have to start thinking about why it would be great if you did go out. If it tells you to keep your mouth shut at a party, uncomfortable as it may seem at first, you have to find a way to think about doing the opposite and not indulge in the negative thinking. Challenging yourself is key. Remember, the way to make the changes you want is to change the formula.

It is likely that as you take this process, you will find yourself having thoughts like, “This just isn’t working for me. I know I’m not good enough.” I would remind you that challenging these negative thoughts is what will lead you to get what you want in life. Thoughts are powerful and the beautiful thing about that is that thoughts are a choice. You can choose the negative thought or you can choose positive ones. It is important to know that you can choose different thoughts and find ways to access your confidence, strength and calmness, all via your mind.

Slowly but surely, your inner critic will be around less and less and your real self will become stronger, more confident and you’ll see that all along people wanted to hang out with you. You just hadn’t had your own back first…

You can read the full article in GQ Magazine here


Show Some Respect

Show some respect

Life is fast. We all seem to be working hard, running around and living life quickly.  Friday comes around and another week has gone. Living at such a fast pace means that sometimes we forget just how lucky we are.
We forget we don’t have to think about anything other than what we are doing in that moment, our bodies are intact and working well. We just put one foot in front of the other and continue through our daily routine.
Until we can’t.
Recently my hip went out. Again.
Everything was going super well at the cinema until it was time to get up.
My mind was happy I was wide awake, ready to go.
But my body, it had a different agenda.
It was sore, in pain and didn’t want to move.  It very quickly reminded me who was in charge.
It really got me thinking.
I needed to show some respect.
You see sometimes we are pretty careless with the one thing that really takes care of us.
Sometimes we forget how intricate and amazing this body of ours is, silently doing its thing day in day out, keeping us moving, breathing and living.
It’s especially hard to do if you think you hate your body. It’s especially hard when you focus on weight, food and body image.
It’s hard when you reject your body.
When you struggle with your body you are probably too busy being rude to it, punishing it, criticising it, reprimanding it and possibly abusing it to stop and think about how amazing your body is.  Your fixed on the negative cycle going round and round and round.
And I know how hard this stuff is, because I have been there myself.
But I also know there is nothing better than choosing to think another way.
Because whilst you are dissing on you, all your body is really doing, is simply loving you back.
Your body is always helping you, healing you, taking care of you.
It is desperate for you to love it back in exactly the same way it loves you.
Your body always knows what’s best for you and that information will not come from a diet, a pill or a ‘detox’.  It won’t come from counting points, calories or excluding certain food groups.
Your body will give you all the clues and your only real job is to listen, trust and start working with it rather than against it.
The only way to really find love for your body, as you are, with total acceptance, is to see how amazing it is.
Start looking at what it can do for you, how it protects you, takes care of you, instead of judging it on its looks.
And then the magic happens.
Realise that the only reason you are not loving your body is because you choose not to.  That’s on you.
So today, if you could do only one thing from reading this, I would ask that you take a good long look at your body, thank it for still loving you back and promise it you will, from today, show some respect.


Cause and Effect

Most people believe there are only ever two options when it comes to feeling feelings.
Avoid them like the plague.
Or react with crazy actions like a crazy person.
It’s cause and effect.
When I explain to my clients that both those options will only ever lead us down a road which is ultimately further away from where we really want to be, they look at me like I’m the one that’s crazy.
They always believe they are ‘justified’ in feeling those feelings.
They always believe they are ‘justified’ in reacting like a crazy person.
But what they don’t believe is that they don’t have to do either of these things.
You see, both reacting and avoiding is a painful road.  Painful by the way, for you, not ‘them’.
So here’s a tip when you next feel you want to avoid or react to a feeling you do not want to feel…
The best way to process a feeling, to process an emotion is ultimately by ALLOWING it.
It seems like such a simple concept, but we find it challenging in practice.
Sitting with feelings that don’t feel good is our ultimate work.
Feeling and allowing all feelings to be just what they are is where the gold happens.
When we choose not to judge it, to disallow it, to run away from it or to react to it we become strong.
The better we get at allowing our feelings, the less powerful those feelings become.
You may not be able to change the cause but you can always change the effect.
Take your power back.
Happy Feeling Friday
 
Jacqueline
 


Is It True?

Is It True?

So many of us create stories in our head.
A situation can occur and within seconds we have had hundreds of thoughts.
Negative thoughts and ones which are not kind or necessary or most importanlty, true.
These untrue thoughts go around and around in our brains, pretending to be very real.
Scaring us, belittling us and creating results which either amount to doing nothing, or a whole lot of drama.
Neither of these outcomes are ideal.
So let me help you with a really great tip and tool.
The next time you feel scared, angry, frightened, anxious, insecure or whatever negative feeling you currently have,
Ask yourself a very important question;
‘Is it true’
It’s powerful and it always works.
For example, you delivered a project to your boss and he wasn’t impressed.
He said to you ‘Not the best work you have ever delivered, you aren’t on you’re A-Game at all’
Right at that point all those thoughts that hurt will come along into your brain, like it’s a party
‘See, you are rubbish’
‘See, you are not good enough’
‘You are going to get fired’
And around and around the thoghts go.
Yawn…..
But this time I want you to do it differently, I want you to insert that all powerful question‘
Is it true?
Is it true I am rubbish, is it true I am not good enough, is it true you are going to get fired from this one project?’
The likelihood, when you really take a long hard look, is that none of those thoughts ARE true…
And if you are struggling, then here’s another tip
After asking yourself ‘Is it true?’ and you are still sure it is, start looking for evidence to back up why it IS NOT true….
Now that’s my favourate part….
I have evidence that I am not rubbish because (insert why here)
I have evidence that I am good enough because (insert why here)
I have evidene that I am not going to get fired because (insert why here)
So try this little exercise the next time you are struggling  (or of course you could always stick with your way and keep staying miserable)
I promise my way is better….
Tag, you’re it….x
PS My new website is live and I am so excited to share it with you! It has updated content, press work and a more information on The Life Class. Head on over, you are sure to find some interesting articles that are relevant to you.  And that is a fact! x


Body Positivity

Body Positivity in Six Simple Steps
I wanted to write a blog on body positivity as it seems the wellness world has become a battlefield. There is a lot of flaunting of six packs and ‘Abs are made in the kitchen’ straplines on social media which are coming from people who are promoting a message that isn’t always honest.  I wanted to write this post to keep things in check for you.
Body positivity refers to an acceptance and love of all body types.  This mean no size, shape or skin you are in, is in any way ‘wrong’ and neither is your neighbors.  In 2018 we are starting to see a lot more body positive awareness and social media and magazines are beginning to feature and include more diverse body shapes and sizes.  This is a great step toward helping people to kick the unrealistic concept of achieving only one ideal body type, to the curb. We  still have a long way to go but at least we are moving in that direction.
If you are struggling with body image today, I have six valuable steps to further embrace body positivity below.

  1. Stop comparing.
    Comparison is the thief of joy and when we learn to ‘accept’ that we are all different, it becomes a lot easier to focus on your own side of the street. Being unique is something to be celebrated. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and one woman’s pretty doesn’t take away from your own. When we learn to accept ourselves and start to allow ourselves to be happy with ourselves, just as we are, we can then start to find inner joy.  Focussing on your assets, the things you do like about yourself, the wins you have achieved, the goals you have accomplished, all of these things are a great start. Remind yourself that beauty comes in different shapes and sizes; body positivity is inclusive of everyone, and there is absolutely no wrong ‘body’ shape, size or look.
  2. Take a bloody compliment!!
    When I was learning about body positivity I had to learn how to gracefully accept a compliment. My first reaction was ‘you might think that but you must need glasses!’. Looking back I realise how unkind that was. Accepting compliments with grace is a challenge to start with but it is an important practice on your journey of body positivity.  Accepting compliments it’s a learning game and learning to do it differently takes time but practice is key. it’s okay to simply say thank you without providing a justification, an excuse or an explanation. It’s ok to learn to simply say ‘thank you’. Slowly with practice you will start to believe those compliments. You’ll realise its because you are awesome.
  3. Embrace your “flaws.”
    Being body positive is not just about weight. It’s about accepting all aspects of your body. Its about accepting you have a tummy (because you are a woman), its about accepting you have cellulite (because you are human), its about accepting every part of your body, exactly as you are. Body positivity means recognising that all bodies are worthy of acceptance and praise, and that all bodies are of equal value and worth and all bodies are beautiful in their own right. Its about embracing yourself just as you are.
  4. Have a fitness goal that has nothing to do with appearance.
    Being ‘fit’ has a bad wrap right now. All we see on social media is six packs, messages like ‘strong not skinny’ fitness freaks that are working out in the gym for 2 hours a day and not letting a drop of sugar past their lips, all the whilst, pretending to be ‘normal’. Fitness is a great way to feel strong and powerful, but if your focus is only on calories or weight loss, you’re more likely to resent it as an activity and ultimately stop doing it altogether. One of the best ways to transform body hate into body acceptance is to stop yourself from making any exercise you do, solely about your physical appearance. Start looking at exercise as helping you to be healthy, fit, supple and flexible. Start watching your body help you accomplish these incredible movements and see how your body, is always and has always, been on your side, ready and willing to love you back.
  5. Get in control of what you look at
    I am a big believer in being super careful about what I allow into my vision and my thoughts. What we expose ourselves to has a massive impact on how we feel about ourselves. If you feel social media is affecting you start to control what you look at more closely. Delete anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself, delete anyone who is showing you unrealistic body images and start to follow tons of social media accounts that feature body positivity and body diversity. Be really aware about about the magazines you read, the TV you watch the websites you browse. Get conscious and take control.
  6. Embrace
    Being body positive is not just about your size, shape or weight. It is about accepting all aspects of your body. It’s about embracing you, just as you are, naturally. Body positivity means recognizing that all bodies (yours included!) are worthy of acceptance and praise, and that all bodies are of equal value and beautiful in their own right. Embracing your body starts with acceptance and from there you can start to see how magical it is.

 


If You Are Stuck

You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it” Albert Einstein 
Feel a little stuck? Not living the life you want to be living? Think you might be in the wrong job, have the wrong partner or simply know there is more to life? Are you struggling with your weight and feel you can’t ‘get it’ no matter what you have tried in the past? Are you constantly saying to yourself ‘my life would be better if…’
Then you I can help you. I help people to create the life they want via their thought process. When our thoughts are off key we create a life of anger, frustration, boredem and unhappiness. We blame other people, places or things for our feelings and simply get stuck.  Life coaching helps people to become unstuck by challenging their thinking and in turn helping them to change things around to get the results they want and start to feel great.
Life coaching can help people with a variety of issues including confidence, anxiety, stress, anger and specialise in helping people with weight problems.
What does life coaching mean and what does it entail?
I ask people thought provoking questions that help them get to know themselves.
I tell my clients the truth: the truth that other people will not tell them.
I help people see the downside of being mean to themselves.
I challenge any held belief that is not in my client’s best interest.
I pull my clients up on the lies they are telling themselves.
I help my clients show up when they want to quit.
I help my clients act from a place of love rather than fear.
I ask my clients to reach for more of themselves.
I help people figure out why they do what they do so they can change it.
Who do I coach?
I coach the most amazingly brilliant men and women all around the world.
I coach men and women who are tired of being fat, tired of hating themselves, tired of being married to the wrong person.
I coach people who believe there is a better way to live life than drinking a bottle of wine every night.
I coach women who give to everyone but themselves in the hope that someone will approve of them and love them, everyone but themselves.
I coach people who think they are a victim. Being victimised and taking on the role of victim are very different.
I coach doctors, lawyers, QCs, PhD students, Oxford/Cambridge graduates and I coach clients who didn’t finish school.
I coach people desperate and in despair and holding on by a thread with only a glimmer of hope.
I coach people who make lots of money and feel awful and clients who make no money and feel awful.
I coach anyone who is willing to find a way to feel better.
So if you think it might be time to have a chat in order to see how life coaching can help YOU get a better perspecitve on life, feel better or start taking better actions and getting better results, email me today and we can get something started.  You’re worth it.
Happy Friday x


Breaking Up

My latest article for GQ discusses how to move on from a break up in the best possible way. If you or anyone you know is struggling, please take a read here. This article isn’t just for a relationship break up, it will help anyone who feels they are stuck and have ‘lost something’ or simply ‘cannot move on’.
Dear GQ Therapist,
I split up with my partner quite suddenly last year, but six months on and I just can’t seem to get on with my life. I still feel sad and depressed about it and the pain just won’t go away. How can I move on?
Ending relationships and break-ups are no fun. Whether you were the one to be broken up with or if you were the one to actually pull the plug on the relationship, it sucks to go from being a couple to being alone.
No matter how many times relationships comes to an end it always feels miserable, and because break-ups are so uncomfortable to deal with most of us simply just try anything we can to get over them as quickly as possible. We work out harder, drink more than we should, dive into a packet of cigarettes (even if we stopped years ago), head into a rampage of one-night stands, or we just decide to work more. Anything to avoid those feelings. So I want to give you a few tips to help you “move on”…
1. Process your feelings
Unfortunately, ignoring how you feel and trying to move on too fast means you miss out on something quite important. Your friends may want you to get over it quickly, but I believe you have to allow the feelings to come and go, and only then will they actually pass. You can’t force it. When we try and just decide we shouldn’t be feeling sad/hurt/angry/or upset, the process ends up taking a lot longer.

There’s also a really great way, proven by researchers at a university in Villanova, to process your break-up pain – they studied to find the best ways to move on. They came up with a process called “redemptive narrative” journaling. The idea is simple yet effective. Write about your relationship, including the whole messy break-up, the quickness of it finishing etc, but try to reframe as much of it as you can in a positive light. For example, you might focus on your growth through the relationship, such as the things you learned about yourself during the relationship. Or maybe you walked away with a new knowledge of what you do and don’t want in a partner. Or maybe you have a clearer picture of what a healthy relationship looks like. It’s important to note that what matters is finding something positive about the painful experience. The researchers found that when people were able to do that, it actually lessened the emotional toll.
3. Remember: your thoughts create your world
If you go out into the world thinking your life is over and you will never be happy, it will feel heavy and miserable. You need to know that’s your choice. You have to get your thoughts right. Thinking in a negative mindset is the worst thing you can do for yourself. So instead, start reframing things and thinking in a more neutral or happier way. For example: “I am ready for something better now” or “I am free to meet whoever I choose and do whatever I want and the world is my oyster.” Thoughts become feelings, so be mindful of what you are thinking.
4. Explore your life
When we couple up we can sometimes lose ourselves. We don’t see our friends as much, we don’t practise our hobbies and we get too comfortable. Now is the perfect time to rediscover yourself. What do you love to do? Who haven’t you seen in ages that you want to reconnect with? Who can you meet and talk to over a beer and find some laughter and joy together? Book the boxing training you love or the holiday you have always wanted to take forever. In other words, now is the time to take care of you. Be selfish for a little while and start doing the things you used to do again.

The Office For National Statistics released data in 2015 that shows 51 per cent of people in England and Wales are single. That’s over half the population. It’s important to remember you are not out in the world single and alone. Think about that positively: it means there is definitely someone out there for you, who feels like you, and could well be open and available for a new relationship at just about the time you feel ready to be, too.
6. Believe in your destiny
I am a big believer that what is meant to be will always find a way. If your partner was right for you, they will come back. If they weren’t, that’s because there is something out there that is better for you. Growth works like that. Life works like that. Now is the time to change your thinking and have a little faith that things will get better. How many times in your life have you been in a situation that felt like it would never get better, then it did, and then it exceeded your expectations? It’s like that now. So please allow yourself to grieve for as long as you need. Then, when you are ready, pick yourself up, dust yourself down and go out into the world with a positive mindset and a dash of faith that things are going to get better. Remember the Henry Ford quote: “If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
7. Talk it out
Last but not least, if you find you are still struggling there are lots of people out there you can talk to. Talking about how you feel is the fastest way to move on through discussing you feelings. If Prince Harry and Brad Pitt are open to it and Michael Douglas can do it, so can you! You know where to find me…
 


Social Anxiety

How to conquer social anxiety

Don’t suffer in shyness. As the GQ therapist I get a lot of questions about social anxiety and I have some clever tips and coaching strategies to overcome crippling social anxiety. Read my answer to this reader’s social anxiety dilema.

Dear GQ therapist,
What’s wrong with me… I do my shopping online and avoid the supermarket, I use email rather than pick up the telephone, and I dread public transport. I have always been shy, but this is getting ridiculous. Can you help?  Oliver, by email

First and foremost, know that many people suffer with shyness and just don’t talk about it. Shyness can be truly debilitating. For most people, it is a learnt behaviour (it could be that their parents lack confidence or are naturally unsociable), but in today’s modern world, with so many technological means of interacting (email, texting, etc), it is easy for people to become isolated. Greater social introversion, less practice with personal connection and face-to-face conversations, and avoidance of awkward, unfamiliar and spontaneous interactions all make the situation worse.

Often, we isolate because of thoughts in our mind. We catastrophise situations where we imagine being rejected or humiliated when talking to people, or we imagine standing in a corner all alone and seeing people whisper about us. When we think of these things, we feel terrified and prefer to avoid the outside world rather than leave the supposed “safety of home”.

I have found that most shy individuals are not comfortable in their own skin. If you are shy, you are also likely to be scared, nervous, intimidated and uncomfortable around other people. You therefore think it’s easier to just not start. Shyness can have some major negative consequences that go beyond not having friends or getting a date – it can affect your health in a variety of ways, your career choice, the amount of money you make and the general quality of your everyday life.

1. Don’t think the worst… think differently

Shyness is spending too much time in your own head, making everything much bigger than it needs to be, with the outcome of any given situation as being wrong, bad or, simply, catastrophic. This is a bad habit that needs effort, energy and practice to be changed. My tip here is that whenever you have a thought in your mind that ends in catastrophe, jot it down and ask yourself, “How can I think about this differently?” or “How would I feel if this actually went well? What would I do differently, say differently or how would I behave differently if the outcome was actually really good?”

2. Avoid perfectionism

Nobody’s perfect. Part of the self-criticism experienced is based on the excessive expectations you may have set for yourself. Your jokes don’t have to have a whole room laughing and your chat doesn’t have to always be brilliant, insightful and witty. In short, lower the standards on yourself and set standards that are easier to maintain. It’s not necessary to be the life and soul of the party in order to categorise your social performance as a social success. In some cases, simply talking to two new people at a party might be the mark of a successful night out.

3. Reduce your sense of self-consciousness

The whole world is not looking at you. Since self-consciousness is a principal cognitive component for many shy people, it is very helpful for such shy people to realise that most people are far more interested in how they look or what they are doing than what anyone else is doing or saying. Realising that other people care more about themselves than about you will make interacting in social situations much more tolerable.

4. Focus on your social successes

Shy people do tend to be overly self-critical of their performance in social situations. In their view, they are never outgoing enough, clever enough, funny enough or anything “enough”. To help overcome this you can begin to minimise the anxiety such expectations create by focusing on your strengths and not only on what you perceive as your weaknesses. Look at the times you were social, you did attend the party, speak to the new man or woman or made a positive telephone call. If you have done these things once you can do them again.

5. Practice makes perfect

Start with (very) small talk and take simple actions: remember that practice makes perfect. A strategy for you to start with to overcome your inhibition is to put yourself in relatively non-threatening situations. This might include taking yourself to a museum, cinema or a game of football, where you will have the opportunity to interact with a lot of people but for a brief period. When you put yourself in these situations, you can practise by saying something as simple as “hello” to as many people as you can – this is a great start. You can also try this out in your daily life by doing things like asking for simple directions, giving a compliment or helping (offer to hold a door open for someone, for example). These are simple ways to practice talking and interacting with people.

6. Find your comfort zone

Do what fits your personality. Not all social situations are for everyone. For example, some people might just not like going to a bar or nightclub – it’s not necessarily because you are shy, it just might not be your thing. I suggest you seek out the situations that are most consistent with you and your temperament and interests. It is easier to overcome or manage any social fear by finding situations in which you feel reasonably comfortable.

7. Practise and develop your conversation skills

Developing conversational skills is key. The trick to successful conversation is to actually have something to say, and there are lots of simple strategies that you can employ. You can start by reading the newspaper or magazines, listen to the radio and build your knowledge fountain so that you can start having brief conversations about today’s news or something simple. News analysis is the basic substance of a lot of social conversations. And when you get that going, you can try to keep the conversation going by asking open-ended questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer. For example: “What do you think of…”

No one is liked by everyone. That’s a truth. Rejection is one of the risks that accompanies engaging in any social interaction. The point here is never to take rejection personally. There may be a variety of reasons that someone is rejected by someone else, none of which may have anything at all to do with the person being rejected. You cannot control the reactions of others or what they think or say or do, so what’s important is that if it doesn’t work out and rejection results, simply select someone else and start again.


GQ Feature: The Life Class

GQ Feature: The Life Class

GQ Magazine loves The Life Class and chose to feature it in this month’s issue – I couldn’t be more proud of this school! The Life Class is an online self-development course for those who don’t want to ‘do’ therapy. It is one of the fastest growing courses in the UK for people who want to do a little work on their mindset and emotional intelligence from the comfort of their own sofa.  I wanted to share this amazing feature with you, it’s in the April issue – out now!
Read the full article here: GQ features The Life Class