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Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

I found this book intriguing and  heart warming.  Most people have heard about the mind body link and how your thoughts can affect your body and your health but this book takes the logical next step and explains how your body posture can affect your thoughts and feelings and how confident you feel within yourself.

If you stand in the winner’s position – as illustrated on the cover of the book – then you make yourself take up more room and increase your physical presence.  This position is universal in all cultures across the world and indicates triumph and pleasure in the victory.  If you stand in this position for a couple of minutes before confronting a difficult situation you will be more relaxed and more yourself when it comes to the situation itself. There are many other changes you can make to your posture and behaviour to increase your personal power and presence.

This book isn’t about power over others – it’s about personal power.  Power isn’t a zero sum equation and accessing your personal power doesn’t take away the power of others it just makes you more capable of dealing with testing situations and encounters.  The book talks about the latest research into body language and relates many heart warming case histories to illustrate the effects of changing your body language.

The book doesn’t advocate major changes to your life which will take a lot of effort and commitment to achieve.  It involves small changes to posture to improve your mood and your productivity.  Just a few minutes can make a huge difference. The book is written in an easy conversational style – much like your best friend sitting down and telling you about something new she has discovered.

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Real Confidence: Stop Feeling Small and Start Being Brave (Psychologies Magazine)

I have been thinking that maybe my confidence needed a bit of a boost after a difficult period in my life but having read this book and answered the various questionnaires in it I have realised that actually my confidence level is higher than I thought it was.  Like many people I have always tended to assume that the people who are the life and soul of the party – the really outgoing ones – are the people who have the confidence that I should be aiming for.  But reading this book has made me realise that such behaviour is often a front and a way of covering up lack of competence – especially in a work environment.

If you have a work colleague who is always full of themselves and how good they are and always rushing around and who seems to get promoted when the rest of their colleagues are languishing in the same old jobs year after year, you can stop envying them because they are probably frantically covering up their inadequacies in the job. You can be quiet and confident and you don’t have to make a show of how good you are to be confident.

This book has been a real eye opener for me and has made me realise that lack of confidence isn’t the factor which is stopping me doing things but simple dislike of those particular tasks. The book points out that the people who are actually the most confident also have the most humility and are probably the people who have time to listen to you properly because they don’t have anything to prove to you or themselves.

There are many useful strategies in this book for helping you assess your current level of confidence and for helping you increase your confidence gradually.  There are also useful tips to help you stop sabotaging your own confidence.  It also helps you assess what sort of confidence you actually want to achieve and there are plenty of useful quotes and case histories in the book.

I think this has to be one of the best self help books I’ve ever read.  It is practical, down to earth, doesn’t promise a new you in thirty days – instead it suggests small steps you can take to improve your confidence on a daily basis. I recommend this book if you want to assess your current level of confidence and maybe improve it gradually.

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This is an interesting little book and it is a good one to read if you can’t make sense of your life, if you keep making the same mistakes or just feel you’re stuck in a rut with no way out.  Its theme is analysing fairy tales and applying them to your own life to help you understand what is going on and to make changes.  It includes visualisation exercises and the use of story boards.

Some people might not realise that fairy tales can help you understand your own life but this book shows how they deal with universal themes and archetypal human characters such as the wicked witch, the gentle giant and the beautiful princess.  Beauty and the Beast for example is particularly relevant to modern culture with its focus on youth and beauty.  The Little Mermaid shows how if you change yourself to fit what you believe another person wants then you risk losing yourself.

Fairy tales have lasted so long because they have something to people down the ages and they can help us see where we are going wrong and making ourselves unhappy.  Even if you are sceptical of the use of fairy tales in unravelling modern problems, try this book.  It will take you a couple of hours to read and just might change your life for the better.  I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes.

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The Skeleton Cupboard: The making of a clinical psychologist

I find books about psychology and psychologists fascinating reading and this one is no exception. The author takes us on a roller coaster ride through her training placements and the type of patients she encountered. There are frightening, heart- warming and incredibly sad and beautiful experiences. I found myself in tears on several occasions when reading this book.

The book is searingly honest about the author’s own failings and about how difficult she found it to learn that not everyone can be cured. Sometimes attempted cures can just make the problem worse and it is not possible to take on everyone’s problems. I thought she conveyed the essence of her prickly relationship with her supervisor extremely well and how she resented as well as welcomed her trenchant comments.

Some of the people she describes in this book are unforgettable. Ray the sociopath who manipulates everyone. Tom who is HIV positive and doesn’t have long to live. Imogen who at twelve has seen more of the evil side of human nature than many will see in a lifetime. Mollie – bright, intelligent and with the whole world at her feet and who wants to starve herself to death because her body is too fat. Harold – highly educated, who survived the horrors of the concentration camps only to slide into dementia in later life.

The book is very well written and really brings to life what it is like to work with people with mental health problems. It also showed me how close to such problems we all are throughout our lives. There is a useful list of resources at the end of the book for anyone who feels they may need help.

 

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The Gossamer Thread by John S. Marzillier

If you want to know what it is like to be a psychologist you could do worse than read this fascinating memoir.  As the author himself says towards the end of the book – helping human being is a messy and complicated business and there is no guarantee of success.  Even if you can agree with anyone, including the patient, on how to measure success in the first place.

 

The author writes in an interesting and never less than compassionate manner about his patients and also about his own successes and failures.  He shows what it is like to try out a new type of therapy when none of the rules have been established.  He emphasises that whatever helps people to live their lives how they want to without debilitating depression, anxiety or phobia is a good thing.

 

Reading this book made me realise that the human mind and human behaviour are ultimately so complex that psychology is still only scratching the surface.  Trying to help another human being understand their problems must always be a worthwhile job but it is one fraught with pitfalls and a false step can have devastating consequences.  I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in psychology or self help.

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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

I find the way the human brain works an endlessly fascinating subject so I enjoy reading books like this.  The author looks at the way people make up their minds in an instant about something.  Those first impressions may not always be right but in many cases they are and they can go against all logic and reason and even against scientific evidence.

 

I think the most striking example he uses is the first one in the book.  The statue which science said was genuinely old but many expects saw it and immediately knew it to be a fake and were eventually proved right.  How did they know? The author analyses many such startling examples including fire men who got their men out of a burning building just before the floor collapsed even though there was nothing that was telling them consciously that things were dangerous.

 

If you read many books like this you do start to recognise these incidents in use to demonstrate many aspects of the functioning of the human brain.  I found the example of the maverick who outwitted large forces in war games by thinking laterally and well outside the box of particular interest – even though I find war abhorrent – as the same principles can be applied to management. Following tried and tested procedures isn’t always the best way to deal with unusual situations.

 

This is a popular science book but it has plenty of notes on the text and an index and it is written in an easy and accessible style. If you want an academic version of the same subject then I recommend ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by

 

 

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Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche

This is an uncomfortable read for anyone who thinks at all about they own behaviour.  Everyone has a shadow – that is qualities in their personality which they are not aware of and which they often project on to other people.  Anyone we meet and take an instinct dislike to could be the recipient of a shadow projection from us.

 

As human beings we tend to be very good at recognising other people’s bad qualities while being totally blind to those same qualities in ourselves.  The author makes clear that it is not just the unacceptable aspects of our own personalities which we project and we may be projecting qualities which could be of immense value in our own lives if we could only recognise and reclaim them.

 

We need to accept all of our own personalities and characters or we will constantly find them coming back to bite us in unexpected ways.  This is a lifetime job and most of it will never completely acknowledge all of our own qualities but we need to make the attempt.  A thought provoking read.

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