me kay cooke

Anger – how do you do!

Most people understand that anger can be ignited by a tangible threat (e.g. a car swerving towards us) and also by a perception (e.g. “I think that driver directed the car towards us on purpose”). And it’s probably fair to suggest that we’ve all experienced nano-second reactions diverting all resources towards bodily readiness for fight or flight. Anger switches the brain to ‘survival’ mode and initiates physiological readiness for self-defence.

 

Rational thinking then has no feed and is depleted.

 

Interestingly, studies show that anger can actually lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol because it stimulates the brain’s left hemisphere into taking purposeful action, like standing up to a bully (outward expression), or turning inwards to propel you away from repeating a hideous behaviour.

 

Unfortunately, society does tend to reward those who use anger to shout loudest, though it’s difficult to see how upset, irrational behaviour, or even violence might be useful to anyone.

 

Some people use their expression of anger to get action from others, and tantrums are usually the result of anger being used as a tool to manipulate the behaviour of others, or as a pitch for hierarchical dominance.

So what happens when we swallow our anger? When we don’t or can’t suitably discharge it? When instead, we find it ruminating inside the mind?

Then our underlying stress levels simmer, and simmer, until a safer displacement opportunity turns up, like kicking the dog, or shouting at the kids, when we really feel mad towards an absent colleague.

 

Sometimes we ruminate enough to bring the simmering emotion to boiling point, causing great distress to those bewildered witnesses who ask ‘how did that happen?’ judging a seemingly insignificant word or action, to have caused the eruption.

 

Repressing one’s anger can also produce passive aggressive behaviours like withdrawing our attention from, or ignoring others, which leaves the other person feeling unsure about what’s happening. And since our brains do not like uncertainty, generating it in another person, like the feeling of ‘not knowing’, can precipitate their sense of perceived threat (thus anger gets discharged through punishment that avoids violence or admonishment).

 

NLP enables us to look at the boundary conditions of someone’s ‘map of the world’ and this is where we find our highly prized and defendable life rules. Sometimes these are evident as core values, for example if you prize freedom as a core value and someone tries to restrain you, anger may be instantaneous, unless you’ve learned a better strategy.

 

Did you notice your strategies for anger?

 

Are your boundary conditions formidable, or flexible?

 

NLP provides a vital foundation of skills that help you recognise and upgrade thinking, feeling and behavioural strategies, including anger. Learn with us, so you get to make swift changes within yourself, and when dealing with the strategies of others.

chains
breaking habits

Revolting Revision

 

This is the time of year when I’m inundated with ‘emergency’ emails and phone calls from parents whose children are not buckling down to do their revision.

 

In response to have penned this plea:

 

Dear Anxious Parents,

Beware berating your children’s lack of adequate revision, no matter how well intentioned you are. Your anxiety can be like holding a match to a gas leak.

 

Please think carefully about the stress you are generating inside your teenagers brain. Stress (no matter how well intentioned) prepares the body to fight or flight and therefore diverts resources towards bodily readiness, and away from mind readiness.

 

Sure, as good parents, you may feel stressed, and fearful, and want the best for your child. But the truth is revision is about ‘accessing’ knowledge, not learning anew. And one major barrier to accessing knowledge is a brain primed for fight or flight – therefore ‘survival’.

 

WE DO NOT WANT OUR BRAINS IN SURVIVAL MODE DURING LEARNING, REVISION, OR EXAMS.

 

NO! We want our brains to be calm, alert, buoyant, creative, and in THRIVE mode, which means your child’s primitive brain feels safe, secure and has basic needs met, such as hydration, nutrition, shelter, warmth, love, touch, movement, clarity of purpose. These are foundational.

 

WHAT THEY EAT AND DRINK AND DO IS IMPORTANT, AS IS HUMAN TOUCH (HUGS ARE BEST).

 

And train yourselves parents!

Look up the ‘Pygmalion or Rosenthal effect’ (1), which demonstrates how the expectations of a significant adult can have a substantial effect on students’ scholastic performance. What you believe of your teenagers will have a profound influence on their self-belief.

 

DROP YOUR FEARS, CHECK YOUR BELIEFS, AND COMMUNICATE WITH LANGUAGE THAT PRESUPPOSES YOUR CHILD’S SUCCESS.

unrealised potential
unrealised potential

Understand that your child will be best motivated from the inside, not the outside. So make sure what you say connects to some internal value like good feeling, pride, next step towards job success …

 

Check out the ‘Over Justification’ experiment (2) where groups of children were given colourful art supplies. Some of the children were told they’d be rewarded for using them; others were left to their own devices. What they concluded in this study, was the children who were not rewarded were far more motivated to use the art supplies again and again and produced better quality products.

 

WHEN AN ACTIVITY IS ENJOYABLE AND SATISFYING THERE IS GREAT SELF-MOTIVATION (INTERNAL) – MUCH MORE THAN RECEIVING REWARDS FROM OTHER PEOPLE (EXTERNAL).

 

So please, dear anxious parents, beware the berating of your children’s lack of adequate revision, no matter how well intentioned you are.

 

 

References:

(1) Rosenthal, R., &. Jacobson, L. (1963). Teachers’ expectancies: Determinants of pupils’ IQ gains. Psychological Reports, 19, 115-118.

 

(2) : Lepper, M. P., & Greene, D., & Nisbett, R. E., Undermining children’s Intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward: A test of the “overjustification” hypothesis. JPSP, 1973, 28, 129-137.

Learning to Flow

With GCSE and A Level revision being a key theme at this time of year, it’s sometimes useful to shift attention away from the cramming of ‘knowledge’ and take a peek at the PROCESSES that enable learning to FLOW.

 

Several educational and Accelerated Learning models propose something like a wheel that explains the flow of attention during learning.

 

My adaptation looks a little like a wheel of 4 segments that cycles incoming information from short-term attention to long-term storage, and then retrieval.

 

  1. INTEREST – something (i.e. knowledge) grabs your attention, or is presented to your attention and short-term memory.
  2. MEANING – you decide whether it is, or could be, useful to you.
  3. PRACTISE – rehearsing and practising helps you to know and understand the thing and transfers it to long-term memory.
  4. APPLYING – you can recall, apply and synthesise the knowledge (e.g. exams).

 

The concept here is there is a sequence to the flow and each segment depends upon the preceding segments.

 

My recent clients (students) who have asked for support with their revision, have found this ‘learning wheel’ useful, and even empowering when faced with parents or teachers who have insisted on ‘knowledge’ being the only thing to focus on. Which for some, can put a spanner in the spokes, so to speak.

 

One of the things NLP teaches us with regard to any strategy – in this case ‘learning’ – is to consider the things that support or obstruct it. With this in mind we can look at factors that keep the learning, and re-access to it, in motion:

 

  1. INTEREST + HAVING FUN
  2. MEANING + RECOGNISING BENEFITS
  3. PRACTISE + PERCEPTION OF EASE
  4. APPLYING + HAVING CHOICE

 

We can also explore factors that obstruct the wheel’s smooth cycling and therefore hinder the learning process:

 

  1. INTEREST – BEING PASSIVE, NOT INTERESTED
  2. MEANING – FEAR OF FAILURE, SOCIAL EMBARRASSMENT
  3. PRACTISE – FEELING RESISTANT, DISTRACTIONS
  4. APPLYING – FORCED ATTENTION

 

If we look at assisting the learning flow through this model, then it becomes clear that having fun, recognising the benefits, perceiving it’s easy, and having choice, becomes a new focus – different to a focus on facts and data.

 

Many students are familiar with the use of ‘post its’ and peripheral posters to embed knowledge – yet few have considered the embedding the ‘flow’.

pen pot
box of coloured pens

This can be done through the ‘post it’ principle of peripheral reinforcement, this time using learning objectives, life goals, essential attitudes, and core beliefs.

 

I frequently have my students/clients create (kinaesthetic) peripheral posters (visual) to subliminally reinforce these ‘flow’ favours. They constantly see and remember the posters around their bedroom; with an invitation to read them out loud each day (auditory reinforcement) to keep attention focused as well as ensure a strong imprint.

 

For example:

 

GOALS connected to GCSE revision

  • Feel proud after GCSEs having achieved my best results
  • To move on to A Levels
  • To get a job that I’m good at and enjoy

 

Future me

Fun

Interest

Easy

Good job

The future me will be proud and thankful

My memory works best when focus, practise, and test it

When I’ve finished this revision I will feel satisfied

I will enjoy relaxing after my revision

Learning this revision will help me in the future

Learning can be fun and interesting!

Great job!

A Levels!

Degree!

 

In NLP terms we might refer to this ‘learning flow’ strategy in terms of timeline, well formed outcome, emotional connection, positive presuppositions, unconscious mind, Milton Model, and probably more.

 

Perhaps too, our younger audience will help to influence the flow of adult learning?

 

It’s time for revision