The hidden danger of the unstable mind


mind photo

The hidden danger of the unstable mind

The recent events of the Germanwings air crash in the French Alps has placed the internal world of a person back into focus. Although there is no conclusive evidence as yet, there are suggestions that the co-pilot might have been suffering from depression and this may have led to the deliberate act of crashing the plane into the mountain side with 150 people on board.

The sad reality of modern times is that mental health still does not receive the recognition and government funding that it deserves. In many parts of the world, there is still a huge stigma around admitting to having any mental disorder or some kind of inability to cope with the pressures of life. We are conditioned to smile and say that everything is fine, even when it isn’t.

Thankfully, most depressed people do not want to harm others even if they regularly think about harming themselves. As pressures seem to increase, people are more stressed and feeling isolated yet there seems to be less help available. In the UK, there is often a waiting list as long as 18 months for someone wanting to see a counsellor. This is woefully inadequate.

As adults, we have so many different roles to play and this can often hide the inner turmoil that people experience. We have to push aside our recent breakup, our huge financial debts or the fact that we have severe low self esteem and harbour irrational thinking and act the part that the role requires. Whether that’s a Doctor, a pilot or a teacher. Sadly, the world doesn’t really want to know, and in many instances…doesn’t really care.

The way forward is to speak more about how we think and what emotions we are experiencing (especially when they are negative and causing depression or anxiety). Only when we feel more comfortable at accepting, that along with our physical ailments, there will be mental aspects accompanying that too. When we break our leg, we get a plaster cast and a walking stick. When we experience mental instability in our thinking, we need to address this the same way we would a physical ‘obvious’ illness. Whether that is through regular counselling or medication.

There should be no difference between treating our minds and the rest of our bodies.

Mandy X




Why ‘people pleasing’ is bad for you

people pleaser photo

Why ‘people pleasing’ is bad for you

Is it important to you to be well liked and accepted by others? Most people would agree that they want to be liked by others. The trouble starts however, when we go out of our way to please others, often at the expense of ourselves. When we try too hard or put other people’s needs ahead of our own constantly, we can end up creating more trouble than we think we are avoiding.

People pleasers can be seen as too nice

Others will take advantage of someone who is too nice, gives too much and who tries too hard to be accepted. No one likes a needy person and those that try too hard show others than they do  not think highly of themselves as a person. No one respects a wimp.

You sell yourself short by trying to please others

People pleasers give off the message that they are not as important as other people. They seem weak within themselves, needing the reassurance of others to feel good about themselves. Sure, it’s wonderful to help others and be charitable but do it on your own terms. Do it because you want to help someone else, not because you want that other person to like you – big difference.

People pleasers dilute their own focus

Pleasing others often means satisfying their needs on some level. When we engage in this behaviour too much, we can start to live for the convenience of others and forget our own needs in the process.

Ask yourself whether helping someone else out works for you too. If it doesn’t, resentment will build up. We all need to compromise and negotiate but do not mix this up with keeping others happy just to keep the peace.

Getting the balance right between helping others out, meeting their needs and looking to meet your own needs can be tricky. As long as you check the reasons behind your motivation, you should be able to reduce people pleasing behaviours and offer good things back to the world and to others when it works for you and not only when it works for others.

Mandy X





Photo by briandeadly

What effective parents of teenagers don’t do

parents and teenagers photo


What effective parents don’t do with their teenagers

1) They don’t micromanage their teenager’s lives

Teenagers need to learn how to manage themselves. They are in that phase of life where adult responsibilities are emerging, minimally at first, but at a steady stream nevertheless. Effective parents realise that they need to find the right balance between helping their teens and letting them learn the lessons of life for themselves.

2) They don’t forbid teenage relationships with the opposite sex

This is one mistake that I see many parents of teenagers making. It is a short sighted strategy that rarely works. If your teenager is in a relationship with someone you do not approve of, instead of forbidding any contact, effective parents maintain perspective. They remain as neutral as possible and allow their teenagers to have contact with whomever they wish. It is the wise parent who allows their teenager to make up their own minds about the company they keep. It is a much better idea to keep an eye on what your teenager is doing whilst keeping the lines of communication open. Forbidding a relationship often forces a strong willed teenager to start lying and seeing the forbidden person anyhow. They do this secretively and well meaning parents lose that vital form of communication. More often than not, a well balanced teenager will realise that they need to move on…but they need to realise this for themselves and not be forced into it by their parents.

3) They don’t stifle their teenager’s independence

Some parents have their own issues when it comes to dealing with their teenagers growing up. They find it difficult to make the transition and stay stuck in the past, seeing their teenagers as incompetent children. This is when a teenager is likely to rebel. Learn to move with the times and embrace the development that is unfolding for your teenagers.

4) Effective parents don’t interfere unnecessarily

Effective parents do their best to allow their teenagers to learn the skills needed to negotiate the challenge’s of life. They do their best to offer advice when it is necessary or when asked instead of trying to tell their teenager’s what to do. Teenagers are more likely to listen and value their parent’s advice in this way.

5) Effective parents don’t treat their teenagers like children

Effective parents understand that being a teenager is a tough time. There are many changes taking place and there are often times when a teenager doesn’t know which way is up. The best parents offer a supportive and loving environment whilst allowing their teens the freedom to explore and learn confidence through their own decision making.

Treating your teenagers as competent people gives them the confidence to face the world. Acting as if they don’t know what they are doing and implying that they always need parental guidance can undermine their efforts to forge an independent life. Be supportive and loving but also allow the freedom for individual expression and self determination.

Mandy X

Top psychology myths


psychology photo

Top psychology myths/misconceptions

1) We only use 10% of our brain capacity

This isn’t the case. We use every part of our brain. Obviously, we may use slightly less when we are resting instead of working out a complex challenge but in general, we use all of our brains.

2) Schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder

The media perpetuate this myth by confusing Schizophrenia and Multiple Personality Disorder. Schizophrenia is characterised by hallucinations and delusions but NOT by more than one personality.

3) Differences between men and women

While it is true that men are better at spatial awareness – the difference is minimal! In fact 33% of women have better spatial awareness than the average man. Any Psychologist will tell you that women are better than men at grammar and language but again the difference is so tiny and 33% of men are better at it than the average woman. So it’s not really a case of Mars and Venus – more like Mars and Snickers.

4) The Rorschach Test

Rorschach inkblot tests have basically no validity when it comes to diagnosing people’s personality and are not used by modern-day psychologists. In fact, one recent study found that when you do try to diagnose people’s personalities using Rorschach inkblot tests, schizophrenia was diagnosed in about one sixth of apparently perfectly normal participants.

5) Learning Styles – fictitious

Learning styles are made up and are not supported by scientific evidence. We know this because in tightly controlled experimental studies, when learners are given material to learn either in their preferred style or an opposite style, it makes no difference at all to the amount of information that they retain.  It’s obvious that the best presentation format depends not on you, but on what you’re trying to learn.Could you learn to drive a car, for example, just by listening to someone telling you what to do with no kinesthetic experience? Could you solve simultaneous equations by talking them through in your head and without writing them down? Could you revise for your architecture exams using interpretive dance if you’re a kinesthetic learner? No. What you need to do is match the material to be learned to the presentation format, not you.

6) Left brain is logical, right brain is creative ??

This is a myth because nearly everything that you do involves nearly all parts of your brain talking together, even just the most mundane thing like having a normal conversation.

7)Listening to Mozart makes you clever

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be true of someone who listened to the music of Mozart almost every day, Mozart himself, who suffered from gonorrhea, smallpox, arthritis, and, what most people think eventually killed him in the end, syphilis.

The original study found that participants who were played Mozart music for a few minutes did better on a subsequent I.Q. test than participants who simply sat in silence. But a follow-up study recruited some people who liked Mozart music and then another group of people who were fans of the horror stories of Stephen King. They played the people the music or the stories. The people who preferred Mozart music to the stories got a bigger I.Q. boost from the Mozart than the stories, but the people who preferred the stories to the Mozart music got a bigger I.Q. boost from listening to the Stephen King stories than the Mozart music. So the truth is that listening to something that you enjoy perks you up a bit and gives you a temporary I.Q. boost on a narrow range of tasks. There’s no suggestion that listening to Mozart, or indeed Stephen King stories, is going to make you any smarter in the long run.

Psychology is full of myths as well as research, where results have been misinterpreted or misreported. Psychology does however strive to be empirical (evidence based) and looks for scientific explanations to help us understand ourselves and the world we live in.

Mandy X

Source: TED Talks. Ben Ambridge – 10 myths about psychology debunked.

Why planning isn’t always a good thing


planning photo

Why planning isn’t always a good thing

A False sense of security

For some of us, the planning stage can trick us into feeling safe. When we plan, it can make us feel as if we covering all the bases and that this somehow will ensure a smooth process. Planning works when it is seen for what it is – preliminary preparations, not the path to a sure outcome.

Planning tricks the mind into feeling productive

I have witnessed many people who attend seminars, conferences, self help meetings and so  on yet they somehow never get to the ‘action part’ of the process. We can lull ourselves into feeling that we are being productive by doing research, looking at the possible pitfalls etc. However, when the planning phase keeps getting extended and we wallow in the safety of google research and listening to influential speakers, we  can end up satisfying ourselves that we are being proactive. It can lead to stagnation and an ongoing stage of limbo when no actual progress in terms of action is being made.

May encourage procrastination of the activity part

Too much obsessing about planning can lead to a mental barrier being created between planning (safe) and implementing (less safe). Many find an invisible barrier exists between the ‘safe’ planning and organising, taking courses or training stage and actually applying that planning/training.

People tend to hover round the planning stage feeling comforted that they are going in the right direction – placate themselves with this first step…often never getting to the action/implementation phase.

Being aware of the boundaries of planning and organising and not allowing that stage to delay the next phase of implementation is the right way to approach the planning phase. Use it as a risk assessment and information gathering process but once that is done, get on with doing.

Mandy X

Passport to smiles


Passport to smiles

I was looking though Pinterest recently and found a few wonderful images – the type of images that make me smile, even when I don’t feel as if I want to. I thought I’d share – hope they cheer you up if you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps… wait for the slideshow to begin.

PS . My favourite is the little gorilla – makes me smile every time. :)


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mandy X



The Most Accurate Personality Test

personality photo

A good way to summarise an ENFP: (my result)

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for – and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool – for love – for your dreams – for the adventure of being alive.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The Most Accurate Personality Test

If you would like to find out more about yourself as well as confirm things you already know, then try out this personality test. I have known about this personality test for a long time and for some reason I thought that my result made me an INTJ personality type. Turns out I am an ENFP and it is so accurate!

Let me explain a little more about this test. It is based upon 16 personality factors and has often been used in work settings to find out a person’s preferences, such as, do you prefer working alone or in a team, what inspires you and keeps you motivated? These are just some of the questions the test answers.

E – extroversion; I – introversion

N – intuitive; S – sensing

F – feeling; T – thinking

P – perception, J – judging

Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).


Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).


Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).


Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).


Find out what your personality type is here: 

Mandy X




Toxic behaviours that destroy relationships

sad couple photo

Toxic behaviours that destroy relationships

 1) Critical/Insulting remarks

I am amazed at how many clients minimise the awful behaviour they put up with from their partners. Being threatened with violence, being sworn at and belittled regularly is not normal and should never be accepted. Everyone slips up occasionally but when this type of behaviour becomes more regular, it’s time to do something about it. The more a person accepts this bad behaviour/treatment, the more likely it is to continue – as the saying goes: you teach people how to treat you. Passive acceptance gives the green light for further bad treatment.


2) Passive aggressive behaviour

Passive aggressive behaviour includes silent treatment, resisting in a subtle way to promote failure. Subtle manipulation to upset a partner is also common. Disengaging, obstructionism, and a lack of support all contribute to the breakdown of a relationship. Passive aggressive behaviour is toxic because it is subtle and can lead a healthy sane person to doubt their interpretations.

3) Denying affection and care

We tend to treat the people closest to us the worst. What an irony this is. People close to us are easy targets yet they deserve more care and attention than strangers. If your partner is denying you the courtesy of care and respect, this will definitely create problems in the relationship.

Sometimes people internalise the mean behaviour and don’t stand up for themselves but nasty treatment is like a poison that slowly suffocates the goodwill in a relationship.

4) Denying responsibility

Two mature adults who own up to their part in their romantic exchange will enjoy trust and intimacy far more than two people who can never say sorry, or won’t own up to any of the negative effects they bring to the relationship. This one-sided approach leads to a break down in communication and ultimately the end of the relationship..or the prolonging of a miserable one.

If the relationship you are in seems like hard work and the joy has gone, it might be time to look at why you have ended up where you are. It might still be possible to get things back on track and the number one way to do this is to communicate. Put pride aside and work for the good of the relationship – IF you feel there is still enough to preserve and hold on to.

Mandy X


Photo by Hernan Piñera

How to survive when you want to give up

survival photo

How to survive when you want to give up

Life has its ups and downs but there are a few strategies that can help us to cope through the tough times. How to survive depends upon your attitude…

1) Keep on ‘trucking’

No matter how hard life is, keep moving forward. Keep putting one foot in front of the other as hard as it may be. Stop looking at the huge overwhelming problems as a whole and just keep doing what needs to be done until you feel stronger. Perseverance is key.

2) Accept what is happening

Don’t dwell in denial. Acceptance of the situation can be less exhausting. It doesn’t mean you have to like the situation but accepting what is means you are more likely to deal with what is happening rather than resisting and getting nowhere.

3) Keep perspective

One thing is sure – life constantly changes. If you are going through a tough time, remind yourself that it won’t last. Happiness and success involve the ability to cope with the tough times without letting them destroy you. Accept what is happening but keep your eye on positive happenings in the future. During tough times, we can be deluged by negative thinking and lose all hope. Don’t believe this thinking, it is a product of your circumstances. Have faith that life will patient..keep moving one foot in front of the other.

4) Focus on what you can control

To empower yourself, look at what you can influence and focus on that. Take small baby steps. Focus on your health and your attitude. Use the tough times to exercise personal growth. Be philosophical.

5) Find your sense of humour

Life is only as serious as you want it to be. Make sure to find the lighter side of life if possible. If there is a way to see the funny side – do it.

6) Practise gratitude

Looking at all that is good in your life is a wonderful way to raise your happiness levels. It is human nature to focus on what isn’t working, what we don’t have. When we force ourselves to focus on what is working well and what is positive in our lives, we ‘prime’ ourselves to see the world from a different perspective. Life is never as bad as we think it is and we often underestimate our ability to cope with trouble.

7) Find your inner cheerleader

When faced with life challenges, it is the perfect opportunity to appeal to your inner cheerleader. This is the part of you that supports you – your number one fan. If you have lost your inner cheerleader along the way – find him/her again. Your inner cheerleader is there to remind you of all the times you have coped with adversity in the past. Your cheerleader motivates you, reminds you that you can get through anything and that the tough times will just make you stronger. Get your inner cheerleader out again to remind you how capable and amazing you really are. We all forget this sometimes.

There are always options when life throws you a curve ball. Instead of panicking and crumbling, remember that these ‘dips; in life are normal and that we all have to go through them. Know that you can get through it with the right attitude…it will be okay..hang in there.

Mandy X



The dark side in all of us


half moon photo

The dark side in all of us

I believe that we all have a dark side within us. The side that tempts us to be mean/nasty or to take revenge on someone. Research shows that we all have dark thoughts. Those of us that are balanced and have a strong inner moral framework can dismiss the random intrusive thoughts whereas there are people who find it harder to ignore the intrusive thoughts and may be more easily led into negative behaviour.

So, if we all have a dark side within us, why does it emerge in some and not others? This is a complex question without a specific answer. There are many circumstances that lead towards anti social behaviour being displayed. When I worked in a mental health hospital for offenders, I soon learned that their crime had not been spurred on by one specific event. Instead, it was a culmination of many factors:

  • Their personality and genetic make up
  • Their childhood – whether they were nurtured or neglected, abused in some ways
  • Their individual coping skills for dealing with conflict and adversity
  • Their support network – do they have good role models and positive people in their lives?
  • Their personal circumstances, the environment they live in, the type of people they are in contact with

As you can see from the above, there are many factors that contribute towards a catastrophic event and often, there are many warning signs that are missed before a crime or serious behaviour emerges.

The dark side in all of us isn’t something to fear. Instead, it is healthy to acknowledge that e all have poisonous, irrational thoughts at times but it is only when we start to pay attention to them and bring them into our reality by acting upon them that we need to start being concerned.

Intrusive thoughts pester all of us, it’s okay. It shows you are normal.

Mandy X


Madame Tussauds – Fun Activity Rating 7/10 (FAR)


madame tussauds

Me and Russell Brand

Madame Tussauds Picasso

Me and Picasso


Madame Tussauds – Fun Activity Rating 7/10 (FAR)

I loved visiting Madame Tussauds. The top wax works museum in London is constantly updating its creations and has added to its features over the years. Make sure to go early to avoid the queues and book online beforehand to save time as well. If you can visit Madame Tussauds out of high season that can help too. Tourists flock to Madame Tussauds over the European summer from June to August so if you can visit outside these months you will probably enjoy the experience more.

There are so many wax works to view and there is also an automated car ride as well as a 3D movie experience which I absolutely loved. The seats move, water splashes on your face and you feel the seat judder as the animated movie plays. What fun! A great day out for adults or adults and children.

I’d love to go again, the only reason Madame Tussauds doesn’t get 10/10 is due to the crowds. Can’t be helped but I easily get ratty when having to negotiate loads of people swilling about. I also think I am majorly allergic to queues!

Mandy X

Another one of my heros: Richard Branson

Madame Tussauds Richard Branson

What is counselling?


counselling photo

What is counselling?

I’ve been a counsellor for such a long time that I sometimes forget what an alien concept counselling can be for some people. I run a private practice 30 minutes outside of London seeing couples and individuals who are experiencing problems.

Typical issues that people seek counselling for are:

  • Relationship issues – trouble communicating, break ups, marital issues, abusive relationships
  • Depression, anxiety, panic attacks
  • Phobias
  • Addiction
  • Low self esteem, low confidence, failure to thrive

What counselling can help with:

Counselling can help identify thoughts that are unhelpful and that are contributing to problems in life. When we listen to our negative thinking, we often end up in a self-fulfilling prophecy: one where the  negative thoughts begin to manifest in life.

For example, if our inner talk tells us we are fat, ugly and useless, our body language will mirror this inner world that we create and others will respond to the negative body language by avoiding us. We then use this incorrectly as evidence that our thoughts are true instead of seeing that our faulty thinking may have helped create the situation in the first place.

Counselling offers a safe, non judgemental place to talk about issues that worry us. Often, in the real world we can’t talk about the things we can discuss in counselling. Reassurance and objective input can be extremely useful in changing the status quo.

Counselling also helps us to understand where the issues/behaviour might be coming from and how we can go about changing things for the positive.

What counselling can’t help with:

Counselling needs input from the client to work. It requires effort to change bad habits and can be quite exhausting in many ways. Part of counselling involves ‘unlearning’ habitual patterns of behaviour (many picked up in childhood) that work against us.

Counselling can’t make life 100% perfect. It can help you be more resilient and find better ways to cope when life gets tough.

Counselling is a fantastic way to understand yourself better and improve your self awareness. We can all learn more about ourselves and challenge our existing ways of doing things.

Mandy X


Photo by Joe Houghton

Learn to pick your battles



small challenges photo


Learn to pick your battles

Have you ever heard of the expression: “Making mountains out of molehills”? I have come to believe that a lot of the stress and anxiety that we experience in our lives comes from magnifying and ‘catastrophising’ problems. I know I do it. A few years back I received a parking ticket that I felt was completely unfair and unjust. It was such a long and protracted saga that I am not going to bore you with details but suffice to say – a year later the problem had not gone away. I had a court date to go to the Crown Court (God knows how a parking ticket ended up as a matter  for the Crown Court) and I had amassed a pile of paperwork to fill three huge arch lever files. In the end I was given a complete pardon but it didn’t save me money in the end and the angst was certainly not worth proving the principle.

Now I am much more selective when choosing which battles to fight. I am a huge stickler for justice and this often gets me into trouble but I have managed to learn how to see the bigger picture and decide which matters are ‘small hills’ to navigate around and which hills are actually mountains that need to be addressed. Life is only as serious as you decide it needs to be.

Keeping a sense of humour is a great tool for combating stress and challenges. We can work ourselves into a right old froth by listening to our thinking – especially the thoughts that make us feel powerless, used or abused in some way. (Remember thoughts DO NOT represent reality directly – they are merely interpretations of what is going on).

I am still a huge advocate of standing up for myself and I won’t go quietly when the issue is of great importance but I have learned to let go hurtful comments from others, lies that are told about me or small injustices that I know I can live with. It’s a constant assessment about the emotional effort involved compared with the importance of the issue at hand. If I feel I can make a difference in a positive way, I might just wade into the fray. If it has to do with how other people think and their preferences I tend to leave it alone. You can’t control how others think and act, all you have control over is your behaviour and how you react (personal responsibility).

Only you can decide what is non-negotiable in your life and what you can live with. It might just be worth re-assessing the non-negotiable list from time to time though as I know mine has changed and has reduced dramatically in the last few years. It’s a feeling of freedom – knowing that there are fewer things in life that are going to ‘hook you in’ or press your emotional buttons.

Mandy X




Photo by Nathan O’Nions

Things to do when you’re bored


bored photo


Things to do when you’re bored

1) Play – Find the invisible cow  game

Check it out hereinvisible cow game



2) Do nothing for two  minutes, mini meditation  do nothing

Click here


3) Receive a virtual hug and feel good. Click here    virtual hugs


4) Find your inner music maestro (I had such fun with this one!)

Click here                incredibox



5) Does the dog die?

Find out here whether the ending will be a sad one.

Click here


6) Write upside down

Click here


7) Killer whale follows your mouse. Waste hours here

killer whale mouse

8) Get your own drum kit…

Click here



9) Become a cartoonist!

Click here


10) Pointing at your cursor/mouse. NO matter where you point your arrow an image will display pointing at it…

Try it here


11) Mind reading genie…think of any character and see if the genie can guess it.

See if you can trick the genie here

genie guess


12) Try daft punk, make it stronger, faster ..better  :)

Click here

daft punk fun


Well  I hope these will keep you out of mischief for a little while  :)

Mandy X