Don’t judge a book by it’s cover


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Don’t judge a book by it’s cover

Someone recently put a comment on Facebook about not judging a book by its cover. The comment was something along the lines of: “Some of the nicest people have tattoos and piercings and some of the most judgemental people go to church every Sunday.”

This comment got me thinking. I remember learning in my psychology degree about cognitive shortcuts. How people go about processing and storing information and how we use stereotypes to shorten the amount of time it takes to categorise information. As we live in a world with information overload on a daily basis, it kind of makes sense to try and pigeonhole people. I have often found that when I have tried to generalise that I have been wrong.

That is one of the amazing things about human beings-we may share similarities but we are all unique in our own special way. Since I began counselling I have become much more open-minded. Of course it is natural to assume things about people you have never met and I would do this in the beginning. The new client within begin to tell me a little more about themselves and their life story and I would realise how many preconceived ideas I had about them.

Being open-minded, curious and with an eagerness to learn are¬†prerequisites when offering counselling to others. I have to set aside my prejudices and biases and do my level best to understand the world from another person’s perspective. This has taught me how we all have varying perspectives on what is happening in the world. It has also helped me to appreciate that there is always more than one way to view an event or an experience.

We all carry our own personal filters that help us make sense of the world. These are created from the moment we are born, during our childhoods, continuing into adulthood. Much of the learning and the automatic thoughts we have about the world come from learned experiences-especially as children.

Being a counsellor has made me appreciate even more the uniqueness we all have. Making an extra effort to see past the generalisations and stereotypes that we all use can lead to wonderful friendships, amazing new experiences and unconventional learning about the world around us.

Mandy X

How to embrace an uncertain future


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How to embrace an uncertain future

It’s a harsh reality, but we need to face the idea that no one can give us the exact answers that we need to be successful and happy. We all have different needs and different aspirations. Many of the answers that we are looking for lie within us and can be accessed through self-awareness and through our own first-hand experiences.

When we are true to ourselves, when we ask for what we want and when we live a life with integrity-fear of the uncertain lessens. The more we believe in ourselves and cultivate self-reliance, the more powerful we feel. Stop listening to what others want for  you and start tuning in to want you really want for yourself. Only when you tune in to your inner wisdom will you start to find the right path.

Once you have built a strong in a foundation you will find that amid the chaos and noise around you, there will be an inner peace. You may still feel frightened but you will feel ready to face whatever comes your way.

Embracing an uncertain future is something we all have to do. Nothing is certain so we may as well get used to dealing with it. We fool ourselves by trying to control things that are actually beyond our control in order to feel safe. We insure ourselves to the hilt, we draw up contracts and we take legal action when things do not go away. We could save ourselves a lot of distress if we learned to be quiet during the chaos and to keep our ideals and goals close to us.

The more you care about what other people think, the more unhappy you will be. Other people will always have their own opinions no matter what you do so you may as well please yourself.

Be true to yourself and foster self belief. Stop the negative self talk and replace it with more positive dialogue. Remind yourself regularly of all the hardships that you have overcome this far. Remind yourself that you will face whatever comes your way.

Accept that uncertainty is a part of life-stop resisting it. A risk assessment is obviously necessary but then go for it-do not procrastinate or become indecisive. See each way forward and each new decision as an adventure-a way to learn the matter what the outcome is.

Mandy X



Photo by h.koppdelaney

Beauty and hope exists everywhere


rose in winter

Beauty and hope exists everywhere

It is 7 Degrees outside yet this beautiful rose still persists in my garden. It made me think about how beauty can exist everywhere and that hope can persist despite difficult circumstances.

There is not one bit of colour in my garden apart from this striking rose. Wanted to share!

Mandy X

Thank you pretty rose for brightening up my day! xx



Workplace bullying


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Workplace bullying

Workplace bullying is on the rise yet is poorly understood. Managers often move people around to reduce bullying rather than try to understand the causes and dynamics behind bullying. Poor management is clearly one of the reasons that workplace bullying exists.

I have found many clients who feel bullied find it difficult to address the problem within their workplace. Instead they have sought my help – an objective outsider to help them learn coping strategies to deal with their unfavourable work environment. It is pretty shocking to learn that managers who are put into positions of power often abuse their position and seem to have very little in the way of empathy or guilt over their lack or inaction.

Unfortunately, as long as bulling is tolerated or dealt with in a passive way, it will continue. The bullying stories that I have been told have generally been from the ‘top-down’. A boss or superior throwing their weight around with their subordinates. Staff have been encouraged to lie to protect the company, staff have been threatened with losing their jobs if they failed to comply and there is subtle verbal and emotional abuse on a large scale.

The top industries where bullying stories have emerged from:


The Banking sector

Government agencies – eg. Borough Councils

Speak up against bullying. Do whatever you can to highlight the problem to ensure that those at the top get the message that bullying won’t be tolerated. The main bulk of staff ultimately have a lot of power of they stick together and talk about what is happening to them.

Mandy X


Why people live double lives


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Why people live double Lives

I am privileged in that people reveal many of their secrets to me during therapy sessions. One thing that I have found to be far more common than I expected is the existence of double lives. Many people feel pressure to convey a certain image to others and this means they end up suppressing their true desires.

It is quite common for people to have secrets and double lives are on the increase. We live in a judgemental world where many of us feel we cannot be true to ourselves. Our insecurities and fear of rejection and humiliation prevent us from owning our hidden personality traits and behaviours.

One common example of a double life is infidelity. On the one hand a married person wishes to be seen as faithful and moralistic. But on the other hand there are these urges and desires which pull a person in the opposite direction. Inner conflict arises And can be the cause of great stress for the person.Cognitive dissonance occurs when there is conflict between the way we would like to see ourselves and the way we actually are. When these two images are not the same-conflict arises.

One way to deal with cognitive dissonance is to split and dissociate so that there is a gap between the two lives. Compartmentalisation is one defence mechanism that people use to cope with a double life without feeling guilt. A double life can offer comfort to someone who is under immense pressure to be seen as powerful and successful. A double life offers an opportunity to live the life they really want rather than the life that is expected of them from others.

The more society places pressure upon us to be a good citizen, a faithful spouse, a perfect parent and an upstanding person all round, the more double lives will continue to exist.

Mandy X

Photo by MadalenaPestana

3 ways to embrace and reduce stress


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3 ways to embrace and reduce stress

I find life very stressful these days. There seems to be less time to enjoy life and most of my time is spent rushing about trying to complete chores and ticking off items on my to-do list. I know I am not alone as many people that I speak to seem to be sharing a similar experience. When did we let it get to this? Stress seems to be an integral part of modern day living. I have found a way that helps me to feel less stressed in the moment and here it is:

1) Acceptance

I have often found myself resisting what is happening in my life. I get angry at the injustice as I see around me, I feel sorry for myself at times and feel frustrated when life doesn’t turn out as I hoped it would. In the past I have spent countless hours resisting ‘what is’. I am getting better at accepting what is going on in my life rather than wishing I had a different life. This does not mean that I have become passive but it does mean that I have stopped resisting the reality that I am experiencing. Acceptance has a lot to do with acknowledging what is going on. Once we accept the true nature of our experience we can begin to create a realistic plan.

2) Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a tricky skill to to master. It requires that we calm our busy brains and focus our attention on the present moment. I find this incredibly hard to do because my mind is always wandering off. Mainly I worry about the future and can get myself into a right tizz over possibilities that may never come to be. Mindfulness ensures that we enjoy the present moment and the present moment is all that we really have. Touch, taste, see, hear and smell everything around you. Engage your senses in the present moment.

3) Detach from negative thinking

Our thoughts create our emotions. If our thoughts are negative and full of worry, our behaviour will be in line with this thinking and our focus will be on our fears and insecurities. Learning to detach from our thoughts is a skill that can be learned. When you find yourself thinking a negative thoughts such as, “I will never find someone to love me”, immediately challenge it. Ask yourself where the evidence is for this thought and check whether there is an alternative way to view the particular problem or issue.

There is a saying: “when you are in your own mind, you are in enemy territory”. This saying is so true. Our thoughts can lead us to heaven or hell. Learn to separate your thoughts from the reality. Thoughts are often based upon our own insecurities and false assumptions.

I have found the above three strategies very useful. When I am in the middle of an anxious phase I stop myself and I mentally go through the above three strategies. I have found them to be very effective in lessening my anxiety and I hope you receive the same benefits.

Mandy X

love hate relationships


love hate photoLove hate relationships

Are you in a love hate relationship? Love is a much broader emotion than hate. When love provides the foundation from where hate emerges, the hate can rise to an intensity that is far greater than it would have been without the initial love.

A state of inner conflict arises when we hate the person we love. It is however possible to feel these conflicting emotions simultaneously. It is also normal to have moments when you feel less “in love” than you usually do.

When we get to the stage of loving someone, we have opened ourselves up and made ourselves vulnerable in the process. Hate can become an intense emotion when we feel let down by the person we trusted. With love comes expectation. We all have different versions of how we imagine a romantic partner should behave and when we are disappointed, hate can ensue.

If you regularly feel conflicting emotions towards your partner, here are a few suggestions to get you on a more balanced and even keel:

1) Maintain perspective. It is not possible for one person to meet all of your emotional needs. A partner cannot be-romantic partner, best friend, therapist, confidante, mother, father et cetera

2) identify your own issues in the relationship transaction. Often when we have experienced emotional trauma in childhood, we may have a distorted idea of how a romantic relationship should unfold. Understanding where your expectations may be unrealistic is important in minimising negative emotions such as hate.

3) Communicate regularly. Don’t bottle things up. Speak to your partner when issues come up and find a way to resolve them together.

4) Maintain a social life separate from your partner. It is unhealthy for a couple to live in each other’s pockets. Ensure that you have a few friends that you can talk to. This will also help you to maintain perspective (see number one).

5) Don’t compare your partner to others. Comparing is damaging. You don’t even truly know what you are comparing your partner to. We never have the full picture of how someone else would be in reality. We only see what they want to show us whereas we get to see the full picture with our partners.

Trust your inner wisdom. If there is more hate than love – tune inwards. Our inner wisdom often warns us that in many cases we ignore this. Stay on your toes and don’t allow your desire to be in relationship to win over being in the right relationship.

Mandy X

Photo by admmac1


The Dark Triad of Personality Characteristics


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The Dark Triad of Personality Characteristics

A dangerous recipe of three personality characteristics exists. Someone possessing these three traits is dangerous as they lack empathy, use people as objects and have a determination to succeed that is devoid of morals and ethics.

These three personality characteristics are:

  1. Psychopathy – anti social personality, lack of empathy, lack guilt and very impulsive
  2. Machiavellianism – manipulation and exploitation of others. Often seen is corporate types
  3. Narcissism – selfish, self absorbed and lacking in empathy

People with these personality traits are brilliant at moving between these three personality traits and only show the side they need to in order to further their aims. They can be heartless and are adept at dissociation whereby they act in a detached way. Acting in a detached way ensure they will have no conscience or guilt over their actions.

Sadly, many CEO’s and Directors of companies possess the dark triad of personality characteristics. Their need for power and status coupled with their lack of empathy ensure they get ahead.

People who possess the dark triad have often experienced a difficult and unloving childhood where these anti social traits will have been fostered. Abuse in childhood is a good predictor of many types of dysfunction in adults. If you know someone who only seems to care about what’s in it for them, offers very little in terms of emotional intelligence and empathy and can cause upset easily without it affecting them, you may know someone with the dark triad.

Relationships are all about give and take, cut your losses (especially if you are in a romantic relationship) and get out!


Mandy X



Photo by hang_in_there