mardi 19 décembre 2006

Does your mind work for you?

Wednesday 15 February, 2.45 p.m.
Lynn sat in her car, parked outside the bank headquarters, fight-
ing conflicting emotions.
She had presented so well when asked to ‘go solo’ recently, in
front of 50 senior bank delegates. The Finance Director and Cor-
porate Banking boss had both spoken to her afterwards to con-
gratulate her on the excellent delivery.
So why did she always feel her stomach churning before her
personal assessment, or any job interview, for that matter? Was
it that she hid behind the mask of her job – until the spotlight was
on her as a person?
It was as if there were two Lynns. The woman who stood confi-
dently in front of a crowd, presenting on communication – and
the little girl who stood cowering in front of the head teacher,
waiting for a row.
Her mind drifted off to her childhood, looking for answers.
Her mum tried so hard to boost her confidence. She had always
praised her – regardless of how Lynn had done.
Perhaps that was the problem. Perhaps she had stopped believ-
ing her mum because there was never a moment when an im-
provement was suggested. Only praise.
Of course her dad never made it to the school performances or
her dancing shows. He seemed to be vaguely interested in her
progress, as if he were hearing reports about a distant relative.
So with nothing to judge her mother’s lavish praise against, it had
become much easier to be sceptical about all compliments. She
felt that way she could guard against being ‘taken in’.
Lynn had become so much better, though, at accepting compli-
ments about her business presentations. It was the personal ones
that still seemed difficult to believe.
And with her inability to ‘bank’ those, she still felt very exposed
when the conversation was about her, rather than the business.
As she locked up the car, Lynn went to remove the flyer on her
‘Does your mind work for you?’ it asked, suggesting that hypno-
therapy with Dr Dave DeSilva would help you overcome ‘drink-
ing, smoking and fear of flying’.
‘Doctor of what?’ asked Lynn to nobody in particular.
‘I’m so bad in interviews,’ she told herself, entering the lift to the
sixth floor – boardroom level.
‘No, Lynn – stop thinking negatively,’ she warned herself. ‘You are
good at these interviews.’
But the words were hollow. Lynn felt quite squeamish and wished
she was anywhere else, other than facing an interview for a pro-
moted post – Head of Training.
As the lift rose, a noise came from her handbag.
‘Damn! I meant to switch that off,’ she thought, reaching for her
Before silencing it, Lynn read the message:
Does your mind work for you?
‘Yes, but only with the help of a hypnotherapist, apparently,’ she
said mockingly, causing the young temp sharing the lift with her
to look at Lynn strangely.
When Lynn arrived outside the boardroom, one of her interview-
ers was waiting for her.
Jane Browning, retiring Head of Training, touched Lynn on the
arm in a friendly manner.
‘Now, I know you get nervous at these wretched interviews,’ she
said. ‘If you want to use a trick I learned a long time ago, think of
us all sitting in our pyjamas sporting big Mickey Mouse ears. If you
still felt nervous facing a panel like that, I’d eat my hat.’
‘Thanks, Jane,’ Lynn laughed. ‘I’ll bear that in mind.’
‘Go for it, Lynn. This is your big chance. Show them what I already
know,’ she said, departing into the boardroom.
It was 10 minutes later, once the other four panel members had
arrived, that Lynn was invited in.
She nodded to Jane and the other two she knew – and intro-
duced herself with a handshake to the two unknown to her.
‘Lynn, perhaps you can remind us all of what brings you here,’
opened the woman Lynn was looking to succeed.
‘Well, I was delighted to be asked to apply for this job – and at
first I was a little surprised,’ Lynn began, teetering on the edge of
talking herself out of the post.
‘However, having considered what I’ve been doing since return-
ing full-time last September, I now believe I’m ready for the chal-
‘Yes, it is only less than six months since you went full-time,’ sol-
emnly pointed out the panellist who, peering over his bi-focals,
resembled a High Court judge.
‘I wonder if you’re certain that you wish to remain full-time, or
whether you’ll want to return to part-time working.’
Lynn caught Jane’s eye before answering and noticed her sweep-
ing her hair behind her ears with both hands. She then cupped
her hands, to remind Lynn of the Mickey Mouse ears.
Lynn laughed, a little too obviously for her own liking.
‘Yes, I have to laugh when I remember dithering about return-
ing,’ she began, ‘ but now, weighing up on a Monday morning
whether I wish to breathe life into the presentations of my col-
leagues or debate with a five-year-old the pros – but mostly cons
– of “colouring in” my white bedroom carpet, the former wins
hands down each time.’
The ‘judge’ smiled. The other four laughed.
‘Good start, Lynn,’ she told herself. ‘Now just stay relaxed and
concentrate on the positives.’
Mind power
Our mind is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal to
understand the world about us and to deal with life. It’s therefore
vital that we make our mind our loyal ally.
In every moment, our own mind is either working for or against
us. The choice is ours.
Lynn thinks back to her childhood and how she struggled even then
to make sense of her family, her environment and her ‘world’.
She now realizes that, in so many ways, it didn’t add up at all.
Her mother praised her, irrespective of what she did – and her fa-
ther gave her no feedback whatsoever, neither good nor bad.
She recognizes how impossible it was, as a child growing up in that
specific setting, to construct a clear picture of a rational world.
Suddenly it dawns on her:
It’s impossible to build a sure sense of healthy self-worth on
the shifting sands of inconsistent and conflicting parental
No wonder Lynn has doubted herself so much and found com-
pliments from Steve and her colleagues hard to believe. She still
thinks, sometimes, that they are ‘just being nice’ to her by not
telling her the truth.
Revisiting, re-evaluating and reconstructing
Lynn is realizing how important it is for her now, as an adult, to
REVISIT the erroneous conclusions she came to about herself, as
a child.
Because, unwittingly, she’s been living her adult life based on the
opinion of herself that she formed as a child. And that is outdated
and inaccurate.
Lynn fashioned a misshapen view of herself and formed poor be-
liefs regarding her abilities, as a consequence of growing up in her
unique family environment – a result of living on ‘Planet Peter-
Her evaluation of herself was strongly influenced by the relation-
ships she had with her parents.
The exciting thing is that, after revisiting her childhood opinions
of herself, she is then in a powerful position to RE-EVALUATE
them in the light of evidence regarding herself that is now avail-
able to her.
Our family may have passed a sentence on us as a child, but we can
overturn that sentence in our own ‘Appeal Court’ – based on the
new evidence that has since come to light.
The evidence – that she is of greater worth and value than she pre-
viously thought – is all around her, if only she looks with a more
open mind and is prepared to take on board what she sees.
She can source the evidence and information she needs by asking
Steve, friends and work colleagues who clearly hold her in high
regard and appreciate her abilities and personal qualities – as a
woman, as a mother and as a professional.
By REVISITING her beliefs about herself and RE-EVALUATING
them, Lynn can begin to modify her poor view of herself and RE-
CONSTRUCT a set of healthier, more accurate and empowering
In this way, Lynn’s self-confidence can grow.
Positive self-talk
Replacing negative self-talk, in the form of unhelpful, disempow-
ering thoughts, with positive self-affirming ones, is an essential
life skill that builds self-confidence and increases our chances of
Lynn’s inner critic, her ‘goblin’ as she calls it, always goes into
overdrive whenever she’s under stress.
And she’s been worrying and obsessing over her approaching job
interview for days.
For the first time she can remember, Lynn courageously challeng-
es her ‘goblin’ when it begins its familiar critical monologue and
starts to ‘run her down’.
When the ‘goblin’ jibes that she is ‘so bad at interviews’, Lynn help-
fully replaces this negative false belief about herself with a more
positive alternative: ‘You are good at these interviews’.
Although Lynn may feel this is a bit strange and artificial at first,
the practice of substituting negative thoughts with empowering
alternatives is one she will need to cultivate.
This whole process requires it to become a habit before it feels ef-
fortless and natural.
As she becomes more aware of her unhelpful thinking style, Lynn
makes the choice to start initiating positive self-talk.
At the right time, and when it matters most, she’s able to give her-
self some accurate positive feedback and encouragement during
the interview itself:
‘Good start, Lynn,’ she tells herself, ‘now just stay relaxed and concen-
trate on the positives.’
By doing this, Lynn is immediately starting to make her mind work
for her rather than against her – and it pays off instantly.
Learning to make our mind our BEST FRIEND and LOYAL SUP-
PORTER is essential if we want to discover peace of mind.
Your Mind Map
As we go through each day, we’re constantly forming opinions and
views of what’s happening to us and around us.
And these views form the basis for what we call ‘reality’.
We believe that the information we collect from our senses is truly
objective. But really our mind is squeezing all the information it is
receiving from around us, through the filter of our personal beliefs
about ourselves and others, based on our past experiences.
This somewhat distorted perception then becomes a picture or ver-
sion of reality that is unique to each one of us.
In this way, moment by moment, we form our own personal rep-
resentation of our experience.
This is our personal Mind Map of the World.
It’s our Mind Map that we follow as we make our way through
each day – when we experience a conversation, an encounter, a
meeting, look in the mirror, read the newspaper or go on a jour-
The difficulty is that our Mind Map version of reality may not be
‘geographically’ accurate, because it’s only our personal represen-
tation and reconstruction of what we experience.
The Mind Map of the world that Steve forms and follows when
he’s in the presence of bullying Dave has been blurred by his child-
hood experiences at the hands of his critical father.
As a result, he did find himself acting as if Dave was his father, in
a way that was unhelpful to him.
Steve has now formed a much more accurate Mind Map of the
situation to follow, since he has become aware of this distortion.
One effective way to make our mind work for us in difficult situ-
ations, rather than against us, is to reframe our view of events so
that they empower us.
Lynn uses this device well during her job interview when she
imagines the panel wearing Mickey Mouse ears.
However, using her inaccurate Mind Map of the interview setting,
she also views one panel member in a distorted way.
She sees him in her mind as ‘the judge’ and therefore, by implica-
tion, out to sentence her – rather than assess her fairly and appreci-
ate her job qualities.
This is an unhelpful Mind Map to follow in an interview setting
but she uses a type of reframing, visual reframing, to get her past
this obstacle.
She visually reframes her picture of the panel in a way that robs
‘the judge’ of the power she’s already granted to him in her mind,
by viewing him in a ridiculous way, with huge protruding ears.
And it works a treat.
Visually reframing jolts her mind out of imagining an unhelpful
picture of the situation into working with an empowering one.
Lynn is grasping the enormous personal power at her disposal the
moment she starts to make her mind work for her.
That afternoon, 4.10 p.m.
‘Well, how did it go?’ asked Steve tentatively, as Lynn picked up
her office phone.
‘Actually, very well,’ answered Lynn, more positively than Steve
had expected.
‘Great,’ he said. ‘So what made the difference this time?’
Lynn took Steve through the conversation with Jane Browning,
her reminder of the Mickey Mouse ears, her confident start – and
the string of good answers she gave to searching questions.
‘Not a “quite” or “fairly” or “hopefully” in sight,’ she concluded
‘So do you reckon you’ll get the job?’ asked Steve.
‘Well, I have a great chance,’ replied Lynn.
‘I’m having an interesting day,’ said Steve.
‘Why, what’s happened?’ said Lynn.
‘Tell you when I get home,’ teased Steve – and hung up.
Tuesday, 7.30 p.m.
‘This had better be good,’ said Lynn, as her husband walked into
the kitchen of their flat.
‘Well it is, as a matter of fact,’ said Steve. ‘Do you remember
that advert that began “Are you good enough to lead our sales
‘Sure, but that was months ago,’ said Lynn.
‘Well, the original ad was back in September,’ said Steve. ‘I came
across it in the pocket of my old suit trousers last week and, for
some reason, decided to phone them. It turns out the appoint-
ment fell through because of a legal wrangle over compensation
– and so they’re needing a sales director in a hurry.’
‘They told you all this on the phone?’ asked Lynn, bemused.
‘No, the Chief Executive told me when I dropped in at five this
evening for a chat,’ said Steve, as Lynn’s eyes widened. ‘He turns
out to be an old university friend of mine – Chris Williamson.
Lynn, he’s offered me the job, based on what I achieved last year.
He told me he had thought of calling me when he read about
the award.’
Lynn was speechless. So many questions flooded though her
head, but only one came out her mouth.
‘How much does it pay?’
‘Five grand less than I’m on,’ said Steve. ‘But that would improve,
based on performance.’
‘Risky,’ said Lynn.
‘The only risk would be to ignore your gut instinct,’ said Steve.
‘You’re right,’ said Lynn. ‘So do you want to take it?’
‘I’ve said I’ll give him an answer by five tomorrow,’ said Steve. ‘But
first, I’m going to resolve some unfinished business with Dave.’
Thursday 16 February, 8.30 a.m.
‘Morning, Dave. Can I have a word?’ asked Steve.
‘A brief one,’ replied Dave, chewing on his breakfast blueberry
Steve drew up a seat.
‘There was something I omitted to say yesterday,’ began Steve.
‘Oh yeah,’ replied Dave, barely interested.
‘I’ve given my commitment to the job – but I require your com-
mitment also,’ Steve started.
‘My commitment to what?’ barked the Bulldog.
‘To stop bullying me and everybody else in this company,’ con-
tinued Steve.
‘Are you suggesting I’m a bully?’ snarled Dave, the crumbs of
blueberry muffin now flying in all directions.
‘I’m not suggesting it, Dave. I’m saying directly and unambigu-
ously that you are a bully.’
For once, Dave was confounded, so Steve continued.
‘Now, do I have your guarantee that the bullying will stop imme-
diately?’ asked Steve.
Dave was about to explode.
‘Well, do I?’ asked Steve.
‘Get out my office right away!’ shouted Dave.
‘With respect, that’s not an answer, Dave. Is the bullying going
to stop?’
‘Get out!’ screamed Dave. ‘And consider what you’re going to
say when I have you disciplined for gross misconduct.’
‘I’ve only asked you politely to stop bullying your staff,’ replied
Steve. ‘It’s your misconduct that’s gross. So I’ll ask a final time, can
you guarantee that the bullying will stop or do I have to report
your behaviour to the Chief Executive?’
‘You wouldn’t dare,’ snapped Dave.
‘Watch me!’ replied Steve.
‘You’ll leave this company before I do,’ hit back Dave.
‘Well, you’re probably right there,’ said Steve, pulling a white
envelope out of his jacket inside pocket, ‘because this is my res-
ignation letter. But I will make it my business to write a formal
complaint about your behaviour before I leave. Craig, being the
fair man he is, will undoubtedly take that very seriously indeed.
Good morning, Dave,’ concluded Steve, smiling as he closed the
door quietly behind him on the way out.
Twenty minutes later
‘No way!’ exclaimed Lynn, on hearing Steve’s report of the meet-
She pressed her mobile close to her ear, to make sure she caught
every word.
‘And you didn’t feel nervous?’ she asked.
‘I envisaged him in his boxer shorts with huge ears – which he has
anyway,’ replied Steve.
‘And what if the new job falls through?’ said Lynn, suddenly real-
izing the consequences of Steve’s actions.
‘Even if it did – and I’m convinced it’ll be confirmed this week
– even if it did, I’m still a good candidate for any similar job
going,’ said Steve. ‘And once Craig gets my letter tomorrow, it’s
Dave who should be concerned about his future.’

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