Lobsters can be found everywhere; in relationships, jobs and homes. What’s good about them is if you gradually increase the pressure on their situation, they tend not to notice. Like a lobster. 
  
In order to cook a lobster you don’t put a live lobster in a boiling pot. They’re not stupid, they’ve got reflexes and would jump out. What  you do is you put them in a pot of cold water and gradually turn up the heat  until they’re cooked. This way, they don’t really notice. However if they’d known about the end situation at the beginning, they wouldn’t have got into the pan. 

How do I know if I’m a lobster?
There’s a simple question to test whether or not you’re exhibiting lobster-like qualities:
 
‘If I had known it would be like this when I got into it, would I have done it in the first place?’

For example – if you’d known that your whole team at work would be gradually made redundant and their work given to you, would you have taken the job?

If you’d known that on the flip side of a passionate man you’re  dating was an increasingly bad temper, would you have gone out with him at  all?
 
What’s wrong with being a lobster?
Lobsters are often ‘putting up with’ a situation that they’re not at all happy about (being cooked). If they had been dumped in that situation their reflexes would have told them to get out, but having had the heat turned
up gradually, they’re numb to it.

Is it fair?
If you have identified yourself as a lobster, you might want to ask yourself whether it’s fair. Given you’d have jumped straight out of that situation had you known in advance, is it fair to expect yourself to endure it now?
 
Look after yourself
Once you’ve recognised that you’re now in a pot of boiling hot water that you definitely wouldn’t have got into in the first place if you’d known, it’s important to get out. It may be as simple as recognising the situation as unacceptable and walking away, or you may like to have some coaching/support to put together an action plan. Either way, it’s time to get out of the pan.

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What is 'Attaching Meaning'?

‘Attaching meaning’ or in strict NLP circles ‘complex equivalence’ is a common thinking pattern a lot of us fall into. In essence it is ‘this means that’ for example ‘he crossed his arms -that means he doesn’t like me’ or ‘she texted back immediately - that means she’s super keen” etc.

OK…and what’s wrong with doing that?!

Well…if you fall into a pattern of it, it can lead to confusion and disappointment. You’re not always going to be right – folding arms can be because someone is cold, and texting back might just spell efficiency…or a hundred other things. Imagine how many conversations have gone on in order to attach meaning to the frequency or speed of return texts?!

For performers this attached meaning is a common trap. They are regularly put up against a panel from whom they get no verbal feedback – only the twitch of a pencil or the raising of an eyebrow. What does this mean?! Have I got the job?

This week we ran a competition for our audition workshop and the entrants were requested to send us their worst audition ever story. The results were astonishing – we had casting directors asking their dogs what they thought, co-performers who brought their own whips(!) and a lot of performers who had all but been given the job by casting directors only to hear nothing. Imagine attaching a meaning to all of that – ‘the dog didn’t seem to like me, I’ll probably never work again’, ‘I really thought the whipping worked in my favour, the casting director was scribbling away’ etc.! This searching for meaning can either end in disappointment, a knock to the confidence or at best a wasted week of worrying. 

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Oh dear…I attach meaning all the time….what should I do?
  • The first step is to notice it – and having read this, you probably will.
  • Then question it – does this really mean that? Or am I guessing? What else could be? And how valuable is guessing?
  • Then forget it. Find something else to do that isn’t deciding what things mean. 
  • There is one alternative…and this might be dangerous (but can definitely highlight how wrong you might have got your attached meaning)…ask them! Can I have some feedback (because I really thought it was in the bag because you smiled at me when I came in and when I left?). 
  • There can be a hundred reasons for not getting a job, and many of them are completely out of your control. What’s great is when you know you’ve done a good job, and that’s all that matters.

If you'd like to find out more, I am running a one day workshop for performers called 'SMASH IT" with another Canary Coach and Director, Tim O'Hara.

For more details see:

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There’s been a lot in the media the last week about this, with some typically sensational and misleading headlines such as the Daily Mail - "Working more than eight hours a day raises the risk of heart disease by 80%".  All the noise has resulted from the publication of two studies, one in the American Journal of Epidemiology focusing on working hours, and the other in The Lancet concentrating on general job strain and not ‘feeling in control’.   

Having looked at the excellent explanations on the NHS Choices site, the general conclusion seems to be that, even when other factors are taken into account, workplace stress can have a significant effect on a person’s risk of having a heart attack. However, this effect is less significant than other lifestyle factors such as smoking or lack of exercise.

So, what can you do about workplace stress?

Take a hard look at what’s causing your stress.  If you’re working long hours – could you improve your time management or are you doing it just because everyone else does – and is that a valid reason?  If you feel you’re struggling with the tasks you’re asked to do, 

look at what additional skills might help you to  
cope better and look at training options.  If you feel bullied, or you have no control, check how your colleagues are feeling and consider approaching your boss with a  proposal on how to change things.  If none of this works, then look hard at your values and consider whether you are in the right job – or at worst do everything else you can to reduce your risks.

What else can you do to reduce your risks?
There’s plenty of advice around – smoking is the No 1 risk factor.  Maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your alcohol intake within the recommended limits and taking regular exercise are all very important.  Easier said than done?

Need a second opinion?
Sometimes when you’re in a situation, it can be really difficult to see things objectively and you just keep trying to sort things out and it doesn’t work.  NLP coaching can help you take a fresh look at what’s going on for you, whether you need a career change or just some motivation to improve your lifestyle.


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There is a long article about sleeping pills in today’s Guardian – apparently 1 in 10 of us now take them regularly,  a total of 15.3 million prescriptions costing the NHS £50 million last year, 8.2 million of which were for Zopiclone and Temazepam, the most commonly prescribed drugs for insomnia.  Neither of these drugs are recommended for long term use (more than 2-4 weeks) as they are inclined to cause dependence, can have unpleasant side effects and be very painful and uncomfortable in withdrawal.

I have, however, met probably hundreds of clients who have been taking these drugs every night for years. If GPs stop prescribing, then people will resort to street drug dealers or the internet to obtain drugs of doubtful origin and questionable content.  


So why can't we sleep?              
I ask the same question I asked about depression a few weeks ago, what is  it about our society that causes so many people to have so much trouble sleeping?  I believe that many people’s sleeping problems are caused by an over-stressful life and the inability to turn off their brain at night - we work long hours, often take work home with us or even work from home, are too inclined to check our emails just before we go to bed, leave our smart phones on overnight etc.  I know that if I have had a particularly stressful day, or am dealing  with something I am anxious about, I will either have trouble getting to sleep or wake in the middle of the night and be unable to go back to sleep.  When I was single it was easier, I used to just turn on the light and read till I felt ready for sleep.  Now, not wanting to disturb my partner, I tend to just lie there with my mind whirring – not ideal!  


But I generally find that, as long as I get up at the normal time and keep my routine the same,


 I will sleep fine the next night as I will be very tired.  


Another cause of sleeping problems is, oddly enough, worrying about not sleeping!  We are led to believe that we need 8 hours sleep a night, and if we’re not getting it we tend to obsess about this which has precisely the opposite effect from what we would like!  Many of us in fact need less sleep than this, or can function perfectly well on less as long as we get a longer night every now and then.  And many people, especially older people, are actually sleeping much more than they realise – many times I’ve been told by an elderly person ‘I haven’t closed my eyes all night’ while care workers have said they were sleeping soundly each time they were checked!  

   If you are finding that night after night you are lying awak for hours, then exhaustion will set in and you do need to do something about it. 

What are the options?
    The Guardian article says that CBT can help, and the Government is spending £144 million on increasing NHS access to it ... but my experience is that it is patchy and waiting lists can be very long. NLP can help in a similar way to CBT, and I would urge people to use one of these to learn some stress management techniques before heading for the GP and the sleeping pills route. 

Insomnia is a real problem for some people, and can be very distressing.  But it really is worth learning some simple mind-management techniques and only using medication as a short term last resort.  NLP coaching can help with you learn these techniques, and also help if you've already got a problem with drug dependence.  


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The British Medical Journal has announced the results of a large scale study has revealing that there is a correlation between even relatively minor mental health issues such as stress and anxiety and premature mortality.  I can’t say I find this particularly surprising, but it’s interesting to have one’s natural instincts verified by scientific research!

What do we mean  by 'stress'?
We talk about ‘feeling stressed’ but often what we’re really describing is a collection of physical and emotional symptoms – these can be different in different people, but common ones are headaches, tension in the neck and shoulders, churning stomach or feeling sick, sleeplessness – or the opposite – extreme tiredness, loss of  appetite,   irritability, weepiness etc.   If we ignore them, and don’t deal effectively with the cause of the stress, the symptoms can become chronic and it’s not surprising that they have a negative impact on our  overall health.   An unfortunately common reaction to stress and anxiety symptoms is to resort to alcohol or drugs - which, while they may make you feel better for a short while, can obviously increase the risks to your health if they become a regular habit.

So what can you do about it?
There’s lots you can do to combat stress, and NLP has a number of excellent techniques.   The first thing is to be aware of your symptoms – listen to your body.  Notice where and when you feel the stress most. What is causing the stress? Is it something you can avoid (a different mode of transport to work for 
example) or, more likely, something you could avoid if you re-evaluate your priorities and have a look at your work/life balance?    
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If it’s something that you really can’t avoid, then the next thing to look at is your reaction to it. There are techniques to help you change the way you react to a particular stimulus so that you can interrupt and stop the onset of the stress or anxiety symptoms. This will enable you to look at and deal with the‘stressful’ situation from a different, and potentially more effective perspective. In addition to reacting to and dealing with ‘stressful’  situations differently,  and preventing their onset through careful planning, there are also lifestyle adjustments that can help reduce stress across the board - for example regular exercise and relaxation.

Stress and anxiety can both be very uncomfortable feelings, as well as damaging to your health.   NLP coaching can help you identify the causes of your ‘stressy’ symptoms and look at ways to manage them. 



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