self esteem vs self compassion1

Self Esteem vs Self Compassion

The pursuit of self esteem is perhaps one of the biggest movements of the last 50 years. From teachers to parents and popular culture, we have been taught that feeling good about yourself is a high priority. A huge self help industry has been built around the benefits of increasing self esteem. The self esteem movement bases its assumptions on the belief that high self esteem leads to positive outcomes, and low self esteem leads people to do things that are harmful and destructive. However recent research has laid bare the negative aspects of self esteem. It has led to us becoming more and more competitive, as our self worth is calculated by how better we are doing in relation to others.

Our culture has become so competitive we need to feel special and above average to just to feel okay about ourselves (being called “average” is an insult). Most people, therefore, feel compelled to create what psychologists call a “self-enhancement bias” – puffing ourselves up and putting others down so that we can feel superior in comparison.

Dr Kristen Neff

This constant need to feel better than those around us leads to a sense of isolation and separation. In addition our self esteem is dictated by our latest success or failure. However perhaps the most insidious consequence of the self esteem movement is the narcissism epidemic. Self-esteem has also been linked to aggression, prejudice and anger towards those who threaten our sense of self-worth. It’s the reason some people bully or put others down to build themselves up.

Self Esteem Vs Self Compassion

In contrast to self-esteem, self-compassion is not based on self-evaluations. People feel compassion for themselves because we all deserve compassion and understanding, not because they possess a trait or traits that are desirable. This means that with self-compassion, you are not dependent on feeling better than others to feel good about yourself.  Self-compassion also allows for greater self-clarity, because personal failings can be acknowledged with kindness and do not need to be hidden.It also involves mindfulness — the recognition and non-judgmental acceptance of painful emotions as they arise in the present moment.

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Moreover, self-compassion isn’t dependent on external circumstances, it’s always available – especially when you fall flat on your face!  Research indicates that in comparison to self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior, as well as less narcissism and reactive anger.

Although low self esteem is not something we want to suffer, and we always work at increasing our clients sense of self worth, our adoption of the self compassion approach has greatly improved client outcomes. We owe much of this to the hard work our clients put into their therapy, but also the fantastic work done by Dr Kristen Neff. We really recommend this TED Talk about self compassion which we have featured in our blog post on the psychological aspects of weight loss.


Also take a look at our self esteem booster guide which you can access below.

Access the Self-Esteem Booster Guide

Learn about the 10 Tips to Increase Self-Esteem

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panic attack by Aiden Hughes

The Most Common Beliefs about Panic Attacks we Need to Stop Believing

Imagine standing on the edge of a cliff. There are no barriers to prevent you from falling over, and it’s a bit windy. Look down. Feeling anxious? Good, that’s a perfectly healthy and helpful response to the situation you find yourself in.

Hold onto the feeling you had looking down the cliff face – and now imagine dealing with that feeling whilst doing the supermarket shop. Probably not so healthy or helpful.

These intense episodes are an alarmingly common for people who struggle from panic attacks and panic disorder, says Dr Ben Piper – and it’s an often misunderstood mental health issue. In everyday language we often refer to feelings of being nervous as ‘panic attacks.’ In this post, Ben flags up the  most common misconceptions he sees people believe about panic, even long term sufferers.

 You loose all control and go ‘crazy’ during a panic attack

Even though panic attacks can be very disturbing, they will not cause you to completely lose touch with reality. You may experience feelings of depersonalization and derealization, in which you briefly feel disconnected from yourself and the world around you. As uncomfortable as these symptoms can be, they are not signs of psychosis. Some other mental health disorders, such as depression and PTSD, do frequently co-occur with panic disorder. However, panic disorder is not commonly associated with schizophrenia.

Panic attacks are in indication you are likely to develop a more serious mental illness.

This leads on quite nicely from the first myth. Many people believe that being diagnosed with panic disorder or having a panic attack means they’re going to develop another serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. But panic disorder can really be something in its own right. If you’re still worried, bring up your concerns with a mental health professional.

panic attack large

 Deep breathes will calm you down during a panic attack

Panicking people are often told to calm down and “take a deep breath.” But for someone hyperventilating during a panic attack, deep breathing is a bad idea. The increased amounts of carbon dioxide caused by deep breathing leads to feelings of dizziness and numbness. The new research suggests shallower inhalation and a deeper/ longer exhalation are more effective.

The Beginners Self Care guide for Anxiety and Panic

Learn how to manage anxiety and panic attacks

Click here to access

 Having panic attacks is something you will have to deal with for the rest of your life

It’s a common misconception that [being diagnosed with panic disorder] means that you will have to be on medication for the rest of your life.I think this contributes to the avoidance factors and stigma towards counselling and mental health, which can make sufferers prolong getting help. However, the sooner you do so, the sooner you can control your panic.

People respond well to medication and generally and the research supports its use. Here at iRise Psychology we use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy without medications, or a combination of both if the client has been prescribed medication from a psychiatrist. There’s also a myth that there is no real help out there for panic disorder, which isn’t true. There are some high performing evidence based treatments for panic.


just breathe 1

The 6 Best Strategies to Manage Anxiety


We all experience some degree of anxiety in our lives. Life is full of anxiety provoking challenges that we have to face. In fact, anxiety is normal and adaptive as it helps us prepare for danger.

Therefore, the goal is to learn to manage anxiety, not eliminate it.

The fight or flight syndrome is useful when the stress is short term, (such as running for a bus so as to not be late), and the body is able to quickly return back to balance point. But when the stress is chronic, your body tries to sustain the high alert status well beyond the point that is healthy.

The Six Best Strategies to Manage Anxiety.

These techniques fall into three typical areas:

  • the physical arousal that constitutes the terror of panic
  • the heightened feelings of tension that correlated with being ‘stressed out’
  • the mental anguish of rumination – a brain that wont stop thinking distressing thoughts

1. Breathe

Breathing exercises are one of the best and quickest ways to help regulate your body and emotion when you feel anxious. This will help with the distressing physical arousal that comes with feeling anxious. There are many breathing techniques but one of the best is called the 4,7,8 Breathing technique. The technique has 4 easy steps, as follows;


1. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4.
2. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
3. Release your breath from your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of 8.
4. Without a break, breathe in again for a count of 4, repeating the entire technique 3-4 times in a row, then resume normal breathing and activity.

2.  Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is simply the act of living in the present moment. Many people who are full of anxiety tend to focus a lot of their mental energy on the future. They spend an inordinate amount of their time and energy trying to make the future as predictable as possible. This type of living is driven by fear of the unknown. But, mindfulness refocuses that energy and tries to live fully in the present. It takes practice to live in the present moment when you are used to leaning out into the future, but the present is a far more peaceful place to live. Mindfulness can help with both the mental anguish and the physical arousal associated with anxiety.

Download our Mini Mindfulness Guide!

Learn how Mindfulness can Improve your day to day life

Click here to access 

3. Do things you find Fun

Laughing is a great way to increase good feelings and discharge tension. Getting in touch with fun and play isn’t easy for the serious, tense worrier. A therapy goal could be simply to relearn what you had fun doing in the past and prescribe yourself some fun.

4. Recognise and challenge distorted thoughts and unhelpful thinking

If you are prone to feel a lot of anxiety, chances are that you have untrue thoughts or beliefs that are fueling your anxiety. For example, you might immediately assume that when a given situation doesn’t turn out as expected that it will become a worst-case scenario (catastrophising). These ways of thinking are distortions and act as lenses through which you typically see the world. The way out of these distortions is to train your mind to be objective and reflect on other possibilities. For example, instead of defaulting to negative about all the things that went wrong in that job interview, focus on what went well and what you might do differently the next time you are in a similar situation. Learning how to control the thoughts we listen to can have a profound effect on diminishing mental anguish.

Download the Depression Toolkit!

Learn how to Change your Thinking to Transform how you Feel!

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5. Worry Well, but Only Once

Some worries just have to be faced head-on, and worrying about them the right way can help eliminate secondary, unnecessary worrying. When you feel that your worries are out of control try this next method:

  1. Worry through all the issues within a time limit of 10-20 mins and cover all the bases.
  2. Do anything that must be done at the present time. Set a time when it’ll be necessary to think about the worry again
  3. Write that time on a calendar.
  4. Whenever the thought pops up again say, “Stop! I already worried” and divert your thoughts as quickly as possible to another activity – you may need to make a list of these possible diversions beforehand.

6. Taking care of yourself

Self-care plays a Surprisingly large role in your ability to manage anxiety. When you are getting an adequate amount of sleep, eating healthy meals, being active on a daily basis and avoiding dependence on substances like alcohol, you are building up your body and mind’s resilience to stress so that you can handle most of the challenges that come your way.


These skills do require patience and determination. However, once learnt, people gain a lasting sense of their own power and competence in working actively with their own symptoms to conquer anxiety through their own efforts.

own it

10 Quotes to boost your Self-Esteem

Perhaps one of the most essential ingredients to positive mental wellbeing is having high self-esteem combined with a healthy dose of self-compassion. Hopefully these inspiring and thought provoking quotes from the last 2000 years will give you the boost you need to go out there and be the best version of you!

Mark Twain

Mark twain quote



Elizabeth Kubler-Ross




Louise L. Hay

louise l. hay



Dianne Von Furstenberg

Diane von furstenberg quote



Download the 10 Step Self-Esteem Booster Guide!

Try these 10 tips to increase your Self-Esteem.

Click here to access







W.C Fields

wc fileds quote



Laurie Halse Anderson



Sally Field

Sally field quote



Kristin Neff

kristin neff qoute




madonna quote



5 Easy Mindfulness Practices you Can Do Today

The modern world tends to live in the future. And when you’re not in the future (trying to get noticed or running after something) you’re relieving your past. If you are always frustrated by your hectic life schedule, maybe you need to schedule a few internal meetings? These five easy mindfulness practices will help you to be fully engaged in the present, attending to what happens in the moment, engaged, in control and at peace.

1. Slow Down and Notice

Pause what you’re doing and let your shoulders relax while and simply take in whatever is around you in this moment. You will be surprised how much better you feel. Create space internally so that you can better focus on what you’re doing – from work to being with family. It is hard to remember to take these pauses in everyday life, so try to use viual cues or schedule in mindfulness mini breaks to help make this practice a useful habit.day_shooting



2. Practice Mindful Eating

Enjoy your food by chewing it properly. Chewing breaks down your food into small particles for proper digestion. Eat food for nourishing your body only. Recognize your non-hunger triggers to breaking free from food cravings and compulsive overeating. Do not upset your digestive system by eating more. It will have harmful effects on your body.



Download our Mini Mindfulness Guide!

Learn how Mindfulness can Improve your day to day life

Click here to access 


3. The 4, 7, 8 Breathing technique

This short-term fix for stress and anxiety (and to help you sleep) can immediately tame the fight-or-flight response misfiring in your brain, cool your body’s inflammatory response to all those stress hormones, and halt anxiety or panic by using a simple breathing technique. The technique has 4 easy steps, as follows;

1. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4.
2. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
3. Release your breath from your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of 8.
4. Without a break, breathe in again for a count of 4, repeating the entire technique 3-4 times in a row, then resume normal breathing and activity.

The 4 7 8 breathing technique works because when you are stressed out, your breathing becomes very shallow. People who experience long-term, chronic stress are often chronically under-breathing and are in a constant state of mild hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation.

In addition, under-breathing can lead to a build up of excess carbon dioxide in your tissues, which contributes to oxidative stress, inflammation and acidification in your body—the foundations for disease.



4. Start your day without any gadgets

What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed each morning? If you check phone, you are not alone. Many people start their day by checking their phones. Instead of checking office emails or the notifications of your social media profiles, take out some time for meditation. Plan out your whole day in a systematic manner. Don’t make any excuses and shift your focus towards this wonderful and productive exercise.


5. Pause for a Cup of Tea

This is another practice I bring up often because I believe the act of slowing down to make tea (or even coffee or hot cocoa) can become an act of nourishing ourselves that brings us right into this moment. When you make your cup of tea, even if you’re just heating water in a microwave, try to really slow down and notice your senses. Breathing and being right here, giving yourself this gift of something to warm your body.

depression woods

5 Great ted Talks about Depression

TED conferences have been presenting “Ideas Worth Spreading” for some 30 years now, but the online video revolution has boosted their cultural impact enormously. We find them an invaluable resource here at iRise Psychology and wanted to share with you five of our top ted talks about depression and mental health related issues.

Zindel Segal | The mindful way through depression

The co-author of The Mindful Way Through Depression and co-developer of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy talks about meditation and depression.


Dan Gilbert | The surprising science of happiness

The author of Stumbling on Happiness reexamines the idea that unhappiness comes from not getting what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.


Ruby Wax | What’s so funny about mental illness?

Diseases of the body enlist sympathy, says comedian Ruby Wax — except those of the brain. Why is that? In her uniquely humorous, energetic and articulate way, Wax, diagnosed a decade ago with clinical depression, urges us to put an end to the stigma of mental illness.


Download the Depression Toolkit!

Learn how to Change your Thinking to Transform how you Feel!

Click here to access


Stephen Ilardi | Depression is a disease of civilization

Psychology professor at University of Kansas draws on research and clinical practice to examine the depression epidemic in modern society.



Andrew Solomon | Depression, the secret we share


“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.” In a talk equal parts eloquent and devastating, writer Andrew Solomon takes you to the darkest corners of his mind during the years he battled depression. That led him to an eye-opening journey across the world to interview others with depression — only to discover that, to his surprise, the more he talked, the more people wanted to tell their own stories.





Dr Benjamin Piperbennewpicrounded


Over the last bank holiday, with nothing much to do, I embarked on a
box set journey by settling down to watch a US series called
‘Girls’. It was one of those where you feel bereft when you reach
the end of the available episodes! The characters developed
beautifully in a realistic look at what it is like to live in a large
city in your twenties, lots to compare for those of us who call London
home. Mental health issues developed for a number of the characters
and the presentation to the viewer felt honest, despite the insertion
of some comedy to lighten the load. An interesting quip by Richard E.
Grant (who seems to pop up all over TV) was made to one of the main
characters while both were in rehab. He patronisingly said ‘you’re
too young to understand what thoughts are useless to you’. It was
delivered with great comedy value but revealed an important
psychological message!

Thoughts are often understood as factual and to be relied upon. They
can often seem convincing because: we thought them; they keep
returning; they have a strong historical base in our experience; and
they might cause a strong emotional reaction!!

However, as Richard E Grant’s character was suggesting, a lot of
our thoughts are not always factual and certainly should not
automatically be believed! Many of our thoughts are useless and not
worthy of our time. So, remember: Thoughts aren’t facts, they are
just thoughts!

Let me give you some examples to illustrate what I mean here:

While giving an important speech an executive noticed two people in
the front row speaking and then one walked out of the room and the
other stayed but looked distracted. The executive began to think her
speech was not being received well and that she was boring people. Her
negative and self-doubting thoughts then had an impact on her energy
levels and concentration for the remaining five minutes. Afterwards,
she was told that the two people in the front row were a couple and
they had been arguing. The speaker then realised that she had jumped
to conclusions and personalised the couples behaviour, indicating her
first thoughts were not factual and she had interpreted their
behaviour according to her own anxiety that she had been feeling. This
lead to a reaction that changed her performance.

Here is another example:

A man had been rejected by his lover a month ago and he had felt down
since. As a result, he decided to extend his social network using
Facebook. A number of people had not accepted his friend requests and
he started to obsessively think that people do not like him and these
thoughts lowered his mood further still. During the coming months
those people did accept his friend requests and it turned out that
they do not use Facebook very often. This showed him that his thinking
had been inaccurate and he had allowed this situation and the
resultant thoughts to deepen his depression.

I promise, this is the last one:

A banker had an argument with a colleague the previous day. On
returning to work, he said hello to the receptionist who walked
straight past him and did not answer. He thought that she was ignoring
him because she might have heard about the argument the previous day.
The banker began to get anxious that he had been represented badly and
was being judged by people. As a result he was having huge difficulty
concentrating on his work. Thirty minutes later, the receptionist
walked past him and apologised for not answering him and said that she
had felt ill and was rushing for some fresh air. He realised that he
had jumped to conclusions and that his initial thoughts were
irrational and inaccurate!

These examples, hopefully, demonstrate the danger of not being able
to, as Richard E Grant’s character in Girls puts it, work out which
thoughts are useless to you. Our ability to dismiss useless thoughts
varies massively according to our mood. When a person is depressed,
thoughts become very rigid and negatively skewed. A person can find
themselves adding negative meaning to aspects of their experience that
would be dismissed as nonsense and irrational at times of better mood.
For example, a friend of mine is feeling quite depressed at the moment
and I call every day at the same time. His thoughts on my support was
that I was only available to him in the morning and that he was not
important enough to have time in my evening. Therefore, he did not
always answer as he felt I was being unfair! When we were able to chat
about it I explained my perspective – that I was calling every day
first thing to ensure he knew I was there. I would have been happy to
chat in the evening too. These kind of distorted patterns of thinking
are symptoms as well as primary maintaining factors in depression and
anxiety disorders. If you give irrational (useless) thoughts your full
attention you may end up feeling very depressed or anxious!

There is help available if you are unable to tackle your distorted
thinking alone in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
This therapy is very useful for learning the skills of challenging the
idea that thoughts are factual and deserve our attention. One of the
most important skills learned in cognitive therapy is to be able to
observe problematic thinking styles and force a balanced evaluation of
them.  This can lead to a more positive thinking style and that feels
nice……The aim is for a person to eventually dismiss thinking
styles/patterns/ particular thoughts that lead to unnecessary negative
emotion, because these thoughts are useless and take us where we
don’t need to be.

Don’t be a slave to your thoughts, they can hold you back.


Is Capitalism making us Crazy?


By Dr Ben Piper

London, a beacon of capitalism, is a great place to live and work as a Psychologist. At work I am confronted with so many different presentations and by so many different types of people. We are all living on top of each other, trying to figure things out both individually and collectively as groups. Working with clients from different cultures has made my field of work much more ‘internationalised’. And the prominence of social constructionist theory means that as therapists we work with the understanding that minds are created and maintained by individuals’ participation in social worlds – worlds defined (among other things) by country of origin and specific region, race, gender and socio-economic status.

This approach is incredibly effective as these social worlds can help me to understand influences on other peoples thinking and feeling and they can also suggest to me how people structure what they think and feel.  However, western cultural imperialism often leads therapists to overlook specific western cultural features for universal principals. This is hardly surprising considering psychological research from the last 100 years has come pretty much exclusively from American or European psychologists. This research is rooted in Western philosophical assumptions about what it means to be a group member in an individualist orientated society.

I first began thinking about the effect of western culture and capitalism on psychological functioning the day Margaret Thatcher died. I learnt of her death on arriving at Liverpool Street Station, through a copy of the Evening Standard. As I walked through the city, that sort of insular, business – ghetto, on my way to my offices in Bishopsgate, I thought about who Margaret Thatcher was to me. It is safe to say, more so in retrospect, that I am a child of Thatcher. As an actual child I guess I recall her as something of a headmistress – a stern matriarchical figure, hair like an iron helmet, that instantly recognisable voice, shouting at the IRA, the miners, the rioters, the single mums, the Argentineans; well everyone really.

I walked past people on that day and saw myself reflected back in their faces, slightly tired and pensive tired, rushing to get back to work – just as Thatcher would have wanted. And it made me realise the effect western neo liberalism can potentially have on our psychological structuring. We heard a lot about Margaret Thatcher’s legacy that day, from how she broke the glass ceiling for women, (in so far perhaps that the falling shards of glass impaled any women that came after her) and more importantly that she created an ‘aspirational’ society, somewhat contradictory perhaps as it was Margaret Thatcher who told us there was no such thing as society.

I certainly would not argue that an ‘aspirational’ society would be detrimental to someone’s psychological processing, however we need to consider what we were told to aspire to – things. Things are incredibly important to us these days and the words of Oscar Wilde of 100 odd years ago never ring more true today ‘we know the price of everything and the value of nothing’. Very often we end up loving the things we have and using the people we know. If we look at some of the main components of capitalism, we start to see potentially serious psychological structuring issues.  Free market enterprise and capitalism often do not promote efficiency or abundance, but rather they instead encourage artificial creation of scarcity to maximize profits, encourage suboptimal technological development in order to maintain cyclical consumption and put the interest of people second to monetary gain. Capitalism is a zero sum game, where in order to win you have to be better than everyone else because there isn’t enough to go round. This idea can feed into western social problems where ‘failure’ creates a sense of inadequacy, and being born at a socio economic disadvantage creates a feeling of inferiority.

Capitalism as an ideology perhaps owes it success to one of the few universal norms of human behaviour. The one constant force we all share is desire. It propels us to acquire our most basic needs and wants, such as food and to be safe, to wanting the new Samsung Galaxy android phone. We constantly desire something, and when capitalist marketing strategies tell us what to desire, we expect to be fulfilled once we have acquired it.

However in my practice, I work with extremely wealthy clients who have everything they could desire. I also have clients who would not be considered wealthy. On psychological wellbeing measures they score almost identically. Neither is more or less happy than the other. There is plenty of research to support my personal findings, lottery winners have been found to be no happier than before their win and successful Olympians are remarkably prone to depression after sporting success.

The internal dialogue we have with ourselves where we expect or ask ourselves why we aren’t getting the things we want, whether it be from inanimate objects or our relationships with others, can manifest itself as psychological problems when we view not having certain things as the reason for being unhappy. Obtaining the things that we want and being successful is great. It also goes a long way to changing your living situation. But it can’t change you. After the initial surge of happiness we can eventually become dissatisfied with our new situation, or the new situation presents us with a whole new list of problems.

In a sense, it appears our capitalist attitude towards money and possessions can make us unhappy. It can cultivate core beliefs about not being good enough, being a failure, feeling inferior and worthless and even that we are unlovable. These types of internal beliefs can lead to anxiety and a heap of unhappiness. Please do not get me wrong, I am not against financial success and certainly strive for this myself but for me success is also defined in other ways.

I guess what I am suggesting is that you should not allow the side effects of capitalism to get you criticising yourself and comparing yourself  unfavourably with others. Feeling negatively about oneself certainly does not promote motivation for you to chase your dreams. The best way for most of us to achieve is to set very personal goals and not to measure all our success on possessions and how much we earn. So, what I am getting at is: be aware that the structure of our society can lead to self-critical rumination and self-doubt.  If you are able to look past this it is more likely that you’ll be happier. And when we are not criticising ourselves it is more likely that we’ll reach for and achieve what success means for each of us personally.

exercise your mind

The Best way to manage your weight? Exercise your MIND.

The Best way to manage your weight? Exercise your MIND.


OK so this may not be as groundbreaking as the recent cosmos discovery, but did you know that your weight is directly related to the food that you eat and your relationship with that food? Yes we are stating the well-established obvious.  This knowledge has been drummed into our psyches from as far back as any of us living on earth today can remember. However are you aware of just how ‘it’s complicated’ this relationship with food is? The therapists at iRise Psychology have pooled together to work on an exciting project examining the psychology of weight management. With a combination of clinical experience and evidence based psychotherapeutic models, they have been developing new ways of thinking about weight loss. In summary they have found that before you embark on a weight loss or management plan, you need to deconstruct and understand how to manage the factors that prevent successful and consistent weight management.




When looking at psychological factors at play with food, we realise just how primal and developmentally profound our relationship to food is. As babies we form just as strong an attachment to food than with any other early interpersonal attachments. In fact the emotional response to food can become confused with other nurturing attachments. For instance, when a baby is being fed, it is completely unable to work out if they feel better from food nurturance, eye contact or emotional closeness and warmth. So in reality food is perhaps the most logical choice when we are in need of comfort. This also expands into our cultural framework – when we celebrate in society, it usually involves eating.

Moreover, if as children our compassionate attachments were deficient, food becomes one of the most powerful ways of counteracting that deficiency. There are some extremely powerful forces influencing our relationship with food.

Clinical experience has shown how frequently problems with food are linked to psychological difficulties. “It’s definitely linked to my depression” was the response from one of our clients, who in treatment spoke of her unhappy marriage. “I tend to eat when I am unhappy, it gives me a pleasure that is missing. It’s like that numbing feeling you have after Sunday lunch, where you can’t move”. With many clients we see the use of food being inextricably linked to often valid reasons for unhappiness. It may start from a psychological issue but after time your physiology also changes, distorting your appetite control and pushing their weight into the higher levels of obesity.

Another client, referred to by their GP to us with weight related medical problems, also spoke of bad relationships and working nights as a cause for their weight gain. “When you feel stuck in a rut you have to have some comfort, and it’s better than drinking and smoking, right?” she said. The difference with food is that you can’t cut it out, thereby differentiating it from other common addictions and adding to the complexities.



Emotional eaters can tend to develop a number of triggers. Emotions, specific foods and situations can all set off a period where eating is no longer controllable. It is essential therefore that these triggers are understood and managed in ways that stop the person resorting to food. Triggers are where psychology comes in and begins to play the most important part in successful weight management.

The experience of trying to lose or manage your weight always brings the inevitable question: Why do most people fail to stick to weight loss programs, or why do people always put the weight back on? The reason we believe at Mentis Psychology is because of a missing ingredient in weight management protocols. This is no minor ingredient and is the essence of the whole dish!


Mind Games

As anyone who has struggled with their weight will tell you, losing weight is a MIND GAME. To lose weight and keep it off, the key is our mindset. If you don’t work on this first and get it right, then most diet plans and exercise programs will eventually expire. You will end up psychologically sabotaging your efforts. This approach to weight management begins with a key premise. Do not even being trying to lose weight until you have the right mindset, realistic expectations, and have learnt or are willing to learn from past experiences. The second apriorism to focus on is that weight gain is generally another symptom of an underlying issue. The reason why weight management fails is because (as is often the case with western healthcare) we only try to treat the symptom, not the underlying reason for weight gain. Success depends on understanding what the weight gain was a symptom of, or inevitable failure will follow.


The Importance of YOU

In a study carried out by Professor Kerrigan at the obesity clinic at The Countess of Chester Hospital, he found that out of 100 female patients 50% had experienced some form of physical or sexual abuse. Research also suggests that overweight African American women endure higher levels of racism than there lighter counterparts. These statistics can feel somewhat redundant as we are all too aware in our thin centic society the stigma and discrimination involved in being overweight. It all makes having the right mindset even more difficult to achieve. This is where working with a therapist on self-esteem and self-compassion is vital to your success. We believe self-compassion to be somewhat of a rising star in the world of psychological interventions. This TEDX talk by Dr Kristen Neff on self-esteem is really worth watching.

Breaking it down into three areas, Self kindness, Common Humanity and Mindfulness, she also speaks on how we think being critical is a way to motivate others, as well as ourselves. In reality it increases the likelihood of not even trying, of giving up, as we want to avoid the pain of being criticised again. This also taps into the ‘fear of failure’ we mentioned in our blog post on resolutions last year. This is so relevant to the pivotal issue of motivation in the psychology of weight loss, as so many clinicians and personal trainers (often unconsciously)try to shame and guilt people into losing weight.

Dr Piper, Clinical Service manager at iRise Psychology adds “A positive sense of self always plays a key role in any changes you are trying to make in your life. Very often people think they are unhappy because they are overweight, when in reality being unhappy has made them overweight. Speaking to a therapist to uncover these issues can have a profound effect on all areas of your life and make you more appreciative of yourself. Very often when people become more than comfortable with themselves and their body image they feel that loosing weight is not really an issue.

gen y

The Psychology of Generation Y

Generation Y (todays 18 to 30 year olds) that lazy, skinny jeaned, floppy haired, entitled, disengaged, whiny species you hate is probably the most psychologically sound generation.
What are you doing right now? Is it something you love? Millions of people this very second are doing exactly what makes them happy. I bet you are thinking about how you spend a large part of your life in a job that everyday threatens you with its potential to drive you insane. But hey, there is always the weekend..Oh, where did it go its Monday again!!

The way we work influences new trends and behaviours in society. And if the world right now appears new and different to you, it’s Generation Y that has captured these new ideas. Gen y or millennials represent a new workforce in a global market and believe it or not have high aspirations. Half already have, or plan to open their own business, and due to their digital, fluid and collective mind-set, they are driving the change that will affect how we work in the future.

If this sounds complicated, then you’re probably a baby boomer. Keeping things simple was the motto of the babyvintage_Esso_service_station boomers in the 50’s and 60’s. Rules were clearly defined and understood . Workspaces were largely confined to the office or factories. Responsibilities were individual and very specific and you knew exactly when you clocked in and out for the day. Aft
er World War 2 the institution represented the security everyone dreamed of. Therefore it made perfect sense to be a company man – psychologically people responded well to linear and hierarchical structures. But be careful, for once you chose a career, it was usually a decision that lasted the rest of your life. Older generations would teach the younger because putting in years of experience was essential for you to move up in the company. Having a job would guarantee you a stake in society, and be the first step towards marriage and a baby nine months later. Work and personal life did n
ot mix-you were done as soon as your wife took your coat. However, that’s not to say that baby boomers didn’t work hard, they did, and this was largely to do with upholding a sense of discipline and order. Daily sacrifices were made to ensure family security and a big payoff would finally arrive later on in life.

Generation x, the product of neo liberalism and capitalism in overdrive, redefined the time relationship between work and reward. Super confident, extroverted, competitive and constantly in the pursuit of growtgordon-gekkoh, this generation was always on the lookout for new offers and opportunities. A profitable idea could easily put you into a leadership position based on meritocracy without taking into account the experience of the employee. As they constantly looked for new ways to stand out from the competition, a reliance on degrees and MBA’s began to emerge to get ahead. This was a more individualistic style of thinking and a nice wardrobe became essential to close deals and expand networks. Being in the right place at the right time in order to capitalise on an opportunity began to define the work schedule. Business time extended to happy hour and beyond, and this cocktail of business and pleasure turned the workaholic into an admired object of desire. Brought up with the self-esteem movement, it was all about winning, the winner being whoever could get on the board in the shortest possible time. Once they arrived, they immediately lived out the pleasures of this achievement.




But today, the journey’s little different. It seems more important to have fun on the ride, than reach the final destination. Generation y are the ones perfectly translating this new vision. In a time when pleasure determines professional accomplishment they know like no other, how to recognise opportunities that link passion with work. The creative economy, new professions, an entrepreneurship boom and the new collective power are painting a brilliant and never before seen scenario. It’s hardly surprising these millennial bugs are so impatient – the speed at which they connect with the world sets the pace for their work relations. Long term projects are less stimulating, and they need constant feedback so they can feel their efforts are being recognised. Perhaps the impression of narcissism on social media is actually people just reaching out for a universal human need-to feel validated, listened to, to know that you are ‘doing ok’. The traditional pyramid structure inside organisations doesn’t fit with these anxious young people. Another reason generation y is disliked by the baby boomers? They are happy to work with older generations so long as the relationship is on equal terms with mutual respect. This exchange of knowledge is ageism free.


Then there is the internet. This has allowed for real empowerment amongst the young as they are now able to discover things on their own. It has become natural to diversify your channels and seek out informal tools for education, instead of just doing a degree, which in turn is becoming more expensive and less valuable.Fresh_Air_Generation_Y-front-large

Professional commitment comes from truly engaging experiences. Besides having a job, it has become more important to have a purpose that can be carried out in different formats the same time. Mobility, shared workspaces, home offices and the possibility to dictate your own hours, make work always possible, anytime, anywhere.
genyguyAnd it’s because of this reason that people with different work styles are having more freedom to tap into their talents, so even those with introverted personalities can turn their ideas into million, or billion pound businesses (Mark Zukerberg anyone?) Yes you can stay in bed as long as you maintain an updated profile across your social media platforms. Flexibility, the key to evolution, is well understood by generation y. They are fascinated by being involved in works in progress and understand the need to constantly acquire new skills. They are more excited about living in a permanent beta world where nothing is finished and is always being tested and made newer. They are exhilarated about working collaboratively, but also need autonomy. They can change direction much quicker and are less likely to let attachments hold them back.


You see it’s about living better in the present, with no illusion that the future can be controlled. This is because of one simple thing. Whoever adapts more easily can move along with the changes. If this all feels overwhelming, and you are looking for the right answer – well sorry here’s the question for you again – are you doing what you love right now? NO? THEN START!! The clock is ticking and your life is in a hurry. Find you passion and make it happen. Love is the force that puts you in motion – It’s the only way to lead a fulfilling life everyday. You can spend your whole life worrying about the ghosts of the past and the path to the future, but all we have is the present, and the decisions we make out of love or fear. We often disguise fear for practicality, taking the safe job. But think about this – you can fail just as easily doing what you don’t want, so why not take a chance on what you do want?