An exercise to Improve Attention
Improving attention through visualisation is easy and will help you improve your ability for selective attention and focusing. Improving your attention will also help improve your memory. All you have to do is focus your attention on one thing. This thing can be a pen, a visual image, or anything else. Keep your attention on the object or image and notice all aspects of it. Notice the colour, texture, shape, function and meaning. When ever your attention becomes focused on something else other than the object or image, just gently bring your attention back. You can start with 2 minutes of focusing and then gradually increase the session over time. This exercise will help your ability to maintain attention in conversations, on your task and on your goals. Don't forget to do this exercise in a comfortable position, such as sitting on the floor, pillow or chair and to use a meaningful object or image.
Benefits of Improving Attention
Self-awareness and being self aware of others is an important aspect in maintaining focus. Improving your attention will help you will learn to identify how you feel, to trust yourself, and to know your strengths and limitations. When you need to focus on group work or to maintain a conversation you will learn about the other person's likes, dislikes and goals without judgement but full acceptance because your attention will stay with what is in front of you rather than shift to another topic, idea or object.
Multitasking is about switching focus between one task to another. It then requires the person who is multitasking to regain focus, which could take between ten or fifteen minutes. As can been seen, while multitasking causes the person to refocus, it also causes a loss in performance. For example, Buser and Peter (2012) examined the performance level of males and females ability to multitask. Another study examined judges who worked on many cases at once. Those who worked on many cases at a time, performed worse as they took more time to complete their work compared to judges who scheduled their cases and worked sequentially. One possible cause to decreased performance due to multitasking is the “task carryover account” meaning that there is a carryover effect when you switch tasks. The carryover effect is a cost from the person needing to inhibit the previous information in order to complete the new task. However, if the person had instead scheduled his or her task to be completed sequentially then the carryover effect would be eliminated causing an increase in productivity.
To put this in another way, when a person starts one task and then switches over to the next, while the first task is not fully completed then the activation of attention necessary to complete the second task takes longer as the first task is not fully uninhibited from the person’s attention span, producing a carryover effect. Moreover, the mind of the person is still learning from the previous task and needs to prepare for the next task causing a cost (time) from switching from one task to the other. In the Buser and Peter (2012) study, researchers found that the more people switched from one task to the other, the more performance suffered.
It is important to mention that the studies discussed in this article investigated mental tasks, not physical tasks such as housecleaning. Therefore a drop in performance may also have been caused by less mental processing as the ability to multitask requires bottom up processing (taking in information from the senses which has not yet come into full awareness) and scheduling requires top down processing (driven by cognition), which is stepwise and requires thoughtful analysis to complete the processing.
The Buser and Peter (2012) study, which examined gender differences in multitasking, found that both genders (males and females) do not perform better when multitasking. It was previously suggested that males, hunters, perform sequentially and therefore cannot multitask effectively while females who are known to be gathers can do many tasks at the same time well. However, when this suggestion is investigated it was found that females prefer not to multitask and their performance suffers just as much as males.
In summary, scheduling is better than multitasking. This means it is best to complete one activity at a time, rather than many at once for your performance to be at its best.
People are social creatures that live within a community. Each person interacts with one another, leading to change and growth. Games people play is one way that each person interacts. Games people play has been formulated by psychiatrist Eric Berne, M.D. Moreover, it is a perspective from transactional analysis that is often considered in the workplace and personal life experiences. The perspective suggests that every person plays a predictable series of interactions or otherwise described as social transactions that can be labelled. Two labels include:
Debtor - can be a lifetime game where the person will use the struggles of managing debt as a life purpose to talk about how he/she succeeded. There is also the “try and collect” usually performed by young married couples. It involves the debtor playing others (usually parents and grandparents) in a game of “I spend your money and you have to chase me to collect the money I owe you” and enjoying the chase and game. The problem occurs when the creditor becomes determined to collect the money and becomes coercive. The creditor can then play the game of “try and get away with it”. Moreover, a gift can put the recipient in psychological and/or physical debt for years to come.
Kick me - when a person does something (e.g., ignores the person, treats them with disrespect, arrives late) that results in a negative stroke (I’ll explain soon) to confirm that he/she is bad. Then he/she will say: “why does this always happen to me” and/or with pride “my misfortunes are better than yours”.
Every person will play a game where they expect positive or negative strokes to be returned, such as “I will do/say this, and you will do/say that”. The stroke is, as according to Berne, essential for psychological and physical health. If a stroke is not returned, then the person may experience anxiety, depression, etc. A stroke can be verbal, non-verbal or physical (e.g., touch).
In summary, understanding the games people play will help you understand why you and others interact, how to manage the interaction and most important of all how not to get hurt as some games are exhausting and can damage your sense of wellbeing and self.
Systems theory suggests that every person lives in a system which cannot be considered linear as many different situations causes an effect. Therefore when one person is treated badly, there will be various circumstances that can explain the outcome. The circumstance may be that the person causing the treatment may be feeling bad themselves but need to see it in someone else, which was caused by their own past. It could also be that the person who feels that they are treated badly lacks assertive skills and is not sure how to manage the interaction. Therefore you would have to look at the needs of the system itself (such as system at the workplace or family structure, which is also known as second-order) and the needs of the individual (which is also known as first order) and create a balance.
Using systems theory is also helpful in the workplace, as interactions and behaviour is caused by the system in the workplace. Therefore considering one particular situation may not be as helpful as considering various aspects. As example, suggested by Ms Smith-Acuna, an employee was having trouble with a colleague and felt anxious, unsupported and was too apologetic, however her own way of conducting the meeting (fitting in the with system) needed improvement and she needed to improve her assertive skills (changing the individual) to improve how the meetings functioned, while her colleague needed to change her behaviour as she was critical and impatient. If the change-agent was to only look at the two people, then important details would have been missed. Details of how the meetings were run (system of the organisation) and how the individual fit within the system (second-order system).
Another example is family therapy using systems therapy. A teenager was always angry, but when he was able to manage his anger, another teenager in the family started playing up. It was discovered that the children were expressing the anger that the parent needed to express (of the marriage). However, once the parent realised what was really going on (a system that may have lasted generations and can be resistant to change), the dynamics of the whole family started to change. Systems theory can also help understand that change in behaviour can cause change in systems, however systems need to be considered in two parts - the rules, roles and boundaries that support the system which always works toward maintaining homeostasis and the structure of the system. It is also important to remember that systems also has sub-systems (e.g., department in the workplace) which need to be considered.
In summary, behaviour is often reinforced by the system the person is in as it is providing feedback. You will need to ask is the system causing me to behave, feel or think in this way or do I need to change to fit in the system. What needs to change to create a balance? Often, in the workplace it is usually the latter as some people may fit in the system and some may not and either need to change or move out. You would have to look at the whole picture, and its different parts, to understand the causes.
Source: Systems Theory in Action - Application to individual, couples and family therapy by Shelly Smith-Acuna.
The conundrum of human behaviour. It can be playful, rewarding, hurtful, encouraging, and comforting. Can it be judged by what you see at first sight? I don't think so. Sometimes you need to interact for a while to find out the truth. Sometimes, people will use their social skills to manipulate or use desirable or undesirable qualities to achieve a conscious or unconscious goal that may be hurtful or helpful to others. Moreover, others will seek out vulnerable qualities to take advantage of another person to achieve their own goal. Do you remain on guard or trust completely. Do you work with your head or your heart only. I'd say both.
If you have a mind that looks for patterns and consistencies, sometimes a person will thwart what you assumed. They will do something completely the opposite to what you expected. The evidence before you suddenly changed. Or is it what you only wanted to see, and the evidence before you no longer supports what you perceived? Remember, that perception is filtered from your belief system. What about if you are value driven, do you change your values or change what is around you or just accept without judgement? It's a conundrum, surely.
Carl Rogers used person centred therapy on a client who he found out told a lie the whole time because the client realised he could get away with it. He took advantage of the situation. The therapy was to provide unconditional positive regard conditions in the treatment room. To accept fully what the client had said, without judgement. Whereas in contemporary counselling, the therapist will look for inconsistencies to challenge the client so they will be aware of their words and actions. The strategy is to help them grow out of a dysfunctional pattern and create conditions for change. Carl Rogers' technique is today mainly used to build a rapport with the client and as part of the treatment, not the treatment itself.
In the end, every day is a learning experience. The test is to use each experience as a chance to grow yourself. To realise that you cannot change others and that if they did indeed choose to use your vulnerabilities as a chance to manipulate you, that you have learned from the experience and to grow from it. It is also a chance to realise that yesterday no longer exists, but was part of your wonderful experience. Today is a gift and to be open enough to learn from what you have been presented with and tomorrow is a day you will never know, as they say a mystery.
Therefore human behaviour is a conundrum, but I'm guessing that it is meant to be. That it enables life to be a classroom, where we learn from each other. To accept others fully, to not be so judgemental but to learn that there is the good, the bad, and that each will bring out what we need to be challenged in order to grow into a better person.
I just want to add, that for those who have Autism, ADHD or are highly intelligent that human behaviour is more of a challenge because you find shifting perspective a challenge, you continually look for patterns and that you think more with your head than emotionally. You also notice detail more, highly sensitive and the outside world can be exhausting. But if you learn the skills, learn more about yourself and how to manage what you find too difficult sometimes, such as change, you can become a master at learning about differences and that when something unexpected thwarts you that feeling completely uncomfortable is part of the growth process. Just be okay with it and continue to grow. It would be easier living in a bubble and to only use your mind, but life experience will teach you more than a book, a classroom or the internet. Sometimes it will hurt, sometimes it will be joyful, but staying the same won't help either.
To obtain interpersonal competency you need to think about what you value and the cost and rewards the interaction is going to give you.
Interdependence Theory suggests that we consider the cost and rewards when mixing with other people. When considering the cost and rewards we will consider if the person can satisfy our highest value. The value is interchangeable and is used to compare, which means that I can choose to interact with somebody because they are confident but they talk too much. I value confidence highly and willing to overlook verbosity, therefore I am willing to compensate. The cost of "confidence" will provide me with rewards of positive energy: I am investing in good energy. To do this I will provide the other person with silence so they will be heard as they prefer being verbose. Therefore we are okay communicating as we are willing to compensate. Over time, the way I think will change because I realise that verbose people aren't that bad. Even though Attachment Theory suggests that the way we think is stable (some theorists do say it can change over time) Interdependence Theory says it is susceptible to change, depending on whether we are willing to compensate so we can gain the necessary rewards: the rewards is far greater than the cost.
In a nutshell, what Interdependence Theory suggests is that we are always assessing other people's styles because of the outcomes it produces. The outcomes will provide internal satisfaction (and exceed it). If the value the other person is not as satisfying then we will feel discontent and look for alternatives. We are also willing to compensate by overlooking styles that we don't really value as other parts of the person provides high intrinsic value; making us more flexible.
On the other hand we can become dependent (rather than remaining interdependent) on the other person, and overlook a quality that does not match our value. This is why some people choose to stay in abusive relationships or work with abusive colleagues. Even though they may value respect, they don't have enough or relevant education to get out of it and therefore feel they have to put up with it. To overcome this possibility, always consider what you value. If the person doesn't match it and leaves you feeling unhappy and dissatisfied, then consider what is the cost and rewards you are gaining. If the cost is your happiness and the reward is financial dependence/convenience, then decide is it really worth what you are missing out on and can you get that reward elsewhere. Interdependence Theory suggests that people start to explore opportunities for more satisfying outcomes by considering the rewards and costs. What is the reward going to cost you? Realise you have the power to decide what is best for you, especially after you learn what you value.
Source: Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology: Interpersonal Processes, Edited by Garth Fletcher and Margaret Clark. Blackwell Publishing, 2003, USA.
"I have the right to be me
You the the right to be you
I have the right to be listened to
You have the right to be listened to
I have the right to be treated as an equal
You have the right to be treated as an equal"
You always have choices in life, including the way you communicate.
What decreases motivation? Did you know that if you start your career without pay (volunteer) you will most likely dislike your work once you get paid?
What increases motivation? Continuous feedback as it improves competence and relatedness. The three innate needs that improves motivation is relatedness, autonomy and competence.
What motivates new solutions? If the old strategies that you use fail, then you will start to work on new solutions. But if you are stubborn, this may take some time!
Did you know that extrinsic rewards such as an increase in salary can stifle intrinsic motivation as it can compromise the innate needs (as mentioned above)?
Extrinsic rewards such as an increase in salary will only improve motivation for the short term, but if you make the person feel competent then their motivation will continue.
To improve motivation, both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards should be used.
Emphasis on intrinsic goals such as life goals and personal and professional development is associated with "greater health, well-being and performance" (Deci & Ryan, 2008, p. 183).
Reference: Deci, E., L., & Ryan, R., M. (2008). Self-Determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian Psychology, 49, 3, 182-185.
The Federal Government has changed the Fair Work Act 2009 laws that will allow employees to seamlessly complain about workplace bullying in their workplace. They will be able to complain directly to the Fair Work Commission without consulting management in their workplace.
Workplace bullying has serious consequences to organisations that can lead to emotional and financial loss. Emotional consequences includes absenteeism, presenteenism, making mistakes due to stress and lack of motivation, and losing quality staff. Financial consequences can include the staff member making multiple claims because their workplace provided ineffective preventative care. The researchers from Queensland's Griffith University stated that the annual cost that has resulted form workplace bullying is between $6 billion and $13 billion per year. The annual cost is likely to rise with the new Fair Work Act 2009 laws.
The WorkSafe laws also require workplace to provide preventative care for their staff. If the workplace is deemed non-compliant then this can also lead to further claims and damage to the reputation of the brand. Contact Josie from JB Consulting and Psychology on 0410 534 489 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to avoid multiple claims and provide a safe workplace for your valuable staff.
Have you ever felt that you don't think much of yourself and that you have trouble understanding how you feel emotionally?
Has anybody ever condemned you about the way you have felt, think, or wanted?
Has anybody ever shut you down when you talked about a topic you are interested in to the point where you have decided to not talk about anything you cared about?
Has anybody made you feel that you were insignificant, a slave and/or just around to please them?
These are some of the symptoms of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is difficult to understand because nobody can see the scars and victims have most likely switched off their capacity to feel so they can't understand what is going on, even though they know something is not right.
Victims usually like to think that the emotionally abusive partner doesn't understand what he/she is doing and it isn't their fault. But, they do know exactly what they are doing. People who bully have a very sound cognition so they are aware of what they are doing and the consequences. Their threats are designed to shut you down, so you are under them. Their aim is to feel better about themselves by making you feel worse.
The partner of the emotionally abusive person will also find it hard to talk to anybody about the situation because usually the perpetrator seems like a wonderful, helpful person outside of the family home but has a completely different character inside the home.
Victims who are in emotionally abusive relationships also think that their partners love them deeply. They also feel that no body else will ever love them the same. So they stay in the situation, because that is all they know.
If you are in this situation, learn to love yourself like nobody has ever loved you before. Learn to feel again, learn to get to know yourself (probably for the first time) and learn to discern.
I say discernment, because victims will most likely become naturally submissive and it will take effort to discern fact from fiction. If the victim gets out of an abusive relationship and finds another before they learn to discern then they will most likely be another candidate for an emotionally abusive person.
If you are the emotionally abusive partner, then learn to love yourself also. Learn to feel on the inside so you will understand what your partner is feeling. People who become abusive are usually lacking self-esteem, although very smart, and has not yet had the chance to understand who they are. Therefore they spend their years criticizing other people so they feel the same way as the perpetrator.
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