Category Archives: Personal Development

Surfer Dude

Trolled down to Garrettstown this morning to pay a visit to the surf school sale. Really looking for shore boots and maybe a buoyancy aid for the Nibser.

Arrived around 10:45 and Jon said, “There’s a lesson starting at 11:00, why not join it?”. So rather than think about it for another week and get stressed over it I accepted the place on the lesson.

Why get stressed about it? Well the idea of surfing is something very new to me; I mean I’ve spent the last 52 years carefully avoiding the water and here I am voluntarily going in the sea. I don’t know why I’ve always been afraid (petrified!) of the water (sea, swimming pool, puddle); but I have. However last month we saw the Nibser having a fantastic time at Surf2Heal (she has no fear at all) so I resolved to overcome my trepidation and get stuck in so that I can feel comfortable taking her in the water.

Did I stand up on the board? Not today; but I did get on a board in the sea; and that’s a great start.

Update… That was Sunday and now it’s Tuesday evening. Since the lesson every muscle group in my body has been queuing up to howl in protest at the exertion it’s been put through. Just goes to show how unfit I am and what a good work over surfing is!

The Social and Health Education Project

In one of my other lives I build web sites and I’m very pleased to be able to announce today the launch of a new site for The Social and Health Education Project (SHEP).

The project does sterling work in the area of providing personal development and community training courses as well as training the facilitators to go out in society and deliver the courses. Here’s a small snippet from the description of their work:

Through its Training and Development Services, SHEP offers a wide range of courses aimed at helping people to be effective in their personal lives, in their family relationships and in their communities. It also trains people to become group-facilitators. Many of these use the skills they learn with the Project in their professional work or in their work in the community. Others undergo advanced training in order to play specialist roles with the Project, working either as Community Tutors or as Organisational Mentors. Community Tutors deliver a number of introductory courses in personal development through SHEP’s Community Training Programme, while Organisational Mentors provide support and guidance for organisations operating in the community and voluntary sector through the Project’s Community Governance Enhancement Programme.

If you’ve an interest in personal development or community and society issues then please visit the site and help support the work that they do.

Reviewed: Foundation Course in Social and Health Education

This course gives an excellent opportunity to experience the personal dimension to human development. The course runs for six months and covers a wide range of emotional and cognitive areas. The personal benefits to be gained are immense and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is interested in themselves as a human being.

Review of Foundation Course in Social and Health Education – Part One, Bessborough Centre, Mahon, Cork, Ireland
Rated as 5/5 on Jun 15 2007 by David Hollingworth


The course is run by The Social and Health Education Project in Cork, lasts six months from September to May and consists of a 2 1/2 hour meeting each week plus several weekend workshops. The groups are a reasonable size (the one I attended started out at 17) and there are two trained facilitators. The course starts gently with introductions and setting the ground rules for the next six months, things like confidentiality and respect for the other group members, before moving on to develop listening skills.

Over the next six months we studied a wide range of areas including managing emotions, assertive communication (three full days on this), stress, exercise, interplay of relationships and the super-ego. All the work is experiential, there’s no note taking and very little in the way of handouts; but I found that this did not detract from the learning experience.

Personally I found the course immensely beneficial. I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of myself and the ways in which I interact with other people. I’ve gained more confidence and now have strategies to recognize and deal with my super-ego when it criticises or judges me. All in all I would thoroughly recommend this course.

Rate this review at LouderVoice

Certain Beliefs

As we go through life we can develop certain beliefs about ourselves that contribute to the image we have of ourselves. Often these are negative or constraining beliefs that might be based on a single incident in our childhood and yet we continue to believe these things are us. These are our limiting beliefs.

Our limiting beliefs hold us back from achieving our full potential because we believe them to be true. Examples of limiting beliefs might be; I can’t remember peoples names or; I’m no good a spelling. So we don’t engage with people because think we won’t remember their names, or we don’t write because we think we can’t spell.

Here’s an exercise; list down ten things you believe about yourself that are limiting your potential. If you can’t think of ten that’s OK, just list as many as you can.

Now take the three that you feel are having the most impact on your life and write these down separately. Here’s three from my own stable of limiting beliefs:

  1. I can’t remember things in exams, I go to pieces
  2. I am a poor presenter
  3. I am an introverted person

Got three for yourself? Good.

Now for each of your limiting beliefs write the most positive, affirming statement that you can devise. Again here are my three:

  1. When taking exams I remain calm and in control and the information I need flows into me
  2. I am an excellent presenter and an accomplished public speaker. When presenting I find the information I need comes to me when I need it.
  3. I am an outgoing person who mixes well with other people.

Finally take a separate card and write out your new beliefs. Place the card where you’ll see it several times a day and when you do say the affirmations to yourself. Say them over and over again and you will come to believe them. The process isn’t instantaneous, after all it took some time for the original limiting belief to become ingrained and so it will take some time for the new belief to take root; but stick at it because they will become your new reality.

Feedback Loop

Here’s something I learned today;

That if something goes wrong it’s not a failure – it’s feedback!

When I read that I thought, WOW! That’s a revolutionary way of looking at what’s happening in my life. If I’m not progressing in the way that I want to then it’s not a failure it’s feedback.

What do we do with feedback?

Feedback is called feedback because it feeds back into the system and modifies it so that the situation that produced the feedback doesn’t happen again (in the case of negative feedback) or does happen again in the case of positive feedback.

This morning I got on the scales again, it being Saturday which is weigh day in our house. Well I was disappointed at first to find that my weight was exactly the same as last week and the week before.

Then I thought, “Hand on! This is feedback, not failure! The feedback is that I haven’t modified my behavior enough to start loosing the weight. I must make more effort to start the weight loss process”. Which is a much more positive slant on the situation.

Missions and Values

Recently I wrote about the importance of making goals SMART and that the R meant Relevant. For example my walking goal is relevant to my goal to loose weight whereas a goal to buy a new car isn’t (currently) relevant to any of my other goals. Hence it’s not on my goals list at all (currently).

But what about those “life” goals, the top level goals like; “own a house by the sea”, or even, “loose 23lbs weight by Christmas”. What must these goals be relevant too in order that we buy into them?

The answer is that our top level goals must be relevant to our mission and our values. In fact these two items provide the context for all our goal setting so it’s important that we understand what our mission is and what our values are.

Our mission and values are the things that drive us, the reason why we get out of bed in the morning, the things we are passionate about. They define us as a person and state what we stand up for and, by writing them down, we can look at them and say, “Yes! This is me, this is what I care about”.

Stating them in writing also gives us a clearer picture of the framework in which we’re setting our goals. Our mission and values set the boundaries for our goals and gives us an opportunity to see the big picture. How are our goals contributing to our mission? Do our goals fit with our values?

Finally here’s my personal mission statement as an example:

To be a creative and compassionate person. To achieve self-fulfillment through the pursuit of understanding, the love of my family and the respect of all. To have control of my own destiny through acknowledging that the causes I make today shape my future. To maintain a healthy and emotionally balanced lifestyle between self, family and work. I will maintain my family and my self through my efforts to help others to expand their lives and reach their goals.

Monday Mornings

Yep it’s that time of the week again, Monday morning.

Time for some reflection on the weekend. Hands up those of us who get stressed at the weekend. Am I the only one?

Weekends are supposed to be for relaxing and shedding the stress of the previous week. This weekend has been anything but relaxing for me. I’m not going to go into the details of what went on; nothing out of the ordinary really. What is important is what happened to me.

At first I found myself getting what I thought was depressed; but when I looked again I found that it wasn’t depression it was anger I was feeling. I wasn’t angry at the people around me, though my daughter did press a few buttons for me from time to time; it was more anger directed at myself.

So Monday morning this week is a time for reflection. A time to ask myself, “Why was all this anger directed inwards? What was it trying to accomplish and what was its root?”.

Needless to say I’m nice and relaxed this morning.

Quietening The Super-Ego

I recently wrote about how the super-ego will try to prevent us doing anything risky and will try to keep us in our box. This has a purpose in that it is trying to prevent us getting physically or emotionally hurt; but it can also be very restricting as it doesn’t like us to set goals or do anything the least bit risky.

So how do we quieten the super-ego?

One technique that works very well for me is to utilize The Power Of Now. If you look at what the super-ego is saying to you it will either be:

  • Something about the past. For example, “What did you say / do that for?”, “You failed at that last time.”, “Don’t you see how silly you looked”. All past tense.
  • Something about the future. For example, “You’re going to screw this up”, “You’ll make a fool of yourself”, “You won’t be good enough”. All things to come in the future.

You see it never says things about now, always past or future and in that lies the key.

Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power Of Now, teaches that you can dissociate yourself from all the past / future stuff by being present entirely in the moment, in the Now.

The techniques Tolle expounds are very much akin to meditation. I don’t want to go too much into this here; sufficient to say that if you become aware of these mental processes that take you out of the Now then you can more and more bring yourself into the Now. You can be present in the moment.

On a practical level I now watch for every time my mental process slips into either berating myself about the past or setting myself up for failing in the future. I now recognize this as the super-ego having a bash at me and I can say to myself, “OK, this is my super-ego. I don’t need this” and allow myself to focus on the moment. The unhelpful mental pictures or thoughts then just fade away into the back-ground. This has had the added bonus that my anxiety levels about being made redundant and going for interviews have reduced considerably.

It sounds simple to do; but it’s not an easy thing to achieve; it takes practice. The first step is to recognize when the super-ego is running your show, then you can start to do something about it.

What's Blocking The Goal?

Some people I meet are unable to define medium or long term goals. When I ask them, “What do you want to do?” their mind goes blank and they just shrug, “I dunno”.

Why is this?

We each of us have a part of our personality called the super-ego, you many also hear this called the ‘judge’ or ‘critic’. The purpose of this part of our psyche is to keep us out of harm, both physically and emotionally. If it thinks we’re getting into a situation that might be risky then it will start to send us warning messages. Often these can be feelings of anxiety or tension or stress and they’ll often be accompanied by thoughts like, “I can’t do that”, or, “I’m not good enough for this person”. Anything the super-ego can come up with to keep us in our box.

Now if you ask someone, “What are your life goals?” the super-ego will often panic! “A life goal? That sounds really risky, what if we fail? Then we’ll be a failure! What are you getting into here?”.

Bang! A mental block comes down as the super-ego goes into over drive and clamps down on anything it might think is a risk. It stuffs you firmly back into your box and slams the lid.

So what can we do about the super-ego, how do we unblock and put ourselves in a position to start setting goals for ourselves?

First let me say that there’s no magic cure for this. The super-ego is there for a purpose and it’s only trying to do it’s job, even though that may be limiting you.

To overcome the super-ego we must first become aware of its presence.

The next time you want to plan something for your future and you start to feel some anxiety look at your thought processes. If you’re doubting your abilities then that is your super-ego talking. Say hello to it, tell it you recognize it. If you feel it’s limiting you then you can even tell it you don’t need its input just now and see what happens to your anxiety level.

If you want to set ‘life’ goals; but are feeling blocked then I suggest you reassure your super-ego that everything is going to be OK and that you’d like it to be quiet for now.

Take a deep breath.

Now write your goals.

Get Rid Of Clutter.

My good lady wife was often cajoling me to, “Get rid of the clutter” and for a long time I didn’t really heed her advice. Until, that is, I decided I was going to de-clutter my home desk.

My desk at home serves as both my home office and my personal PC space. It was cluttered! As well as all the PC equipment on the desk I had:

  • Code print outs from work
  • Reference books
  • Non-work related books
  • Music CDs
  • Software CDs
  • Ornaments

You get the picture? One day I realized how crowded I was feeling. Not only could I not find the stuff I wanted; but the stuff I didn’t want kept falling on the floor. It was time to get organized.

The next time I sat down at my desk it was a joy to open my laptop. My wife commented afterwards that I’d looked more at ease and more confident as I started work that morning. I felt much more in control and on-top of things. I could expand my horizons by not being overwhelmed by irrelevant stuff.

Whilst Ive been writing these posts the last couple of weeks I’ve also been surfing around reading blogs by fellow travelers in the 21st century. Some of these blog sites I’ve found to be absolutely over loaded with all manner of:

  • Google Adsense advertisements
  • Feedburner subscription links
  • Other advertisements (frequently blinking fast enough to induce a fit)
  • Pictures of recent readers

So much stuff, in fact, that it becomes difficult to determine the true purpose of the blog as the real stuff, the content, gets swamped by all the extraneous material.

I think a blog is a an expression of the person. Why not de-clutter your blog and let the person shine through?