Can depression EVER be a good thing? – Hell YES!

On a wet and miserable Tuesday morning at the end of March, when the local electricity board once again failed to cope with providing power due to a smattering of the damp stuff (actually it turned out to be a nationwide power outage that lasted all day – but that’s another story), I picked up a book.
I love (proper, pages and everything) books, but do confess these days to getting distracted by the tentacles of social media a tad too much, which means my office library can look a little neglected at times. So the positive side of a power cut during the working day is that I pick up books. This particular one was a book I refer to often during my Thrive sessions – The Importance of Suffering by James Davies.
Now, I have been accused in the past (by those who neither know me, nor have taken the time to meet and talk with me) of being a happy, clappy sort who peddles false positives while putting my hands over my ears and shouting LALALA very loud so as to not see the negativity of what is going on around me.
Not a bit of it!
Rather, I advocate that emotional suffering in certain situations is a vital process in understanding, assessing and putting into context and perspective. The amount of time and effort it takes is usually directly related with how affected you are on a personal level by the issue in hand.
Grief is a clear cut example of this. In terms of ‘evolutionary psychology’ the mind can work, in time, to heal the pain of loss.
Depression is another. Depression gets a bad press. Someone ‘gets’ depression – it’s seen as the end of the world. Cue lots of caring looks… mental disorders are so misunderstood….pop these anti depressants….mask the suffering….take a month of work….
The sufferer is caught up in a cycle of negativity and fear and collusion that this ‘thing’ is going to be with him for the rest of his life.
I prefer to take a much more positive stance on depression. As James Davies cites in his book, “Depression works because it forces upon us a period of ‘introversion’ or ‘hibernation’, during which we retreat from society to confront the reasons for our suffering, and to assess what life changes we need to make in order to put things right.”
He goes on to quote psychiatrist Neil Burton who summarised:
“Just as physical pain has evolved to signal injury and prevent further injury, so depression may have evolved to remove us from distressing, damaging or futile situations. The time and space and solitude that depression affords prevents us from making rash decisions, enables us to see the bigger picture and – in the context of being a social animal – to reassess our social relationships, think about those who are significant to us, and relate to them more meaningfully and with greater understanding and compassion.” (Burton 2009:117)
So, if you are strong in mind and managing your thinking well, then a bout of depression following a traumatic event can actually be an entirely natural, therapeutic, positive process to go through.
Unfortunately modern society does not always seem to want us to follow the course of natural, evolutionary psychology. It is cheaper (for governments) and more profitable (for the pharmaceuticals) and an all round easier quick fix (for us) to medicalise depression to such an extent that it has taken on this cloak of a terrifying beast snarling at anyone that crosses its path. We fear that we may be genetically disposed to depression if we watch our parents go through it. We worry that if we get it, then it will be with us for the rest of our lives. For some it may even define us – ‘My name is X and I am a depressive!’ Pills in pretty colours with fancy names help to ‘keep us on an even keel’, anaesthetise the pain, prevent us from confronting and challenging the ugly truth of our feelings. As James Davies claims:
“Powerful curative institutions now intervene, but with clinical interventions more likely to diagnose and stigmatise our descent, rather than legitimise it as a potentially necessary human experience.”
The reason why the Thrive Programme is SO effective in helping sufferers of depression deal with their ‘illness’ is because it teaches them the mental skills to bring themselves out of it, and promotes a deeper psychological understanding that aids the creation of greater mental resilience – resilience that can comfortably cope with the lows as well as enjoying and recharging on the highs. (And I must stress here once again that the Thrive Programme is totally evidence based. If it cannot be proven, it does not get included!)
Depression can affect anyone and everyone. Often some of the most gifted and brilliant academics the world over can be prone to depression, usually because they are, by their very nature, obsessive thinkers. As Rob Kelly states in the Thrive Programme workbook, “Obsessing tends to focus all attention on a problem, reinforcing all the negatives, keeping people absorbed in their worries and in fact, increasing the feelings of being out of control.”
Rob goes on the explain how depressed people are always looking for reasons to validate their state of mind (eg my girlfriend’s just dumped me!). There is a relief in the validation because having a reason gives them a sense of control. What it does not do, though, is give them a sense of strength (resilience) in terms of pulling themselves out of depression. Rather it brings them to a dead end, at which their control over confirming and reinforcing their depressed state is matched only by their sense of powerlessness in making any changes.
Depression may seem the deepest, darkest hole you have ever tripped into. The reality is, as Thrive consultants have witnessed again and again, depression is actually one of the easiest problems to overcome.
Just six weekly sessions with me on Skype or in my beachside clinic, will equip you with the knowledge and skills to dump depression and never look back. I can’t guarantee that you won’t have miserable times in the future. I can’t prevent shit happening in your life – because it can and will. But I can give you the skills to get through them all in one piece, and continue to be the person who want to be, and know you can be – a real Thriver!

© Kate Ashley-Norman April 2015.


Think yourself slimmer!

As spring heralds the approach of warmer weather and thinner clothes, we look down with trepidation at our winter padding – great for cosying up on cold winter evenings! Not so great for frolicking on the beach!

We are awash with diet and exercise options. I myself have followed a myriad of different paths with varying degrees of success – I now limit myself to two or three options which I know and trust ( being one!) But what many of these diet plans don’t tackle is your THINKING about food. How your different beliefs about your body weight, your eating habits and your ability to continue on a healthy eating programme can, at worst, totally sabotage your success or, at best, make it a whole lot more bloody difficult than it need be!

We are, at the end of the day, our own worst enemy. Perhaps we have recognised ourselves as emotional eaters – but this can only make it more difficult for you when you hit an emotionally tricky point.

Possibly you eat to mask the pain of a difficult childhood – so taking away the blanket of food becomes a terrifying prospect.

Maybe you just know that chocolates/cheese/cakes etc are your downfall, and the mere thought of a life without can send you into a spiralling panic.

If you really want to take control of your weight once and for all, the Thrive Programme will give you that final piece of the jigsaw of success. It is NOT a diet and exercise programme. Someone like Zita can point you in the right direction for that. Rather, Thrive will teach you to develop the psychological resilience needed to dig deep during the difficult times.

We all start with enthusiasm and determination. The first few lost pounds give you added impetus. Then you hit a plateau. Or you have a naughty night out which becomes that start of a slippery slope. Getting back into the ‘rhythm’ is so difficult, and the continuation of that weight loss-gain-loss cycle that we all succumb to.

Thrive gives you the ability to kick that negative, limiting weight loss-gain-loss cycle into touch. It does this by TEACHING you WHY and HOW the cycle developed in the first place, then giving you the skills and resources to overcome it.

And the beauty of Thrive – once you’ve successfully applied it to losing weight, you’ll be able to transfer that knowledge and those skills to so many other areas of your life. Soon you will really start to Thrive, and live the life that you really deserve!

NB: Don’t forget that you can go through the whole Thrive programme from the convenience of your own home or office. If you’d rather spend the time you would normally take travelling to attend an appointment, doing some exercise, then we can schedule in our Thrive appointments via Skype. Drop me a line and call for an informal chat!




Self esteem as a key to weight management

Are you on first name terms with your muffin-top?

Bingo wings in a flap?

Or on a mission to put on a few pounds and get back into the ‘healthy’ range?

Research shows that high self-esteem is significant in helping you to achieve weight-related goals. Psychologists believe it’s our reaction to setbacks that will determine our eventual success.

Self-esteem is about how you think about you; it’s a feeling and not just a number on the scales. This is something that The Thrive Programme helps with.

High self-esteem enables you to embrace a healthy eating plan with confidence. It means you will feel motivated to ‘pick yourself up’ again and persevere after a setback. With low-self-esteem you feel worse for longer.

Having high self-esteem means you can keep your weight management both in control and in perspective.

When people with high self-esteem have a ‘blip’ on a diet, they view it as such and move on. With low-self-esteem you are likely to feel defeated, to feel like a failure and give up. People with low self-esteem will beat themselves up about perceived ‘diet fails’, especially if you’re also something of a perfectionist.

Struggling with a lifestyle change without robust ‘psychological foundations’ (including self-esteem), you may start to believe you can never be fitter and healthier. You will seek comfort in the ‘bad habits’ that you’re trying to escape in the first place. Happiness really isn’t found at the bottom of a Cadbury’s Crème Egg…. And no you don’t need to eat four of them to prove this!

While drumming up willpower to jump start a diet is within most people’s grasp, this only works while your new habit is in the spotlight – the willpower soon wears off, especially when you have a meltdown moment. It is therefore crucial that you have the skills & backup to maintain a change once the initial enthusiasm wears off. The ability to build and maintain self-esteem is one of these skills and a key to you achieving your goals.

The best news? High self-esteem is within your grasp (and therefore so is that bikini body!) In as little as TWO WEEKS, by following The Thrive Programme you will learn how you can build your self-esteem – even if it’s at rock bottom now.

The Thrive Programme is good for your emotional well-being as a whole and it helps you to get the most out of life. In all cases we want you to ‘thrive’ and overcome whatever obstacles are stopping you at the moment.

This article was originally featured on

Emotional Intelligence

We’re a mercurial lot really – our emotions colour every second of our waking and sleeping hours…. those first flutters of love, that surge of happiness when things are going your way, the welling up of tears when you hear a sad song, the prickle of fear as you narrowly avoid yet another collision on the main road.

Thrill seekers look to extreme sports for their highs.

Compulsive eaters load up on the doughnuts to seek comfort from emotions they would rather not face.

Smokers go through a gamut of emotions every time they light up – from irritation and grumpiness, to relief, to guilt.

Negative emotions have been demonstrated as an aid to our ancestors’ survival in life threatening situations, priming the body physically to deal with whatever threat is looming. When in this ‘fight or flight’ state, generated by emotions such as fear or anger, the heart starts beating faster and pumping blood to the muscles where it is needed most.

In our modern world we recognise this as stress and anxiety. And it is a commonly accepted fact these days that stress can lead to a greater risk of heart disease. “Recurrent emotion-related cardiovascular reactivity appears to injure inner arterial walls, initiate atherosclerosis, and impact vascular responsiveness”, (Kaplan, Manuck, Williams and Strawn, 1993). Big words, but basically, the more stressed you are, the more you’re damaging your heart.

But if you are leading a ‘stressful’ life, struggling with financial pressures, a strained marriage, demanding children, social anxieties, a shaky job/business situation, health issues, and the myriad problems that life has chosen to throw at you, then reducing the amount of stress seems a far-fetched and impossible feat.

But is it? Really?

This is when emotional intelligence comes into play.

You know that, short of getting rid of your wife/kids/business/job and living in splendid isolation on a desert island, turning your life around seems a pretty impossible thing to do. So let’s turn the problem onto its head and examine it from the emotional angle.

How many times have you said that your emotions are all over the place? How often do you wake up teary eyed and bad tempered and look at the day ahead with despair, feeling too ‘emotional’ to be able to cope? How many of you reading this today feel that your emotions are something that you have to deal with depending on what life has thrown at you.

Appropriate emotions at appropriate times – displaying emotional intelligence – are essential in helping us to process events properly.

The ‘fight-flight’ response to imminent danger can save lives.

Feeling grief over the death of a loved one is entirely appropriate. It gives you time and space to mourn that person, remember that person, miss that person, and process that person’s death as a factor of your own life.

However, feeling the same depth and intensity of grief two or three years later indicates that you have not properly dealt with that loss, and your continuing emotional reaction is doing more harm than good.

Similarly, physiologically remaining in the ‘fight-flight’ state even when there is no imminent danger puts tremendous pressure on the systems of the body. We become tunnel visioned in our lives, focusing on the ‘dangers’ of our daily stressful existences. We brood over our problems, we fret over them, we ‘chew the arse’ off them until the problem itself grows out of all perspective.

Imagine your problems now as the glowing embers at the bottom of a barbecue. Then see your emotions as the firelighter in a squidgy bottle of obsessive thoughts. Every time you obsess about a problem, you squeeze that bottle and the fire-lighting emotions feed the dying embers until they are full blown flames again.

This is what you do every time you worry and fret about something that you feel is out of your control.

If I were to say to you that you do and can have complete control over your emotions, and that you could dramatically improve your life and health by knowing this and implementing it immediately, can you feel a positive emotion start to wash over you?

Think about the emotions you go through when watching reports of disasters on the news. I know that when tragedies such as the Connecticut School Massacre were reported I had to switch off – just the mere thought of such avoidable tragedies brings tears to my eyes. But therein lies my point. The THOUGHT of it made me emotional, so I made the CHOICE to switch off.

If you come home after a stressful day at work, and then get worked up by upsetting news, then have a little rant, which upsets your spouse and children, then you eat a bowl of ice cream to make yourself feel better, so feel immediately guilty, all the while fretting over work and projects and social pressures – all you’re doing is squirting fire onto those glowing embers and not actually getting anything positive from it.

There are many techniques that you can be taught to stop this spiral of negative emotions, but I want to leave you with the most important thing of all. Once you have grasped this point, everything else follows on quite easily.

IT IS YOU WHO IS CREATING THESE EMOTIONS! When you see a barking dog, the initial fear will put you into fight-flight mode. But then if you feel fear every time you see a dog it is YOU creating that fear, and blowing it out of proportion. You create the emotion. You feed the emotion. You blow the emotion out of proportion. To understand that is probably going to be the most empowering thing you’ll do – ever!

Depression – overcome and Thrive!

DEPRESSION affects on average one in every five people during the course of our lives. That’s 20% of us – at one stage or another – who will go through this debilitating mental journey.

Some will come out the other end relatively unscathed. But many will dip in and out of depression at various points throughout their lives, never feeling completely free of its heavy, bleak yoke.

Every single person who goes through depression will have a unique perspective. The symptoms (see list) is merely an initial guide to what doctors look for when diagnosing depression.

J.K.Rowling described it as follows: “Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts, but it is a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.”

Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation, also described depression: “A human being can survive, as long as he or she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.”

Rob Kelly, of The Thrive Programme, says: “Basically, depression is a combination of feeling low, unhappy and negative, but also about feeling powerless to do anything about it. As well as being ‘external’ [having an external locus of control], people with depression tend to brood and obsess.”

The sense of hopelessness is a recurring theme. An over-riding sense of powerlessness contributes significantly to feelings of depression – Mirowsky and Ross (1990) determined that depression was associated with not feeling in control of either good or bad outcomes, or of both.

But what is it that can make one person depressed, while another simply feels a bit sad, or is going through ‘the blues’?

As winter sets in, a lot of you reading this may be starting to experience the onset of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Others among you may have come through the euphoria of childbirth, just to be coming out the other end into Post Natal Depression.

Possibly you have recently (or even not so recently, but its effects are still resonant) gone through a major trauma in your life, and are still reeling from Post Traumatic Syndrome.

Or you may simply have found yourself in a deep, black hole with neither the strength, nor the will, to climb back out of it.

Whatever form your depression takes, its grip is tight.

Maybe you are one of the millions now reliant on the deadening and souless relief of anti-depressants, or are self medicating with alcohol, cigarettes, food or drugs, feeding a self loathing that merely exacerbates your depression.

So if I were to say to you that depression is actually one of the easiest problems for a person to overcome, would this give you a glimmer of hope, a light at the end of the very long, dark tunnel? Possibly not yet.

Maybe you’re not ready to believe that now. But when you are, I want you to remember this – DEPRESSION IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE EASIEST PROBLEMS FOR A PERSON TO OVERCOME!

Depression is not about what happens ‘to’ you, but about the way you think and feel about it. And once you are on a negative, obsessive, powerless cycle it is very hard to break it. You end up going round and round in circles looking for a reason for your depression, then finding that thing that validates it.

Which in turn contributes to the depression as you feel increasingly powerless to do anything about it.

The most important step anyone can take in overcoming depression is realising that you can do something about it. As soon as you feel a greater sense of power in a situation, you put in the effort.

If you feel powerless, you stop putting in the effort. Once you have got to the point where you WANT to do something to alleviate your depression, the Thrive programme equips you with the knowledge, insights and techniques to understand and subsequently overcome feelings and symptoms of depression.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in daily life
  • Loss of appetite – weight gain/loss
  • Disturbed sleep patterns – insomnia or oversleeping
  • Anger & irritability
  • Loss of energy
  • Self loathing, lack of self esteem
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Reduced/loss of sex drive
  • Unexplained aches & pains

Facts about depression

In 2011, 47.7 million prescriptions for antidepressants were dispensed through the NHS, costing the British taxpayer over a quarter of a billion pounds. (NHS Report 2012)

Antidepressant usage has more than tripled in the US since 1986, reaching a staggering 235 million prescriptions in 2010. (Mojtabai,R. & Olfson,M. 2011).

The Success of Thrive

Dear Kate, I would just like to thank you very much for introducing me to Thrive. I find it has really helped me and currently I am possibly one of my busiest and possibly my happiest in my life.

I can’t really explain what has happened to me, I have the same issues as before, the same things happen to me as before, I still need a moan and a groan about life and circumstances at times but you know what?

It doesn’t matter anymore! I’m still stressed but in a far more positive way, I’m building a business that is really looking like a huge success story and sometimes I cannot believe how far I have come with it.

Things that used to scare me greatly still scare me but I can deal with it and move on with it….and I’m busy and I’m stressed and I don’t have time to do everything I want but you know, it’s ok!

The biggest thing that I find used to be a problem for me was how much I care what people think. Do you know what a relief it is and how much more time I have to be myself now I don’t care what people think! What a heavy weight off my shoulders!!!

I have changed my thinking, changed my approach to things and it has helped me in every aspect of my life.

As for my confidence with my business it has just unlocked the door to believing in myself and building something amazing. Thank you Kate for your guidance and inspiration.

The Thrive Programme

The Thrive Programme can help people overcome stress and anxiety once and for all. (To see evidence of this, watch some of the video testimonials on

How can Thrive help?

The Thrive programme is a psychological training programme which equips people with the self awareness and working knowledge of the mind to help them flourish in their lives. There is no intervention with Thrive – no therapy, no analysis – rather it empowers people to strive for better health and happiness by building and strengthening themselves psychologically.

Key words for Thrive are resilience, bounce-back-ability, empowerment, and, crucially, evidence based. Thrive is not fairies at the bottom of the garden, wave a magic wand type of programme.

It is comprised of cold, hard scientific facts written in a highly understandable, easy to relate to format which requires commitment and effort.

We know that people live in a harsh reality sometimes – the key is not wanting to change something we have no power to change, but rather managing the way you think about it in a way that is powerful and positive.

How can I work with Thrive in Turkey?

6 x 1:1 private sessions either face to face at our Didim beachside clinic, or via Skype/Facetime (or a combination of the two), or a week’s residential course at our beachside clinic.

Free consultation

Kate Ashley-Norman ATPC is a fully accredited Thrive Consultant, supported by what we refer to as Thrive HQ, back in the UK (

She splits her time between her busy beachside clinic in Didim on the Aegean coast of Turkey, and Peterborough in the UK.  For a free and confidential consultation on any issues that may be troubling you, contact her via one of the following:

Contact Kate:


Mobile/Whatsapp: 00 90 544 3298466 / 00 44 7904 345354


Emetophobia – how fear can creep into your everyday existence

What a mess this world is in!

Our politicians are falling over their own, and each other’s, ineptitudes.

Masked warriors are literally cutting a swathe through what little peace existed in the Middle East.

Cold winds are once again whistling through the Crimea.

The United Kingdom only narrowly avoided its own geographical beheading (Scotland), only to then cut of its nose to spite its face (Brexit).

I daren’t even write about what’s happening in Turkey for fear of being incarcerated.

News bulletins lurch from one crisis to another. Natural disaster follows man-made disaster follows natural disaster follows man-made disaster.

Stony faced world leaders make their exultations from their televised pulpits, but the ineffectuality of their words gets lost in sound-bites and sabre rattling.

World crises have created their own industry – from the press crews that risk jail, death and kidnapping, to the Think Tanks who comment on every obvious and hidden nuance, to the rolling 24 hour news and media agencies, and instant access social media… it would appear that the world is spiralling out of control.

But switch off the news, lay down your newspaper, and tuck away your Smart phone and tablet, and what do you have? – A life that continues as normal.

You wake up to a routine of shower, shave, breakfast (or whatever your routine is), you shop in the supermarket, watch Loose Women, and the X-Factor, or Strictly Come Dancing.

Babies are born, people get cancer, people overcome cancer, others die. It rains. It’s sunny. Homework gets set, and then avoided. You book your holidays. You book appointments with doctors, dentists, hairdressers.

In essence, life continues as normal for the vast majority of us.

Yet the fear lingers. And it is this ‘fear’ that we fear most of all. David L. Altheide says in his excellent book, ‘Creating Fear – News & the Construction of Crisis’ – “Fear has become a dominant public perspective. Fear begins with fear, but over time, with enough repetition and expanded use, it becomes a way of looking at life.”

Anyone who has a severe phobia will understand how that phobia can sometimes become so entrenched in your everyday life that you simply cannot imagine a life without it – it becomes an intrinsic part of you that you somehow ‘manage’ on a day to day basis.

Emetophobia – the fear of vomiting – is an extreme example of how a simple fear can creep into every area of your daily existence. Emetophobes try and exert control over every area of their lives in a bid to avoid vomiting themselves, or being confronted by the possibility of others vomiting. Emetophobia is a way of looking at life through fear.

The Oxford English dictionary defines fear as ‘an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm,’ and also as ‘a feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something, or the safety of someone.’

Ultimately fear is something we all experience – it is in its purest form a natural physiological reaction. But fear itself becomes caught up in the maelstrom of our thinking and belief systems. And the fears we have these days contribute to the stresses and anxieties that plague our modern day 21st century lives, and eventually contribute to very real mental and physical conditions and diseases.

Perspective is a great friend to whom we do not turn to often enough. Maintaining perspective is the first step to helping yourself allay these fears, and working towards managing your thinking more effectively. As David Altheide concluded:

“Danger is not enigmatic. Fear is. Danger does not define an expanding array of news reports. Fear does. Danger can be dealt with one event at a time. Fear cannot. We must return to a sense of proportion. “

Smoking in Paris!

My mother has flown home. The kids are back at school, and I am finally settling back into a routine.

I love my routines! I know that towards the end of the school year I long for the mornings when I no longer have to rouse four sleepy heads out of bed, or crack the whip over their homework. But come September, that back to school feeling caresses me with its calming touch.

Why do we like our routines so much? Why is it that if we have an interruption or break in our routine, particularly one which is unexpected, then it can knock us slightly off balance.

A gentler reason for this is simply the support structure of our routine habits. I like to get up half an hour earlier than I need to so that I can have a quiet cup of tea before the day kicks in. If I slightly oversleep, or if one of the kids wakes early and invades that half hour of space, it can put me slightly off kilter.

We call this cognitive dissonance.

It is that feeling that something is not quite right, that something is missing, even if we cannot quite put our finger on what it is.

Being the pleasure seeking highly complex characters that we are though, this simple ‘habit’ in a cranial environment of mismanaged thinking, can soon take on sinister turns. Habits soon become ‘addictions’, which no longer provide gentle support. Rather they become a crutch, a necessity, the central focus of our being.

Smoking is a habit. Pure and simple. But because smokers attach so much pleasure to their cigarettes, then justification for this filthy, unsociable health damaging habit has become entrenched in addiction myths and psychological compensation.

A smoker who habitually smokes at certain times of the day is going to miss those cigarettes if he stops them – but a little bit of conscious persistence and effort, and he will soon break the habit cycle.

I experimented with myself this summer, just so that I could prove a point – Until about 14 years ago I was a hardened packet a day smoker. On a sociable day (and there were many of those as it was pre-kids) then two packets were not unheard of. Then I made the decision that I should give up, and using one session of hypnotherapy I stopped smoking immediately, have never smoked since, and have never wanted to smoke.

Until this summer!

This August I had the fantastic opportunity to spend a few days in Paris with a very dear old university friend of mine, whom I had not seen for 16 years. As a student of French, I used to enjoy many a trip to this gorgeous country, believing myself to be a cool European as I sipped strong black coffees and smoked filterless Gauloises and Camels in busy street cafes.

So in a fit of memory lane, buoyed by a glass or three of ‘du vin rosé’, we headed into the nearest ‘tabac’ (which happened to be run by a Turk) for an illicit packet of Marlborough Lights.

I smoked two cigarettes that night. There is supposedly enough nicotine in two cigarettes to get ‘hooked’ again. But guess what? I woke the next morning with no desire to smoke. No withdrawal symptoms. No cravings. No urge to go out and smoke another 20 cigarettes. No sense that now I had broken the no-smoking behaviour, I may as well go out and start again.

That is because cravings, nicotine addiction, withdrawal symptoms, are concepts fed by mismanaged thinking around someone’s smoking habit.

And the good news is – you can very quickly learn how to better manage your thinking. And once you can better manage your thinking, giving up smoking is really very very easy!

Greener Greener Grass

What is it that makes people up sticks and leave the country of their birth, their friends and family, familiarity, for fresh pastures?
The horrific events that we are currently seeing in places like Syria and Iraq illustrate how many people often have no choice but to grab what they can and make a run for it. This is often referred to as ‘push’ factors for emigration – lack of political or religious rights, persecution, or intolerance based on race, religion, or gender, oppressive living conditions…. these are just a few of the reasons why some people are ‘pushed’ away from their homes.
Equally, there are many ‘pull’ factors that encourage migrants into a particular area – more often than not these come from greater economic opportunities – examples being the Gold Rush in California in the 1850s to the influx of Turkish ‘Gastarbeiter’ into Germany in the 1960s. Indeed the UK has its own rich and diverse history of immigrants, inextricably linked with its commonwealth history, and more controversially these days, its generous benefits and health system.
Whatever the reason, migration has shaped and influenced communities all over the world, generation after generation.
But what makes us westerners leave our comfortable, secure, civilised, cushioned lives and homes, and head for pastures new.
Many people you talk to want to move away from the confines of living in what is often described as a nanny state which demands high taxes and a strict adherence to enforceable social behaviour. All the more so when your own compliance is overshadowed by so many others flouting the rules (the ASBO generation, tax dodging corporations, dodgy politicians). Others simply want to experience a different way of life, be absorbed into a different culture – often driven by a disappointment in what their own culture has to offer.
No wonder a flip flop, beachside based lifestyle in warmer and sunnier climes seems so appealing. Certainly , in my capacity as a local emlak here in Didim, people always talk about finding their ‘dream home’. Channel 4’s Place in the Sun empire of magazine, TV Shows, internet portals and exhibitions focuses solely on helping ordinary people seek out that perfect dream home in the sun – making a veritable multi million pound industry for itself in the process.
But as we have seen and heard over the years, dreams can soon turn into nightmares. Stories of people losing their life savings and being ripped off on all sides have plagued this town for years, as they have other ex-pat havens the world over.
But what of those expats emigrants who have upped sticks and successfully settled with their pensions and savings intact? What of those who are living the dream, the flip flop lifestyle, the care-free, rain-free, stress-free existence of blue skies, cheap cigarettes and weekly bargains at the market – and yet are still not satisfied with the life they have made for themselves. Why is it that so often dreams can turn sour for no apparent reason?
Too often the blame is put on the town, the street dogs, the council, the interest rates, the unaccounted for additional costs of living, the changing face of bureaucracy…… everything which is external and beyond the ‘control’ of the person who just wants to get on and live their life in peace. So a new destination is chosen. And for a while peace and happiness reigns, until a new local reality sets in, and once again sets off the spiral into disillusionment.
Contentment with one’s life starts from within. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I do not hold much court with fluffy spiritual nonsense. So when I say that your happiness starts from within, I mean from your internal locus of control – that place inside of you from where you get your strength and power. Too many of us have a locus of control which is external – we allow events outside of us to affect us unnecessarily emotionally. Turning your locus of control from external to internal is an incredibly simple, but amazingly effective, route to being truly happy, no matter what place you find yourself in.
Understand that external events do not ‘do’ things to you, rather it is the way you react to, and think about, external events that mean you make yourself unhappy. Once you have grasped this concept, you’ll begin to understand that finding your dream home is never the answer to finding happiness.

Elastic Times

Summer holidays can be notoriously long, or whizz by in a flash, depending on what angle you are looking at them. As a kid, I can remember the six weeks of summer holidays stretching out in all its bliss of freedom – long bicycle rides, building the tree house, penny sweets from the (long since closed down) village shop. Here in Turkey, those summer holidays are three long months – three long months of having four kids at home, and wanting them to do more than just loll about on the iPad (and of course bicker over whose turn it is!).
Entertaining them without spending the equivalent of the UK budget deficit is nigh on impossible. Bringing them back to the UK to have a bit of culture was probably not the cheapest option – and having been away for so long I am having to relearn how what the best options are in terms of shepherding four children and a willing pair of hands in the form of my mother around interesting holiday experiences which will hopefully be memorable for the children in the long run (though I do sometimes wonder why I bother). Three months is an incredibly long stretch for the kids. For us mothers, it’s even longer!
Yet when I see my children growing up so quickly – my eldest son is already half way to being officially an adult – time takes on a completely different perspective. That moment when I instinctively bought a pregnancy test kit and saw the positive line seems like yesterday – literally! This is the time that you want to slow right back down to a snail’s pace, so that you can relish every second of their childhood for as long as possible.
I read a really interesting take on time perspective the other day from a mathematician. When I look at the next year of my life, it feels like such a short time. I know it will pass quickly, and I should make the most of every moment. When my nine year old son looks at the next year, it feels like a lifetime. For me though, the fractional representation is much smaller. As a 45 year old, that year now represents 1/45th of my life. For my son, it is just 1/9th. As such the perception of time for me is much smaller. My grandmother will be 100 next spring – can you imagine how short a year seems when it only represents 1/100th of your life.
Perspective is crucial to maintaining a calm manner in the event of even the most trying circumstances. And I don’t mean the kind of unhelpful (sometimes puerile) perspective that is preached at us (‘think of all the dying children in Africa!’) Rather the everyday kind of perspective that enables you to see your own situation with clarity and understanding. Without perspective, you are unable to have any sense of objectivity. Your thinking is cluttered, distorted. You feel completely powerless in your ability to gain any kind of control over whatever situation you are facing. I can only imagine the dark, swirling thoughts that must have been going round and round in Robin Williams’ mind to have carried out that final dramatic act of taking his own life.
When you get the chance, Google ‘The Stockdale Paradox’. Jim Stockdale was a US naval pilot who was shot down and taken as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, where he was routinely tortured and beaten. He came out pretty much psychologically intact. I use Jim Stockdale as an example of maintaining perspective in the face of great adversity – not living life with blind optimism, but rather ‘having the discipline to confront the most brutal parts of your current reality’ – or what I call perspective. Those with the blind optimism ultimately could not cope with the brutal facts of their current reality –their hope of and faith in being out in time for Christmas meant that they did not effectively face up to the harsh treatment and endless months of imprisonment and torture. They could not dig deep enough to withstand the reality. As Stockdale said – ‘they died of a broken heart’.
Overcoming any adversity in life is about confronting sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes downright dangerous, realities, and having the internal strength to bring yourself out the other end with hope and positivity. And ultimately coming out the other end psychologically stronger.

Yo-yo Dieting – Why oh why?


Have you ever considered that your weight issues are nothing to do with food and exercise, but the psychological barriers you inadvertently build to ‘protect’ yourself. Probably many of you know this to be the case, but doing something about it seems impossible. In fact, when it comes to your weight, you are feeling pretty powerless.

Do any of the following situations apply to you:
You can’t just have one biscuit, you have to have the whole packet! If you break your diet, you might as well not bother continuing at all – it’s already ruined! You might as well scoff for the rest of the day/week/weekend!
You are feeling a low, or stressed, so the only way you’re going to feel better is if you eat a bar of chocolate, or a glass of wine, NOW! (This is a strong trait for those who comfort eat).
OMG! Why did I have that piece of chocolate cake???!!! I’ve COMPLETELY ruined my diet. I’m going to put on soooooo much weight. I’m a COMPLETE AND UTTER failure.

If these sound familiar, now is the time to GROWiT – Get Rid of Weight Issues & Thrive!
This specially formulated online training programme is based on the Rob Kelly Thrive Programme, and teaches you the fundamental psychological reasons WHY you are constantly going through these vicious weight loss-gain-loss cycles. Once you have that understanding, you learn skills and techniques to help you ‘grow’ strength and resilience that will not only help you lose weight, but which will also have a profound effect on all other areas of your life. In short, you will start to THRIVE!

This is NOT a diet and weight loss programme. This is about getting a grip on your thinking, and applying it to those areas in your life where you feel powerless and out of control.

If you are interested in hearing more, email me on, and I will send you further information, costs and instructions on how to join the programme.