About thethinkingroomcoach

I am an experienced Personal Development Coach who believes in the power of the individual to transform themselves and their life. I teach strategies for effective thinking, problem solving and emotional resilience.

Developing ‘So what’ thinking

Have you ever imagined the outcome of a situation before it happened? Think about that question for a moment… You will know if you have, if I remind you of a classic scenario – John has an interview next week, he has been preparing for a few weeks and is becoming anxious about it; without full awareness, he has begun creating full-coloured, vibrant moving images in his head of himself walking into the interview room with sweaty palms, stuttering his way through the questions, and next, opening an envelope that has just fallen through his letterbox, that begins: ‘We are sorry to inform you that on this occasion you have been unsuccessful…’  He hasn’t even been to the interview yet! Does any of that sound familiar?! Many of us create distress within ourselves by imagining a future of disastrous, disturbing, fear-filled images and ideas…all of this comes from imagination and this is a destructive use of imagination. A longer-term habit that is beneficial to develop is one where you use your imagination positively, by using visualisation to programme your sub-conscious to see yourself, in the above case, performing excellently and succeeding before you even reach the interview room!

Many of us stop ourselves from trying new things, meeting new people, going on an adventure, changing a job or a comfy routine through the way that we think about it and visualise it, as above. We disturb ourselves into thinking how awful, how difficult it will be and so to avoid this pain…we avoid trying it altogether! We are fortune-telling and not in a positive way! You will know if you are putting the brakes on any action is you find yourself using the phrase, ‘But…what if I …?’ You have imagined failing or feeling uncomfortable before you even attempt anything.

Here are some classic, everyday examples of being a fortune telling:

But…what if I enrol on a course and I find it difficult?

But…what if I go out with him/her on a date and I don’t get on with them

But…what if I go to that new restaurant and hate the food?

But…what if I change my job and hate the new one?

But…what if I go to the dance class and can’t follow the steps?

But…what if I change my hairstyle and don’t like it?

This thinking creates a state of mind where you feel FEAR, ANXIETY, NERVOUSNESS….and it STOPS ANY ACTION that could be beneficial to you.

It is important to get into the habit of taking just a few more calculated risks. These risks may improve your physical health, your mental health, your social skills and social life, your relationships, your career satisfaction and your income.

To start developing a risk-taking consciousness, work on getting into the habit of thinking differently.

Here are some examples of ‘SO WHAT’ THINKING to counter the fortune-telling statements above:

So what if I discover the course is difficult, I can ask for help – it’ll be a good challenge for me.

So what if I got out with him/her and we don’t get on, I’ll give it a try anyway, it might be fun!

So what if I try that new restaurant and don’t like the food, next time I’ll try something different!

So what if I hate the new job at first, I need to give myself time to settle in, it could be great!

So what if I go to the dance class and can’t follow all the moves, I enjoyed the company anyway!

So what if I change my hairstyle and don’t like it, it’ll grow back or I might get used to it and really like it!

If you practise changing how you think about the opportunity of new things it will have a positive effect on your state of mind; you will feel freed up to give it a try, and you’ll take a a more rational and light-hearted view where you are more likely to bounce back from initially uncomfortable situations; this ENABLES ACTION,  practise it!


Change is not to be feared

Stages of change model.

‘Everyone thinks of changing the world, but not one thinks of changing himself.’ Leo Tolstoy

Many people avoid change in their life because they view change as something uncomfortable and difficult. Human beings enjoy routine and ritual because it creates a sensation of security and comfort; when we experience change we often suffer from a sense of loss of our ’normality’, a loss of familiarity and a loss of control.

 Even if we know that we want to change because we are in a difficult situation and are experiencing high levels of discomfort there can still be reluctance to change due to fear of the unknown. This fear can result in a psychological ‘paralysis’ where we know we need to change but can’t.

The process of change asks us to consider big questions such as:

What is important in my life now?

Who is important to me?

What action do I need to take to make things different?

What if it all goes wrong?

What if I make the wrong decision?

The first three questions are incredibly important and are helpful to us in evaluating what we would like from our life and what we need to do to make change happen. The last two questions are fortune-telling; in other words, we are almost deciding that things will go wrong before they have, which sets our subconscious off on a losing streak before we start! Be aware of, and avoid, this type of thinking at all costs!

Instead, visualising the pleasure when the change has happened will set our subconscious up to want to change because it can already see the great results that change can bring.

It is important to understand and to evaluate where we are in the various stages of change, see the diagram above- Cycle of Change – Prochaska & DiClemente

In pre-contemplation we are unwilling to change and to see that there is something to change

In contemplation we have seen that there is something to change but we are not in the right state of mind to make the leap

In preparation a decision to make the change been taken and we put plans in place to do it

In action we have started to do what is necessary to make the change happen

Maintenance is crucial in keeping up the action and good habits

Relapse is a normal part of the change process. We can go through the cycle a few times before lasting change is reached.

Try this activity to send a clear and powerful message to your subconscious; change will be successful and pleasurable –

  •  Set aside 15-20 minutes, once or twice a day, find a quiet space, take some deep breaths and relax
  • Now, start to think about the change you want in your life e.g. career, family,relationship, friends, self-image, confidence, ambitions etc.
  • Next, in your mind, create a vibrant picture of yourself in that new situation, giveit colour, give it movement, and give it sound
  • See yourself in your own home movie of this new change in your life…

What do you look like?

How are you behaving?

What are you saying?

What do you hear around you?

What can you see?

How are you interacting with family/friends/colleagues?

What emotions are you experiencing? e.g. joy, comfort, pleasure, confident feelings

REPEAT THIS EXERCISE ONCE OR TWICE A DAY— then start planning, putting into action and achieving your change.

REMEMBER that lasting change can take a while—do not get disheartened, ask for support if you need it – good luck!

Our presence affects others….all of the time

Have you ever wondered why it is that when you are in some people’s presence you feel defensive, uncomfortable, anxious, angry, sad or maybe a combination of all of of these? Why do you think this is? Has it anything to do with you and the way that you are interacting with this person/persons? This is certainly a possibility. Could it be to do with another person’s energy and theeir presence and the way that you are receiving this? Most certainly.

It doesn’t feel good when you are around people who are giving out to others and their environment a feeling a feeling of hatred, dissatisfaction, anger, negativity; this energy is likely to lead you to feeling those things too and can affect your behaviour and feelings for the rest of that day.

Think about this. Try and remember a time in someone’s presence when you felt really relaxed, comfortable and happy; this really does feel good. How often in your week do you experience this – when you go to the shop, pertrol station, work, waiting for a bus/train, when driving, when you are in a restaurant etc? I would imagine that the ratio of these good experiences in relation to the umcomfortable ones is much lower.

Can we change this? I guess that most of us would prefer to feel nice and to be treated well? The answer to that is a resounding ‘Yes!’ But don’t expect others to do all the changing! We are all capable of influencing how others are…let me be clear…we cannot change others….but we can influence others by the way in which we behave.

Think for a moment about how others feel in your company, what sort of comments/feedback do you receive? or, imagine being with you, how would you feel?

Changing how you think will change how you feel for the better



Epictetus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 ‘People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.’  Epictetus (AD 55 – AD 135)

The way in which we see and interpret our world has a massive impact on how we feel. Emotions do not arise from thin air; the great philosopher Epictetus knew this hundreds of years ago, he held the view that, whilst we cannot always control external events we can learn, through an understanding that trying to control the uncontrollable leads to suffering, and that we need to learn self-discipline to control our reactions to events in a calm, rational way.  His work influenced the Cognitive therapy approach where Albert Ellis, an eminent cognitive behavioural therapist, developed his theories based on this idea that negative emotions arise not from events in our lives, but rather from people’s irrational interpretations of the event; crucially that we can learn to challenge our distorted thinking.

For example, if you get up in the morning and think, “I can’t face work; I hate my job and those people just annoy me!”, then the chances are that you are going to dread travelling to work, feel miserable, not enjoy your work and project this feeling out to others in the form of being abrupt or bad tempered and not being easy to work with. It may well be that you dislike your job and want to  improve your work situation and in the medium/long-term looking for another job may help but in the short term it will not help your state of mind, including your levels of fulfilment and happiness, to remain stuck in this way of thinking.

Self-awareness is the key to seeing things differently which will impact positively on how you feel and on how you behave. So, in the above example, if you do get up feeling a little negative about your work situation, the most important thing to do is to be aware that you are! Many of us live our lives not being self-aware; we get into negative patterns of behaviour that result in us feeling miserable but not knowing why!


The next step is to be realistic. If it is unlikely that you are able to change your situation immediately, make a conscious effort to disrupt this thinking by making yourself think about some of the positive aspects of your job. There may be some tasks you do really enjoy, some people you do get along with, you might enjoy the breaks; the importance here is to change how you view things so that you can start to feel a little more positive and enjoy your situation more. Who likes feeling miserable?

Try this exercise:

1. Take a piece of brightly coloured paper or a new page in note book or journal and write at the top of the page,

e.g. 10 reasons why I love my job

e.g. 10 reasons why I love my home

e.g. 10 reasons why I love my partner etc.

2. Think carefully and be disciplined – squeeze those ten thoughts out of your head!    

3. Every night before you go to sleep take 10 minutes to focus on each of the ten statements and repeat them in your head or out loud, imagine why each of them is true, then do the same in the morning when you wake up

4. Disrupt your thinking again if you find that your mood is lapsing during the day, take your list out and do the 10 minute exercise as a reminder


This exercise is part of the longer-term process of re-programming yourself to think differently in order to change how you feel and experience your life. Learning to be disciplined in your thinking is crucial to feeling better!

By controlling your breath, you can improve your mental and physical wellbeing

 ‘Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.’ ~Etty Hillesum

Anyone can use the following technique; you don’t need to be a Buddhist, into yoga or meditation…this technique is for everyone, and it is easy…with some practise!

When we become stressed, anxious, worried or angry our breathing is affected; we breathe more quickly, in a more shallow way and we often hold our breath without knowing it. The body is gearing up for danger; to run away of to fight. This creates a sense of panic and then we continue to breath in this unhelpful way…the negative cycle continues. Learning to control your breathing will help you to control your thoughts will in turn will help you to control your breathing…this is a positive cycle.

When we are relaxed our breathing automatically supports our wellbeing. We will breathe more slowly and more deeply into the bottom, larger part of our lungs. The bottom part of our lungs are bigger and have more blood vessels therefore we get much more oxygen from here. This helps us remain in a calm, relaxed state. When we are in this state we are more likely to think rationally and logically without over-reacting out of an emotionally charged state.

The first and most important step in making changes in yourself is awareness. Next time you are feeling a little worried or anxious notice how rapidly you are breathing, where are you breathing out of – your nose or your mouth, put your hand over each to check. The ideal is to always breathe though your nose, many of us don’t, so don’t worry, just remind yourself to close your mouth! Equally, next time you are relaxed notice how slow and controlled you breathe.

Conscious breathing is just that – being fully conscious or aware of how you are breathing. Using it as a stress management strategy is very powerful, but equally use it to enhance your wellbeing by being in a calm state more often.

Here is my simple exercise to get you into this positive habit…

Deep breathing

  1. Focus on your breathing becoming conscious of the movement and sound
  2. place one hand on your abdomen and on your upper chest, breathe normally and notice how your hands move
  3. now, take deeper breaths making sure that you are breathing in from your nose and fully breathing from your abdomen and not just your chest – both hands should move equally

-Feel your neck, back and shoulders relax down, Try closing your eyes to help you focus

Extending your exhalation

Extending the time of your exhale can help you to relax more deeply and quickly – the extended exhalation empties your lungs more fully, so you will inhale more fully too, this helps oxygenise the body, reducing stress

  1. take some deep nasal breaths
  2. now, breathe and count the inhale breath to 3, count the exhale breath to 6

-practise increasing the amount of breaths, by no more than one or two breaths, double for the exhale