That’ll Learn Me!

I’ve always been a dweller. Apparently I love nothing more than to grab onto something (sometimes ridiculously insignificant) and turn it into a big dwell. Right now I’ve got a work dwell going on that I will elaborate on later.

Dwelling… I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’d love to be able to figure out exactly when it started; Was it when I knocked over the plant pot in the living room at about the age of 6? (I clumsily tried to hide it behind the curtains, there was soil everywhere!) There must have been a period where I wasn’t as neurotic, maybe my brain is just wired this way, but I have to believe that somehow I’ve been conditioned to think this way, I must have self taught my brain to behave in this manner. If that is the case then surely this gives me the opportunity to ‘unlearn’ this behaviour.

Over the last six months or so I’ve been trying to be more self analytical (I could be described as someone who is ruled by their emotions). I must say that have to give some credit to a very good friend of mine, she suffers from severe anxiety and tackles it head on in a very admirable way (check out her blog: Before I continue I should say that I don’t believe that I suffer from severe anxiety, that would be a disservice to those that battle with it daily, but I do think some of the techniques they use can be incredibly useful to anyone who wishes to apply them. That leads me nicely onto my personal experiment and ‘the event’ at work.

I’m now trying out Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) (after my friend recommended it to me for about the 8th time, I was slow to take up the advice). Just to explain CBT is a ‘psychotherapeutic’ approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions through a number of goal-oriented, explicit systematic procedures. The idea is to retrain your brain, its viewed as a very effective treatment and is actually endorsed by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE!).

Its really easy to get started, I downloaded a CBT diary app on the Google play store for free. You then have to wait for a negative thought and then go through a very simple process of picking it all apart by following the simple instructions in the app.

My latest entry was after ‘the event’ at work! Firstly for those of you that don’t know I work as a Broadcast Engineer. I look after broadcast systems that are used across television and a little of new media. Basically I fix ya telly pictures!

Well just the other day I was asked to do some work with one of the senior engineers, whom I must say I get on really well with both in and out of work. We were asked to do some work on the graphic systems for a high profile channel that goes all around the world. The system overlays important information on the incoming video and there is one for each region it covers throughout the world. The graphic systems are used about every 15 minutes or so, so you have to do the work quickly in the gaps between its usage. Well my colleague did the first one and it all went swimmingly; it was fairly simple procedure. I then demonstrated that I could do it myself and we nattered away happily while I got on with the work. I’d completed all, but three, each time ensuring that there was a good gap to get the work done then taking the machine off air and doing the necessary work. Well I was in autopilot, talking about Game of Thrones in depth and without thinking I moved onto the next device. I took it off air and started the work, I then snapped back into reality and realised I hadn’t checked the gap. The device I was working on was the master device and the gap was only five minutes! ARRRGHHHHH! For a few moments I panicked, I told the senior what I’d done, we got heads down and did the work with a minute to spare then held our breath as the machine went back online… praise Jebus! It worked fine and there was no on-air impact. Once I’d calmed down I knew right away that this was gonna be one doozy of a dwell. Well it was CBT time!

The app I downloaded makes things really simple. Firstly you put in a title, mine was ‘Almost caused an outage at work’. Then you put in your emotions; i felt humiliated and discredited. Next you rate how you feel in terms of intensity, I selected 8/10. The diary next asks for your thoughts; well I was embarrassed that I’d been so blasé and I was massively worried that my colleague would think less of me.

The next part really helps. You have to select irrational beliefs. The app has a list of loads of irrational beliefs; All of these irrational thoughts are select-able, which is comforting in the fact that some always directly apply to your situation and they are obviously quite common. Well here are the beliefs that applied to my situation:

  • I was ‘attempting to mind read others’. “That is it, everyone is going to think I’m a complete donkey now, especially my colleague I was working with”.
  • ‘Catastrophic thinking’ “One mistake at work and now I’ll be fired, my reputation is lost in the gutter forever!”

Next you have to select relevant challenges from an inbuilt list, I selected ‘this isn’t life or death’ and ‘I don’t need to be so critical of myself’ and then the final part is to add your own comments. By this point you feel a little silly. The process forces you to take a step back and really look at the situation, rather than constantly panicking and saying the same thing in your head over and over. I just wrote very simply: ‘I made a mistake, learn from it don’t dwell on it. Plus reputation and relationships are built over a long period of time, one moment is going to change everyone’s view of you’.

It feels like a very healthy process and I recommend it to everyone to try out. It can only be a good thing I think.

Right that is me done, heres a song by Paul McCartney

Philly OUT!!!


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