403, 2015

A lesson from an African tribe on positive psychology

By |March 4th, 2015|Miscellaneous, Psychology|0 Comments


I recently read about an African tribe that does the most beautiful thing when dealing with crime or when someone has done something hurtful and wrong.

What they do is …

… they take the person to the center of town and the entire tribe comes and surrounds him. For two days they’ll tell the person every good thing he has ever done.

The tribe believes that every human being comes into the world as GOOD, each of us desiring safety, love, peace and happiness. And each of us fashioned to do good. But sometimes in the pursuit of those things and needs people make mistakes. The community sees misdeeds as a cry for help. So they band together for the sake of their fellow man to hold him up, to reconnect him with his true nature and to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected.

Positive psychology would say the same – that everyone acts with the highest intentions. It’s just that the actions in pursuit of that need or want (which are good needs or wants eg attention, to be loved etc) aren’t always good. But of course, we don’t need modern and ‘advanced’ positive psychology to teach us that. We just need an African tribe.


There’s a lesson in this … see the good in people. Speak to the goodness in them. See the best in them even when they can’t yet see it themselves. Remind them positively of their capacity to do good and be great, not their capacity to do wrong, do evil or make mistakes. People will respond far better to this approach. 

1511, 2011

The difference between a sceptic and a cynic

By |November 15th, 2011|Psychology|0 Comments

Pessimists. Cynics. Sceptics. Optimists. Realists … what’s the difference ?

If there is one thing that bugs me it is pessimists. And the funny thing is that I’d say my father is one. My father is an amazing man and if I can be half the man my father is, I’d be happy. But I’ve got to say that I’m thankful that somehow I didn’t get those genes and instead was born and fashioned with a desire to see the glass half full (sorry Dad !). To see things how they could be, as opposed to what they couldn’t. To choose to believe the best and to be hopeful and optimistic, instead of seeing what could go wrong or why someting wont work. My Dad would say he’s a realist. I’d say he’s a cynic / a pessimist ! So what’s the difference ?

A Cynic – this is someone who is always pessimistic. They had hope but they  now ‘polute the attitude pond we all drink from’. Always seeing the worst. Seeing the glass half-full. Pointing out what could go wrong. Pointing out why something wont happen. And so on and so forth – you get the jist.

A Sceptic – is someone who suspends good or bad judgement until they’re convinced. This frame is very powerful as it makes thinking OK and negative whiney judgement as not. Critical thinking and time to process and consider is not wrong at all. It’s not negative thinking to prepare for all eventualities. It’s fine to discuss the downside of any idea and to build a plan. You see a sceptic can still see the glass half full. They just need to be convinced first.

My challenge
What are you like ?
Scepticism is fine, but my challenge is that the end point of any critical thinking or consideration should still be an optimistic attitude. Why have anything else ?

“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’”
(George Bernard Shaw)

504, 2011

Reality. What's reality ?

By |April 5th, 2011|Psychology|0 Comments

For seven or eight years of my life, I knew Santa was real. After all, he came to my house every Christmas night so I had no reason to believe anything else. All of my experiences until that point in my young life had reinforced the messages my parents had shared with me. There were the presents that he left. The cookies that he ate and the milk that he drank. There were the letters that I wrote to him, his visits at the shopping centre, and the TV shows where I saw Mrs Claus and the elves preparing my presents for the sleigh and Santa’s big trip on Christmas Eve

…  So, you can imagine the devastation when boys at school told me that Santa wasn’t real and then Mum and Dad confirmed my worst fears. I was shattered. What would I do now that Santa wasn’t real ?  Was it really true ?

Some Psychology

I’m no psychologist but I do know that our reality is not always reality. It is one of the presuppositions of NLP – that we respond to our experience, not to reality itself. You see, we are bombarded every second by millions of bits of information. Information that is sourced by our senses. What we see, what we feel, what we hear, what we taste and what we touch. The brain can’t consciously process all this, so the unconscious mind deletes, distorts and generalises this information for storing. For example, one person may have a visual preference in the way they process information (and therefore notice these things more) whilst another person may notice sounds more. So our Reticular Activation System (RAS) takes note of our sensory preferences and this affects what information we delete, what we distort and what we generalise. (Want proof of this – have you ever bought a car and then noticed suddenly how many of those cars are on the road. You can’t believe you never noticed them before. That is your RAS filtering more of those examples into your perception).

And not only does the unconscious mind filter according to your sensory preferences, it also filters according to your values, your beliefs, your personality preferences and so on. That is, our upbringing, our personality and our environment affect how we delete, distort and generalise the information we take in every second.

And ultimately all this information is chunked down into 5-9 bits of information that we consciously take in (in our shorter term memories).  It is like having 2 million toothpicks falling from the ceiling every second and you can only grab 5-9 toothpicks. What do you think the chances of you grabbing the same 5-9 toothpicks as your best friend are ?

When our reality is not reality ?

Do you think this understanding explains why 2 people remember the same event differently ? Even more so when you consider that every memory is stored in the brain as an internal representation (IR) – an image that has the sights, sounds, smells, feeling, emotions and self-talk attached to that memory – all of which could be different between two people even for the same identical event / memory. Does it help you understand that our reality is our reality only because of our perception of it. We all see the world differently. Your reality may not be the actual reality or the only reality.

Can you see that your reality can change ? Can you see how in changing your perception of an event (eg the emotions attached with it) that your reality can change. A past event can not have as much an emotional stronghold over you. A future event cannot seem so fearful. Is it time for you to accept that there is another reality ?

When Our Truth is a Myth

Let me go one step further. Sometimes we arrive at a point on our journey only to discover that our truth is actually a myth. A story we’ve been told. A story we’ve told ourselves. A lie we’ve bought into. Sometimes, things aren’t as they seem. Or, again, as we see them. Sometimes, the only place something is real is in our head. Sometimes, we believe what’s comfortable while ignoring what everyone else already knows.

Is it time for you to let go of your Santa so you can move forward ?

2606, 2010

Mind the Gap

By |June 26th, 2010|Psychology|0 Comments

True champions have a certain something, a level above that of their fellow competitors. You can see it as they stand taller, do more, and as they achieve greater. It as if they exist on a higher plane where more is possible, more is dreamt and more achieved on a world stage. But why ? People have wondered this for centuries. They even cut open Albert Einstein’s brain to see if there was anything that made him different and accounted for his genius.

There are many reasons that contribute to success but the one thing I do know is that the difference is not just in their physiologoy and natural physical ability, but in their psychology. The gap between merely achieving and being world class is vast and that gap can only be bridged using the power of the mind.

I’ve seen it myself over many years in elite sport. You see it in the gym during the World Cup season or when you’re in the Olympic village and everyone is in the one gym in the best physical shapes of their life doing their final preparations to compete at their best. You see that they don’t lift any heavier or run any faster. The exercises they do are no different. Their preparation is pretty much the same. They are no faster. They eat no differently. They don’t do more training or work.

So the difference must be in their belief and in their mind.

And then consider how much time we put into physical abilities and having the ‘right’ shoes or racquet or outfits or spikes in an effort to improve our athletic performance. We do gruelling training sessions. We swim endless laps of the pool. We sprint up and down sandhills. We push sleds back and forth. Then you consider all the money invested in training and equipment to increase their chances of winning and being number one, the top, and the best.
However little time, effort or money is spent on the one unique and ultimately unlimited asset we all possess – our mind. That part that can give us big breakthroughs. That part that can make the difference and separate us from the rest. That part that if better understood and harnessed can help us achieve those dreams we so deeply desire.

So my challenge to you is this. If you spent only 10% of your time on unlocking the potential of your mind (keep an eye out for my  book ‘A Life that Counts’ on www.jeremyrolleston.com that will be coming out shortly  and read The Winners Bible by Dr Kerry Spackman) and 90% still doing what you’ve always done I bet you you start to see results you’ve never seen before.

Think about unlocking the power of your mind as it drives all your behaviour and performance.