Have you ever been aware of patterns in how people seem to treat you?

Do you know people who seem to attract a certain kind of attitude, feedback or treatment from others, with reliable frequency? Maybe it’s you? It could be that you notice people smile, say thank you, warm to you – pay you compliments, offer to help you, invite you out?
On the other hand maybe you notice people are rude, short tempered, blow you out, load you with work, ignore you or speak over you?
Let’s face it there are all kinds of people in the world, and we are bound to know a variety. We can’t control other people, so for the most part I would suggest a peaceful acceptance of others just as they are is the most supportive place to come from.
However, that said, sometimes if we are consistently noticing the same themes, or we are in constant contact with someone and the dynamic is distracting, disruptive or undermining, it is worth looking at it with fresh eyes with the intention of influencing a change.

We teach people how to treat us

I’m not suggesting for a moment that we bring on all negative behaviour ourselves. What I am saying though, is that we can make subtle tweaks and adjustments in our own emotional states, responses and actions in order to change or influence a relationship dynamic for the better.
Once a dynamic has formed, both parties are in it, unwittingly partnering the other – like a dance. One partner might be desperate to get off the dance floor, but the dance is not going to stop until you stop it. Or change until you change it.
We teach people how to treat us by what we

  • STOP

Without being consciously aware of it, we might actually be encouraging and supporting the behaviour we are upset by.
Play with tweaking what you are stopping, not stopping – allowing, not allowing – reinforcing, not reinforcing. Become more aware of your own responses, obvious and subtle, and you may surprise yourself how easily you notice a difference in the other person.
My clients are often amazed at the rapid and very noticeable differences in those around them from making a few small conscious changes in themselves.
For career, relationship or confidence coaching I offer courses of 4 or 6 sessions from my private clinics in Cheshire, London or over Skype. You will find all you need on:

We’ve all been there….The e-mails keeping pinging in, the to-do list becomes a whole notebook, people need deadlines met, and you just don’t know where to start!
Getting overwhelmed in busy and demanding working environments is a very common problem, and one which can be easily resolved with a coach. No matter how impossible or Herculean your tasks may seem.
If you are tackling this issue without a practitioner, here are some useful and practical tips you can take to get a new perspective and restore clarity to take action.

  • Switch off your Computer and your phone, at least for an hour or two, to allow yourself to re-focus and take a step back.
  • Review your boundaries and say NO. Practice saying no or giving realistic timescales to ease the sense of time pressure and give yourself  some space to think.  Autopilot ‘people pleasing’ creates unnecessary stress, but is a habit that can be easily changed.
  • Cancel and reschedule. Have your diary working for you, not against you.
  • Take action. With your head in a better space, pull out what needs attention right now and commit to doing it. Having your list and your head free of these points will ease that previous sense of pressure even further.
  • Brain rehearse. Get you and your brain into ‘useful’ states, remember and re-live times when you were calm, resourceful, tenacious, got great feedback. Review all your successes and strengths. Do this regularly! Your brain doesn’t know the difference in you ‘imagining and remembering’,  or actually doing,  it complies by activating powerful neurological pathways in your brain which help you get into the right state of mind for the job.
  • Set realistic goals. Connect with your exciting future and progression by setting long term goals, with actions which can be ‘chunked down’ into small achievable steps. Be realistic about what is involved and how long things take to avoid over committing with a fear of under delivering.
  • Plan something fun or relaxing. Nothing to do with work, something for you or the family that will bring you joy and have you absorbed in the moment, or relaxed and calm.
  • Breathe! I mean really breathe……..If you get into a routine of practicing ‘paced breathing’ at regular intervals throughout the day ( preferably away from your desk ), just a few minutes of deep slow breathing, with the out breath a couple of counts LONGER than the in-breath, as if my magic your vagus nerve will respond by putting your body into a mini ‘relaxation response’ the physiological antidote to the ‘stress response’. The focus and attention also acts like a mini meditation practice, and has you in the present moment, focused on your body, rather than up in your head focused on thoughts.
  • Remember we ‘create’ stress. Aside from getting us out of the way of real threat and danger ( which let’s face it is very rare in day to day life! ) we actually create our stress by our thoughts, and then our thoughts trigger the sympathetic nervous system to respond to ‘imagined’ threat, in same way as if we were escaping a wild lion. We do have a choice in how we respond to ‘stressors’. And if we practice being ‘aware’ when we are racing off into unproductive thinking, which might involve catastrophising what might happen, or dwelling on what already has happened – we can bring ourselves back to the present moment, and recover our calm and focus.

If you would like some help, contact me via the website contact page I would highly recommend you also take a look at my Mind Calm ‘Workshops’ page, and click through to Eventbrite to secure your place on one of the transformational workshops across the UK.

Did you know you other people’s stress is contagious? You may have heard the term ‘secondhand stress’ already….

Secondhand stress is the stress we experience from being around other people who are stressed. Seeing others under stress or in distress triggers our own stress response. Neuroscientists have measured neural activity in the brains of observers. When they observe an emotional response in others, their brains ‘light up’ with a ‘mirroring’ of electrical activity in the same areas of the brain. In fact the neurons involved have been named ‘mirror neurons’ for that very reason!
This mirrored, or secondhand stress can then become a physiological state, in the observer in the same way as it would for the person actually experiencing the emotion for themselves ( albeit less intense ).
top tips

Can we still empathise without taking on others stress?

We can’t control life, so inevitably we will be around other people who are stressed and not coping, In our relationships and jobs, sometimes we don’t have the choice to remove ourselves and it is not appropriate to do so. In these instances there are some useful guidelines as to how to strike a balance

  • Listen and Acknowledge – do this without ‘going into the pit’ with your friend or colleague. When we are stressed, we want to be heard, maybe even want to ‘vent our spleen’. Take a few moments to be present, listen and show that you’re listening without stepping in with opinions, advise or taking sides or reinforcing the emotional content.
  • Remember – Don’t Gossip – don’t get drawn in or ask questions about the details, or who did what etc, even if it is interesting!! – you will be setting yourself up for the continuing saga
  • Keep emotional language to a minimum – instead of getting personally involved, choose something neutral yet engaged like ‘yes, these things can be so frustrating can’t they’ or ‘I can imagine how you feel’
  • With close friends do not be tempted to make strong statements about other parties especially partners of family members. Once the situation is resolved, you may live to regret these comments.
  • Remove yourself from the conversation politely after you have acknowledged and listened. Also remove yourself from the setting as well if you can for a little while, draw the conversation to a close by physically changing your proximity. Close your your body language and move on.
  • We teach people how to treat us – by what we stop, what we allow and what we reinforce. Sometimes we are unconsciously encouraging people to actually seek us out to spill all their emotional frustrations. We can become more conscious and intentional of what we are allowing and reinforcing and in order that we subtly shift the dynamic and send out a different message. It is possible to do this with empathy and good manners too.

How will I know if I’m experiencing secondhand stress?

Stress is stress, it is a physiological state in our brains and bodies, at a cellular level, whether it is secondhand or our own! No matter how you arrived at this state it will feel the same. Here are some common examples:

  • Raised heart rate, palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Churning stomach
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Loss of appetite – or cravings for high calorie food when it returns!
  • Problems getting to sleep or poor quality sleep
  • Fatigue

However, with secondhand stress we can assume that if we are personally not in the stressful situation, the emotional charge and thus the resulting stress will be less.
We might also find that with stress caused by others, we feel like we want to avoid those individuals who are stressing us out, spend less time with them. Maybe we get nervous about being in their company – Do they become the people whose dates we ‘blow out’ even when we are usually pretty reliable?

Why is this term ‘secondhand stress’ becoming so widespread and talked about?

There is a stress epidemic at the moment, people do not have effective stress strategies, and the neurology of stress can become very well established – literally the neural pathways in the brain and body which put us into stress become so well used, that they become etched like a neurological ‘groove’.
We are creating stress with our thoughts as a result of our ‘triggers’ and years of conditioning. Until we learn new strategies en mass, we will all continue to be stressed, and will ‘catch’ the stress of others.

Are there some strategies to help relieve some of the pressure? How and  why would we implement them?

Yes, all of the below strategies are about us becoming more consciously aware and taking personal responsibility to take actions and make changes in our lives.
What we are ‘conscious’ of, we can begin to have some control and influence over….Whereas what we are ‘unconscious’ to can begin to control us.

Top Tips to Manage ‘Secondhand Stress’

  • Surround yourself with positive people – Begin evaluating the experiences you have with people in your life. Simply decide who makes you feel good, supports you and allows you to feel you can express yourself authentically without having to put on an ‘act’. SPEND MORE TIME WITH THEM!!. Conversely, who causes you stress, judges you, constantly talks about themselves and their issues and doesn’t seem that interested in you and your life? Spend less time with them or eliminate them from your life if you can.
  • Remember you often ( aside from work ) have a choice how you spend your time and WHO you spend it with. Choose wisely – energetically we can pick up on negative emotions just by being in the same room as someone, the human electro magnetic energy field is easily as big as the average room. This energy field transmits the emotional and physiological states of other people and can directly affect our own emotions.
  • Notice the language people use – people who are negative, pessimistic, moaning, judgemental and in a passive ‘victim mode’ can drag us down. Some people have coined the phrase ‘energy vampires’ or ‘toxic friends’….it is definitely worth re-evaluating your friendships and networks and making some tweaks where you can.
  • Create some distance – Creating boundaries and physical distance both work. Physically getting out of the energy field means you are not influenced by the negative and emotionally stressed energy of others. Creating new boundaries and teaching people to expect less of you also works well. Always remember: You TEACH people how to treat you…by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce. Think about how you can handle certain people differently.
  • Take less on – We wear stress and being ‘busy’ like a badge of honour nowadays, it has somehow become a benchmark of success…IT IS NOT! Always ask yourself these questions “Is this working for me?”, “What am I getting out of this that is positive?” and “How is this supporting what is important to me?” – This type of question can help you evaluate and choose what you take on and strike a balance between what is genuinely enriching and important, and what you are doing through duty or obligation or out of fear of what other people might think of you.
  • Focus more on yourself – Many years of conditioning, and early programming from when we are children can cause us to struggle to form healthy boundaries with others which serve us as well as them. The result of this for many people is that they put others first ( which of course we all need to do sometimes ) and themselves last. Often this is linked with low self-esteem, not feeling we deserve to put ourselves at the top of the list and a fear of being judged or becoming unpopular. Actually how I often help clients to re-frame this, is that by looking after ourselves, by giving ourselves time to rest, to exercise, to eat healthily and take breaks and time off, we are investing in ourselves, our health and our ability to be emotionally resilient. By nurturing ourselves we can bring the best of ourselves to our lives, jobs and most importantly our relationships with other.

If you would like any professional support in managing stress, take a look at these pages of my website for all of the information you will need. Or book onto one of my UK Mind Calm Workshops which take place most Saturdays all over the country:

What is it that allows some people to bounce back, and to remain resourceful, positive and inspired despite the chaos of their circumstances or the stress of those around them?
Have you ever wondered how some people just seem to…..

  • Be able to operate in a happy, confident and resourceful way, even when all around them are having an emotional meltdown?
  • Come across as positive and optimistic whilst still living in the real world and facing into the challenges of life?
  • Be highly effective and attract in more of what they want from life?

We might call these people ‘emotionally resourceful’. If we study their habits and strategies, we can learn a lot. Here are some useful habits to adopt if you feel yourself getting bogged down or stuck in a negative cycle.
By beginning to take a new perspective, and to consciously adopt some of these habits for yourself, you may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you notice changes in your own life.

  • 1. Take responsibility – Emotionally resourceful people don’t mope around feeling sorry for themselves, moaning about how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair, that sometimes they have to accept what they cannot change. We create stress by giving too much focus to what cannot be changed, to what ‘just is’.
  • 2. Understand you have a choice in how you respond – Resourceful individuals don’t have the impression that their emotional experience is controlled by the actions or words of other people. If you notice their language, it will not be passive or in ‘victim mode’ ….eg “My boyfriend takes away my confidence”. They understand that they have control over their own emotions and a choice in how they respond to external events.
  • 3. Embrace change – By welcoming change and being willing to be flexible, we can understand that change is inevitable and believe in our abilities to adapt and to learn life lessons from whatever the universe puts in our path.
  • 4. Choose what gets your attention – We feel what we focus on!! By giving the lost luggage, traffic jams or the annoying colleague our attention we encourage our feelings of anger, frustration or upset. Instead, an emotionally resourceful person will focus on what they can control in their lives. They also recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can really be in command of is their attitude and response to a situation.
  • 5. Be OK with people not liking you – Resourceful types recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. Whilst setting a clear intention to be kind and fair, they accept other people being upset and are able to form healthy boundaries in relationships which work for them rather than having them feeling used and trampled by the neediness of others.
  • 6. Take risks – Resourceful people are playful, and they realize life is an ongoing experiment from which we can keep learning lessons. When we lose our ‘over-attachment’ to ‘getting it right’, we free ourselves up from that old paralyzing analysis of what might go wrong. By taking risks, we take more action. By taking action we learn more and make more impact on our lives and others.
  • 7. Live in the present – The present is the only moment that you can experience anything directly. The mind, where we do our thinking, is only a ‘thinking about’ tool. By dwelling on past regrets or mistakes, or predicting the future, we sometimes become lost in thinking, and one step removed from the present moment. Emotionally resourceful people show up in the moment, take it in through their senses, and take part. Through showing up for the full experience of the present moment, we also remember and recall more.
  • 8. Do something different – If emotionally resourceful people are not getting the results they want, they dare to take a new action…”If you keep on doing what you’ve been doing – you will keep getting what you’ve been getting”. By accepting responsibility for our behavior and learning from past mistakes, we are less likely to keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead we can move on more freely and make better decisions and choices in the future.
  • 9. Teach people how to treat you – The resourceful person will teach others how to treat them. We are unconsciously teaching people how to treat us all the time – through what we stop, what we allow and what we reinforce. We can begin to be more conscious and intentional with what we are stopping and allowing, and gradually we form new dynamics and healthy boundaries with those around us.
  • 10. Know there’s no such thing as failure – What is failure? Look at all those examples of highly successful people who ‘failed’ many, many times before they hit their formula for success. Resourceful people do not view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use what some might term ‘failure’ as simply feedback.  Through allowing and accepting feedback in all it’s forms, we can expand our opportunities to learn, grow and improve. We can adopt a more innocent approach from which we continue to have ideas, make plans and take actions until we find our groove and our own personal recipe for success.
  • 11. Enjoy your own company – Resourceful people are just as happy alone as they are with a group. They embrace silence and stillness and use downtime to be productive. By enjoying our own company, we are less dependent on the companionship and entertainment from others to ‘make’ us feel good. Instead we become emotionally self-sufficient and independent.
  • 12. Know the world doesn’t owe you a favour – Emotionally resourceful people don’t feel entitled to things in life, they don’t adopt that mentality that others should take care of them or that the world owes them. If we begin looking for opportunities based on our own merits we can feel perfectly OK and satisfied with less expectation of others. This can free us up from eternal frustration and disappointment.


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