KB13 - The Friday 4 - Expose Yourself

mindset mindset advice the friday 4 Apr 28, 2023

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#1 - Expose Yourself

Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was a Holocaust survivor who wrote the influential book "Man's Search for Meaning."

In this book, he details his experiences in Nazi concentration camps and his discovery of the importance of finding meaning and purpose in life, even in the most difficult circumstances.

One of the techniques he uses is called “Paradoxical intention.”

What is Paradoxical Intention?

Paradoxical intention is like a mind trick to help ourselves feel better when anxious or worried about something.

It's when we try to do the thing we fear on purpose so we no longer fear it.

Here are a couple of examples:

Imagine you're worried about speaking in front of people because you think you'll stutter or forget what to say.

With paradoxical intention, you might purposely try to stutter or forget your lines.

This helps you feel more in control, and you might find that you don't stutter or forget as much as you thought.

Suppose you're nervous about going to a party because you think you'll be too shy to talk to anyone.

Instead of avoiding the party, you challenge yourself to be the quietest person there and try not to say a word.

This way, you're in control of your shyness and might even feel more confident to start talking to others when you're ready.

When it comes to anxieties and fears, when we constantly avoid the things that cause these feelings, it then becomes our default response the next time they appear.

To overcome these feelings, we need to expose ourselves to them and go as far as feeling them as much as possible.

Only then do we realise that it’s not as bad as we think in these situations, and we can finally start overcoming them.

#2 - Boiling a Frog

The analogy of "boiling a live frog" is often used to describe a situation in which a slow, gradual change goes unnoticed until it results in a significant and potentially harmful outcome.

The story behind the analogy is that if a frog is placed in a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out due to the sudden and extreme temperature change.

However, if the frog is placed in a pot of cool water that is slowly heated to boiling, it won't perceive the gradual increase in temperature. It will eventually be cooked without realising the danger.

An analogy I like is that if you walk into a room that stank of shit and stay there, you get used to the smell.

Only when you leave the room and come back in do you realise how bad it smells.

Throughout our lives, we experience a lot of unnecessary suffering because we get used to the shitty environments we have put ourselves in.

This is why constant self-reflection and assessment of the people around you and the places you are in are so important. It’s not easy to change your friend circles, your job or career or where you live, but the pain of change is much less painful than the pain of remaining the same.

#3 - If We Were Wise

I owe much of my thinking process, especially regarding relationships, to Alain De Botton.

His company The School of Life have some incredible books and gifts to help with personal development.

This week on their Instagram page, they shared an incredible quote titled “If we were wise”, which I just had to share with you here…

“If we were wise we would stay very pessimistic about how things turn out; we would remind ourselves on an hourly basis that all relationships are riven with pain, all business ventures are maddening and all families are demented.

We would accept that we aren’t being persecuted; this is how things universally are (it’s just that other people carefully omit to speak frankly about its existence).

We would get less hopeful and - therefore - less bitter and less furious.

Of course things are slightly disastrous; of course, we have made some terrible mistakes, of course, we have been betrayed and treated badly. It’s all eminently and supremely normal.

We would cease lamenting our wrong turns” We probably married the wrong person; we almost certainly chose the wrong career. Probably we’re living in the wrong country (and definitely house).

We invested in useless things. We befriended unworthy sorts, we made awful errors bringing up our children, and we’ve neglected our health.

We’d be starting to get it right if we lived to 1,000 or could do half a dozen practice runs.

Wisdom starts with a dark belly laugh - and a full acknowledgement that we are idiots now, we were idiots then, and we will be idiots tomorrow.

There are simply no other options for a human being and that’s more than OK.”

#4 - Negative Visualisation

One of the most powerful practices you can do is gratitude


A lot of people struggle to do it, and when they do, they don’t get the benefit from doing so.

In comes something called “Negative Visualisation.”

Negative visualisation is a technique used in Stoic philosophy that involves imagining the loss of things we cherish in order to appreciate them more fully.

I want you to imagine something that you hold dear to you; it could be a loved one or someone close to you.

Now I want you to imagine getting a phone call from the police to say they were involved in a nasty accident and are no longer with us.

(sombre, I know, but go with me on this..)

The point of the practice is to think deeply about this becoming a reality but don’t dwell on it.

Open your eyes, get back to reality and realise that you should be grateful to have them in your life and to give them a call or go and see them.

I practice this often when I see my Dad’s Van drive past my house. I remind myself that one day, he will be gone and how excited I would be to see his van drive past my house just one more time.


👉 Expose Yourself - If you avoid things you’re fearful of, you’ll be more fearful of them. To get over this, you must often expose yourself to those thoughts and feelings.

👉 Boiling a Frog - Don’t get comfortable in an uncomfortable environment; the longer you spend there, the harder it is to leave.

👉 If We Were Wise - The antidote to perfectionism is to realise how imperfect we are

👉 Negative Visualisation - Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Visualise a life without the things you love, and you’ll appreciate having them more.

I hope you enjoyed my Friday Four this week, and I’ll see you Friday for the next one.


Jay Alderton


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