I was walking down a local road recently and I could see ahead of me a speeding warning sign. The sign flashes the maximum speed that you should be travelling for any vehicles exceeding that speed limit. For this sign that speed is 30 miles an hour since it’s a residential area.

The sad thing was, as I walked along the road on a busy weekday evening, every vehicle that passed me received the flashing warning sign that they were exceeding the speed limit. Not only that, but I looked at the break light panel of all the vehicles that passed and none of them applied their brakes. Put simply, they all ignored the ‘request’ of the sign.

Human nature being what it is, however, generally doesn’t respond well to what it’s told it’s doing wrong. “30” was the flash and it had zero impact on the slowing down of the drivers. Something tells me too that there may well have been a handful of drivers who reacted by driving faster. What I also do know as fact is that there is now a speed monitor across the road further up the road.

In another village not to far from me there’s another driver sign. Whenever you travel no faster than the maximum speed limit it flashes “Thank you”. Whenever I’ve driven there I’ve noticed some drivers slow down. Not all but that will always be the way for some simply won’t respond positively. Some drivers do slow down though.

It seems to me that flashing “Thank you” in someone’s face to doing what you want them to do brings a better response than flashing “30” in their face for doing what you don’t want them to do.

The moral of this anecdote. I’ll let you decide.

Does your teenage child’s behaviour seem irrational or just plain weird to you? If so, science might offer an explanation as to why your child’s cavalier approach to life seems so natural to them – and so irresponsible to you.

This is not an excuse, mind. Just because there might be an explanation doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. It’s merely understandable and there is a world of difference between the two.

So, whats going on?

The Psychological Journal posted the conclusions by Roper, Z. et al in June, 2014, the title of which was called Value Driven Attention Capture in Adolescence. The scientists lead by Vaidya, J. G. trained both adolescents and adults to engage in a computer ‘spot the object and receive a reward’ program, hence the title of the research: Value Driven Capture.

The research showed that both adults and adolescents responded well to receiving a reward so no surprise there. Both age groups were then given a different target to identify. What might be surprising was the residual effect of the previous task on the two age groups. Whereas the adults’ reward mechanism for the initial target quietened allowing them to more easily adapt to the new target, the adolescents’ reward mechanism for the original target remained high and they experienced considerable difficulty adapting. It was as if the original reward desire was still firmly in their mind.

There are implications here for adolescents suffering from ADHD since the lack of self-control often experienced by people with ADHD might be tied in with their lack of reward system adaptability. The research may also offer insights into why teenagers can persist with something when to the rest of us it’s over or just no point pursuing. For example, a teenager laughing at something, the situation ending, but the teenager still ‘goes on and on’ about it. Or, what about teenagers’ love of texting and social media? It’s a ‘moth to a flame’, as the value driven reward is sought over and over again when adults would have let go and moved on ages ago.

It seems that the very means by which teenagers process rewards may be the key to their extraordinary behaviour and not the previously thought cause being the under-developed frontal lobes of the brain that are responsible for self-control.

So, listen out for: “Sorry, mum. My irrational behaviour is as a result of a value driven attention condition and not, as previously thought, because of my under-developed frontal lobes in my brain. Can I have some more money to top up my phone?”

A fascinating study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (or PNAS for short) has mapped where in the body people felt different emotions. You can see all the pictures that record the data by clicking here.

The research was carried out as follows. Five experiments were carried out by Lauri Nummenmaa et al and the results can be found in the January 14, 2014 Edition on PNAS. The participants were shown silhouettes next to certain words, stories, facial expressions or movies. The task was to colour the bodily region of the silhouette that was, in their opinion, increasing or decreasing in emotional response to the stimulus.

Fascinatingly, irrespective of where in the world the experiment was carried out, let alone within the five experiments themselves, generally the same areas were coloured in by the participants.

So, we generally feel emotions in the same parts of the body. Interesting stuff. However, it was the next point that I personally find very interesting.

Take a look at the picture below.


In particular, focus on where Happiness was ‘felt to be felt’. Everywhere in the body: it’s a whole-body feeling.

Interestingly, the participants didn’t feel love in their legs! Perhaps that’s because when we forget our wife’s anniversary we don’t have a leg to stand on…

I’ll leave you to explore the other pictures with their associated emotions and to conjure up your own anecdotes about what’s going on.

Today I launched my business website: http://bit.ly/stephenlongcoaching It’s been a while in the making, mainly because finding a quality HTML5 website creation site that is initially free wasn’t easy. However, I’ve found wix.com and I’m delighted with its ease of use and layout. ‘Down the line’ I’ll be porting it to my domain but the above web address will more than suffice for the moment.
The 1st of September saw the start of a new business for me that I hope will fill the majority of my working week. Coaching/psychology/therapy is my love and I believe my purpose. Finding your purpose isn’t a straight forward process for most of us. Some people knew from a very early age what their purpose was; most of us spent a lot of our lives seeking it and sometimes never find it. One of the delights I’ve experienced as a coach is when someone discovers just what they are meant to do. It’s an amazing feeling. The sense of ‘Yes, this is it!’ fills them and contentment and peace abound.
I think I’ve always known that working with the mind is what I was always going to do. I remember helping negotiate a conflict between a group of boys older than me when I was living in Haverhill. Perhaps it was then that a ‘seeking a third way’ solution would become my career and yes, my purpose. Purpose is probably the highest influencing factor in our lives: higher even than identity and I’ve written much on identity in posts over the years.
Do you know your purpose? It’s a big question but perhaps not as difficult as it might seem to discover. I can probably help you find your purpose. And find joy, contentment and peace in the process.
Click on the website link here to go to my website contact page. I’ll make it my purpose to help you hopefully find yours.

Picture the scene. Husband comes home from a long day at the office. He’s hot and bothered from a lousy journey home. As soon as he enters the house, he goes straight to the fridge, grabs a beer and slumps down in front of the TV. All of which happened without a word to his wife.

Wife – “Why does he ignore me? Doesn’t he care I’ve been slaving away looking after the kids and with no adult conversation? Don’t I matter any more?” And she storms upstairs with, “You look after the kids!”

Husband – “What did I do? I’ve had a long day at the office, I’m tired and I just wanted a beer to unwind. It’s not easy being the only bread-winner. I’m doing the best that I can. She doesn’t respect me.”

I’m sure that this role play has occurred thousands of times before and no doubt will occur thousands of times again in the future. Each person is feeling the effects of a pressurising, challenging day. The only difference is where the day occurs. Each of us has an Emotional Brain. It’s a powerful force within us but it is by definition emotional. It’s also irrational and selfish. Look back at what each of them said and count how many “I”s are in their words. “I” in the context of perceived injustice is the buzzword of the Emotional Brain. The focus is directed towards the person feeling the injustice and powerful feelings erupt.

It’s not that feeling those things isn’t understandable, however. It’s very understandable. Look at each person’s situation once again. The wife is starved of adult conversation, is at home with the kids providing for their every need and feels unloved and unappreciated by her husband. He, however, is working hard and commuting in difficult circumstances. He’s tired and needs to unwind.

Understandable isn’t acceptable, however. It isn’t acceptable for either of them to react in the way that they did even though it’s understandable. Within both the husband and the wife in this story – and in all of us – is the powerful Emotional Brain and all the feelings stem from its centre. We must learn to manage the Emotional Brain within all of us. How different could it have been? Let’s see:

Picture the scene. Husband comes home from a long day at the office. He’s hot and bothered from a lousy journey home. Before getting out of the car he takes a few deep breaths to help relax. He walks towards the front door breathing deeply. He enters the house and greets his wife with a hug and a kiss. He apologises that he’s hot and bothered and says that he just needs a few moments to get over the day. His children call. “Daddy, come and look what we’ve done!” and he replies, “Just a minutes, kids. Daddy will be in soon. I want a few moments with mummy first.”

Wife – “He really loves and cares for me! He wants to be with me and talk to me. I matter!”

Husband – “I’m hot and tired out from the day. But I need to spend time with my wife first. We need to connect again. She’s had just as hard a day as I have. I’ll be in to see the kids soon.”

If you want to change how the other person reacts towards you, you must look in the mirror. You must see yourself for how you really are. So often, we seek to change the other person when we must seek to change ourselves. We can only change ourselves. Seeking to change ourselves means getting a hold of our Emotional Brain. Instead of the focus being on I need you to the focus is how can I change for you? The Emotional Brain’s selfishness focuses on what it needs. Looking in the mirror helps us see what we need to change to make the situation that we are in better.

Imagine if, in conversations with others (whether in the home, at work and in any situation involving communion with people), we sought to change ourselves and serve them rather seek to change them and get them to serve us? Find a way, today, to change your attitude or thinking in some way for someone else’s benefit.

Do it unconditionally, however. The ‘I will if they will’ won’t get you or them anywhere positive. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Hopefully, they will make a change in their attitude and thinking too. But if they don’t change, that’s their choice. It’s your choice too. You don’t have to change yourself. But doing so just might be the catalyst to bring about something quite wonderful. So, go look in the mirror. What can you change about yourself? And remember these excellent words from Eleanor Roosevelt:

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Stuck knowing how to change? Use the contact details to get in touch with me and I can help you.


Originally posted on Tanza-Longs:

T + 6

Today we had our first full INSET day so a full day in work. The usual round of meetings. Strangely I may be 3000 miles away across the globe, but many of the issues and discussions are very similar to those in the UK. The principal difference being the size of school.

Tonight we traveled to Lake Victoria – to Tunza Lodge where we had a meal and a drink watching the sun going down. The Lake is so large it seems to be a sea. It even had waves. It was a nice way to end the day.

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Great post, Matt. Every best wish 😊

Originally posted on tanzanimages:

Tanzanimage 3So after forever (it seems) my family have purchased dongles in the city of Mwanza to be used in Tanzania. This will enable me to access social networks like I have done when I lived in the UK. However it will also enable me to start blogging which I have been interested in since my dad started his blog. The internet can also enable me to talk to family and friends which I have left in the UK. This is good because it allows me to not lose contact. So hopefully the internet will stay reliable so I can blog more. But until then, Bye.


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