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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Ellis

Time for a little experiment!

Do you remember being in science lessons at school and having a flurry of excitement knowing it was a "practical lesson"? In my case (in a pretty normal comprehensive school) this led to melting biros in the bunsen burner well basically setting fire to all sorts of things but there was a key lesson to be learnt every time.

At the end of 2019 I was burning things again - in this instance my energy I was burnt out! I had started to look at what I was enjoying in life and what I wasn't. I'd been wrestling with myself, trying to gain the courage to leave my corporate job, take a break and try something new, but it was all feeling a bit overwhelming.

So I decided to break it down a bit and try a few small experiments to see where I could go. If you too are feeling stuck, anxious or overwhelmed I would urge you to try this approach too.

If you have an interest in a subject or career why not try a short course in it. This will help you see if it truly is something you would like to pursue I for example did a short Introductory Counselling Skills course through the BACP. This was enough to wet my appetite, intrigue me and make me realize I wanted to work in a more meaningful, caring profession and motivated me on to do more.

You could take the idea of experiments a bit deeper and apply some CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Below I have suggested a "thought record" feel free to use this to record the out comes of any experiments you try.

The idea here is to focus on behaviours and emotions so for example if you want to make changes in your life but feel that something (e.g. lack of confidence, self belief or anxiety) is holding you back this technique can help you break things down into manageable steps to try something new.

In the example below is a person who lacks confidence and as a result avoids social situations. They decide to try something new to be more social. As with all good experiments they make a prediction as to the outcome which is evaluated against what actually happened.

As you can see the negative prediction did not transpire. In reality the outcome was much better than anticipated and as such they are able to learn from it and build upon it to try more experiments and make longer term change.

If you would like to try and experiment for yourself these are my tips;

  • Identify a perceived weakness or area you would like to change.

  • Set some clear goals for your experiment - it should push you a little way outside your comfort zone but not too far.

  • Record how you feel before, during and after (try using the table) you may find it doesn't feel how you predicted it would.

  • Review what you have learned from the experiment. What beliefs have been holding you back? What did you think before that isn't necessarily true?

  • Do more experiments slowly building up your confidence over time.

Try a little experiment today - you don't need a bunsen burner but you never know where it might take you.


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