Guest Room

I love talking to others about life and their personal perspectives around wellbeing. In this guest room section I will be sharing some videos and articles from a variety of people for you to enjoy. If you would like to feature in our Guest Room – please email me at

I am delighted to welcome my first guests into the Guest Room 🙂

This guest article comes from Liz Oliver, who has been working in Learning & Development for over 20 years.

Liz has a particular interest in developing Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) and in helping leaders to apply SQ in times of change.

In this article, she discusses humility and the impact it has on mental health.


At a time when so many triggers are knocking our mental and emotional stability on a regular basis, has it ever crossed your mind that there may be some value in developing humility? Are you even wondering what humility really is and how it could make a difference?

In a nutshell, humility takes the sting out of social stress. Although the causes of stress are variable, one massive source of stress centres around relationships. In this book ‘Social Intelligence’, Daniel Goleman reports on the findings of research into the effects of social stress:

“Of all the sorts of stress, the worst by far was when someone was the target of harsh criticism…”

Another study by psychologist Sheldon Cohen demonstrated that people dealing with ongoing personal conflict were 2.5 times more likely to get a cold than those who had no significant conflict to deal with.

The essence of the research into social stress is that relative power and feelings of connectedness were the most critical factors in impacting people’s immune responses. So where does humility come in?

All too often, our interactions both at home and at work are underpinned by power plays; who is telling who what to do, who has the last word, whose opinion counts most, who ultimately makes the decisions etc. Subtly we are wired to monitor our place in the hierarchy and our Egos are alerted if our position comes under threat. This means that in a critical or competitive environment, stress is being triggered continually.

By developing humility, you cease to be a threat to anyone. I’m not suggesting that this means becoming a doormat and being resigned to the bottom of the pile, but that you simply withdraw from the game. In truth, trying to change someone else’s behaviour or trying to influence someone who is focused on maintaining their own position is hard work and ultimately a waste of time.

However hard you try, you can’t make anyone listen to you, you can’t make them understand you or make them care about the same things that you care about. Whatever influencing tactics you use, you cannot guarantee how anyone will respond to what you say or do. The only sensible response is to mind your own business. Developing humility means taking your attention away from defending your position and focusing instead on maintaining healthy self-esteem and being conscious of how you are responding to others.

Dare I say it, but women have a distinct advantage on this due to their biological make-up i.e. a predisposition to secrete oxytocin (the hormone involved in bonding) and significantly lower levels of testosterone.

For all of us, creating the right environment for kindness and compassion to flourish is perhaps our biggest challenge. Importantly, no matter what is going on out there in the world, the environment that you have ultimate control of is the one inside your own mind. With conscious attention, you can learn how to be appreciative, compassionate and respectful, both to yourself and others. Developing a habit of thinking and acting in a way that maintains self-esteem will strengthen immunity to criticism and alleviate some of the major sources of mental and emotional stress.

When you have a healthy relationship with yourself, you have no need to outdo others. You are able to hold a calm self-assurance and go quietly about living in alignment with your values and principles without needing to defend them.  This helps you balance personal power with a sense of humility, which in turn helps you build resilience.

If this makes sense so far, here are six suggestions to enhance your humility in any context. Some of these are presented as straightforward actions you could put on a to-do list, but they have their roots in deeper principles that may take time to shift:

  1. Give up trying to influence others – Dare I say it, but in my humble opinion, consistently trying to influence others can be a subtle form of arrogance. There can be an underlying sub-text that says ‘I want things my way / I’m right / I know best’. The key to humility is to say what you need to say, do what you need to do then let go of whether people agree with it or do anything different as a result. Not only does this give you control over the only thing you really can control i.e. yourself, it also demonstrates respect for others.
  • Show genuine interest in others – Other people are endless sources of fascination and they all want to be heard. Appreciate and respect the myriad of other views and contributions that are shared rather than using every conversation to air your own views. To build your understanding, practise asking questions that build on what is being said; the deeper understanding you gain will typically build compassion.
  • Be aware without being judgmental – Be curious and gather information to build awareness and understanding. Aim to be impartial about what you know and resist the temptation to form a subjective opinion that you may get attached to. Staying neutral helps you to be open to all new information and gain an increasingly broad perspective rather than defending your position.
  • Accept ambiguity and paradox – Life itself has some profound paradoxes e.g. it is simultaneously predictable and unpredictable. In a similar way, every one of us is both immensely powerful and extremely insignificant. We are all at the mercy of some bigger forces that are way beyond the limits of what we can control so it’d be helpful to develop tolerance around ‘going with the flow’.  When things don’t turn out as planned, aim to embrace what is unfolding without complaint.
  • Ask for help – None of us has unlimited resources, nor endless expertise, yet we consider asking for help as a sign of weakness. It isn’t. It’s OK to admit when you have reached your limits, or have made a mistake, or don’t have all the relevant information. Asking for help or support could be your saving grace.
  • Accept imperfections in yourself and others – The final suggestion is really about taking yourself a little more lightly. If you get hung up about your reputation, being perfect, being approved of etc., it is often a sign that the vulnerable Ego is on the defensive, trying to avoid any critical judgment. Rather than being disparaging of every minor shortcoming, is it too much to ask to be gracious and forgiving?  This has to start with yourself before being extended to others. We are built to learn from trial and error, so take some time to fully accept this aspect of our humanness. The kindest response is to embrace your glorious imperfection, and know that every error or inadequacy is a perfect catalyst for growth.

In conclusion, there are three core themes that run through these points.

Firstly, humility doesn’t mean giving up your power; it does mean giving up any attempts to over-power.

Secondly, humility doesn’t mean giving up responsibility; it does mean being responsible for living your life your way and allowing others to do the same.

And finally, humility doesn’t mean losing respect. Instead, deep respect is given to the rare individual who is so profoundly at ease in themselves that they make no effort to stand out.

Developing your humility helps you to shine from within, helping others to see the light too! 

For more information on Liz and her work visit

My second guest – Jane & The Fear Ladder

Jane has been really kind to share her experience of the Fear Ladder and how it has helped her and her daughter. Jane has been a huge personal support to me in my work and I am so proud that she shares her story here.

The Fear Ladder

Thoughout my life and especially during lock down this technique has worked for me really well to deal with my fears and my panic disorder.

The fear ladder works by choosing the fear that you want to face.

At the top of the ladder, write your fear down. Then you break the path to conquer that fear into manageable steps.

I found that it is best to start by writing the least scary action you could take to face this fear at the bottom of the ladder and with each step/rung you then choose another action that takes you a bit closer to the top and to conquering your fear. This will help you to face it head on. Break your ladder up into as many rungs as necessary, and don’t try to jump between steps too quickly. Make them manageable goals that would work for you.

My own story is when I was in a serious car accident in my 20’s.

I was travelling as a passenger in the front of a car that hit a horse on the dual carriageway and managed to survive the crash. Unfortunately it caused me to be very afraid to drive a car and I suffered from PTSD. Every time I got into the driver’s seat I was having a panic attack and flashbacks. I couldn’t even get myself to work or drive to the end of my street without having a panic attack or feeling out of control.

The fear ladder helped me to get back to driving by managing my fear. I started off simple by driving out my driveaway and back. Then basically making it further each time until I could drive to the end of the road. Then I could drive to the corner shop and then further and further till I eventually got to my workplace which was my end goal. This was only 2miles from my house. It took a bit of time and determination I got there eventually with support and encouragement. I was pleased to reach the top of the ladder and my reach my fear goal to enable me to get back to work. I was off my work for around 3mths.

I must confess each step was difficult and it took me almost 8wks but I got there by taking it step by step until I could get into the car and drive again without feeling utter panic. I also used this technique to help me manage my anxiety throughout other periods of my life which have been challenging too.

Currently I am supporting my young daughter who is 12 and is transitioning to High school from Primary school. This has proved very difficult and she is suffering from anxiety. This has mainly been due to being in lockdown, at home in a safe place for 5mths and then suddenly having to be out in the world where Covid is around us. In addition her High school has around 5x the amount of pupils the Primary school had.

My daughter has been using the ladder technique to build up the amount of time she is spending at school. This is helping her to be comfortable being among lots of people, new teachers, new school mates etc. She has found this very hard. By using the steps  she started off by going in until the break which she did for a few days, then staying till lunchtime, a couple of weeks, then coming home for lunch and going back and staying for the two periods at the end of the week then building up to staying all day. This has worked well and took around 4wks. The school have been so supportive of her doing this which is great. We are going through it again after the holiday period and she is now doing the same. It’s a good way to make it manageable and she is in control. Her main fear is been driven by the anxiety of being around such a lot of people, finding classes and new experiences. Its good now thought that she is at least beginning to feel comfortable in the new environment. I suspect it will happen each time there is a holiday break but by using this technique it has helped us both and makes it more manageable. Its taking baby steps and allows the person to do what they feel is the best way to be comfortable and get to the top and face the fear.

I hope that my experience and my daughters can help others in a similar situation. 😊

Stay safe

See an example of a fear ladder worksheet found through google:

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