Thursday, 9 February 2012

Who would want to be the England Manager?

I am sure that every view on the team at the pinnacle of our national sport has been expressed but here are a few of my thoughts.

Why are the English FA doing paying £24 million to any manager? Absolutely staggering!  Immediately abandon this stupidity. 

Having no manager and captain now makes no difference to how well England will do in the Euro's.   

By definition the captain of the English team is given to human being so why do we have expectations that they are going to be a saint.  The role is only important to the media who need a figure to talk to and who shakes hands first.  Recent captains who have been found wanting by the media are simply a reflection of society.  Honestly finding a morally upstanding England captain will give me more reason to be shocked. 

Every football fan in the country thinks they could do the job and I think lots could if it didn't involve the media pressure that descends.  Ultimately we don't have the best squad of players in the World or Europe and if you believed the table that we are the 4th or 5th best team in the world that still means there are 3 or 4 better teams.  International football involves too many non playing days, the weeks of build up is suffocating, daily press requirements etc.  The job requires remarkable PR skills rather than remarkable football management.

For what's it's worth I would like Martin O'Neill to be the next England manager. 


Even more FASTER

There were a number of questions following my blog last week about the FASTER scale so best to read that blog first.

Qu. What to do with anxiety?
The key to Anxiety in the FASTER scale model is based on knowing what your 'building blocks' are (the things in your week that you need to remember - F).  So when an individual becomes aware of anxiety building up (needs self awareness obviously) their building block may be a person who knows them well and is able to provide good advice or perhaps it is section of scripture that brings the person back to a place of faith or another example may be exercise, getting out for a run might be what is needed to get perspective on a situation.  There are numerous other examples of what builds stability in life.

Qu What are 'building blocks'?
This is a 'Simon Allen' phrase.  I often draw a wall with large bricks and ask someone to fill in the bricks with words describing what gives strength to their life.  Here is examples of what are not 'building blocks' that I've heard someone give recently - "seeing my children once a fortnight" because in this case it exposed huge insecurity.  "church on Sunday" because it left the person unsure about relational connection.  Now they both could be blocks to build with but in this case they are not.  Building blocks bring stability and strength to a person's life.  What are your building blocks?  Mine are relationship with God (reading the bible is key), my marriage, work, exercise, family and friends.

Qu. Lapse / relapse defined
I find the term lapse very helpful when I am talking with people who are struggling.  It takes the heat out of someone messing up.  It gives terminology when someone has done the R that they didn't want to but gives them space to get back to their priorities before the lapse becomes a relapse.  Relapse is then defined when someone has given in and given up the fight to stop a particular behaviour.  Do remember that this doesn't need to be a daily activity, if there is a weekly 'lapse' pattern, the person may well have moved into relapse. 

Qu. At what point do you motivate the person?
"I reached my lowest point and then I did something about it".  This is a common phrase in recovery stories but I would not tell someone they are at their lowest and they must do something about it.  I tell people the truth so I can find myself telling people who insist they need rehab they are simply not ready to go to rehab and when they have made progress in defined areas come back. 
What I aim to do is provide people with the information that will help them make an informed decision.  I tell people factual health information - A man who has abused his body with alcohol is likely to experience liver failure in their mid 40's because that is the age the liver stops reproducing itself.  I make sure I build people up and that a relationship with Jesus is the best way to find healing.  I want people to know they are accepted and valued for who they are.  I want people to know there is always hope and I don't stop telling them this.  Even when I've seen men crying and shaking with wretched shame after blowing their entire months wages before they've paid rent or bought shopping, there is still hope!       

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Going FASTER may save your life!

Is relapse just the result of a one off event, a stroke of bad luck or simply an accident?  How do people stay away from addictive behaviour?

One of the most useful 'models' I have ever come across is the FASTER scale and it is primarily used for people who are in 'recovery' from addiction although I think it's use goes wider.  For many people who manage to abstain from their drug of choice (which may change over time) the battle be focused on not relapsing.  The FASTER scale is definitely the simplest model of maintaining recovery but that also means it is memorable, I have written it on numerous cafe napkins.

Couple of comments before I start. This model works neatly alongside the 'cycle of change model', which is a more commonly used 'relapse' model and I'll do a separate blog on it sometime.  You need to know Relapse is a PROCESS not an EVENT.  There are always sequences of behaviour and thought that take place before Relapse.  There may be a final 'event' that can be used as blame for the relapse but there has always been a PROCESS. 

F.A.S.T.E.R. stands for FORGETTING PRIORITIES, ANXIETY, SPEEDING UP, TICKED OFF, EXHAUSTED, RELAPSE.  The process flows from F to R and the process can take place over a few months, weeks or even over the course of a day.  Let me explain.

FORGETTING PRIORITIES - I have coined the phrase 'building blocks of life' and I ask people to tell me what are the parts of the week are providing them strength.  May be a support worker, work, sport, education, reading the bible, going to church.  Other priorities must include housing (paying rent) and food (shopping).  Sometimes this list is very small, which requires a further conversation.  But once a list has been formed, people are aware of what they cannot afford to 'forget' or 'avoid' or 'hide from'.

If someone misses their priorities it leads to ...

ANXIETY - worry about any of the above. Guilt for letting people down.  Bad news can cause further concern.  

If someone is not able to deal with their ANXIETY it leads to ... 

SPEEDING UP - inability to manage eating and sleeping.  Feeling the need to prove to others that you are really OK by being really busy.  Not able to listen or relax. 

This continues on ...

TICKED OFF - irritated over small things or other peoples behaviour, road rage moments.  Tends to lead to isolation as others avoid you.

This continues to ...

EXHAUSTED - nothing left in the tank.  Spiritually, emotionally and physically bankrupt.  No resistance to the next option of returning to the thing you swore you would never do again.

And then there is the inevitable RELAPSE unless there is divine/drastic intervention.

The key to helping people is help people know their priorities and how to keep them.  Secondly it is knowing what to do with ANXIETY.  This model works for many of life's challenges.  Try it!  I've used the model with others for all forms of addiction but also selfishness, anger and even marriage difficulties.