Living with a disease such as epilepsy can have have a profound impact on one’s self-esteem, self-confidence and ability to confidently express one’s thoughts, needs and emotions.

The impacts are slightly different depending on whether a person has grown up with a diagnosis and it has always been a part of their life, or if they have had to adjust to the changes caused by a late diagnosis.

Nonetheless, self esteem, self confidence and self -image  are affected, and negative thinking patterns lead to avoidance of people, places and situations which now seem too daunting or filled with possible risks.

Over the last seven weeks group two have been taking part in a block of sessions aimed at helping them to identify how they can

Build their self-esteem and understand how negative automatic thinking impacts on the way they think, feel and act

Tackle things that make them feel anxious in their day to day lives

Recognise how their thoughts about themselves can have a limiting effect on their reality

Identify how to be more assertive in their day to day life, learning how to say how they feel rather than “people please”


The group gave the following feedback about what they have gained from these seven sessions;

  • Learning that they have a third choice – not having to passively accept things or become aggressive.
  • Assertiveness means that you can express what you want/think/need, but it also means you have to try to reach a compromise if they think something different. Or agree to disagree
  • Learning something more about themselves, their opinions and that they are not alone in putting themselves down or worrying/panicking
  • Understanding why it can be harder to be as assertive with some people in your life (e.g. family members)
  • Learning that it’s OK for them to make positive changes in their lives at their own pace, and not be rushed by others, for example family members,
  • Realising that other people also share similar unhelpful thinking styles as them, and that they are not alone
  • Recognising where other people in their lives are having a negative effect on their thinking

My colleagues Sam Whitmore (Training & Development Manager) and Scott Coyne (Volunteer Coordinator)  have both helped out in the running of these sessions over the last few weeks, and Sam reflects on his session below.

Next week the group starts the next part of their adventure, as we head to the Mitchell Library to begin the 8 part online self -management course,  “Epilepsy and you”

Developing self-belief, self- confidence & problem solving skills

‘Concepts are mental representations, abstract objects or abilities that make up the fundamental building blocks of thoughts and beliefs. They play an important role in all aspects of cognition’

’When the mind makes a generalization such as the concept of a tree, it extracts similarities from numerous examples; the simplification enables higher-level thinking’

A recent Epilepsy Futures session I facilitated offered the opportunity to explore belief, conditioning, the placebo effect, self-talk & the Pygmalion principle.

The workshop proved successful with lots of participation and people exploring why there is a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their beliefs, opinions etc. and the struggle to accept an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviour’s.

When you sanction something, you see everything through that filter and you lock all other information out. You look for supporting evidence and lock out evidence that contradicts your beliefs/goals.

We also considered the difference between acting and reacting i.e. a reaction is instant. It’s driven by the beliefs, biases, and prejudices of the unconscious mind.

When you say or do something “without thinking,” that’s the unconscious mind running the show.

A reaction is based in the moment and doesn’t take into consideration long term effects of what you do or say. A reaction is survival-oriented and on some level a defence mechanism. It might turn out okay but often a reaction is something you regret later.

A response on the other hand usually comes more slowly. It’s based on information from both the conscious mind and unconscious mind. A response will be more “ecological,” meaning that it takes into consideration the well-being of not only you but those around you.

It weighs the long term effects and stays in line with your core values. The final section of our workshop focused on how our mind works and the relationship between the Conscious, Subconscious & Creative Subconscious, upon completion everyone was dizzy with psychological terminology and in need of a cup of coffee

Peter Dale