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  • Really weird/unpleasant interaction in staff training session
  • Premier Icon finbar
    Free Member

    I was going to complain about this, but having slept on it and decided life is too short, I’ll just vent on here instead. Sorry in advance for TL;DR post. Short version – someone giving an L&D session at my work yesterday said you can cure injuries and help cancer with positive thinking.

    My employer has been organising a series of mental health training sessions, and I attended one yesterday on “Winning your inner mindset game”. It was about reframing how you think about things – focussing on what really has happened, rather than the negative ‘story’ you build around it in your head, etc. All good.

    The external person giving the session gave a superficial example of how she once did a session somewhere in the morning, read the energy of the room totally wrong, and then used this technique to stop worrying about that and re-tailor her approach for the afternoon.

    She then invited questions. No-one was saying anything so I thought I’d try and get her to illustrate how to apply the technique to a knottier, long-term problem.

    I explained I’d had an operation in January and can’t run or even walk very well, and how its making me upset, and asked how I could improve my mindset. I was expecting her to say something like “what other activities do you enjoy? Focus on those” or “focus on the positive steps in your rehab”. No. Instead I got (paraphrasing slightly) – “with that attitude, it’s no wonder you’re not getting better. How do you think your body would react if you thought more positively?”.

    After a brief back and forth, and she didn’t back down at all, I was pretty mad. So I – shamefully – went a bit heavy and said “I’m sure lots of us in this room have lost family members to cancer. Are you saying if they’d thought more positively they could still be here?”. She didn’t budge an inch and said there was “evidence” that positive thinking had helped with cancer.

    WTF. Is it me, or is that extremely shaky ground? I turned my mike off then and didn’t say anything further. It left me feeling completely belittled in front of probably 100 other people in the session.

    Premier Icon jimmy
    Full Member

    Having lost my dad to Cancer, I think I’d have reacted the same. Was she from an agency or independent? Feedback due…

    Premier Icon BillOddie
    Full Member

    She is on extremely shakey ground.

    I don’t know about your colleagues but if I was in that session I suspect I would have reacted the same way as you.

    I doubt you were were belittled in your colleagues eyes, if they have even average intelligence they would have seen through her as well!

    We have had mental health awareness training at my place too and it was NOT like this.  If it was I probably would have been speaking to management, outlining what had happened.

    Premier Icon finbar
    Free Member

    Thanks @BillOddie and @Jimmy, my mum too. She’s independent I think. Will be a big contract given the size of my employer. Glad it’s maybe not just me overreacting.

    Ironically I was definitely not “winning my inner mindset game” for the rest of the day 😀

    Premier Icon reluctantjumper
    Full Member

    After seeing a few of my friends and family go through the hell of cancer treatment the last few years I’d have been very tempted to give her immediate feedback!

    Definitely raise your concerns with your employer, she’s twisting things and treading a dangerous path if she thinks positive thoughts can beat cancer. Being positive can help with your quality of life during treatment or help you work around the symptoms but it does absolutely nothing to slow it down.

    Premier Icon Onzadog
    Free Member

    I’m reminded of the words of Tim Minchin.

    Do you know what they call alternative medicine that has been proven to work?

    Medicine.

    I’d be complaining. After all, the company is wasting money on this training.

    Premier Icon onewheelgood
    Full Member

    There are a lot of charlatans in this game, sounds like you met one yesterday. I would talk to management or HR and see if anything can be done before she does more damage.

    Premier Icon P-Jay
    Free Member

    She’s chatting shit.

    Some of the patients my Wife treats have life limiting illness, and quite a few are at the very end of their lives. Obviously trying to keep them positive is a a good thing if it can be done, but there’s no real medical benefit.

    No, a bit of the old PMA can’t cure cancer or make your injuries heal quicker. It might help you get through potentially painful rehab, but to say you’re not getting better because you’re not getting up every morning and doing some happy clappy dance or other such nonsense is completely false.

    I would rest assured that rathe than being belittled, of the 100 people in attendance, 90 or more thought she was a rude, arrogant and naïve dick, who completely undermined her message by stepping straight over pseudo science and in the realms of myth and magic.

    Don’t let her live in your head a minute longer and good luck with the recovery.

    Premier Icon finbar
    Free Member

    Thank you all 🙂

    I would rest assured that rathe than being belittled, of the 100 people in attendance, 90 or more thought she was a rude, arrogant and naïve dick, who completely undermined her message by stepping straight over pseudo science and in the realms of myth and magic.

    Don’t let her live in your head a minute longer and good luck with the recovery.

    I did get a few messages after the session from people I hadn’t spoken too before wishing me well with my imaginary injury and saying they’d help me think it better 😀

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    She didn’t budge an inch and said there was “evidence” that positive thinking had helped with cancer.

    I am fully prepared to be proved wrong, but I’m sure I read somewhere that there is some evidence that something like this is actually the case, but I can’t remember the details.

    But, yeah, pretty unprofessional behaviour on her part.

    Premier Icon Pieface
    Free Member

    Yes its well proven to be as effective as Homeopathy

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    That makes me very angry indeed and I would be doing my very best to have her sacked. Utterly inappropriate and its victim blaming

    What she is saying is people who die of cancer are to blame for dying. Its totally repellent.

    Give me her email address and I will give her a piece of my mind with what i am seeing right now.

    Please give me her contact details – I am so angry right now at her attitude.

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    Yes its well proven to be as effective as Homeopathy

    The homeopathy itself doesn’t have any effect, the attention and time spent by the homeopath can. The placebo effect is a very powerful thing.

    An interesting read:

    https://www.waterstones.com/book/bad-science/ben-goldacre/9780007284870

    Premier Icon fossy
    Full Member

    Complain,that was a totally inappropriate response to your question. Others would have noticed it too. They would be sacked off in my company

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    What she is saying is people who die of cancer are to blame for dying. Its totally repellent.

    Cool your jets there Hotshot, that’s a stretch.

    Premier Icon finbar
    Free Member

    I am fully prepared to be proved wrong, but I’m sure I read somewhere that there is some evidence that something like this is actually the case, but I can’t remember the details.

    In here 😉 ? I agree with you, I’m sure there’s a kernel of truth there about the benefits of positive thinking on recovery, but it was her rigidness in not giving anything else a nod – especially on my operation – that made me mad.

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    IHN – sorry dud that is exactly what she is saying. Its A folows B follows c.

    If a positive attitude makes you get better than if you don’t have a positive attitude, if you don’t get better therefore if you die its your fault for not having that positive attitude

    Its very hurtful and damaging attitude.

    Stuff in my life right now making this more raw to me but its a common attitude and its so damaging.

    Premier Icon finbar
    Free Member

    Thank you for the support @tjagain, and I’m sorry it is hitting a raw nerve for you 🙁 . But she definitely didn’t go that far – I can’t remember anything else verbatim but she was certainly more moderate than that on the cancer point saying it “can help” (but not really on my ankle rehab – that was very blunt!).

    Premier Icon tomd
    Full Member

    I think there is evidence that how you think about something can affect your experience of it. However, idiots take grains of truth and then extend it way beyond what the research demonstrated and give it a passive aggressive slant.

    “x was shown to have a marginal improvement in Y under specific circumstances” becomes “Doing X fixes Y”, and “if you have Y you haven’t done enough X”

    Probably not worth complaining to your employer. Move on. It was probably organised by HR / LD and they’ll never want to admit their brilliant initiative sucks.

    Premier Icon kerley
    Free Member

    The homeopathy itself doesn’t have any effect, the attention and time spent by the homeopath can. The placebo effect is a very powerful thing.

    Placebo effect is along the same lines as positive thinking really.

    Premier Icon P-Jay
    Free Member

    Another thing, being ‘sad’ is important, it’s how we manage through bad times, and not the same as being depressed.

    I’ve been through what the OP has been through, an injury / surgery and not being able to do the things that make me happy for months, it made me sad, why wouldn’t you be? I was in a lot of pain, I was tired, and I couldn’t even hold the bars on my bike for 6 months, but I found new way to be happy and eventually I got back on my bike and life it pretty much the same as before now and mostly I’m happy.

    I could have spent those months dancing around, putting a brave face on it and only ever saying positive things, but it would have been an act. Which I sure would have been great for the poor sods who had to live and work with me, but it wouldn’t have helped me.

    I’ve become quite enraged with this snake oil merchant I’ve never met now ha ha.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Full Member

    Trying to tread a fine line here, but placebo effect is a thing, and I believe a positive mindset does not harm. I’m less inclined to believe that about disease, but pain management can be helped by eg: mindfulness, etc, and mobilisation can then promote recovery – so in an indirect way positive thinking can help with recovery from ‘mechanical’ conditions.

    But does being happy cure cancer? No.

    Premier Icon paul0
    Free Member

    Trying to tread a fine line here, but placebo effect is a thing, and I believe a positive mindset does not harm. I’m less inclined to believe that about disease, but pain management can be helped by eg: mindfulness, etc, and mobilisation can then promote recovery – so in an indirect way positive thinking can help with recovery from ‘mechanical’ conditions.

    But does being happy cure cancer? No.

    In the past I would have been highly sceptical, but after recent personal experience I’m fairly sure there is something in this, at least for ‘mechanical conditions’. I’m not even sure the term ‘placebo effect’ covers it fully, I think there might be something more general about how the brain processes signals it receives from the body. There is some interesting research in the area, which from memory shows big differences in the levels of joint pain experienced by people with objectively the same level of cartilage damage etc. The radio 4 programme “all in the mind” had some pieces on this. From personal experience amount of sleep can make a big difference too, and easy to get into a downward spiral on that one.

    Agree absolutely about not curing cancer. It doesn’t sound like she meant to infer that, but a very unprofessional and poorly thought-out response

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    The emphasis on have a positive mental attitude to beat cancer does huge harm. I have seen it torturing people ” Is it my fault for not being positive enough?”

    Its a myth that is well meaning and seems benign but actually is so very harmful. I would happily kick anyone who says it down the stairs.

    Premier Icon sillysilly
    Full Member

    Nothing to make a workplace negative than mandatory positivity training sessions.

    Idiots reading from scripts with no life or corporate experience in most cases. Sounds like a day to call in sick with no harm to you co or to flag quality of sessions with management.

    Premier Icon Marin
    Free Member

    As my mum was a very positive person who had a horrible death due to cancer I’d have verbally and politely ripped her to pieces and then complained to the company. Nothing worse than idiots giving staff training days.

    Premier Icon fossy
    Full Member

    As for long term conditions, Mental Health Units and mindfulness training sessions are full with people seeking help – been there twice with long term conditions. These sessions help, but you always need reminders/resets additional sessions. she was bang out of order – it’s very difficult to stay positive when you are faced with something like this.

    Premier Icon kerley
    Free Member

    Just to be clear

    She didn’t budge an inch and said there was “evidence” that positive thinking had helped with cancer.

    I am not sure she was saying it would cure cancer. If you are going to die of cancer nothing is going to stop that but having a positive mental attitude may help you be in a better state/get whatever you can out of life until you die. If that is over say a year then that is a “help” isn’t it?

    Premier Icon ElShalimo
    Full Member

    She’s a poorly informed idiot, pure and simple. I’d have called her out for being a charlatan and asked how her positive mindset could possibly reconcile that against effectively stealing money from organisations by pedalling this crap.. then walked out of the room.

    Premier Icon finbar
    Free Member

    @kerley you’re right – “help with”, not “cure”. Sorry if I’ve got everything in a bit of a tangle over that.

    But IMO still a well dodgy statement, when made in haste without all the caveats you’d want to put around such a sensitive point when speaking on a platform.

    Premier Icon hooli
    Free Member

    And that’s the reason I wont attend those sorts our courses at work.

    My manager and I had a fairly frank exchange about it last year, my arguement is that I can’t stand that kind of thing and I would hate the whole day (bad for my mental health). I would be better off getting on with my work and going home so I could join the regular night ride (good for my mental health).

    She said it reflects badly on me and I should be open to things like this.

    We agreed to disagree but I didn’t attend the course, made the night ride and stopped for a few pints on the way home.

    Premier Icon augustuswindsock
    Full Member

    I work in sales and have listened to loads of motivational speakers over the years, some have been brilliant, some have been utter sh!te, sounds like you had a particularly sh!te one on this occasion, normally I would say take from the talk anything that’s relevant to you and ignore what isn’t, in this case I would feedback however, don’t know if there’s an equivalent to tripadvisor/ checkatrade for speakers but if there is…

    Premier Icon poly
    Free Member

    I’d complain; if others on the call sent you unsolicited messages of support then clearly you weren’t imagining it or overreacting. At the very least she needs to reflect on what/how she is working, but more to the point your company needs to ask if this is what they wanted to get out of the session.

    Premier Icon uselesshippy
    Free Member

    My aunt was an incredibly happy go lucky, and positive person. Was, she died of breast and throat cancer last month. If anyone suggests to me she should have been more positive, the **** is going though the window.
    Saying things like that is not only stupid, is incredibly rude and insulting to anyone who has dealt with, or lost family to cancer.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    Aside from the bollocks – which is hugely damaging as has been said – she’s there to talk about mental health not talk about curing cancer or injuries. She should not have gone anywhere near that topic and it shows serious lack of professionalism and competence.

    Premier Icon mattyfez
    Free Member

    Was it Gwyneth Patlrow?

    As others said above though there is a grain of truth in that if you mentally give up and shut down you’ll likely exacerbate a physical ailment.
    So things like yoga or meditation or even going for a nice walk or bike ride is beneficial.

    But that’s very different to stating that interpretive dance cures cancer.

    Premier Icon BillOddie
    Full Member

    She should not have gone anywhere near that topic and it shows serious lack of professionalism and competence.

    Bet she couldn’t help herself, probably to full of her own self-importance.

    Premier Icon paul0
    Free Member

    She should not have gone anywhere near that topic and it shows serious lack of professionalism and competence.

    Bet she couldn’t help herself, probably to full of her own self-importance.

    Just for the sake of balance, and keeping things factual. The speaker didn’t bring the subject of cancer up, the OP did. Doesn’t excuse her response.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Full Member

    @mattyfez

    can I just say you have a very negative aura about you about the powers of interpretative dance and a more positive mindset might be uplifting.

    And windchimes. Everything’s better when accompanied by the sound of someone whacking small pieces of gas pipe outside your window.

    Ommmmm

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    The speaker didn’t bring the subject of cancer up, the OP did. Doesn’t excuse her response.

    Well it’s not clear, but it appears that the speaker brought up the idea of positive thinking curing the OP’s injuries, and he doesn’t specify who first mentioned cancer.

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