How to do safe experiments for yourself

This page is the nearest thing to me offering instructions. Even so, I want you to adapt my ideas to your ways of thinking and operating.

I was not sure whether to include all this as it tells you more about my thoughts and ideas and that could end up just another self-help sheet.

As I’ve said elsewhere, self-help books only work when the words are translated into your own world.  For instance,  I had one person interested in sleep-related issues. In the end, what worked for him were pictures of World War One planes flying sorties; who’d have predicted that one!!

If you look back at my inverted tree, you will see that you can use small, safe experiments to create a route to a new normal that is more of your own choosing. In effect, you are moving out of a comfort zone I call the Window of Tolerance and into the business of  managing your own changes.

The tricky thing is that even the smallest and safest of  experiments can have unexpected consequences. In that cased, it is possible to experience an extreme reponse.  In work I do, I ask people to ‘just notice’ each and every response they make.

For most, when that happens, most folk tell me that they tend towards a ‘favourite’ reaction. These are represented in this illustration:

Window of Tolerance


When things go wrong for you, do you find that you verve towards the left hand side of the diagram (the dreadful and the awful), or the right (the strict and ordered way of doing things); towards the top (yo-yoing between the awful and a strict way of doing things) or toward the bottom (yo-yoing between disorder and strict order)?

That said, we are all individuals and you may find it is difficult to find a pattern. If this is so, then how do you just notice what happens when the going gets tough, and daily order of things is threatened. In the Spring 2020 pubic health crisis, you will have found opportunities to notice your own reacdtion to disorder, loss and destruction of a sense of ‘normal’.

These principles for doing ‘safe experiments’  in the ‘working area’ are included here as I think you may find it useful in the future when you want to design your own experiments. Tell me how you have developed your own ideas after completing some experiments and you have assessed some result.

Let’s start, in no particular order, to summarise some of the principles and practices used to inform the ‘safe experimental’ way to ‘nudge’ ourselves along.  I encourage myself and you, the reader:

• To value any experience and to ask: “what do I learn from this and in what way is it inviting me to change”.

• To welcome change through safe experimentation, even if the results are not always what was expected.

• To improve the ‘safe’ element by taking small risks and inviting small changes one after another.

• To shift your attention to  small details and respecting them. Dismissing ‘small’ outcomes as unimportant or trivial may block your ability to change.

• To be patient in the face of defeats and victories and learn from all of them.

• To translate other peoples’ ideas into your own view of the world. Please do not just read this blog or any self-help book. Find a page that means something to you and make it work in your own way.

• To work and play with your experiments and any outcomes you obtain.

• To be creative. Do not assume this Blog, or any other teacher, has The Answer; it offers possibilities only.

• To be open to spontaneous change when something happens, just because …

• To keep moving. If you find an exercise continues not to help you then let it go for now, and move on to another one. Even so, be willing to come back later. Discover what works for you and when it works. Timing might be crucial.

• To find other ways of viewing your past, present and future. Look again at the inverted tree at the head of this blog. A range of changes lie ahead of you; work to see how you are journeying from your ‘old normal’ to your ‘new normal’.

• Make notes. This does not require you to write a journal. As stated, I recommend you to note outcomes in bullet-point form, as they arise.

• Revisit notes and experiences as often as you wish.

There is a useful brief, self-help note-making guidance available to assist you at:

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Welcome to Find Your Nudge

How to give yourself a nudge