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The difficulty of head and heart working at different speeds: by Dr Neil Thompson

Life is never without its challenge, but there is always the opportunity to learn and grow from those demands made on us. Dr Neil Thompson offers advice to tackle these problems and help social workers and care professionals to realise their potential.

08/04/22

The difficulty of head and heart working at different speeds: by Dr Neil Thompson

From time to time we find ourselves in situations where we are finding it difficult to comprehend what has happened – times of loss, crisis or sudden change, for example.

It is as if our head knows, but our heart hasn’t caught up, and so ‘it doesn’t seem real’ can be a thought that runs through our mind.

This is a perfectly normal phenomenon and nothing to be concerned about in itself. However, we need to be wary of two potential problems.

One is that, when we find ourselves in such a situation, we may make decisions that we later regret because we have been destabilized by the change that has occurred.

For example, some people can respond quite rashly in situations where they are confused about what is happening.

Second, if we are trying to help somebody who is in a ‘heart hasn’t caught up with head’ situation, we have to bear in mind that they may not be taking on board what we are saying to them because of the sense of emotional shock they are experiencing.

We therefore have to choose our moments carefully in interacting with someone in such circumstances.

Dr Neil Thompson is an independent writer, educator and adviser and a visiting professor at the Open University. His books include How to Survive in Social Work (with John McGowan) and The Managing Stress Practice Manual. He is also the Vice President of Vigoroom UK, a sophisticated employee wellness platform designed to help create happier and healthier workplaces: www.vigoroom.co.uk.

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