Guest Post: You have unlimited potential - own it!

Credit: CHAMPS Academy 

Credit: CHAMPS Academy 

Exams are now upon people across the UK, so we've invited Annette Du Bois, teen confidence and mental health expert, to provide some hint and tips to help us through this stressful time. 

The word most dread at this time of year is probably ‘Exams’. It’s amazing how just a simple word read aloud or repeated in your head can bring up such a mix of emotions including fear, anxiety and, at times, physical illness.

However, it’s not the word that causes you to feel like that, but the meaning behind it and associated emotions which creates these mind-based issues. Our mind is incredibly powerful, more so than many of us realise. But when used incorrectly it works against us, altering our perspective, which amplifies things to appear bigger, scarier or worse than they really are.

I call it the disproportionate dilemma!

Here’s your opportunity to get your mind working for you, to finally take control of the nerves and associate ‘that word… EXAM’ to the wonderful next step in your life. A new journey, a key to achievement. Because we are all unlimited potential, so let’s unlock yours…

Focus On What You Want

Our mind, body, and emotions are so closely connected, what we think about, comes about. In other words, we get what we focus on. When challenges occur, or pressures build (especially prior to and during exams) we end up focusing on all the things we don’t want, pulling negativity towards us and becoming utterly un-resourceful in the process.

Action: Become aware of your inner voice; what is it really saying? Recognise the language patterns. Then choose to focus on what you want. See what begins to happen when you make a conscious choice and things begin to get done.

Find The Gap

When revising for exams the mind becomes quickly full, thinking about the whole subject, all the books, and notes that need to be remembered, all at once. This creates the overwhelming, unhelpful stress and tightens the brain’s ability to think clearly. Your mind becomes turbulent, shutting-off creative flow and concentration which quickly leads to a distorted perception of the situation.

It’s not the amount of revision (although this is crucial and required of course), or even last-minute cramming that will help you retrieve the information when required. It’s the ability to relax your mind and allow your thoughts to flow for clear thinking and resourceful action. 

Action: Find a quiet place, and if safe to do so, close your eyes for a few moments. Focus on your breath, breathing deep into your belly and making a conscious decision to relax. If it helps to choose a word, place or phrase to focus on. Naturally, your mind will begin to relax and enter the gap in between your thoughts, stepping back from the situation or emotion (create distance). And therein holds the key unlocking your mind from the tight jaws of stress and overwhelm.

Mind Your Language

You are only limited by your communication and the self-talk you allow to fill your mind. As you’ve discovered, you get what you focus on and this also comes from how you communicate and what you say to yourself inside (self-talk). 

Whether it’s negative or positive, language becomes your reality and will either block or unlock your true potential. In times of stress and pressure such as exams, language can become more exaggerated, desperate and create beliefs based on that communication.

“I will never remember”, “Everyone’s going to do better than me”, “I always worry about…”, “No-one can help me”, “Everything is too much” “No-one understands” etc.

You get the picture. You may have used something similar or worse to describe how you feel, and how you describe your experience. Recognise your limiting pattern then get determined to change it to avoid falling into a never-ending downward spiral.

Action: Take charge of your communication and the language you use. Questions control how we feel, what we do and help build resourcefulness. The more resourceful we are the more resources appear. When stuck in a situation, challenge or emotion. Ask yourself bigger better questions:

  • What do I need?
  • Who can help me?
  • How can I change my feelings towards this?
  • What must happen for me to change this now?



Annette Du Bois is a leading teen confidence & mental health expert and runs CHAMPS Academy with her husband Ian Fox, the UK’s no1 confidence club.  CHAMPS Academy offers 1-2-1 and also group coaching sessions. 


Why do we think our brain doesn’t get sick?

I was inspired to write this article following a LinkedIn connection sharing this post: Over two thirds of employees feel uncomfortable telling colleagues about taking a sick day for mental health reasons.

Even though mental health is across our news platforms, our social media and our non-media organisations (guess who I’m talking about…!), it still has a stigma.

I mean even the Royal Family is talking about mental health and we still don’t seem to get it… yet we all go nuts for the Royal Wedding.

It astounds me that we discredit mental health when it comes to sick days. I’ve heard it all: “She’s faking….”; “He’s lazy…”; “She’s just making it up…”; “Ugh, signed off with stress again…” The list goes on.

So I wanted to use this post to remind everyone of this: without the brain, we’d be dead. Morbid, I know, but it’s true.

Our heart might beat, or lungs might breathe, but without the brain we are not alive. There’s a reason we cannot do brain transplants yet (we probably will one day soon); it does everything. It’s like the control centre for our body; that’s why it’s called a ‘whole-body transplant.’

The brain works the hardest out of any organ in the body. So why do we only take days off for a cold or broken leg?

Do people assume that holidays are for that, you know, like we plan when our brain is going to be tired or sick? Can you imagine saying the below?

“Oooooo, I think I’m going to generate a panic disorder on the 23rd July… let me take some holiday…”

“Hmmmmmm, I reckon my OCD is going to flare up on the 25th April in 2018… best check that nobody has that week off already….”

“Oh my, Capricorn is going to be aligned with Virgo in 2020… that spells bad news for my bipolar disorder…”


So to anyone out there who’s worried about being perceived as weak (I’m with you, by the way), or condemed to “not being up to the job” or “can’t handle the pressure”, just remember that your brain does a lot of work outside of office hours.

So, let it have a break when it needs it.

Stop using the term ‘political correctness’

This morning, I was watching The Wright Stuff on Channel 5 and the following subject came up: “Is age a defence against making dodgy comments? If someone who is elderly makes the odd racist or sexist comment, should we let it go or have a go?”

I expected a healthy debate amongst the panel — not just about older people, but society as a whole. However, to my surprise, they were all in agreement that offending people, whether it’s intentional of not, should just be let go.

Then the host, Matthew Wright, took calls from the public (all two of them). I assumed that there would be differing opinions on the topic. But no, both people said near enough the same thing (with the second caller discussing what he saw as the difference between political correctness and homophobia).

This started a discussion in my living room. To give you some context: I suffer with general anxiety disorder, depression and I’m blind in one eye; my dad is a type 1 diabetic; and my sister has Asperger Syndrome. All of us, at some point in our lives, have faced discrimination from our peers, colleagues, family and strangers.

Sometimes, this discrimination can take the form of name-calling. But, and more often than not nowadays, it can be disguised as “banter” or just used against us in professional and personal settings to put us down.

A really good example is a joke that my dad heard on the radio: A comedian asked the audience if anyone was a diabetic, and when someone responded saying “I’m a vegetarian”, the comedian responded “The same thing.”

For my dad, this was not only a ridiculous thing to say, but it was also quite hurtful. It belittled what he goes through on a daily basis. His illness isn’t a choice. So to be compared to a vegetarian, was a shock. And as he rightly pointed out this morning, sometimes you can let comments go over your head and you can be fine, but one day you might not be in the right frame of mind and not be fine.

Which made me think: Why do we use terms that we know could hurt or disrespect people? Another good example, was on The Wright Stuff. The second caller was a male in a wheelchair. He said that an old lady had once asked him: “How long have you been a spastic for?” He had said that he wasn’t offended, because that wasn’t the intent.

Really?! Let’s be honest here, what is the purpose of that word? Well let’s ask Urban Dictionary…

Definition (UK): An incredibly derogatory term referring to people with cerebral palsy, in a similar way retarded is often used as an insult around the world.

So the purpose of the word, used by the typical person on the street, is to be derogatory. To belittle someone. To have power over them.

Regardless of the intent, why is the word even used?

And this is why I want us, as a society, to get rid of the term “political correctness.” People use this term as a way to excuse themselves and others of using lexis that is meant to offend and be derogatory. They name-call people who call them out on their bad behaviour “snow flakes” rather than be accountable for their actions.

It’s also used a lot with expression and free speech. And while someone can have an opinion, there is no room in our society for targeting and persecuting people who are vulnerable or considered different due to their gender, race or sexual orientation. Hate speech is not free speech, and we need to remember that.

So, let’s us all as a society drop the term. Let’s start being respectful to one another. Let’s use language that celebrates our differences, not undermines them.