Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This and that

I'm very happy to announce that I passed my driving theory test this morning. I spent nearly all of yesterday revising. If you are going to take it (here in the UK), I might suggest you use the mock tests on this site to help you revise. These people design the DSA tests and their mock tests look the same way as they do in the actual test, plus a lot of the questions I had studied came up verbatim. I'd strongly advise spending the £6.99 (valid for a 30-day period) which enables you to do as many randomly generated mock theory tests as you like. This is how I studied - I did a test and then I wrote down and made a note of the ones I got wrong, and kept doing this repeatedly until I was getting full marks on each one. Anal I know, but it paid off - I got 34 out of 35 on the test today.

I also used this site, which although it didn't have the same format as the official DSA test, gave me a different range of questions, and the best part is that the tests (as many as you want) are completely free. There were times it got glitches and didn't generate my test results which was frustrating, but when it did work, it was another good source of learning.

The other half of the test is the hazard perception test, which is a little less easy to study for. Basically they show you 14 clips using a point of view camera to give you the impression that you are driving the car and looking out onto the road in front of you. Your job is to mouse click as soon as you see something that could be a potential hazard and then to continue clicking as this hazard progresses. The earlier you spot something and click, it gives you 5 points (the highest you can score on a single clip) the later you spot it and click you get 4 points, then 3, then, 2 etc. If you try and cheat and click all the time or in what is perceived as a rhythmical fashion, you get a big fat 0.

I used this software to practice, which I think is a good way of doing it. Even if you are fairly confident of your driving and observation skills already, it allows you to get used to the interface of the programme and shows you how it works, how they mark you etc. There's also an extra bit on it where you drive around with this chap who was in the police for many years and is now an emergency services driver, and he talks while he is driving pointing out things to look for/be aware of etc. Very interesting and useful.

Anyway, I'm relieved that that part of it is over, and tomorrow I am booking my practical test. I'm not worried so much about my driving skills as much as I am about being so tense my mind gets all jumbled and I make stupid mistakes. But that's a worry for another day.


I'm reading a very good book right now entitled 'The disease to please: Curing the People-pleasing Syndrome' by the late clinical psychologist Dr Harriet Braiker.

If you find you are unable to say no to people, and then seethe inwardly with resentment towards them and or anger at yourself for not being able to say no. Or if you often find yourself in situations where people are rude or sarcastic towards you and you feel you are unable to stand up to them. Or if you change your opinions if you sense someone is going to disagree with yours, or worse, don't voice any at all for the same reason. Or if the idea of conflict fills you with anxiety. Or if you when you choose to fulfil your own needs ahead of others, you feel an enormous sense of guilt. Or if you place very high expectations and standards on your own behaviour and by default on others, and how they should treat you, and then get very dissapointed or crushed when they inevitably don't. Or if you cannot understand why, despite the fact that you are such a nice, caring, generous person, some people are still mean to you.

If you answered yes to one or more of these, then I think this may be the book for you. Check out the back cover sleeve here.

It's not one of those quick fix pop psychology paperbacks. It's written by a clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience in dealing with people and their problems. I have read and had to read quite a few psychology text books in my time and this book, although written for a broader audience (i.e. without quite so much technical jargon), is no less credible in it's professional approach to what appears to be a serious problem affecting many people. It also includes case studies, which is a great way to help you understand the concepts.

For me it's been a real eye-opener, and there has been more than one occasion where I've had an 'aha!' moment while reading it. I highly recommend it, in fact I'm buying a copy for my mother (the consummate people pleaser!) and sending it off today.

The review on Amazon reads as follows:
In this book, Dr. Braiker, who has been a practicing psychologist for over twenty years, zeroes in on a stunningly common but very damaging problem many people suffer from. The brilliance of this book is that Dr. Braiker shows the extent of the destruction this disease can cause and then in the most accessible and meaningful way possible provides clear, rational, and positive steps to rid oneself of this disease. The typical “people pleaser” sees herself as a perennial “nice” person, whose resentment is concealed by her public “happy face”. She gives of herself to others, sometimes to a fault. She rationalizes that her behavior is motivated by a desire to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. She generally denies feeling angry herself, and will do almost anything to avoid conflict and confrontation. She wants and needs for everyone to like her. She believes that by fulfilling everyone’s expectations of her, she can prevent their rejection or anger. What she doesn’t know – but is about to learn - is the serious damage this behavior causes to herself, others, and to those relationships that mean the most to her. The book’s approach is modeled on that of effective short term therapy, with 3 phases: The Click – A description of the “disease to please” syndrome with a “People Pleaser Quiz” for the reader to use to diagnose him/herself. The Promise – This details what the outcome of the cure will be by transforming the “Click” of insight into the motivation to get better. The Plan – A 3-Week Action Plan that will produce tangible, measurable rewards in the form of short-term milestones on the journey to longer-term and lasting results.

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