No they don't !!!!!
Ostriches don't bury their heads in the sand—they wouldn't be able to breathe! But they do dig holes in the dirt to use as nests for their eggs. Several times a day, a bird puts her head in the hole and turns the eggs. So it really does look like the birds are burying their heads in the sand!
So that's clear - they don't bury their heads in the sand!
However, it seems that Humans Do - and it's not just about prevarication, it's about ... well you tell me?
Burying one's head in the sand, is the metaphor we use to describe a behaviour that is, in effect, refusing to consider change or refusing to consider a particular situation.
If I can't see, it doesn't exist!
Well that seems to be the reasoning.
A study published in the Social and Personality Psychology Compass Journal (2013) suggests that people are actively motivated to avoid information.
The studies author Dr Thomas Webb from Sheffield University said:
"The ostrich problem is the idea that there are times when people would rather not know how they're doing."
'Avoiding monitoring may allow people to escape from negative feelings associated with an accurate appraisal of progress.
'For example, people might not want to know how much money they have spent or what their partner thinks of their social skills."
He called this behaviour 'motivated inattention.'
In NLP there is a presupposition that EVERY behaviour has a positive intent for the individual, and it according to Dr Webb 'motivated inattention' is a way to avoid negative feelings, often of guilt, which accompany being presented with reality.
'The ostrich problem is the idea that there are times when people would rather not know how they're doing. Avoiding monitoring may allow people to escape from negative feelings associated with an accurate appraisal of progress.'
In a previous study (2012) it was noted that...
...only 10 per cent of people who worry about their finances daily check their bank balance at least once a month.
...there was a high incidence of people with diabetes avoiding monitoring their blood glucose.
The notion that 'ignorance is bliss' is perhaps, in our terms, a limiting belief system. After all, if you are not willing to look at the patterns of change around you or a situation which needs a difficult decision, then you are not really taking an active part in your own life.
Susan Davids book, Emotional Agility, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life, makes a related point about positive thinking. She suggests that positive thinking could be just another way of 'burying your head in the sand'.
As I explore in my forthcoming book, The Secret to Your Future History, affirmations and positivity can be 'plasters' and not solutions to any personal situation.
Susan David talks about a 'positive thinking rut' which can actually stop us looking at the nature of change around us, and stop us from 'taking control' and 'making active choices' in our own lives.
So if you are in danger of being that 'Ostrich' here's some tips...
a) LOOK at your emotions and consider those that you resist looking at. Your emotions are important, how you manage them especially so. Learn to be present and notice what is happening around you.
b) STAND BACK, try to take a 3rd Person look at what is going on around you. Be an observer of your situation and reactions. Notice any repeating patterns, any less than useful behaviours.
c) REFLECT upon the bigger picture of your goals, dreams and ambitions. Having a broader perspective may actually help you frame more empowering choices.
d) ACT, make some clear choices, take some considered action in order to put yourself in the driving seat of your own life. In some ways there are choices you can make about whether you are always being tossed around on the stormy seas of life , or whether you are sailing towards a calmer harbour.
The more, shall we say, cynical readers will recognise the 'buzz words' that constitute the title of this piece.
Mindfulness has been, for a number of years now, the at the forefront of the popular psychological press and, if the hype is to be taken at face value, is a global panacea for mental wellbeing.
Of course I would be one of the first to comment on the benefits of the practice of mindfulness, but to claim it is a magical cure-all is one step too far.
Recently, mindfulness seems to have faded in popularity and we are reading more and more about Resilience.
Resilience and being resilient is the new 'thing'. Of course, like its compatriot buzz word mindfulness, resilience is something that has been around for a long while now.
Let's get our terms defined...
RESILIENCE - is recognized as a developmental process, reflecting the capacity for positive adjustment in difficult life circumstances as opposed a set ability people are born with.
MINDFULNESS - as defined by psychology and not Buddhism, is a skill, which enhances adaptive coping to stressful events by the self-regulation of attention towards the immediate experience, and an open and accepting orientation towards one’s experience of the present (Bishop et al 2004).
One would imagine that an individuals ability to 'bounce back' from life's challenges and the ability to pay attention to internal processes would actually have an effect on an individuals perception of themselves.
This was the theme of a 2013 research paper by Keye & Pidgeo (link below) in which a link between mindfulness, resilience and 'self efficacy' were explored. They found that academic self-efficacy (ability of the individual to take control of their own efficient behaviours) were linked.
To be strict in our definitions, academic self-efficacy is defined as the interpretation individuals give to their own performance and achievement.
In the 2013 research suggests ...
"if mindfulness and academic self-efficacy predict resilience in students, then developing interventions that target increasing students’ mindful- ness and academic self-efficacy may be beneficial in strengthening resilience."
Extending some of the ideas in this paper, we could suggest the following...
Does this cycle suggest a clear link between these four 'abilities'.
This being the case then we might be able to discover points at which we could create coaching and therapeutic interventions.
Of course resilience is a bigger issue, and is something which develops within a framework of personal, social and environmental experiences, but this simple idea could open up some interesting discussion.
Link to the 2013 Research Paper
To say that Facebook is a bit of phenomena is a bit of understanding...
1.37 billion people on average log onto Facebook everyday, in fact some of the statistics around this social media platform are staggering.
Photo uploads total 300 million per day. (Source: Gizmodo)
Five new profiles are created every second. There are 83 million fake profiles. (Source: CNN)
Every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded. (Source: The Social Skinny)
And the list could go on.
What is of interest here, however, is some of the psychological aspects of this platform. We could talk about trolling and the other kinds of abuse that the system is open to, but what about the nature of what we post?
In a research paper published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences Vol 85 2015, it was reported that ...
"....extraverts more frequently updated about their social activities and everyday life, which was motivated by their use of Facebook to communicate and connect with others.
People high in openness were more likely to update about intellectual topics, consistent with their use of Facebook for sharing information.
Participants who were low in self-esteem were more likely to update about romantic partners, whereas those who were high in conscientiousness were more likely to update about their children.
Narcissists’ use of Facebook for attention-seeking and validation explained their greater likelihood of updating about their accomplishments and their diet and exercise routine. Furthermore, narcissists’ tendency to update about their accomplishments explained the greater number of likes and comments that they reported receiving to their updates."
The Facebook users surveyed in the research were asked to complete a personality profile known as the Big Five as well as measures of elf-esteem, narcissism. Big Five personality traits, also known as the five factor model (FFM), is a model based on common language descriptors of personality.
Other studies have suggested that:-
"....people who tend to be more agreeable post less often, people who are more open-minded are less likely to respond to other people’s updates yet will post more often about political issues and those who are conscientious tend to agree more often with other’s updates."
When it comes to overall Facebook use, other research has shown that excessive time online can damage relationships, make you less happy and even be difficult for those suffering from self-esteem issues.
Other research suggests that frequent postings that include selfies represent a longing for connection.
A paper published in 2012 had this to say about personalities and Facebook posts.
People with a lot of Facebook friends tend to have low self-esteem
Extraverts update their status more often than introverts.
Conscientious people organize their photos carefully.
Open people fill out their personal profiles most thoroughly.
Narcissists make deeper self-disclosures
Narcissist are prone to overly post self-promotional content.
Neurotic people post mostly photos
Agreeable people are tagged in other people’s photos most often.
As one writer noted:
Although we may think we’re masking our insecurities or portraying ourselves in the most favourable light, our behaviour on social media reveals more than we might think. It’s not just what we post on Facebook that reveals information about our personalities — it’s also what we don’t post that can be quite telling. (Amy Morin 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do).
Our social media profiles and interactions are used as indicators of the type of customer we 'might be' an so marketeers are VERY interested in this kind of analysis. Perhaps we, as social media users, might like to consider how what we post can be interpreted by others.
Scott Ayres, author of Facebook All in One for Dummies, has produced a guide for marketers about Facebook Personalities as he sees them. Whilst not subject to the same rigours of the earlier academic papers, it does promote some very worthwhile discussion...
1. The Social Athlete
2. The Social Luddite
3. The Social Nurturer
4, The Social Lazzies
5. The Social Geek
6 The Social Doer
7. The Social Lurker
8. The Social Inspirer
9. The Social Ranter
10. The Social Visionary
You can read Scott's descriptions for each of these in his 'post-planner' post (link below).
(remember Big Five personality descriptors are just that, descriptors of personality type and related behaviours, NOT a psychiatric diagnoses
Dr Alan B Jones
Director Inspire NLP
Coach, Trainer, Author