Luis Suarez – the Truth behind his bites

David Woolfson Interview Suarez bites June 2014  Salford City Radio.

Hear this to find out what no one else had discussed about the real motivation behind the biting behaviour of Luis Suarez. Unique insights and understanding of what is really going on.

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BBC Mike Parr Show – “Do we have to lose our temper?”

BBC Mike Parr Show July 2013

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Sky Sports News Radio on Luis Suarez

This is a more in-depth interview about Suarez

Hear from anger management specialist David Woolfson from Anger Planet on Luis Suarez. He caught up with Chris Siddall on Good Morning Sports Fans earlier today.

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The Voice in Luis Suarez’s Bite!

LBC CLIP Suarez 25.4.13

Anger Management can help Suarez


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Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, the FBI and the Rooney Rule

Rio Ferdinand is now ready to shake hands with John  Terry and Ashley Cole. This is a turn around, how he has reached this decision.  In any relationship YOU are the most important person. You are foremost in your relationship with yourself and you take that to your relationship  with others.

In any relationship we can decide how WE want to be, in other words do I want to define myself in reaction to you and to external events or do I want to create who I am and be consistent and true to myself (more or less)  in whatever situation I find myself.

When we take our eye off our own ball we lose something – contact, appreciation, affiliation. Only we can be responsible  for ourselves. Yet we are plagued by expectations about our partners, friends and life in general. We want the world to  give us things we are not willing or able to give ourselves.

It seems that Rio has found something in himself, a quality which makes him more than a reaction to John Terry. In response  to the question “what kind of person do I want to be in the world” he has found an answer  within himself.

In shaking hands with Terry and Cole he expresses something about himself that is valuable and that he does not want to give away in anger and hurt.

This applies on the level of the individual and of  society. It has been said that when we confront terrorism the challenge is to do so in a way that shows strength, by this I mean the strength of our values as societies and as individuals. External strength may be shown in shooting and bombing, this is an illusion. This is the strength of the bully in the playground, the punishing teacher or parent. Our real strength and conviction about who we are, who we want to be, is shown in our refusal to give up our core values.

Robert Mueller, the Director of the FBI has said “We will not win the war on terror if we lose our freedoms in the battle”. In other words even if we win the physical struggle we will lose if we become more like those we struggle against. “Mueller has led his agents to believe they must fight the threat of terrorism without trampling civil rights” (Tim Weiner, Guardian 25.10.12).

If we approach relationship in this way we hold on to who we are and do not live in angry reaction to the external world. This takes effort, for which I applaud Rio Ferdinand. By staying true to himself he stays in charge of his historic, personal anger and is able to direct the energy of “righteous”, present tense anger against the FA, the PFA and “Kick out Racism”.

How extraordinary that the action of Ferdinand and  the relatively unknown Jason Roberts (amongst others) appears to have forced the PFA into drawing up a six-point plan against racism. A UK “Rooney Rule” is suddenly in prospect. He has grown his own answer to the question “how can I be me, with you?”

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The Shame of Lance Armstrong is ours too

The story is now familiar, the bullying the doping and the denials. Here is a man where the anger which drives you to success spills over into a different kind of anger, the dark historic kind. This takes you over, tramples over rules and boundaries and can drive any of us to do things we regret.

Underlying this story of bullying and doping is a human tragedy. A man caught in a web of deceit, shame from which ultimately only exposure could release him.

This is a typical example of how anger can lead to beauty and to ugliness, the beauty of his campaign against cancer, the ugliness of success at the cost of honesty.

This is our tragedy too. This sad tale stands in contrast to the joy, glory and pride embodied in the success of our Olympians and Paralympians so recently. It stands in contrast to the tantrums and genius  of McEnroe, even the outbursts of Joey Barton as he struggles to find a place in the world.

This was a deliberate and systematic attempt to hoodwink us and our ideals, our belief in the beauty and purity of the human spirit, that there is something that rises above the commercialism of modern sport.

How Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton must be feeling today, knowing the efforts they have made to achieve the highest honour in their sport only to find it lessened by these events.

There is redemption, there is the possibility of change and development even for those of us who reach to the bottom of the barrel of our human shame. It seems that sport is a metaphor for the struggles and challenges that all of us face in everyday life, the challenges and the temptations not to be authentic with the person we are, or strive to be.

I would like to take strength from this episode, the wrongdoing of one gives each of us the chance to look in the mirror and ask our own difficult questions. How can I be more of who I want to be? Can I forgive myself for my mistakes?

In our opinions and judgements of Lance Armstrong we have the opportunity to learn more about ourselves. This is worth taking.



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Ashley Cole, South African Miners and the Power of Texts and Tweets

While we focus on the Ashley Cole tweets and whether he should be banned against San Marino on Friday, whether the content of his tweet is as serious as Rio Ferdinand’s retweet of “choc  ice”, in South Africa 12,000 striking miners have just been sacked by text message.

In August 34 miners, were massacred by the police at Lonmin mine.

These men who earn less in a year than Cole earns in a week have been fired after three weeks of strikes over pay and conditions. The company which sacked them is a subsidiary of London-based Anglo American.


Workers have been dying in the demonstrations and strikes have spread to other industries including gold, iron ore and Shell has had to curtail fuel deliveries after its drivers struck for 2 weeks. While we (rightly) focus on an individual tweet posted in anger, 12,000 texts are fired at a great mass of invisible and underprivileged working men who could really do with our support.

Is it not extraordinary how when racial abuse, discrimination and exploitation is focused on an individual we feel involved, interested. Yet when a large group are involved, when people die in another country, sometimes we can carelessly turn the page of the offending newspaper and move on.

This is not to say that racism in football and the issues around Terry, Cole, Suarez, and many others are not important, they are because they speak about who we are as a society and what we are prepared to tolerate. I just marvel that without the focus on an individual it seems much harder to care, to be interested.

Perhaps the beauty and strength of our system is that we do take the time to look at the detail rather than let it pass. Perhaps it is the attention at the micro- level, our willingness to clarify if Cole heard the word “black”, if the word “cunt” was used that is our strength.

To change on an individual level it is essential to look at the detail, to understand how our thoughts, our ways of talking to ourselves form our experience of the world. It seems that the same is true on a larger scale whether the FA or in society as a whole. Thus I welcome the attention being paid to Cole at al. This sends out a message to all those harbouring racism thoughts and ideas that it is not OK.

I just wish we could send them all a text saying “we know who you are, it’s time to give this up!” I wish we could all send a text to Anglo American saying “we know what you are up to, it is time to stop”.

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Ashley Cole, Freedom and the Dangers of Twitter

Twitter is a phenomenon, we are told it played a role in the Arab Spring, the demonstrations in Iran and other global events. Everyone from Mandela to Boris Johnson tweets. It seems that authoritarians around the world would like to suppress it.

The counter argument says that anything that gives us more “freedom” must be good.  Hence the “freedom” of the market  and look where that has led in recent years. Freedom without constraint is like tennis without tram lines or football without a 10 yard box.  Without some form of boundary making and agreed rules all human activity would become chaotic.

This process of negotiation and testing of rules and laws, the “social contract” has been a feature of democracy for hundreds of years. Underlying is the sense that we have a shared existence and that one person’s untrammelled freedom can take away that of another.

On Twitter every now and then we see the consequence of unrestrained freedom. We see Ashley Cole follow a long line of professional sports people who – in anger – have tweeted their immediate response to an even without time for self reflection. This has consequences for him, his team , the FA and all of us.

In this way technology allows us to expose the inner workings of our psyche and to dump our anger on the world in a way that has never before been available.

I advise my clients with angry thoughts,and feelings, contemplating angry behaviours to STOP, and to look at the big picture. The old cliché goes “act in haste repent at leisure”. This is often – though not always – true. The anger response is a survival response in which our defensive mechanisms and the most primitive parts of our brain and our traumatic historic memories are triggered.

Often in our anger we seek to justify, to blame and to hurt. This often leads to regret, shame and more anger.

I am not arguing against Twitter or against spontaneity. Without the latter we would have a lot less art, music and beauty in the world. But angry behaviour always has consequences, for ourselves and for others. Before you act STOP, if necessary get out of the battle zone. The only thing you find there are dead  bodies.

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Ryder Cup – It was Neurology “Wot Won It”

There seems to be a moment in team events when everything crystallises or falls apart, witness Manchester United’s pitiful first half against Spurs and the change in the second half, their heroic but ultimately fruitless attempt to pull back Spurs’ lead. As Patrice Evra said “we should have played like this from the first minute, the problem was inside our heads”.

In contrast witness the incredible win by Europe against the US in the Ryder Cup.

This was an extraordinary event, described as a miracle in the dressing room. Ian Poulter talked about the incredible spirit in the dressing room on Saturday night “It just changed”.

The question is “what changed”?  Neuroscience is increasingly understanding how our emotional experience both creates and reflects activity in the brain. When Poulter talked of “a little glimmer of hope” he was referring to the symptom of brain activity reflected in emotional experience.


The experience of “belief” or “disbelief” has been shown to reflect signal changes in some parts of the brain. It appears to be the same part of the brain that judges the pleasantness of odours.

The Europeans wanted this so much “for Seve”, something was happening in their brains and nervous system. Somehow they were functioning “together” as an organism and when they hit it the synergy carried their performance forward. At the same time the US team, notably Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and Bubba Watson could not do enough in the noise of a home crowd to stay ahead.

We humans, in all our sophistication still have the need to ascribe events to the intangible, something within or without that is not tangible. Ultimately such moments may become measurable and visible at neurological level. This is itself a miracle. My fear is that we may lose some of the mystery and sense of wonder which creates the very experience we cherish.

In the end though, perhaps the Europeans best secret weapon was George W Bush’s address to the US team referring to the Alamo!!

If you wish to know more of the science informing my comments please read:

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Lewis Hamilton – Why he left McLaren

Life is a process of separation. It can be painful. We leave the womb, we stop breast feeding, we learn to walk and suddenly find there is a big wide world out there. Mother be hidden behind the door, we panic, cry out. She comes to get us we feel re assured, secure and the next day we explore further behind the door safe in the knowledge that she is there and at any time we can return to her.

lewis hamilton

Lewis Hamilton left his father some years ago, now – he is to leave the womb of Maclaren, the “mother” that has nurtured him, protected him and given him a place of safety, a place to retreat to when all is not well. He has already left his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger. Some say he has left because of the money, there may be some truth in this but it seems that in order to find “who he is” to truly separate, become an individual and grow up he needs to leave the womb, the place of safety.

For all of us leaving is a moment of risk, for some may have been a traumatic experience of expulsion and rejection, for others our carer and parents  may have tried to keep us there, not able to deal with their own separation trauma.

This is not about Formula One, McLaren, Silver Arrows or Mercedes, one engine or another, Button, Alonso or Schumacher.  Hamilton may not have more racing success with Mercedes. We all need to leave our families in order to come back in a different way, as an adult. Avoiding or interrupting this process is about fear, it creates anger and resentment. In the end, only by experimentation and separation can we truly develop our sense of identity and who we are in this world.

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Kate and Wills – Dealing With Difference

Today my attention is taken by the contrast between the travails of Kate Middleton and the quest for justice around the terrible events at Hillsborough. I am surprised how readily I accept that both headlines seem to be getting equal attention.

I have little against Kate or Wills, they are victims of their circumstance, finding themselves in a lifelong gilded cage (in my view) and they are learning to deal with it. In truth I like the idea that Wills has threatened to sue the Paparazzi, they deserve it, not just for this but for their hounding of Diana, the “gotcha” headline in the Falklands, the  terrible claims they made around Hillsboroough and the constant appeal to the lowest common denominator in society.

The irony is that all this happens in the name of freedom. It is not a freedom I recognise, I see it as an abuse of freedom. Yet the strength of a democratic society lies in our willingness to accept views and ideas, ideas and perceptions we may not like.

This is not much  different from being in a relationship. The challenge is similar. I work a lot with couples, often both are angry because they feel unheard, unseen.

I believe we can have our own values yet we are not in the world to live up to each other’s expectations. The task is to work out how we deal with difference. How can I be with you and be me? How can I be me, with you? In love, in marriage, in relationship, in society?

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Murray: no longer the ‘Nearly Man’

Andy Murray has broken through his self-imposed glass ceiling – he is no longer the “nearly man” of tennis.

Murray won through twofold changes,  in his  attitude and self-belief  and in the ability to contain and  manage his anger and his energy. He left behind  that creeping sense of not being good enough, of being the “nearly man” which has denied him so far, typically the Australian Open. His Olympic win was the first manifestation of this.  He was also able to focus his energy, his anger on the task at hand with less of the uncontrolled minor explosions which have up to now been his hallmark. Controlled energy release was key to his success.

The key agent of these changes has been his coach Ivan Lendl. It has been reported that Lendl gives relatively little “verbal” advice. In sport there is no substitute for looking as the most powerful form of learning.  Murray looks over at Lendl and takes in a body image of stillness and containment and self-esteem.

This is constantly reinforced throughout the match – it is a form of coaching not covered in the rules, coaching through body shape. By modelling containment Lendl is coaching Murray at the deepest level, one that words cannot access.

What is more Lendl reframed Murray’s previous losses by telling him he won because he’d lost saying “A loss is a loss; and a loss is not a loss. You learn from certain losses and become depressed from other ones. When you have losses, when you put it all out there and go hard, you can be proud of yourself”. What he is saying is that through loss, through making mistakes we learn and can develop.

In anger we often relive our past or experience our fear of the future. We can carry and constantly chew over an old thought that undermines us such as  being the “brave British loser”.  This then becomes part of who we are. By staying in the present, playing a point at a time, focusing on the immediate, we can avoid falling into these old and undermining judgements of ourselves.

Andy Murray yesterday showed far less of the uncontained anger displays we have seen in the past. He was the most “in charge” of himself we have ever seen him. Almost gone were the grimaces and fist clenchings. He managed himself as a machine, regulating his use of energy, staying contained, focused and in the present.

Murray, with Lendl at his side is experiencing a new relationship with himself and this was demonstrable when Djokovic staged the comeback to two sets all. In the past the old demons might have surfaced, the self-fulfilling thought of being the perennial “nearly man”.

This time he was different. He was able to adjust mind and body and not go to the familiar place which offers only despair and second best. Murray warned us after Wimbledon: “I will only resume work when my mind is right”. Last night his mind was right, he stayed in the present, point by point no longer undermined by thoughts of being a brave loser, regulating his energies and focusing his anger on the task at hand rather than on himself.

After his victory last night, Murray said: “We are learning to be happy”. He and his family cannot quite believe the change that has taken place. It involves being accustomed to a new mental outlook and world view. Being a winner is a skill that has to be learned, it takes time for this to become part of who you are. I cannot help connecting this to the success of Team GB in the Para/Olympics and the new sense of national pride and self-belief we have all experienced in the last month. Andy Murray’s journey has just begun.

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