Girls Club Workshop / My Personality

Photo credit: DTTSP

Here’s our summary for the last Girls Club workshop, which was at Optic Kitchen + Bar on Sunday 5 October.

The Theme: My Personality

Our Special Guest – Dr Michelle McCormack

First and foremost, I’d like to thank the Psychologist Dr Michelle McCormack for being our special guest. She took us through the different topics in the workshop and answered questions throughout. Many thanks to Dr McCormack for spending her time and sharing her expertise with us!

Dr Michelle McCormack is an experienced Health Psychologist who takes a compassionate approach to her clinical work. She completed her doctoral thesis on the association between binge eating, emotion regulation and attachment style and can help people experiencing binge eating disorder, bulimia or weight management difficulties. Additionally, she is experienced helping clients experiencing anxiety and mood disorders including major depression, generalised anxiety, social anxiety, and phobias.

Michelle has specialised training in the area of health psychology and can support people with medical conditions, such as infertility and pregnancy loss, diabetes, and chronic illness. As a Health Psychologist Michelle can help you stop unhealthy habits and support you in overcoming the physical, mental and emotional barriers that are preventing you from being the person you want to be.

The Activity

Based on initial talks with Dr McCormack about “What could be really interesting for a group of women to know about personality in general – and their own personalities?”, we decided to cover:

  • The Big Five (the current theory about personality traits)
  • Cognitive Distortions
  • Core Beliefs
  • Values

Download the Activity Sheet to work on the questions/answers at home.

The Big Five

As we mentioned in the About Introverts event, the modern way of thinking about and assessing personality is with the Big Five personality traits.

The Big Five are:

O – Openness to experience
C – Conscientiousness
E – Extraversion
A – Agreeableness
N – Neuroticism

You can get a basic idea of your personality traits here: Big Five personality traits test

Some key points to note about personality traits, and your test results (if you do the test!):

✤ A person can be happy and healthy no matter which traits they have, although certain people may find their traits are difficult to manage – e.g. Highly neurotic people may struggle with anxiety … but just because they have this underlying trait, it doesn’t mean they can’t live happy and healthy lives.

✤ Personality traits are fairly stable over our life span, so rather than “working on them,” we want to learn how to best function with them – e.g. Some personality traits may cause us to have biased ways of thinking and behaving, and we can work on these biases (or “cognitive distortions”). We can see which distortions we have that that are negatively impacting our lives, and find alternative ways of thinking and behaving. And we can recognise that we all have different tendencies, and different interpretations of events, and that sometimes we can adjust these to improve our lives.

Cognitive Distortions

When it comes to our personality traits and our behaviours, it can be very healthy and helpful to be self-aware and understand how and why we think and behave the way we do.

Cognitive distortions are one type of unhealthy and unhelpful ways of thinking.

There are many of different cognitive distortions, but in our workshops, we went through these 7 cognitive distortions: Seven ways to misinterpret what is happening, which is from Understanding and changing self-defeating beliefs by Wayne Froggatt and Richard Lakeman.

We also discussed how to counter the cognitive distortions – to stop distorting reality – with the Keeping in touch with reality suggestions in the same piece.

Core Beliefs

Next, we discussed core beliefs. These are deeply-seated, deeply-held beliefs that have often taken a hold when we were young, and have been reinforced and internalised at our core throughout our lives.

People who have negative core beliefs will typically distort reality in a way that confirms their core beliefs. Common negative core beliefs are: 
I’m unlovable
I’m unworthy
I’m a failure
I’m bad
I’m stupid

Here’s a good information sheet on What are Core Beliefs?


Lastly, we discussed values, which are another important part of how we think and behave.

We used an excerpt (“A Quick Look at Your Values”) from The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris to do an activity where we contemplated our 6 top values, so that we could compare our values with the people sitting around us, as a discussion starter.

It was quite interesting hearing how everyone’s values were… sometimes very different, sometimes very similar to ours.

I encourage you to do the exercise for yourself, and see what you come up with.

(My top 6 were: Encouragement, Curiosity, Beauty, Compassion, Self-Care, Independence. What were yours?)

Thank You

Thank you everyone for coming, and I apologise for the venue and the sound quality. We had made a booking in a different area of the cafe but they weren’t able to set us up there.


At the end, Dr McCormack was asked if she could suggest any further reading. She suggested:

Upcoming Events

Our next and LAST workshop for 2014 (we’re closed for summer!) is on Sunday 2 November, and the topic is Thank You Notes. We’re working with Lisa Currie, author of The Scribble Diary (and more), to put together a fun workshop! We’ll update our mailing list for details!


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