Jo Johnson: Surviving Me

Today I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Surviving Me. My post is presented with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the tour and of course, to Jo Johnson for writing her guest post.


Tom has decided he doesn’t want to live. Adam wishes he had a choice.

Tom’s lost his job and now he’s been labelled ‘spermless’. He doesn’t exactly feel like a modern man, although his double life helps. Yet when his secret identity threatens to unravel, he starts to lose the plot and comes perilously close to the edge.

All the while Adam has his own duplicity, albeit for very different reasons, reasons which will blow the family’s future out of the water.

If they can’t be honest with themselves, and everyone else, then things are going to get a whole lot more complicated.

Guest Post:

Jo Johnson’s post is entitled “Is it possible to change the way you think?”


I woke this morning determined to be the best version of me. But, immediately, my husband ruined it. He was breathing like a tractor. I deliberately yanked the duvet as I leapt out of bed. Lazy, I fumed.

Struggling in the dark, I tripped over my daughter’s bag. ‘Clear up after yourself!’ I screeched outside her door.

By the time I reached the kettle, I was raging. Even the cat got an exasperated sigh during my internal rant. I slumped into a chair feeling utterly despondent. 

Then I realised, I’d been hijacked by a whirlwind of negative thoughts. Under their influence I’d depressed myself and unleashed a monster.

Despite all the self-help books on positivity, recent research concludes the vast majority of what we think is negative. Untrained, our thoughts rarely lead to self-care or constructive behaviour. The mind is like a miserable radio station you can’t turn off.

The problem is not the thoughts but our limited awareness of how influenced we are by them. Mostly, we live our lives on autopilot, unaware of what’s on our mind, unconsciously bullied into behaviour we wouldn’t choose. 

This is the problem for the main character in my debut novel “Surviving Me”.  Tom Cleary has never felt good enough but a successful job and a pretty wife have enabled him to ignore the voices in his head that shout “inadequate”. 

When he is bullied out of his career by a younger colleague and his wife doesn’t get pregnant, old thoughts resurface about being weak and unmanly. Over time, he listens more to this inner voice and less and less to the people around him. He loses contact with the things he cares about and life becomes meaningless. 

“Surviving Me” tackles hard issues such as male depression, suicidal thoughts and degenerative diseases in what I’m told is an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way. 

Eventually Tom goes to see a psychologist and learns some good news that could help us all. There are simple techniques we can learn to diminish the power of our negative thoughts and the way they influence our behaviour.

Here’s an example technique you can try: NNQ – notice, name, question.

  • Notice – Each time you wash your hands, ask yourself, ‘What am I thinking?’
  • Name – Name the main thought running across your internal screen. Is it a worry, a criticism of yourself, a rumination about an unsolvable problem?
  • Question – Ask yourself, ‘Is this thought helpful to me right now? If I buy into this thought as the absolute truth, does it help me to treat myself and others how I would want to?’

If the answer is ‘no’, it’s an unhelpful thought, there is no need to wrestle with it, simply thank your mind and refocus. The easiest way to do this is to bring your attention to one of your five senses. For example, listen for five sounds, notice new details in the room, take in the smell, savour the taste if you’re eating.

This is resistance training for the mind. At first it will feel strange but if you keep practising the technique, you’ll be less prone to stress and poor relationships. We can’t turn off radio doom and gloom but we can learn to ignore the headlines.


Surviving Me is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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