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Episode 45. Challenging our beliefs creatively with Voula Tsoflias

Today's guest, Voula Tsoflias, is a writer of psychological fiction and non-fiction psychology, combining her two passions in life: fiction writing and psychology. Following a long and happy career as a corporate psychologist, she now devotes her time to writing and related activities.

She's finishing her third novel, Halo. Her first novel, Honor’s Shadow, was published by Karnac in 2012. She’s a contributing author to the DK Psychology book and the co-founder of Resilience for Writers, with author Isabel Costello, supporting writers through the specific challenges of trying to get published, with workshops and writings.

Voula is also the Ambassador for Corporate Sponsorship for the charity Bounce Forward, dedicated to developing the psychological fitness of next generations of children and young people, through high-quality teaching in schools.

In her professional work as a psychologist, she applied the science of positive psychology, working closely with leaders facing complex business challenges. A powerful element of that, is the identification of obstacles to goals, and how to overcome them, which is also a fundamental element of most fiction.

For Voula, psychology and storytelling are profoundly entwined, which is one of the many reasons I've invited her on the podcast. I’ve known her as a writer and mentor for close to nine years and I was curious to hear her take, not only on creativity and the ways to explore it, but also on emotional resilience, a topic which has been on my mind for many years.

To her being creative, means thinking and seeing things differently, experimenting through a process which is both bold and challenging. She explains the core principles of Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), from which most therapies spring, how we can use our thoughts to down-regulate our feelings, as well as the various ways in which we can address our own self-criticism and "wardrobe of beliefs" we cling to.

We discuss the notion of flexibility as a key component of positive psychology and creativity, the definition of realistic optimism, why self-kindness isn't as natural as being kind to others, and the creative ways we have at our disposal to reframe our internal narratives, in order to live a more fulfilling and resilient life. I finished our discussion feeling inspired and invigorated, so I hope you enjoy it.

Books/websites mentioned by Voula during our conversation:

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, Martin E.P. Seligman (1990), ISBN: 978-1473684317

The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self, Dan P. McAdams (1993), ISBN: 9781572301887


A maths teacher can be creative. So can a financial adviser, a community builder, and a yoga teacher. Not to mention a speed painter, a potter, or an actor!

Creativity is everywhere and I love nothing more than to explore it in The Creativity for All Podcast, either by focusing on a theme – such as perfectionism, feeding your creative brain, or the pressure to be creative – in my solo episodes, or through my conversations with all manner of creative people.

I want to challenge the perception of creativity and, in the process, debunk many myths attached to it: it's painful, for artists and the chosen few, etc.

My guests and I are keen to zoom in and dissect the origin of an idea, the impulse that makes us engage with our own creativity, with the hope that it will inspire listeners to get creative too.

My podcast is designed for anyone who’s already being creative, or is tempted to use their creativity, in particular those of you who think they are not creative or can never be. I would love to change your mind!

The Creativity for All Podcast is sponsored by Blue as an Orange, where we believe in creativity through communication, and offer mentoring and coaching for aspiring writers and tailored language tuition for individuals and companies.

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