The confusion of choice

I work with a lot of young people, from ages 8 upwards and many at around 14 – 19, they come with a myriad of problems as you can imagine, but underlying many of these is stress and anxiety.

They feel confused and don’t understand the rules that society, education and family places on them and are often at a loss as to how to engage with their environment, or so often they simply can’t see the point!

This has got me thinking, as even as an adult it can be a minefield.  How do we agree on a model for growing and aging? How do we find our place in the world when so many of the accepted rules which were traditionally passed down from the elders in society,  to the children, throughout history,  have been abandoned (many rightly so) but with nothing to replace them, other than the idea of free choice.

Free choice is great as it opens up a world of possibilities, but as our lives are changing so fast, there is little or no framework  for our young people  to understand the consequences of those choices or elders to learn from, or a wish to learn from elders who appear to be lacking in current ways of thinking and doing, who are outdated!. Most of us would agree that our children should have choice but how do they know what they need to navigate their way in the world, without the traditional passing down of wisdom in this way.

So that other than through seeing someone like me, how do we help our children, when the next generation feels more at home in the world as it is now, when teenagers know more than their parents about some things like technology, it disrupts the traditional order of things, of the passing down of knowledge.

If our children know more than us about some things, there can be an assumption that they know more about everything, and that leaves them with an expectation that they can do anything they choose.

However without going through the rites of passage that historically most cultures and religions across the world have  had, and involved the collective wisdom being learnt and passed down to the youngsters, followed by a ritual to mark the shift into adulthood, our children are so often floundering, the established rules are no longer and there is nothing adequate to replace them.

What I teach the clients I work with is how to manage the choice from a more internal control, to let go of the confusion about all the information that is coming in and the mindreading that it often entails about what others think of us and to understand  that when others give us advice, whether parents, teachers or others, that instead of dismissing it out of hand, they are encouraged to change positions and understand things from the other perspective, to get a clearer insight of the intentions behind this advice, letting go of the need to be right or in control and understanding  how we all want the best and are so often on the same side but with different information, so they can make better, more informed decisions about their lives.

The same can be true in reverse that often our young people have a great wisdom to share and a perspective that comes from a less cluttered mind, and different ways of seeing, freeing us all up in this way can be so liberating and of course all too soon, our youngsters will be doing their best to teach their own children.

Confidence

I was driving somewhere the other day, which is so often when the best ideas pop into my head, there was some sort of programme on radio 4 about confidence and how many of us struggle with it.

I was also thinking about how, in the past, women in particular were supposed to be subservient to their husbands and  generally in society and were actively discouraged from being confident or speaking out of turn. This is still true for much of the world, and not only for women.

In my line of work we talk about ‘fight or flight’ which is an acute stress response to a threat to our survival, the thing that automatically kicks in and makes us want to run away from anything we feel or think is going to be a real problem, and how has deep roots in our caveman days as humans where we clearly needed to run from anything which could hurt us.

What if this lack of confidence also stems from our historical past, from those times where ‘standing above the parapet’ could literally make us a target.

It makes so much sense to me that we have learnt to keep quiet, not to speak out or to make ourselves heard, and its easy to find recent examples of how this can make us a target, to even be seen as a victim as a result. However if it is something we have learnt, then we are not born this way, it may not be something that truly benefits our survival in the modern day, so it can also be something we can unlearn too.

We lose so much of who we are when we bow to others beliefs and values and don’t recognise our own strength and power, to be who we can be, so that when we learn to stand up and be heard, to recognise our own innate value and begin to nurture that little spark of confidence it can be so empowering.

There are so many ways we can begin the process of recognising our own self-worth, which in turn allows us to grow the seed of confidence, to speak out and say ‘Hello, this is me, I have something to say’ it doesn’t need to be a big thing or it could be huge, but if you are feeling like you are so much more than you are right now, please do get in touch, I love to help men and women grow into the people that they are hiding inside.

Resistance

Whilst I was supervising a colleague the other day I came across a word I really dislike in relation to clients and every time it comes up, it makes me feel almost physically uncomfortable . The reason I dislike the word ‘resistance’  so much is that it makes it a challenge that the client brings to the session, as part of their problem, the reason for any limited success, and my belief is that if something is not working, it’s because I am not paying attention to what the client is really bringing to me, so that I can help them. After all resistance only exists if you push back.

The great hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, described it like this. ‘Resistance is an energy’, ‘use it, don’t fight it.’

One of the ways I look at it is that there are two conflicting people in my room occupying the same space within the client, one wants to change something about their response to their life experiences or they would not be there, the other does not and reassuring the first one too much, in the wrong way can automatically create opposition in the second, therefore undermining the treatment and creating what is generally known as ‘secondary gain’.

So it might mean I am moving too fast for my clients unconscious to be able to catch up or expecting change too soon or possibly for the wrong reasons. One thing I have observed is that in many cases this only becomes relevant as a problem with clients that we as therapists may want to help for reasons other than putting the client at the centre of the therapy, maybe they are people of influence; as young people, it is their parents who often quite desperately want to see them get better; or they are simply good people who are struggling and as caring therapists and human beings our internal fixer or our ego wants us help all clients in just a few short sessions which means we are pressuring ourselves and getting in our own way.

So the question I ask myself is how can I or my supervisees use it that makes it a positive addition to the tool box?

Fundamentally it comes down to the fact that we actually want our clients to be resistant – but only to what is really at the root of the problem.

When it happens in my therapy room, I remind them,  that when they realise they have a choice to move toward change, “resistance” is also part of that change. I tell them that they will find it easier to handle and to move ahead if they tell themselves, “This is simply Resistance, I can change with the new tools and ways of thinking that I am learning.”

For resistance is so often about fear? And so often is about the conscious overthinking that can create a dissociation from their physical or feeling self, giving seemingly rational justifications for why it won’t or can’t work.

So in the case of the young people who I work with, the problem is so often linked to their parents problems and perceptions, they are often oblivious to their parents need for change in them and don’t recognise the reasons why change might be a good idea for them too.

For clients who might be more mature, the problem can bring them the challenge of changing the status quo, ‘better the devil you know’ attitude. Sometimes this can be so powerful that change is not possible at that time, that even after working together it is also true that the unconscious need to protect themselves is so strong that I can work slowly with the idea of sowing seeds and allowing their unconscious to grow them over time into something that can allow small change at a rate that is acceptable to them.

Increasingly I am finding that some sort of physical body work can be the best form of therapy to help such clients get back in touch with their breathing and protected emotional self and this is something that I intend to explore more in the future and build into the way that I work.

 

Do nothing…or do something?

I was lying in bed the other night, this is traditionally where I have my best ideas, and wondering why so often I need to drive myself to do something, whether its exercise, tax return or something of that ilk and how often if I just leave it for that day or week, I feel like I am being lazy etc. and how this becomes a cycle of negative self-talk.

Whether it’s the ‘should’ do  or the ‘Im so lazy’ ? Either way it’s not helpful and means that I’m either being hard on myself or feeling as if I’ve let myself or others down.

This is equally true when something I’m involved in is not going well, usually in personal relationships where I might worry about not being responsive enough to the needs of a friend or family member or not speaking my mind about something that I care about, but which might cause conflict.

It might even be just getting up early in the morning… to make the most of the day?

Now this may not come as a surprise to many of you, but I have discovered in my 58 years of twirls around the sun that I don’t have to get up early to make the most of the day, I can make the most of it at any time. All days have 24 hours whenever you start them!

I don’t even ‘have’ to exercise, because when I do it because I want to stretch, it feels good, and is so much more enjoyable. The tax return does have a final deadline, but by leaving it to the last minute doesn’t bring me any satisfaction, while doing a little every week, feels easy.

As for tackling difficult conversations or emails, or responding to the needs of others, giving myself a little more time and another day or two, gives me pause for reflection that so often means my response is more fully thought through and congruent.

We are all so busy, and yet by taking a little time out before responding to the demands of life, or by breaking up the demands into more manageable chucks, it can feel like we have more choice about how and why we do things, and when we have more choice it feels like we are back in control in a more gentle self-caring way.

So don’t wait until you are worn out from ‘shoulding’, what change can you make that means you are giving yourself the gift of time?

 

 

 

Change your life lens

I have been reminded recently just how much information we can absorb and how much we have to delete in order to have the brain capacity to make sense of our world. This is because our brains would pretty much explode if we could pay attention to and remember everything that is going on around us…. For example you don’t tend to think about how your feet feel in your shoes, as that is just part of what we take for granted or delete in order to leave room for the details our mind labels as a priority.

Click  HERE to watch a Youtube video

This is an old recording of an experiment that shows how we only see a small amount of what is really going on around us apart from where we put our attention. This is because we filter everything coming into our world, so that much is deleted or distorted in some way to meet our expectations and beliefs

So it is with everything in  our experience and can affect how we see and react to what is around us, imagine that you only noticed the negative things and that coloured your view of the world to the extent that you begin to look only for those things that prove how awful the world is, or conversely if you only looked for all the good around you, how you would believe that the world was made of only the good.

These are of course extremes and I have never seen a client who came to me because the world and their life was happy and good all the time. But I do see some clients who genuinely believe that their lives are filled with difficult, challenging situations and people, most or even all of the time, so that they struggle to see anything positive.

Small shifts in perception can make a much bigger impact and open up the possibility of seeing through a different lens or filter, means that we can notice more of what makes us happy, more of the time.

Vale Life November 2016 Issue

Dani Dennington has trained with some of the top names in hypnotherapy and combines this with expertise in a variety of related treatments and techniques to offer an individually tailored approach to solving your problems.

From confidence issues to anxiety and phobias, addictions, exam nerves, pain control, weight control and eating disorders, life coaching and goal setting – it’s about putting you back in the driving seat of your life with the tools to take control.

Cognitive hypnotherapy provides overworked minds with the tool kit they need to fix their own stresses and strains. It is based on modern psychology and neuroscience and there’s not a pendulum in sight!

Usually, cognitive hypnotherapy needs two or three sessions in which the foundations for change are put in place, although you are likely to feel more confident about dealing with whatever has been bothering you after lust one session.

“The session starts with a simple chat,” says Dani. “An opportunity to discuss the goals of working together and an hour or so of gentle conversation to establish how you see your world and which of your beliefs and values are creating the problem – essentially ‘what is the story you are telling yourself?’

“Although it is called hypnosis, in reality the space we are working in is a natural state and no different to closing your eyes and being so absorbed in a book or film that the hours seem to fly by, or being in a meeting where your mind has wandered. You never lose control and are certainly never put under the control of anyone else.

“I believe that everyone has the capacity to adopt new mental tools, and anyone can be hypnotised. The only prerequisite is to be open to the process. This model means I create a unique treatment plan for each client, using the clients own mind to solve their own problems. “There are lots of practical tools to help deal with stressful situations, so that while we work on the unconscious responses in the sessions, I will also give you the tools that allow you to feel more in control in your day to day life “In subsequent sessions we look at what in your past is causing the current problems – often beliefs we have from childhood are still informing the way we respond as adults and clearly what works for a five year old probably won’t be working so well for the adult! Then moving forward we will see how this could now shape the present and future from this new more up to date perspective.

“It is often a huge release to let go of this outdated thinking and allows space to give you more choice about how you choose to respond in the now.”

Dani has a natural aptitude for creative thinking and problem solving which means that whatever your issue, she will help you move forward, free of whatever might be holding you back.

Dani is DBS checked and works with children over the age of eight as well as teenagers and adults. To see details of her extensive training and qualifications plus client testimonials and more information about how she could help you, take a look at her website at: www.thecroftpractice.co.uk

Anita Moorjani and Self-love

This weekend I was fortunate to be able to attend a workshop with Anita Moorjani, the Author of Dying to be me. This book was instrumental in me navigating my way through breast cancer last year.

Her remarkable NDE (Near-death experience) and subsequent healing from end-stage cancer is one of the most amazing cases ever recorded. But what makes her stand out is how she has learnt to tap into her own body’s wisdom which came out of that experience and her wish to share her learning from that time with as many as possible.

Having seen her on various online video clips and read her book, I knew much of her story, but what impressed me most of all was how natural and unaffected she is, what came to mind is that she is an ordinary woman who had an extraordinary experience. She was quietly confident on stage as one who is sure of what she is saying and yet lets the story speak for itself, and she was fighting a throat infection, and yet it felt like she was talking to each and every one of us as individuals in such a natural way with no sense of ego.

Her workshop gave me much food for thought, but it was the idea of living fearlessly as your authentic self that resonated most with me, particularly because being congruent (from Carl Rogers’ personality theory, the compliance between ideal self and actual self) is fundamental to who I am and how I live.

I struggle with self-love as do many if not all of my clients at some level and we all face challenges in life, but when I think of my children and my family there is so much unconditional love and even when sometimes I don’t like their behaviour, that doesn’t change the love I feel for them, so I have learnt that I can love myself the same way, and still know that I am a work in progress as we all are.

Learning what it is to be you

I have been learning from so many sources over the last few years but this last year has changed the way I work with my clients in a more fundamental way, due to my own experiences.

The journey towards self-acceptance, self-worth and self-love are so often at the root of much of the work we do together, and that has always been so, but learning about oneself and what that means can be transformational.

What if its Ok to be the shy one, or the fat one or the loud one, or whatever combination of value judgements you can throw at yourself, what if being you with all of your qualities is OK, I wonder what other qualities you are missing about yourself, how would your life be different if you could learn to embrace all of your qualities without judgement?

This doesn’t mean that we cannot change the way we respond to life, only that we do it from a different place, one where we can see ourselves more clearly.

I realised that so much of who I am came from a kind of judgemental indoctrination that I learnt from the environment I grew up in and that I have chosen to do things in a different way with my own kids.

I love them unconditionally, which doesn’t mean I always like them, but that I accept they are doing the best they can. If I can accept that in them, it follows that with a little rethinking I can also do the same for myself.

That change in my thoughts, began a transformation within me, which is a rippling out within my own life and experiences. Does this mean I am always without judgement, no way! sometimes I can enjoy being a judger, like anyone.

But I like it, it feels good to begin to let go of all those value judgements and rules, and when I work with my clients, particularly the young ones between 14 and 18, they are also learning how liberating it can be and they can begin to take that forward into their lives and learn what it is to be themselves. How I wish that I had known all this back then when I was a teenager, but better late than never and I am enjoying the freedom and laughing a lot more now.

5 observations this week

  1. Some clients need to move around when working or use their creativity to imagine moving around their problem to see or sense it from another angle or perspective before change can happen.
  2. Some problems aren’t really that big, but it’s the self-judgement or mind reading that others are judging that is the real problem.
  3. Some people say they want to change but when they have to actually do something about it, they rapidly go off the idea. (I also do this from time to time!)
  4. Young people often don’t say much, other than ‘I don’t know’ but when they get it, change can happen very quickly.
  5. Often the child inside doesn’t realise there is now an adult on the outside.

Unpredictability

So many clients come to see me because their life is unpredictable and they want to be safe.

Of course with our thinking heads on we all know life is unpredictable…. But hope that’s for other people and that we can carry on making safe choices and that by doing so we can keep ourselves and our loved ones protected.

Until… that is…. We come upon something that happens to us or those we love and then our thinking brain takes a back seat and we operate from an instinctive place that has more to do with subconscious processing.

One of my favourite questions to ask any one I work with, when they describe such a scenario is ‘If I parachuted 10 people into your situation now, would they all respond the same way you are?’

Answers vary, some cannot see or think about any other way of being in that moment and others understand that their response, whilst it maybe not unique to themselves is only one way of many to play the story.

Some work so hard to keep themselves safe that they create a kind of OCD which allows them to believe that if they follow a certain protocol, all will be well, others touch wood or wear their lucky underpants, and it allows them the temporary belief  that they are doing all they can.

A very wise friend one told me that in living with unpredictability, all we really need to do is get to tomorrow, when we embrace it can allow us to open up to opportunity and flow, to be in the moment and have a better understanding of life and what that is, even in the midst of pain.

If we can find a way surrender to it, we can acknowledge that Life is about change, though most often change happens so slowly we don’t even notice it, so that its only when it happens quickly that we feel unsteady, and yet that is where we grow, out of our comfort zone and so often creativity comes out of that moment, when we learn that we have more resources than we may have realized to get us to that tomorrow.