Shine a light

When I look around me I see many people who don’t have the confidence to believe that they have the skills to live life to the full, for example to market their own business or decorate their own home, let alone the larger questions about who we are and were we are going? and I wonder what the difference is between them and myself?

I would not be happy to have someone interior decorate my home or as a so called PR expert, tell me how best to market my business… don’t get me wrong, there is plenty I can learn, but that’s the point. I’d rather learn and explore options that feel right for me, than be told how to do it.

Many of you who know me will probably be laughing out loud at this point as I’m not known for following instructions or being told what to do, and there is clearly a flip side where many others will happily follow the direction of so-called experts, even when they come from an entirely different market or background.

The reason I’m highlighting this here is that when we come from a place of internal self-belief then making a decision about these things, or most things, for that matter, maybe the first question could be a more internal one…such as,  ‘What do I want to get from this interaction?’

We like the idea of popping a pill or waving a magic wand and having the answers given to us, but I’m not convinced that this brings lasting solutions or answers that sit easily with us for long.

The way that I work is based on two questions from Quest Cognitive hypnotherapy ‘What’s that about?’ and ‘How can I use it?’

With these simple questions its entirely possible to help anyone to find the answers internally and when that happens, there is often an AH HA! moment where they suddenly become aware of what it is they want and then we can use the questions to help them work out the best way for them to get there.

These questions are rather like a beacon or torch highlighting the way forward, which is why when my clients come back to me and say how much I helped them, I always refer back to the fact that all the answers came from within them, I just help shine the torch in the right place for them to locate the answer they often didn’t even realize they were looking for!

 

Balance

Aren’t we all ideally trying to find that magical balancing point between work and everything else that is life.

So often I find myself speaking to clients about finding, even an hour a week, to do something that nurtures them, be it joining a choir, making something, gardening, being in nature or whatever floats their boat.

I am also very fortunate that my children are all grown up and I am able to pursue both my creative passion for all things glass, both personally and teaching and my work passion for helping people and supervising other hypnotherapists, so that the act of sharing what I love is almost as important as doing it myself.

Sometimes giving an hour to someone else can be as satisfying as taking the hour for ones self, so that volunteering or caring for another seems to almost transform ones sense of self.

What do you do that takes you out of the ordinary and feeds your soul?

What’s the point?

As a human being on this planet right now, there is plenty to challenge us, health, politics, loss, social media and probably something specific to you that affects some aspect of your life to some degree.

Everybody seems to want to sell us something, whether these are goods, dreams or a magic pill of some description, and don’t get me wrong it would be wonderful if the magic pill existed, but reality is so much more sobering. The question I get asked most, and not just by my clients is ‘What’s the point?’

Science tells us that our minds make decisions for us before we even become aware of them, we try and filter out what makes us unhappy or unhealthy and yet life itself continues on despite our choices.

Should we be living more mindfully, eating better, exercising more, buying less? Do you believe in many lifetimes, or is this the only one?

All these are huge questions and yet what if the point is to experience all of these things, these thoughts, the happy and unhappy, the good and the bad, because these are all events where the only judgement actually comes from our mind, which is coming up with values and interpretations about what we sense because we all filter life and life events through our own belief systems, which in turn are created by our experiences as we journey through life, right from the earliest days.

So what if nothing you believe is true, what if you had to start over as that carefree child you once were, what would you choose to take along with you and what would you leave behind?

Do you believe you can?

My brother in law asked a question the other day, well it was more of a statement really, along the lines of “Well. Of course you don’t believe you can do anything, do you?”

And in that moment and without thinking I replied, well of course I can do anything, I just have to put my mind to it and make it happen, and until the words fell out of my mouth I truly didn’t realise how much I believe this to be true!

So much so, that he was taken aback and questioned me on it and added the he wished that he believed that too!

This is a man who at almost 50 is about to run his first marathon and who has wholeheartedly pushed himself to achieve this once in a lifetime dream.

So how could someone who is capable of such a feat not believe he is capable of anything, when I, who only manages to swim 3-4 times a week and a little walking in terms of exercise believe it to be so true.

Through discussion with my family I have come to realise many things about myself, that are points of value to me, and this is just one of them.

So in those moments when life seems to be rushing headlong, I can remind myself that  I am only limited by the things I choose to limit myself by… and that is my way of saying I won’t be running a marathon any time soon, but that I am so much more than I may appear to be!

If you believe you can…you can

If you believe you cant… you cant

You make your own reality!

 

Be gentle with yourself

I was listening to the radio this Sunday morning whilst eating my breakfast and a song came up that touched me somewhere inside and tears started rolling down my face, it wasn’t a song that I consciously remember being an anchor to a memory that might make me cry and I was left feeling a little confused and wondering why?

Life can be like that cant it, when we sometimes get triggered into an emotion without always understanding or knowing where it came from, it can be a colour, a smell, a song or the sense or touch of a particular fabric.

Our unconscious remembers everything (so it is said) but our recall is often poor, and yet when there is an emotional connection to a time and place, however this comes into our awareness, it can arrive unexpectedly and disarm us.

These moments can be delightful and a link to wonderful memories and at other times it can seem as if we are behaving out of character and may respond like a child or in a way that seems unreasonable.

The beauty of the work that I do is that I have a way of accessing those memories which may be triggering unwelcome behaviour and letting them go in a safe and supported way, leaving my clients free to get on with living their lives, the way they choose.

For me now, I am also able to process the tears and understand where they come from and be gentle with myself.

Be gentle with yourself today too!

Change can be interesting

Thank you to all of my clients over the last year for embracing change! I wish you all the very best as we go into 2018. To all those who have already booked for this year, lets enjoy the process and see where it takes us.

One of the best comments I had from a client last year happened just as he was leaving the cabin at the end of his first session, when he commented ‘This was so much more fun and interesting than I thought it would be!’

It can be hard to get the message across and explain that despite the many challenges we each face, learning about how we process information can be the basis of change in itself, if I could bottle all those ah ha! moments then I would have distilled the wonderful energy that comes from recognising the how’s and why’s we each respond to life the way we do, and how this in itself can be the basis for positive change.

What starts as a nervous inquiry can lead to a kind of self-empowerment for anyone at any age.

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?