ARTICLES AND BLOGS
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Is Someone Getting Your Goat?
Increase Your Love Levels on Valentines Day, or Any Other Day!
Confirmation Bias - September 2015
Change your beliefs - Change your life
Clear Emotional Blockages with Mindfulness
Don't worry - learn to say "So What!"
Imagination - Friend or Foe?
Get Fit By Proxy
Talk to "Mum's The Boss" in Milton Keynes
Selective Eating Disorder
Identify Your Strengths
Hope for Spring
Sink or Swim
Every Picture Tells a Story
Know Your Inner Self
Technical Genius - NOT
April Fool - Hopefulness for Spring
Yippee it’s April – such an exciting month! First of all it’s my birthday month and I adore everything about my birthday, from Easter Bunnies to Easter eggs, capturing precious moments with my family and friends, excitedly opening my cards, and relishing every mouthwatering bite of my scrumptious birthday cake…and that’s only the very beginning. What comes next is the sunshine – it’s always sunny on my birthday and I can guarantee wherever I am in the world the sun not only shines but bathes me in golden sunlight. Then there is the full and total acknowledgement that Spring finally arrived in all its glory. Even my cat has finally left the comfort of hibernation in the house to venture outside and sit in a sunbeam – just looking at him makes me feel all warm and cosy on the inside.
Looking out into my garden, I witness the joys of Spring everywhere, the birds making a racket in the trees as they squabble over their lofty territory – I think the cat might be eyeing them up but fat chance of him catching anything, he has gotten far too fat over this long cold stretch of winter.
My family and I went for a walk yesterday around the woods where I live. Hope sang from the branches of every tree as the buds dared to peep through and expose themselves to the still bitterly cold air around them. Bluebells about to bloom had suddenly appeared from nowhere – only a couple of weeks ago the same walk had taken place in a winter wonderland, with snow and icicles decorating each and every twig as we braved the cold bracing air wrapped in fur and feet in snow boots. And now the woods are alive with hope and anticipation of what’s to come.
Hope is a wonderful feeling, when we have hope it wells up inside and all we can see is potential. Life is a bit like that – when we see the potential in things we are far more motivated to enjoy the moment that’s currently bursting at the seams. By paying attention and becoming mindful about each and every moment, we can instantly recognise that there are a countless number of possibilities staring back at us from the future. How exciting is that? Have you ever stopped just before taking action, when your body is just about to do something – like moving your hand for example if you drop something, the moment when you decide to pick it up, if you imagine time slowing down and you observe the thought, almost instantaneously the potential of movement is in your muscles, in your whole body, as the energy is summoned up and directed into taking action. That moment is full of choice – you could pick up the thing you dropped, you could stop and do nothing, you could pick something else up, you could do something totally different, you could walk away. It’s your choice.
Hope and choice go hand in hand. When we are hopeful the world opens up and looks bright and shiny, vibrant and exciting, we look forward, whereas if we lose hope things look dull and lifeless, dark and dreary, without energy and we get stuck thinking about how things didn’t work out before. Whether we feel hopeful or hopeless doesn’t change the facts about any situation, but it changes the energy and that’s where choice comes in. Choosing to be hopeful creates energy and positivity. Things can’t help but happen when we are hopeful, usually things that are of benefit to us. Just like the buds on the trees, they never give up, even when it’s freezing out there, when it’s bleak and the sunshine seems a million miles away, hope wells up as the sap rises and the energy bursts forth, producing new life and growth. Hope gives us the feeling that there is something worth waiting for, a light at the end of the tunnel. Why chose anything else!
Sink or Swim - how to create the right mindset when relationships come to an end
February 2013 Back to top
The end of any relationship can create a multitude of feelings from loss, sadness and grief to shock, anger, hurt and betrayal. Some people may feel like the victim, others may turn anger into a desire to take revenge, and many go completely to pieces. Why do some cope well while others fall apart? Every story could have a number of different endings. We all love a story that has a happy ending, when the hero goes through some big challenge and comes out stronger and tougher because of it. We learn through adversity and from mistakes - that is part of being human. Why not choose an ending that will make you feel empowered rather than diminished?
It is often said that the passing of time does not heal the emotional wounds caused by a bitter split, whether it’s divorce or the end of a long term relationship. Emotions like anger, hurt and guilt can be buried inside and resurface over and over again unless acknowledged and dealt with. To avoid a lifetime of pain caused by these buried emotions, there are ways in which to reframe the experience that puts you control. You can choose to respond in a healthy constructive manner or simply react in unhealthy, self-destructive ways. There is a vast difference in the two.
Take a look at some different ways of explaining things. The “Divorce From Hell” creates a horrific image of fire and brimstone, eternal punishment in hell, damnation, pain and suffering. How on earth can a person hope to get out of that mess in one piece and carry on to live a full and happy life? The traumas and pain associated with untying the knot are not to be underestimated however there are many pitfalls that people fall into that make the situation far worse that it needs to be. Ending a relationship is no fun but you can take steps to keep it from turning into a nightmare.
10 steps to develop a constructive mind set when ending a relationship.
Step One. Choose your words and language with care The use of language and vocabulary can have a huge impact on how you cope with one of the biggest sources of stress a person can go through. Think about the impact words have on your state of being and on the people around you. Making a conscious choice to speak positively sets in motion the wheels of control. While “the divorce from hell” creates one impression. “Moving on”, “Putting the past behind me” “Beginning a new chapter” are positive constructive statements that show light at the end of the tunnel. Negativity attracts more negativity and this can lead to overthinking and depressive thoughts. If you are prone to negative thinking, you can do something about it to stop these thoughts from pulling you down. You can learn to change the way you explain things to yourself so that you feel better rather than worse.
Step Two. Acknowledge your emotions and allow yourself to feel them When you identify what you are feeling, you have far more ability to be objective and put them in perspective. Sadness could be expressed by saying “Yes I am feeling sad at the moment however I know this is a stage I am going through and I will feel happier again soon”. Anger could be re-directed into positive action, “I feel really angry at the moment however I am going to use that energy to rebuild my world as quickly as I can”. Become aware of where you hold any negative emotion in your body and what it is telling you. You can learn to identify the triggers for certain emotional states and change the way you feel before they take control of you. Emotional healing can be speeded up by action and distraction. Make a plan and follow through.
Step Three. Question any illogical ideas Avoid all or nothing thinking about the relationship. There are two sides to ever story and the breakup won’t be all your fault or all the other person’s fault. Nothing is ever just black or white. There are always shades of grey in between. It’s irrational to think of any relationship as a total success or a total failure. There is always a middle ground and some aspects which were really good and other parts that were not so good. Be realistic when looking back and remember the good times whilst letting go of the bad times. Memories can be fickle and an emotional mind can get things out of proportion. It’s best not to focus on memories from the past but learn from any mistakes you find when you look at things objectively.
Step Four. Be mindful of your physiology Walk tall, walk straight, and look the world right in the eye. If you slouch around and look down in the dumps – that’s where you will stay. You might be surprised at how changing your physiology can change your state of mind and make you feel more confident and positive. Move your body purposefully, take a stretch, breathe deeply and sit up straight. If you can imagine looking at a mirror image of yourself you get to see the effect that changing the way your hold yourself has on your mood and the people around you.
Step Five. Avoid looking for revenge There is a saying “The best revenge is living well”. Engaging in blame and punishment will only bring more suffering and prolong the raw feelings of hurt and pain. Revenge can be described as actively seeking the punishment of someone who has done harm to you. Why waste your energy on something that can only cause more pain. All emotion is energy and this energy can be directed and channeled into creating a positive outcome for yourself rather than being sucked into bitter and twisted ideas of retribution.
Step Six. Healing Tears Tears are cleansing and can be a trigger for healing. Crying and giving due care and attention to the tears of the heart are a first step to healing and moving on. A good cry is cleansing and releasing, reducing levels of anxiety and stress. Tears don’t heal a broken heart but it helps to express your pain instead of keeping it bottled up inside. Once the initial tears of sadness have stopped flowing and it’s time to take control, we can call upon our friends and family to help us get back on the road to freedom and happiness. It’s crucial to maintain positive friendships and other relationships in a healthy way without letting self-pity spoil the day.
Step Seven. Engage in outcome focused conversations with family and friends If you really want to get over the split at some point sooner rather than later, it’s a good idea to find other topics of conversation that will cheer you up rather than turning any meetings with friends or family into a moaning session which only makes you feel worse. When discussing any issues, the conversation could be framed to find solutions to any problems you may be experiencing and coming up with an action plan that will bring out your inner resources to make you feel empowered.
Step Eight. Focus on action rather than feelings Whenever you focus on your feelings for too long you are giving them more power. How about utilizing those feelings in a constructive way? Most songs or poetry come from emotional states, and inspiration can be triggered by strong feelings. You could express yourself by writing a poem, a song or a letter. Or you could brainstorm ways of coming up with things to do that will cheer you up. We all have things that make us laugh – watching something funny on the TV, reading a funny book, or going out with fun people. A healthy dose of laughter is good for the soul.
Step Nine. Pamper yourself with love and kindness Imagine you are a friend going through a breakup, what advice you would give? You would probably want to make sure they were looking after themselves, eating well, taking regular exercise and going out and about as quickly as possible. A healthy amount of R& R (rest and relaxation) might be high up on the list. Learning how to relax and love yourself clears the way for learning how to love someone else again. Love might be regarded as a process. Find ways that you can show yourself some love and compassion, you wouldn’t want to shut down that part of yourself, would you? Keep the healthy feelings flowing and be grateful for the good things in your life. Think about the future kindly and project images of yourself feeling happy. You could imagine a scene six months or a year ahead, enjoying a new relationship, having fun, feeling joy and happiness inside yourself. Looking back from that point might give you some idea of how this stage is a stepping stone to the next phase of your life.
Step Ten. Practice Forgiveness Many people think of forgiveness as condoning bad behaviour. A healthier definition is “a letting go of the emotional attachment to someone or something that has caused you harm”. You may need to forgive your ex or you may need to forgive yourself. If you can relinquish any attachment to the memories and emotions that cause you pain and keep you trapped, you can become empowered to enjoy a new freedom full of open doors and opportunities. The art of living in the moment means you are truly experiencing life in all its glory, without looking through the filter of the past. I love this quote from Oscar Wilde: “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much” With forgiveness comes freedom.
At the end of the day, we all want to be happy. It’s worth remembering that happiness doesn’t come from a relationship, material possessions, wealth or a job, happiness comes from within, it is an inner state. The only thing we can ever be certain of in life is that everything changes. People can come into our lives for a short time and bring wonderful happiness, wealth can come and go however wealthy people are often unhappy, there is no such thing as a job for life, people change jobs and careers all the time. If we accept that change is the nature of life and that we learn and grow through challenge, we can look at hard times as the basis for strength and wisdom, the springboard to something better.
If you would like some extra help and support to guide you through these muddy waters hypnotherapy is one way to address the issues. Many of the problems to do with ending a relationship and moving on in life can be resolved with the right mindset and coping skills. Hypnotherapy can help clear any emotional blockages that keep you stuck in negative and limiting ways of thinking. You can also learn the true meaning of relaxation and positive thinking while finding the inner resources within yourself to overcome any obstacles that are standing in your way. There is a bright future just there around the corner; you only have to look for it.
Every Picture Tells A Story
January 2013 Back to top
I was travelling to my clinic this morning and a guy walked into the road in front of me. His cap was at an angle on his head, his arms looked like steel bars as he walked along with a swag, a scowl on his face, and a look that says “I’m tough”, I’m cool”, “Don’t mess with me”. You know that look! It made me wonder about the story he is telling himself, about how he sees the world and how he wants the world to see him. When I turned on my computer I happened upon an article about the most hilarious mug shots of 2012. These criminals let their foreheads tell their story for them. We don’t have to guess hard at what they think of themselves.
Notice the way Mr. Psycho looks directly at us, in a challenging way, and because of that word on his forehead, you can’t help but wonder what is going on in his mind and what he is planning to do next. It looks like he could be thinking "Go on... Make My Day!" (Luckily it’s not something we have to worry about as he is a convicted criminal). And now look at Mr. Reject and notice how he looks downward, in a very sad, dejected kind of way, hiding himself behind a face-full of hair. It looks like he believes the world has not been very kind to him.
These two guys portray very different perceptions of themselves and each face tells a different story. You can’t see their bodies in the picture but you can guess that one of them is going to have his shoulders down, his head hanging, he may walk slowly and without purpose. His rejection is not only written on his forehead, it is written in his body language and his appearance.
That brings me on to the topic of today. How do you tell your story? How do you portray yourself to the world? Your perception of your life tells a story. What you tell yourself and how you behave on a daily basis becomes your story. You may not have any words written on your forehead like these guys in the picture, but your story can be read, just the same. Your story will most likely be there for all to see and over time your perception of yourself becomes your reality. A story told over and over is like a seed – it will continue to grow all on its own and it becomes more powerful and more influential over your future decisions and your experience of life.
I knew a lady (let’s call her Jenny) who had no confidence in herself. Her story was that her father had not shown her any affection when she was young and would shout at her to be quiet all the time. She remembered being a 4-year old and hiding under the table because Daddy was shouting again. She remembered her stomach feeling sick and tied up in knots, she remembered how she cried. When she came out from under the table she sat down quietly, didn’t say a word, she couldn’t eat her dinner because her tummy didn’t feel well.
At age 33, Jenny was still behaving the way she did as a four year old. She now had an eating disorder and she suffered from lack of self-esteem and confidence. She spoke in a very quiet voice and kept apologising for herself. She walked into the room biting her lip and looking red in the face. I wondered what story she was telling herself. The way she behaved was AS IF she believed she had to be quiet, AS IF she dared not speak out of turn, AS IF she thought she would be judged for anything she said. Her actions, her thoughts and her behaviour became the seeds that grew into a very powerful story. She fed this story daily with critical, negative thoughts about herself and she fed her body with comfort food that she couldn’t eat in front of anyone else. Her story became “Nobody wants to hear what I have to say, I am not important”.
Jenny was carrying this story with her for 29 years. She blamed her father for her lack of confidence, her lack of self-esteem and her eating disorder. Her blame turned to pain. That pain became her story.
Can you imagine looking at the people around you with the eyes of a terrified 4-year old? What would be the impact of this story on your life? How would it impact you negatively? What would it stop you doing? How would it make you feel? Some people might say “get over it”, however, for some reason, some people aren’t able to let go of the pain.
Looking over your life, what is the core story you repeat to yourself again and again, explaining why your life is the way it is. Some common core stories are “I keep attracting the wrong kind of partner, I am never going to find someone special” or “I am not a very confident person so I am stuck in one boring job after another” or “I am always going to be overweight, there is nothing I can do about it because all my family are overweight”.
A trauma at age 4 may still be a trauma at age 33 for some people. Trauma is like a roadblock inside our mind, we try to move on, to move forward, but the trauma blocks us, so we keep repeating it, like a skipping record. Jenny’s record was stuck at the moment when she hid under the table. Her perception of the world was shaped by an angry father looking down on a little girl. Do you think it could be different? Do you think she could now look at the situation in a different way – a way that would remove the pain?
Jenny did learn to let go of the pain and to stop blaming her father for her problems. She learned to forgive him and to look at the situation from an adult perspective. She also learned to thank him for the good things he did for her as a child and as an adult. She learned that people change, people make mistakes and people are human. She learned that her father had his own pain – but it was not hers. She also learned that it’s never too late to begin to spread your wings and fly in a way that all humans can free themselves from limiting beliefs and self doubt.
Jenny’s story is written on her face. Her current story tells a completely different tale. When she walks into the room she walks tall, she looks at you straight in the eye - this says she has confidence in herself, she smiles broadly and her smile says she is happy, her voice exudes excitement and passion - this says her life has meaning and purpose.
When you look in the mirror do you like the story that is being told? If your story is not being told the way you like it, what is stopping you from changing it?
Ten Steps to change your story
Identify your story – notice the way you look, the way you talk and the way behave. Is there anything that tells you that you believe something about your life to be true and unchangeable?
Notice the negative ways in which your story affects your life – what impact does your story have on your daily experience?
Identify any thoughts that have a limiting effect on you.
Give a name to the “someone” or “something” you could release and forgive. This may even be yourself or something you have done or not done. (Forgiveness does not mean condone – it means letting go of the emotional hold it has on you).
Consider what would happen if you were able to forgive, how would your life be different as a result of your new-found freedom?
Accept the fact that making mistakes is part of being human – the important thing is to learn from our mistakes.
Remember that today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Start writing your new story today – with confidence, excitement and passion. Picture yourself behaving, thinking and acting in ways that express your true self.
Write down the actions you are going to take that will be the first words of your new story
Commit to believing in yourself.
Strength - The Tree of Knowledge
If only we could know what this tree has seen and heard in it's lifetime. It must be a hundred years old, living in this ancient wood. It records the weather, the seasons and the years of it's life as it stands majestically surveying the fields on one side and the forest on the other side. The roots are entwined beneath the surface, as they take water and nourishment from the fertile soil. There is a vast network of connections from tree to tree as they support and give each other strength and stability. This tree has been able to withstand a hurricane back in the 1980's and many storms and bitter winters since then. Endurance, flexibility, patience, hope and tolerance are just some of the strengths of this tree.
Identify Your Strengths
I often find that one of the most difficult questions for people to answer is “what are your strengths?” A strength is a psychological characteristic that is seen in a person time and time again.
Some people might list things they are good at like cooking or playing tennis, and others might list a character trait like being honest. Positive Psychology teaches us that strengths and talents are not the same. Although both can be developed, talents are often limited whereas strengths can flourish. According to Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Network, “strengths are moral traits and talents are non-moral” and “strengths are more buildable than talents”.
Many people fail to recognise their own strengths, or dismiss them as trivial whereas talents are more easily identifiable. To find where our strengths lie, it’s often easier to ask other people what they see in you that you find hard to see in yourself. How many times does someone receive a compliment on their wonderful organizational skills or the fact that they really kind, only to brush them off, thinking nothing of them?
If you want to identify your own strengths, you could have a look at the list below and see which ones you think apply to you. Then ask several people who know you well to see what they think. You might be surprised that other people see you in a much different light than you see yourself.