Why get a coach? If you want to make progress in life with a clear strategy, the answer may already be obvious to you. It is nearly impossible to simultaneously hold a vision, map out a path, walk that path and measure your own progress by yourself.
Those of you who have ever embarked on a project of any kind will recognise the sense of overwhelm that can sometimes take some of the excitement away from proceeding with your vision. I experienced this myself when I began as a musician – and as I thought about the kinds of problems I faced, I came to understand and accept that it would always be difficult to have both an overarching view of my long term goals, a cogent understanding of my near term strategies, and a confident and simple approach to walking my daily path. Once I thought about it the reason was obvious: each of these activities requires that I adopt a different perspective. And it’s hard to be in more than one place at a time, so often I would be conducting one activity from the perspective of another. No wonder I occasionally felt confused and overwhelmed.
Coaching offers a solution by providing objective recognition, validation and reinforcement. A coach helps you to clarify your goals, test your plans against your resources and your intentions, and measure your progress. A coach asks you to live up to standards you set together. I think of the kind of business coaching and personal growth coaching which I practice as motivating – instructing, focusing, correcting and encouraging my clients to find solutions to their problems; and to achieve a fundamental way of being in the world that flows organically and authentically from who they really are.
Coaching can introduce you to the self you were meant to be. The time you invest in the coaching process will be amply repaid by your greater ability to recognize, nurture and evoke that self. Discovering our passion and purpose is vital to our joy and well-being. In our society, we tend to ignore our special talents and choose our careers according to what will give us a sense of security. Too often, however, what makes us feel safe does not fulfill us spiritually. While it may not always be possible to change your work immediately to something you love, if you follow your passion, it will often lead you there. And even when you have to earn money in ways that do not express your soul, you can seek volunteer opportunities and hobbies to express who you are. Often these can lead to the work that you will eventually do.
Your soul has a deep desire for you to express yourself in ways that brings you joy. It is your job to discover what that is and to bring it about.
It’s now officially estimated that 5% of all deaths worldwide are attributable to alcohol – that’s 1 in every 20 people, enough to sober anyone up. If you feel like you’d like to have greater control over your drinking, good news – it’s currently Go Sober for October, where you can raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support as well as giving your body a significant health boost. But what if you know that you’ll just go straight back to your old ways with a large one once midnight strikes on November 1st?
A number of my clients admit that they drink more than they would like, usually as a response to stressful life conditions. That this is a socially accepted norm makes matters worse in some respects – it can become a habit to the extent that a glass (or more) of wine becomes indelibly associated with winding down after work, and eventually becomes a nightly fixture. However, this can quickly lead to problems which not only affect you physically, but mentally too. For example, did you know the impact that drinking has on your sleep? Many think that alcohol helps them drop off more quickly – but while this may seem to be the case, the actual quality of sleep is poor. Alcohol affects the REM sleep cycle – when we most commonly dream – which in turn affects learning, memory, and mood. This can lead to more serious issues such as depression – compounded by the fact that alcohol is a depressant to begin with.
Like most other addictions, alcohol dependency has the ability to warp reality to the point where those affected no longer have any control. Alcoholism is a problem that can rip apart families, end careers – and as the stats now show, increasingly end lives. There are many medical downfalls associated with alcohol, and some of the social implications are just as serious. Without help, alcoholism is something that can run rampant to the point where someone loses everything that is precious to them. They see their drinking as a solution to their problems – but as it causes more problems, they have to drink more in order to keep themselves from reality. It really is a vicious cycle, leaving people feeling like a solution is impossible. This is an illusion however, which a change of mindset can reveal – and this is where hypnotherapy can help.
I have worked with people who suffer from different addictions, and find that many of these people simply need someone to help them overhaul their thinking. Learning healthier coping mechanisms and resolving unmet needs are further strategies, ensuring that hypnotherapy is a permanent solution where other efforts may have failed. If you feel like you might never be free of the urge to reach for the bottle, whether to celebrate a good day or console yourself after a bad one, consider hypnosis – it could be the decision that changes your life. I offer a free 15 minute telephone consultation (07947 475721) so you really have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
You’re probably aware of the power of hypnotherapy for stopping smoking, or for weight loss. Maybe you’ve heard how hypnosis can even help you explore past lives, but there are some things hypnosis can help you do that might surprise you…
1. Learn a new skill – or enhance an existing one. It all starts in the mind; and athletes and performers alike know the power of mental practice to help with motivation, self-confidence, and reducing competitive anxiety. What the mind can believe the mind can achieve – and visualising yourself undertaking your chosen skill can forge a strong subconscious path to start you on your way.
2. Enjoy foods you avoid. Greens are healthy, and wholegrain bread is better for you than white. But what if you just don’t like the taste? A little hypnosis might change this, though if your resistance persists, check for an allergy. Sometimes your body just knows.
3. End cravings or addictions. The reverse of #2, this helps you turn down brownies, stop drinking so much, or even say goodbye to unhealthy relationships.
4. Enjoy public speaking. Being an effective speaker can boost your career in your company, your industry, and beyond. Once reticent clients are surprised at the changes in themselves – and the benefits they reap. As quitting smoking stops you draining money, becoming a good speaker puts money in the bank.
5. Exercise longer, stronger, and more efficiently. Hypnosis can help turn your lack of enthusiasm for working out into get up and go. Ask yourself: ‘What would exercising give me? What would it make possible in my life?’ A powerful motivational story for your subconscious can make it so desirable that you can’t wait to shop for running shoes.
6. Attract your life partner. You think finding the person of your dreams is about mesmerising him or her? Not at all – start with yourself. Hypnosis for confidence, sex appeal, or immediate rapport gives you a feeling you’ve never had before; and that sense of self is very appealing to others. Try it out.
7. Get more done in less time. It’s not all about organising your files or upgrading your technology. Productivity, effectiveness, and enjoying what you do all start in the mind. And specifically, in your subconscious mind.
8. Locate lost objects. If you were the one who put something away, or you witnessed it being put away, hypnosis might help – even if the incident was years ago. Try it and see what happens.
Hypnosis, in a clinical setting (as opposed to stage hypnosis for entertainment) is usually used to create or break habits. These are habits of thought or action. Grabbing the next crisp, and the next, and the next – without even noticing you’re doing it – is a habit of action. But that action may have been due to a habit of thought. Perhaps you were focusing on a painful, sad, or angry thought or an unfulfilled desire and wanted to distract yourself. And you found that a tasty food could do that for you temporarily.
A conscious motive? Maybe. But it’s often unconscious. You may not realize why you’re reaching for the crisps. You’d probably say ‘I like the taste’ or ‘I’m just hungry and I can’t take a break now.’
Hypnosis is ideal for working for working with the subconscious mind. The process of being hypnotised is a very pleasant, relaxing, and empowering one. Clients often say they feel healthier, more alive, and committed to their lives after a session. They can’t believe they could alter their minds to be so rested and optimistic after merely sitting on a chair for an hour, listening to someone say some words to them.
If you have an issue you think can be addressed by hypnosis, I offer a free 15 minute phone consultation. Give me a call on 07947 475721 to sample this ancient art and science, and see what it can do for you.
The Premiership football season started this weekend (I am an Arsenal supporter, for my sins) – and whether you follow it or not, chances are you’ll be hearing about its ups and downs over the next 9 months. Humans have always been fascinated with sports, and over the years we have had sportsmen and women who have become legends in their own right. Consistent in their performance, with unmoving dedication and perseverance, these sports stars have become icons for future generations. What is it that makes these players so unbeatable? How is it that they can turn in one winning performance after the other in their preferred sport? And is it possible for you to get the winning streak, much like your revered player? The truth is that it is entirely possible for normal human beings to develop sporting genius through an ingenious process known as hypnotherapy for sports performance.
Sport is a very competitive field, and in today’s world it means big business. It is important for a player’s success that he or she is in top form all through their careers, but it is not always possible to maintain a steady performance: health problems, lack of confidence, or deviating concentration can lead to a player’s downfall. Even sporting greats like Maradona have faced problems due to dealing with the pressure of being a star sportsman. There is a lot of money being pumped into the business of sports, and most of the competing teams and players go through rigorous training and counselling before a big series. Little is known about the fact that hypnotherapy for sports performance is one of the much favoured coaching techniques which contribute to a player’s winning performance. Though hypnotherapy comes in handy while improving a player’s concentration and focus, it is not much talked about due to the misleading taboo attached to hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy for sports performance is all about increasing a player’s ability to concentrate and focus on the techniques of their game. Through various methods such autosuggestion, visualisation, and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP); hypnotherapy works on a subconscious level to help a player be calm in the face of tension, and give 100% concentration to their game without being distracted. The ultimate goal for any player is to win the game, and hypnotherapy for sports performance gives them the required edge. Hypnotherapy relieves stress through helping players to relax. When a person is calm their mind is clear, and they are able to focus more effectively. This allows the player to concentrate on the ultimate goal of winning. Hypnotherapy also uses the technique of visualisation to help players improve their strategy; it allows them to break their winning stroke down to the smallest part and helps them replay it in their minds over and over again. For example, a cricket player can go over his sweep shot repeatedly to memorise every move in his body while he makes it. This will enable him to perform the same shot to perfection in the future games. Hypnotherapy for sports management also helps players to anticipate beforehand the moves made by the opponent’s team, so that they can devise new strategies to handle these situations.
Hypnotherapy for sports management is useful in a variety of games – from golf to cricket, from baseball to tennis; it has the ability to hone your sporting technique effectively. I have dealt with a number of players in my career, and the effects of hypnotherapy on them are striking. Gone are the mental blocks that once held them back, now that they are more confident of themselves and their game. And nothing could provide a person with the X factor required for winning a game, than a belief in oneself that they can do it!
If you want to take your game to the next level, I offer a free 15 minute phone consultation (07947 475721). I am based in London UK, but can work with you wherever in the world you may be. Let me help you be the best!
The school holidays can be a testing time for families – parents trying to find new ways to keep children and teens occupied; while young people themselves may be missing school friends, or trying to assert their own independence, or simply bored no matter what activities are suggested. But what if problems are a symptom of something more concerning?
Many people wonder if children and teens can really suffer depression. In the case of teens, adults may attribute symptoms of depression to normal teen emotional swings. But experts and paediatricians point out that children and teens really can get depressed, and may be afflicted with the true illness of depression.
What Causes Young People to Succumb to Depression?
As in adults, depression may have multiple causes or one cause that varies among individuals. There are some factors that are unique to certain stages of life, however.
Children, like adults, may become depressed because of genetics. They may have inherited a tendency toward depression, and perhaps there was a trigger that caused it to surface. Children may become depressed due to divorce, as they are uniquely affected by their immediate family’s dynamic.
Bullying at school is also something children may have to face that is not a factor for adults – not to mention cyber bullying, which can have devastating consequences. Low self-esteem can also develop through comparing themselves to peers on social media.
A child with a tendency toward perfectionism may be more prone to depression as well. Children with this tendency may ‘beat themselves up’ unnecessarily over failures or perceived failures.
This age group is considered particularly prone to depression. This may be due in part to the hormonal upheavals that occur during the teen years. But be careful – it’s easy for adults to take this information and think ‘it’s just hormones’ and therefore think the depression does not need to be addressed. Experts agree that depression, regardless of its cause, is something that should be addressed and treated.
Teens may also be dealing with the bullying/self-esteem issues mentioned above, or even just ‘harmless’ teasing. They may be experiencing their first crush; or rejection from the opposite sex, or indeed same sex – realising one’s sexuality and then facing the prospect of coming out is an additional and potentially enormous minefield for those affected. Other causes may be purely physiological; maybe nothing is particularly wrong in the teen’s life, but his or her brain just seems to run in a depressed mode.
What Are the Signs?
Here are some warning signs of depression in young people.
Parents should be vigilant for any talk about suicide or morbid fascination with death. Other sources point out that television and films should be carefully monitored, both for potentially depressing subject matter and for the psychological effects of TV viewing in general (studies show that children who watch six or more hours of TV a day are more prone to depression).
– Sleep disturbances or changes in sleep habits
– Sudden increase or decrease in appetite
– Angry outbursts and/or irritability
– Lack of interest in social activities or friends
– ‘Touchy’ about perceived rejection
Some of the signs of depression in teens are like those in children; some are different. As with children, parents of teens should be keenly aware of any indications of suicidal thoughts. Music, films, and television are also sources of potentially depressing images and subject matter – although it’s important to emphasise that an attraction to these may be a symptom rather than a cause. Also, many teens attracted to ‘alternative’ subcultures can find solace and support there; and non-mainstream interests can be a positive indication of free thinking and independence.
Other signs may include:
– Weight loss or gain
– Over-exercise and/or obsessive dieting
– Binge eating
– Angry outbursts/yelling at parents
– Withdrawal from social activities and family
If your child is showing some of these signs over a period of time, you may wish to consider seeing whether they would be open to seeing a therapist who could help them. Hypnotherapy can be an extremely effective way of working with young people on a number of levels – a significant one being that they don’t have to talk about their issues if they don’t want to, or don’t feel able to. Like adults, they appreciate the deep calming relaxation involved in hypnotherapy, which can help them gain perspective on and control over their issues, and work towards clarity and understanding.
I am a qualified hypnotherapist, experienced with working with depression (see my ‘success stories’) who has successfully completed the Uncommon Knowledge course ‘How To Lift Depression Fast’. I am also experienced with working with young people, and offer a free 15 minute phone consultation (07947 475721). I am based in London, UK but can work remotely wherever in the world you may be; so please do get in touch if you or your child are affected by depression – I can help.
If you had a tool to help enhance memory and concentration, would you be interested in learning more? The good news is that you do have tool that can do just that and much more – hypnosis. People around the world complain of having poor memory and concentration for one reason or another. Forgetting dates, important facts, anniversaries, and so on is frustrating and sometimes, embarrassing. You can turn this around by working with a qualified hypnotherapist.
Memory is the ability to recall information. In life, a number of things can affect the way in which a person remembers to include lack of sleep, stress, poor diet, and even the natural aging process. On the other hand, concentration is the ability to recall information successfully. An interesting fact about concentration is that when there is any type of heightened emotional state, you will have greater concentration. For instance, most people can tell you exactly where they were on the day the Twin Towers were hit on 09/11 or when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Although you might have the ability to recall those major events, if you were asked what you ate yesterday or wore, you would have to pause and think. To develop a solid memory, certain factors must be in place. This would include attention or intending to remember. Then, there is interest, which means you develop a genuine interest in the subject, which in turn creates the heightened emotional state that increases concentration and memory.
Next, imagery is a way in which the subconscious mind works more effectively with images and feelings than it does with numbers and words. Repetition is yet another factor. By experiencing repeated exposure, the information will eventually become a permanent part of your mind. Next is relaxation, which is essential for you to recall information. The bottom line is that the subconscious mind needs to be relaxed to function optimally. Finally, you need to believe you have a solid memory. Rather than tell yourself how forgetful or distracted you are you need to be filling the mind with positive statements.
Now, when it comes to hypnosis, this tool can take all of the above factors and enhance them so the result of enhancing memory and concentration is much more effective. With hypnosis, you will learn how to focus, develop, and use your permanent memory, and sharpen your mind. What happens is that hypnosis reaches deep into the subconscious mind, accessing powers, which is the source of your memory. By learning how to use the subconscious mind, you will begin to notice that you remember more often and more details, while having the ability to focus and concentrate much better.
During the hypnotic state, you will reach a wonderful level of relaxation although you will still be completely aware of your situation. Most people have the misnomer that being hypnotised means losing control, which could not be further from the truth. Instead, you will find yourself in an enjoyable place similar to staying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning. Typically, being hypnotised means feeling as if being half-awake and half-asleep. However, the mind is still sharp and aware but the subconscious mind receives suggestions, which are what help the mind become stronger in the areas of memory and concentration.
In addition to the benefits of enhanced memory and concentration, hypnosis will reduce your stress level, improve your sense of self-esteem and confidence, and overall, increase your desire for a healthy lifestyle. Hypnosis provides you with the proper tools for reinforcing concentration and information recall – so feel free to get in touch, as I offer a free 15 minute no obligation phone consultation (07947 475721). Just think how much easier life will be once you stop losing things, forgetting names, missing deadlines, and struggling with your memory. With the use of hypnosis, you can make a complete change in your life for the better.
Wanting to head off somewhere nice for summer, but a fear of flying is stopping you? This phobia keeps people from getting onto airplanes and heading where they need to be. It is something that can afflict a person for many years and usually there is no rhyme or reason to why it impacts a certain person. It is simply a mental block that keeps people from rationally thinking about flying in an airplane. This can be a particularly devastating problem for people who are in business, as flying across the world has become a very important part of the business landscape. Maybe you need to head across the ocean to close a business deal. Maybe you must travel a long distance to see a sick family member. Whatever the case may be, it is always nice to have the option of flying.
Fear of flying is common – in fact, many people suffer from anxiety when it comes to flying in an airplane. The problem occurs when that bit of anxiety turns into a lot of anxiety and you can no longer function while flying in an airplane. At that point, fear can occur when a person goes to get on a plane or it might even cause them to stay home. This is something that can be fixed, but it takes some mental conditioning. It takes a change in thinking in order to achieve the goal of chasing away the fear of flying.
As with most mental problems, it is easy to get rid of the problem if you can change your thinking. A complete change in mindset about flying and airplanes is something that can be achieved through hypnosis. As a practicing hypnotherapist, I have seen my share of people overcome different mentally based problems. Things like smoking, alcoholism, and gambling addiction can be cured with hypnosis and so can a fear of flying.
Many people think that hypnosis is simply something you see out on a stage in Las Vegas. This is short-changing the process considerably. Though it might seem like magic, hypnotherapy is actually a mental treatment that enables people to calm down and let good thoughts replace those ill thoughts. You would be surprised with the number of things that hypnosis can cure. If you are struggling with fear of flying and you see no other solution to cure this fear, then consider hypnosis. Get all of the information that you can find and make a decision about whether hypnosis is right for you. And if you prefer to chat before committing to a session either in person or online, I offer a free 15 minute consultation. Where will you go next?
Being overweight in the summer heat is no fun. In fact, for people carrying excess weight, summer can be an unpleasant trial involving countless opportunities for embarrassment and discomfort. So let’s take a look at how you can reduce some of your fat and make summer a happier experience. But first, a warning.
Summer Weight Loss Trap
One guaranteed way to fail is to look for a “short cut” weight loss method or diet, such as the type of program that promises ‘a fast effortless way to reduce weight’. In my experience, none of these diets or pills actually work, and the medical evidence is quite clear: the maximum rate of sustainable fat loss is between 1 and 2 pounds per week, perhaps a little more if you are obese. Besides, if a brilliant scientist did manage to concoct a formula for rapid effortless weight reduction, overnight he would be more famous than Einstein. He certainly wouldn’t be peddling his program in 30 second TV infommercials or mail-order advertisements. So for the sake of your sanity as well as your financial health, don’t waste time on weight loss methods that make extravagant claims. If you don’t believe this, think of any of your overweight friends who favor the short-term “lose 20 pounds in two weeks” type of approach, and ask yourself why they are still overweight.
Three Month Summer Diet Plan
You can’t lose much weight in a week or two. You need about three months to make a significant impact on your body shape. Remember, the human body is interested in survival, not cosmetic appearances, and since rapid weight loss is a prima facie symptom of disease not good health, the only guaranteed way to improve your body shape is to adopt a gradual approach of healthy eating and increased exercise. In three months, you can lose about 26 pounds – more than enough for most overweight people to experience noticeable health improvements as well as a much leaner body. And by reducing your weight gradually in this manner, you have far less chance of weight regain, so if necessary you can continue losing more with less danger of incurring a weight loss plateau or other obstacle.
You Need A Motive
No one likes to change their habits. So if you want to change your eating and exercise habits, you need a strong motive – something to keep you dieting and exercising when boredom sets in. Whatever motive you choose, it must be something more powerful than the urge to eat tasty high calorie foods in front of the TV!
A Good Motive For Summer Weight Loss
Anything that commits you in advance to achieving your weight loss goal, makes a great motive. So be bold. Book an expensive beach holiday, or buy some gorgeous clothes to fit the body you want to have at the end of your diet program. Both these actions require you to succeed, and therefore provide constant motivation along the way.
Be Positive About Short Term Sacrifices
Whether you’re trying to lose weight for the summer, save money or pass exams, an important piece of the motivational jigsaw is your ability to be positive about making short term sacrifices. The choice is fairly simple: you can focus on the “deprivation” involved in giving up certain foods, or you can focus on the benefits you will get by not eating these foods. Sadly, many dieters focus on feeling deprived. After a while they see their diet as a burden, a bore, an evil necessity. This is why so many of them quit. They can’t “see” the benefits that weight loss will bring them. If you want to improve your body shape for the summer, you must avoid this trap and appreciate the longer term benefits you will receive by making short-term adjustments to your lifestyle.
The Good News About Improving Your Diet
Many of our tastes, food cravings, and general attitudes to food are strongly influenced by what we eat and drink. I know countless mothers with families who have reported astonishing changes in their personal and family eating habits after less than three weeks of improved eating. Point is, the average modern diet is loaded with sugar, fat and sodium, all of which condition us to want more of these items. But if you can break out of this dependence on junk ingredients for even 2-3 weeks, you’ll notice a huge difference in your tastes. Which brings me to healthy eating.
Think Healthy Eating Not Weight Loss
In my experience, one of the most effective weight loss strategies is to focus on healthy eating. I’m not saying you shouldn’t stand on your weighing scales, just don’t measure progress exclusively by what the scales say. Be aware that it’s just as important to enjoy your food and feel good about your change of eating habits. And any diet you hate is guaranteed to fail, no matter how much weight you lose, because as soon as you achieve your goal, you will revert to your old eating habits and regain every pound lost.
The Top 10 Healthy Eating Habits
In a nutshell, a healthy diet involves (1) More home-cooked food, less eating out. (2) More fresh fruit as snacks. (3) More fresh vegetables as snacks and with meals. (4) More beans as sides or in stews. (5) More dense chewy bread, less refined white breads and bread snacks. (6) Less red meat. A vegetarian or vegan diet has none of the growth hormones or antibiotics injected into factory farmed animals. (7) Smaller servings of meat if you eat it, larger servings of vegetables. (8) Eating low fat dairy foods, if you eat them. There are many tasty non-dairy alternatives. (9) Adding less fat in the form of butter, mayo, sour cream, to the food on your plate. This is a huge source of excessive calories. (10) Stocking up with healthy snack foods to keep hunger at bay. If you fill up with healthy nutritious calories, you won’t want the junk foods that hunger makes you eat. As far as weight management goes, hunger remains Public Enemy Number One.
Exercise Provides Wonderful Indirect Benefits
Exercise does burn extra calories and therefore does help to widen your calorie deficit. But it’s direct effect on weight loss is typically quite small. In fact, it’s not uncommon to gain weight when you start exercising. The real weight reduction benefits of exercise are indirect ones. It raises our metabolic rate, helping us to burn calories at a slightly faster rate, and improves our mood, which typically reduces our need for comfort-eating. However, don’t overdo your exercise workouts. I’ve lost count of the number of dieters who started exercising too vigorously and burnt out within 3 weeks. Ideally, start with 45 minutes/day of any physical activity you can easily manage, and very gradually increase the duration and intensity. Listen to your body at all times, and be sure to loosen up beforehand and wind down afterwards.
See Yourself As You Want To Be
If your goal is a waistline you can proudly display in the sun, then don’t wait until it happens to “see” it. Visualize it from the moment you start dieting. Visualize yourself walking along a beach, or lying next to the pool with a perfectly flat stomach. Whatever your ambition for your weight or body, get used to visualizing it in the greatest possible detail. Because “seeing it” is the first step to making it come true. As they say, one picture is worth a thousand words.
Very Overweight? Just Visualize The Benefits!
If you have a lot of weight to lose (100 pounds+), you may not think that losing 26 pounds in three months is particularly worthwhile. If so, ask yourself this question. What’s the alternative? No matter what method you choose, you won’t lose weight any faster, so it’s only a question of when you start and how long it’s going to take. I can answer the last question right now. Losing 100 pounds takes about a year – typically a little longer to allow for disasters along the way. Fifteen months would be a more realistic time span to reduce weight by this amount. This is nothing. Just visualize yourself walking down the street 100 pounds lighter, and tell me that eating healthily for 15 months is too high a price to pay for such a wonderful prospect.
Your First Priority – Get Support
If you really want to lose weight for the summer, your first priority is to find support. I have had fantastic success with using hypnosis with my weight loss clients – see my ‘success stories’ for one recent testimonial. You can also join a diet group at work, a fitness class, go to weight loss meetings, or join an online forum. Losing weight on your own is perfectly possible, providing things go well and your scales keep saying nice things. But when difficulties arise, as they surely will, having the support of real people can make all the difference between success and failure.
Why do you think we have emotions? Wouldn’t life be simpler without them? Of course not. As with everything else in human makeup, emotions exist to keep us safe and alive and able to thrive.
Emotions motivate movement
Embedded in the word “emotion” is another word: “motion”. Emotions are there to make us move. Either towards something or away from it.
We all have deep basic needs – for warmth, security, love and connection and, of course, food and shelter. We have needs for status, significance, attention and to feel safe in our lives. We need stimulation, to exercise our creativity to learn and produce in the world. Some emotions drive us toward experiences that would help meet these needs and ensure our survival. And other emotions serve to drive us away from experiences or situations which, we feel, would prevent us meeting our essential needs.
But what happens when we get directed the wrong way by our feelings?
You are pulled towards social contact by your needs, and away from it by social anxiety
The “motion” in “emotion” has us moving either towards what we feel we need or away from what we feel we don’t want. Think lust, love, anger, greed, hunger – all feelings that motivate us towards an experience. And think about feelings that drive us away from something – fear, terror, disgust.
Hopefully, our emotions get it right and drive us toward what is good for us and away from what is bad for us. But sometimes they don’t.
The social phobic both wants and doesn’t want social contact. They are pulled and pushed in different directions by their feelings. If social contact was bad for us, it would be great to be terrified of social events because it would be life saving. But a socially anxious person instinctively knows they need social contact at the same time as fearing it; they are pulled and pushed at the same time by their emotions… tricky! And it gets worse.
We avoid what we fear – but also fear what we avoid
One problem is that the more you avoid something, the more the fear around it increases. It’s as if your “emotional brain” draws conclusions from your behaviour: “She’s avoiding this situation all the time, so it must be genuinely dangerous. So I’ll ramp up her fear of this situation even more to make sure she won’t go near it.”
On the other hand, people can switch off their fear around stuff they should fear simply because they have made themselves go towards it. I’m thinking of the old-time circus lion-tamer calmly putting his head in a lion’s mouth, and of those perennial favourites, the human cannonballs, getting themselves fired from a cannon. Not hobbies I’d recommend. The point is that even dangerous acts like these can start to feel “normal” to your emotional brain if you voluntarily and repeatedly do them (the “emotional brain” concludes “This must be safe, else why are we doing it?”).
So yes, we avoid what we fear, but we can also come to fear something just because we avoid it so much.
A number of approaches have been tried over the centuries to overcome the difficulties this presents. None are as successful as hypnotic therapy. Consider, for instance, what happens with “exposure therapy” and “cognitive therapy” in the context of dealing with fears like shyness and social anxiety.
Exposure therapy: A step too far?
The understanding that emotions are physical drivers away from or towards something is extensively used in exposure therapy. (1) This approach typically has you gradually having more and more contact with what scares you. So the spider phobic might on week one see a drawing of a spider, on week two see a photo of a spider, on week three see a toy spider, on week four touch the toy spider, week five has them seeing a movie of a spider and week six an actual live spider. This can be very effective if the person can be induced to remain calm through the gradual exposure (sometimes known as “systematic desensitisation”). (It would be easier and faster to use hypnosis and the rewind technique.)
The idea is that spiders need to start to feel a “normal” part of experience, and this is done through forcing oneself to go towards rather than away from; classic behavioural therapy, and probably what the lion-tamer did to get the nerve he needed…
Another kind of exposure therapy takes a less gradual approach and is known as “flooding”. Yikes! This might see the spider phobic being put straight in a room full of spiders, with the idea that fully experiencing your worst fear – and surviving it – will put an end to that fear.
So does it work?
Therapy for the therapy
Yes, it can work – provided the person undergoing the therapy is taught to relax deeply. But (you knew there was a “but”) I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had to treat to help them recover from the effects of this kind of therapy when it’s gone wrong. These are the ones who didn’t get better, the ones who couldn’t get past the photo of the spider on week two, the ones who were deeply traumatised by being thrown in at the deep end of having to speak in front of a hundred people when they were still chronically shy.
There has to be, and fortunately is, another way.
The beauty of hypnosis when treating fears
Hypnosis, used sensibly, is the perfect way to expose someone in a safe and relaxed way to a situation they had been avoiding. As far as your emotional brain is concerned, if you have relaxed deeply and felt spontaneous at a party a few times while in hypnosis, this is a sufficiently strong indication that this situation is not dangerous, and that this kind of social event can now be “retagged” as something you can potentially go safely towards– before you’ve even been to an actual party. Someone who hasn’t left the house for years can “leave their house” in hypnosis and “experience it” before they go out the door in real life. The exposure therapy is fully within their own control, in sync with a relaxed mind and body.
When they then “do it for real”, it will already feel more familiar and therefore not as threatening. The previously dreaded social event may even, dare I say it, turn out to be relaxing and fun.
It’s important to understand here that we are talking about more than just what a person believes.
Feelings and thoughts can be at odds
You can fully believe something is good for you and still fearfully flee from it. You can fully believe something (or someone) is bad for you but still be emotionally driven towards it (or them). Cognitive approaches to dealing with fears often come unstuck over this, as fears aren’t driven so much by “faulty thinking” as by more primitive emotional conditioning geared towards survival. It is much easier to access, and modify, these primitive drivers through the use of hypnosis than through reasoning.
When we help someone with social phobia it’s generally obvious the phobia has gone the moment they open their eyes, because calm, disassociated hypnotic exposure to the previously feared trigger while feeling completely relaxed has transformed their response. They know it wasn’t “real” – but nonetheless a new positive blueprint for responding with calm and being in flow when in social situations has become established in their subconscious. Being socially relaxed is the new “normal”.
The new 10 steps to overcome social anxiety course has a hypnotic download for each step of the way. This is partly because social skills can be developed and honed during hypnotic rehearsal but also because we want people to experience hypnotic “safe” social experiences before they go into these situations for real. In this way the horrible away from feelings of fear can gently be replaced with the happier toward feelings of pleasure and positive expectation when it comes to socializing and meeting new people.
This post is prompted by some sad news – the death of a musician I was a big fan of over the years. (Indeed I foisted a CD of my own music onto him upon a brief encounter in Stoke Newington many moons ago.) Most shockingly he was around my age. I touched upon how musicians can be affected by the stress of their profession in my last post so won’t repeat any of that here – especially given that it may not be relevant in his case – but as the issue of self-care has been cropping up repeatedly in recent months, I wanted to say a few words on it.
In fact, I did a talk at a lovely local networking group a couple of weeks ago, and the conversation turned to exactly this. The group of women there had all set up small businesses – in many cases, remarkably juggling such commitments around bringing up small children – and some commented that the brief guided visualisation I conducted as part of the session was the first time they had relaxed in months! Not unusually, some of them felt guilty when they took time out for themselves, and I suggested that if they didn’t do this, how could they best serve their clients?
Unfortunately we live in a culture where hard work is fetishised, with predictable consequences – burn-out is endemic, people spend less time with their loved ones, and everyone suffers. You are not being selfish if you take time out each day to properly nurture yourself – and by that I mean things like taking time to cook a nutritious meal instead of grabbing a take-away, spending quality time with people (preferably with phones off!), talking a walk in nature, meditation (there are plenty of guided visualisations on Youtube if you’re not sure where to start)…these are just some examples, but basically anything that encourages you to slow down, breathe, and properly interact with the world around you. Do you ever notice how much calmer you feel around someone who is calm themselves? Well, you can be that person!
And if you need a little support and encouragement along the way, there are many therapists – including myself of course – who are ready to help you. Many therapy centres have open days if you’re not sure where to begin, possibly enabling you to try a few different things before deciding what works best for you. Many therapists (again including myself) offer free consultations, so you can ask questions and decide whether they are the right person for you. Some people are put off by the potential cost, but when an hour with someone who can help you costs about the same as a night down the pub, it may be better to consider this an investment rather than an expense. A good therapist can not only help you work through issues which may be holding you back, but will teach you skills and strategies you can take away and use to better the rest of your life – and who can put a price on that?
I’ll end by sharing my favourite form of self-care – sitting in my lovely garden with headphones on, listening to music I love. And so it seems appropriate to close this post with a track by the wonderful musician who prompted me to post it. RIP Ben.