Category: using your thoughts

Where are you going ?

Where are you going or are you feeling stuck ?

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Do you want change in your life but are disappointed that whatever you try doesn’t work?

Is your experience that however hard you try things just seem to stay the same ?

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Could the solution be as simple as changing your focus ?

So many people come for hypnotherapy and describe very clearly and in great detail what they don’t want in their life but when I ask them what they do want they often find it very difficult to switch their focus and have clarity about their goals and direction.

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Focusing on what you don’t want is counterproductive. You end up holding on to what you really would rather leave in your past. It is like aimlessly walking around while continually looking over your shoulder, so its not surprising that you don’t get very far!

If you don’t have a destination in mind how can you be surprised that you journey is unfocused, unlikely to succeed just by accident and hence much more likely to fail.

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You don’t get to be slim by continually focusing on not wanting to be fat.
You don’t get to be happy by continually focusing on trying not to think negative thoughts.
You don’t get to be calm and peaceful by continually focusing on not wanting to be fearful.
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The unconscious mind doesn’t hear the ‘ not wanting ‘ bit and just hears
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be fat
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be fearful !!!

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If you want to go to London, you won’t just get there by deciding you don’t want to be in Bristol and bumbling off, or if you do be prepared to perhaps only get as far as Bath. Of course Bath is a lovely place but a bit disappointing if what you really would like is a trip on the London Eye!
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Focusing on your end point is a really strong inspiration and drive for change.

Usain Bolt always has his eye on the finish ( not on the blocks he has just left ) to make sure he runs a successful steady race. Many sportsman visualise success as an integral part of their training process – why not model your behaviour and success on theirs.

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Perhaps you could start to explore what success means for you. Not what you think other people would describe but what really inspires you. Visualising that success is a vitally important tool for change and one that is regularly used in hypnotherapy.

However what if you try but find it impossible to actually visualise yourself having the success that you want.

Then it would be useful to explore the resistance you are holding in your unconscious mind. Uncovering such feelings such as ‘I am not worthy’,’I am not good enough’,’I don’t deserve this’,’I am a failure’ and finding a way for the unconscious mind to let go of these and replace them with supportive beliefs is vital for any lasting change. Hypnotherapy could definitely help with this.

As with all essential truths this is nothing new but in fact age old knowledge. Socrates was saying exactly this in ancient times

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So why not change the way you go about things.

Look at what you want to change but very much as a means of helping you pin point what success looks and feels like for you. Then best foot forward and set out on your new journey this time with your clear destination in mind.

Good Luck and Bon Voyage !!

Are you losing your marbles ?!

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How are you getting on ?

Did you decide to replace that detrimental old habit with something more beneficial instead. How is it all going – how many marbles have you moved either metaphorically or in real life. Have you found how using the jars can be a great tool for motivation ?

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Is the motorway of the old behaviour shrinking down – perhaps down to a B road or even a little country lane and the connections in your mind for the new behaviour or habit steadily increasing maybe even up to an A road !

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Don’t worry if at first the new behaviour feels a bit forced or even clunky and robotic – this is all part of the process. What you are aiming to do in this transition period is move from

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….. Conscious competence -> Unconscious competence …

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Just like when you learnt to drive and you had to think about every part of the process and now you don’t think about it, it is just automatic. The same with this new habit, once the motorway of connections has been laid down between the neurons in your brain you will not have to think about it at all.
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If this hasn’t been as easy as you thought and there are very few marbles that have made it from one jar to another there are a few things to consider. Are you doing the typical New Year’s resolution scenario making grand unrealistic plans trying to change too much too soon.

Have you remembered that concept of turtle steps.

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Perhaps you need to break the new habit down into smaller more manageable steps and persist at these before you take on the rest.

Remember any step can feel ridiculously easy as long as you make it small enough. Why not start looking at your goal and chunking it down into the steps you would have to take to get there. Be aware that your inner perfectionist could be making these decisions so bypass this immediately by cutting each step in half. Then keep cutting them in half till they are so easy you almost feel you could do them in your sleep ! Just start with the first easy step, then the next and you now have the pathway to successfully reaching your goal.
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persistence

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Remember persistence beats perfectionism any day !

Keep doing the behaviour, moving those marbles and let the science of your brain do the rest.

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You will then have the new helpful automatic habit that you have been looking for – Success !

Overwhelmed by procrastination?

How are you getting on?

Do you still feel you are procrastinating but in this instance it isn’t perfectionism that is stopping you , perhaps it could be overwhelm instead. When something seems too big we can often feel paralysed, it’s almost impossible to even make a start.

It might be that you are facing a task that everyone would agree is pretty enormous but it also might be something much smaller and it may be hard to understand why you just can’t get going. The relative size of the task in our minds is much more likely to depend on the emotional outlay rather than the actual work required.

So what can you do ?

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My friend Christine told me this saying many moons ago. It is a sort of mantra for her and it has stood her in good stead, helping her when taking up a busy and demanding full time career once her children were settled in school and giving her a structure for study, both in learning Mandarin and now as she is about to embark on her PhD.

In hypnotherapy we call this chunking, seeing where we want to be and then working backwards deciding on what small bites are necessary to get there. In my hypnotherapy sessions I know it is so important to get clients motivated to keep on taking those small bites especially at times when they feel they are not making any headway. Having a strong image of success but more importantly how that would actually feel is key to keeping them going through the whole process.

What do you want to do that you know you are putting off at the moment ?
It could be something big that might take months to execute and of course that’s great if you feel ready to tackle that now. Remember, however, the way to train for a marathon is to start with smaller runs so starting with something smaller could be equally as good. Once you have these skills you can apply them to any task however big!

I am going to take my own challenge.

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My desk, I hate these drawers but have been overwhelmed by sorting them out for a very long time and just keep them closed not thinking about what’s inside. What to keep, what to throw out, ‘sorting it out will mess up my room and I haven’t got enough time in between clients’ is one of the excuses I tell myself.

I close my eyes and really imagine this being sorted, when I can find exactly what I want, when I want. Using all the senses to make it as real as possible is the most powerful way to get an image to stick in the unconscious mind. I imagine opening a drawer, feeling the round wooden knob in my hand, the sound of the drawer opening, the sight of everything neat and tidy and in its place and then really get a sense of the satisfaction I will feel.

Then I plan my bites, just tackle one drawer at a time and just START.

So do you want to join me in this challenge?

What are you procrastinating about doing at the moment?

Being accountable can be a powerful motivator. Through this blog I am now accountable to you but perhaps you could tell your family or friends or let me know what you are doing and be accountable to me. You can do it, believe in yourself. Really imagine how good it will feel to have done this, work out your first bite and START.

It might be a cliche but it is also true ………

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step – Lao Tzu

Doing is key !

Do you remember how it was when you first started driving a car ?

You probably had to think about it so much and plan every move but now it is completely automatic, requires very little effort and is totally ingrained in your unconscious mind.

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That’s probably how it will be with starting to use an anchor. You are now taking the oars of your boat and it might take a little time to get into the rhythm of rowing. Don’t get discouraged if it feels a bit clunky or forced to begin with , it will soon embed in your unconscious mind and just become another part of your routine and life.

The thing is, for an anchor to really have an effect you must keep remembering and doing! It will only work if you use it and will only have a lasting effect if you keep on using it!

It’s just like eating. You have to keep on eating 2 or 3 times a day to nurture your body. We don’t say ‘ Oh well I ate last Tuesday and maybe I’ll be able to fit in another meal next week’ We don’t have to have an internal debate about it, we just know that we need regular nourishment for our bodies and arrange our lives that way. Somehow we don’t think the same way about our minds, perhaps its time to start now, why not start rowing your boat today!

I am a very visual person so it’s not surprising that my anchors tend to be pictures. You might be like Annie and find it is a smell or taste that affects you , or perhaps music is your anchor. One of the wonderful things about looking for your anchors is that you give yourself some focused attention and perhaps get to know the real you again. Would you like to hear about a couple of anchors I use on a daily basis. The first is these jelly fish at the Monterey Aquarium in California that are there every time I open my laptop.

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You don’t need to analyse and name all the positive feelings your anchor triggers in you. It is just enough to know that it makes you feel good but if I were pushed to analyse this perhaps it would be a mixture of peace and relaxation, being mesmerised by the beauty and movement of these wonderful creatures mixed with memories of an amazing holiday, exciting new experiences , the warmth of the sunshine and being with those I love. Every time I open my laptop and take a moment to stop and really look at this image I can be flooded with these wonderful feelings.

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The other is this Gustav Klimt picture which I have always loved. It hangs above my desk and every day as I sit down there I take another moment to really take in this picture. Again I never analyse the feelings it triggers but just appreciate the warm glow of peace, security, love, the powerful bond of mothering, the beauty of colours and all the other wonderful feelings it engenders.

Over the years I have come to realise that feeding myself with these good feelings daily is just as important as feeding myself with good food. Now that it is part of my everyday life I don’t need to think about it and can relax into what I am doing just as by eating a balanced diet with lots of fresh food means I don’t worry about getting each individual vitamin or nutrient. It just all becomes a natural part of a balanced life.

Health and wellbeing is not just something physical, not just the absence of disease. It is about finding balance in mind, body and spirit.

Shouldn’t that be something that comes naturally ? Well yes that would be great but there are so many competing stresses in our lives today that we might need to start off by putting in a little bit of effort to redress the balance. As you decide to take over the oars and row your own boat you might need to make some conscious changes but rest assured, just like the driving, this will soon become easy and automatic. Doing is key – why not start doing today, don’t you deserve to enjoy the positive feelings of balance in your life.

Life solutions in a cappuccino ?

Does this just look like a cup of coffee to you ?

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To my friend Annie it is the anchor that triggers wonderful feelings of being young, invincible, in love and that the world is full of endless possibilities and all that for only £2.35 at a local coffee shop ! Annie feels her cappuccino anchor has had a profound effect in her life and wanted me to share her story.

About 20 years ago feeling overwhelmed by a colicky baby, teetering on the brink of post natal depression and questioning whether she was in the right marriage and right job, Annie was given the unexpected chance to have a morning to herelf. At that time coffee shops weren’t as prevalent as they are now but near to where she lived there was an italian deli that had a small area at the back where they served coffee so she decided to go there for a bit of peace and quiet.

Barista prepares espresso in his coffeeshop; close-up

As she opened the door the smell of coffee ( smell is one of the most evocative anchors you can use – but not so practical in a hypnotherapy session !) powerfully transported her back to ten years previously when following her A levels she had spent a glorious summer in Siena being an au pair to a sweet little girl called Gulia.

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The sun had shone everyday, she had fallen in love for the first time, and her eyes had been opened to a whole new world of possibility and opportunities.

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Most mornings in her few hours free of duties she would meet Marco in a cafe nearby, drink cappuccino in the sun and bask in these wonderful life affirming feelings. That rainy November day in a North London coffee shop, triggered by the smell of coffee, Annie got a glimpse of those wonderful feelings again.

Some might say that she began to feel better because the baby’s colic stopped, she started to get some sleep, changed her job and they managed to find a way through the marriage problems but Annie is convinced that her coffee shop experience was her turning point.

Realising that a simple cappuccino was a powerful anchor of good feelings that could help her live her life, Annie has made visiting a coffee shop by herself a regular part of her life and after 20 years you can imagine how strongly this pattern is ingrained. Now if Annie needs a top up of those feelings when facing a challenge at home or work she only needs to imagine sipping that cappuccino and they come flooding into her mind.

Annie found her anchor by accident and it would be wonderful if you did the same but do you really just want to leave it to chance? Don’t you want to take the oars and start rowing your own boat ? Can you see that your thoughts don’t always have to come from what is happening on the outside . Just like Annie, you could also find a way to tap into your own positive resourceful feelings from the inside. Is there a smell that is particularly evocative for you, the taste of a particular food, a piece of music. Can you relax and remember a time when you felt really good and anchor those feelings in an action like pressing your thumb and finger together.

How could you use this to open up your thinking and give yourself new internal resources to deal with any situation you may be facing. I love this quote by the Dalai Lama

‘The mind is like a parachute it works best when open’

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How can you open up your mind today and like Annie start using your thoughts to support you ?

Anchoring your boat

Hypnotherapy isn’t magic but if you ask some clients it almost feels like it is !

If you have been caught in a perpetual loop of thoughts such as not being good enough, being held back by something from your past, feeling compelled to keep doing something you want to stop, or whatever other unhelpful thought scenario comes to mind, then being free of these thoughts can feel like a miracle.

Would you be interested to know about some of the techniques we use in a hypnotherapy session to change such thought patterns, that you are probably already using or could now begin to use in your everyday life. However remember that in a hypnotherapy session you would be in trance and bypassing the interference of the conscious mind makes these techniques much more effective.

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One such technique is anchoring. This is when you subconsciously attach certain thoughts, feelings or responses to a particular trigger.

You are probably already doing this, for many people sitting down with a cup to tea, coffee or glass of wine is a trigger to feelings of letting go and relaxation.

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Even if you are in a situation not conducive to relaxation the tea has been shown to invoke a positive reaction through anchoring – the British ‘ cup of tea’ response to any crisis does have a scientific rationale !

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Sometimes people think all the relaxing effects are from alcohol but psychology experiments have shown that in many cases the relaxation response is triggered far too quickly for alcohol to have had the effect on the brain. It is the anchoring of feelings and associations that initially makes you feel good.

For some their good feelings are anchored to specific foods and again the positive feelings come before the food can be digested and have an effect. Can you start to see how anchoring could be a double edged sword and can be the root of comfort eating. Not addressing this, and just focusing on will power to eat less, is one of the reasons that dieting fails so part of a hypnotherapeutic approach to losing weight is to undo the old anchors and help embed new supportive ones in the unconscious mind.

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Can you see where you are using anchoring in your everyday life and that in some scenarios it is helping you but in others it acting against you. Can you identify your negative anchors ? Phobias are obvious ones but there are many others, what about being in a certain situation or being with a particular person triggering negative feelings – such as lack of confidence or inadequacy?

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Do you feel, like many people, at the mercy of your thoughts, like they come out of nowhere and hijack you ? It may feel like that, but they are not coming from nowhere, they are anchored in your unconscious mind. As these anchors are an integral part of our daily life , wouldn’t it be good to start taking some control over those that are influencing you ?

Becoming aware is the first step , then thinking what positive resourceful feelings you could attach to certain objects or situations in your everyday life would be beneficial, and practise with these until the feelings and thoughts become automatic. Are you struggling to think what you could do ? I will give you some real live examples in the next post. However remember anchors are based in our unconscious mind and if you want some help to undo those anchors that are hindering you and help embed new ones that can support you this is an area where hypnotherapy bypassing the conscious mind could help.

Think how different your everyday life would be if you had positive, resourceful, confident feelings on tap and you could start living from the inside out not the outside in ?!

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