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What is Hypnosis?

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I have been a practising hypnotist for over 5 years now, and I really struggle to answer this very basic question.

What is Hypnosis? 

It’s difficult to answer because there are so many answers and so many different experiences of hypnosis. As far as I can tell, everyone seems to experience it in different ways. For some (around about 1-2%) it feels really uncomfortable and they struggle to find a way in. For others (10-20%) it’s a magical experience that alters their reality in easily accessible ways – these are the people who are chosen for stage hypnotist shows where they make things invisible etc. For the vast majority of people it is neither of those things. Instead they will tell me “It was like I was listening to you speak, and I heard what you were saying, but it felt like my mind drifted and it was like I was fading in and out.”

If you ask ‘experts’ on hypnosis you will get lots of different opinions and views too. Some believe it is a state of mind that we drift into and out of all the time. Some believe that it is a way of accessing your true self. Some believe it allows you to reach back into past lives. You will hear words like conscious and subconscious as though they are areas of the brain that can be poked and prodded. People talk of somnambulist (or sleep walkers) and ‘depths’ of hypnosis as though you can be a bit hypnotised or really hypnotised.

At one time I described it as a directed placebo effect as I believed that you had to ‘buy into’ the process for it to work, but over the years I have learned that this isn’t true either.

Let me tell you my truth about hypnosis – it’s just your imagination.

Now, please don’t read the word ‘just’ and think I am not giving your imagination the credit it deserves. Your imagination is probably the most amazing thing about you. It allows you to formulate plans, predict the future, extrapolate ideas, and create stories. It allows you to interpret sound, sight, smell and touch – to understand and empathise. It is essentially you.

The skill of the hypnotist comes into play to allow you to use your imagination in a useful, productive and often amazing way.

Take a look at most Hypnotherapist’s websites and you will find a list of the most common things they deal with..

Addiction (including smoking)

Weight Loss

Phobias

Anxiety and stress management.

What do all of these things have in common? They are created from belief patterns.

I can’t live without…. or I can’t stop thinking about….or I can’t be around…..or I can’t cope with….

Actually none of those statements are true.

You absolutely can live without whatever it is you are hooked on (as long as it’s not food, water, air etc) by changing how you think about it.

You can totally stop thinking of anything.

You can be around something you have a phobia of, as long as you change your fear response (which was created by your imagination in the first place).

You can cope – you just need to learn how.

A skilled hypnotist can provide you with enough input to help you to make a change, but it is a collaborative process. It happens because you want it to. In fact, if you have the skills and knowledge you don’t need another person to be involved at all. Many, many people around the world employ self hypnosis techniques like the Betty Erickson technique, the eye fixation technique or the switch technique – so it’s not something that has to be done to you. You can hypnotise yourself.

So, what is hypnosis? I’m still not entirely sure, but for me it is focused, beneficial use of your imagination to achieve a desired outcome.

Why don’t you have a try for yourself and see what happens? Maybe you’ll get the results you’re looking for. Maybe you won’t. If you do – Fantastic! I’m thrilled you’ve found this potential within yourself. If you don’t – why not give your friendly, local hypnotherapist a call and see if they can nudge you in the right direction.

 

 

 

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How do I improve my confidence?

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I had a message from a client today who told me that she was doing something that she had not been able to do for a long time, thanks to some work that we had done together. I was thrilled for her, for changing her thinking and freeing herself from an old fear. Then she told me that she still didn’t feel confident and asked ‘How do I improve my confidence?

What a great question!

My first reaction was ‘Fake it ’til you make it’ – Let me explain.

When we start to do something new, we often don’t feel very confident about it. We are learning the rules, how it works (or doesn’t work) and what to do. As we get more accustomed to situations, we become more assured, as we feel like we understand what is expected from us and how we will deal with things if they go wrong. We know the script.

When we ‘Fake it’, we create the illusion of confidence. Part of the illusion we create is our body language.

Here’s a little exercise for you.

Stand up and fake (or act) being nervous or anxious. Notice the shape of your body. Are your shoulders back or hunched over? Is your head up or are you looking down? If you step forward to you take a large or small step? How’s your breathing?

Now, change it up and fake being confident. Notice the same things about your body?

How does each make you feel? How would other people react to the body language you are portraying?

I want to look at each of these separately – first, how does it make you feel?

Our minds and our bodies are in a constant state of biofeedback. That means that what we think affects our body and what our body does, affects what we think. When you get scared about something it affects your body – your heart rate increases, you breath more shallowly and faster and you get butterflies in your stomach. Weirdly, if you create these sensations in your body artificially, say through drug use, you can create anxiety. One affects the other. So, by creating the sort of body language a confident person would demonstrate, we can give our thoughts a confidence boost.

Secondly, how do people react to you? Most people will take you at face value. If you look confident they will assume that you are confident. They will then infer that you are confident because you are a strong capable person who knows how to handle themselves.  If you look anxious they will assume you are anxious and that you have a reason to be anxious. They will treat you accordingly. If they are a kind and generous person they may offer to help you. If they are a bully or an aggressor they may see you as a potential victim. We then receive the feedback from the people around us and that in turn affects our own feelings. If you are constantly being bullied it will impact on your self-confidence in a negative way, just as if you are always the one who people turn to it in a crisis, you will feel your self confidence improve.

Another way you can work on confidence is to understand your own feelings and emotions better. Mindfulness techniques can be incredibly powerful tools to do this.

In the end, the best way to improve your confidence is to repeat whatever it is you are doing until you become really good at it, but to speed the process up, a little bit of faking it can go a long way.

 


If you have ever asked yourself ‘How do I improve my confidence?’ and a bit of ‘fake it ’til you make it’ isn’t cutting it for you, you may want to see a therapist. Don’t get caught in a cycle of fear – take the step and get yourself moving forward in a positive way.

 

 

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What is Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is a term that is being used a lot at the moment, but do you know what it’s actually all about?

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness started out as a practise in India about 2500 years ago. It was created as a type of mediation that allowed the practitioner to be present in the moment and to notice what was happening in their own mind. To notice their thoughts, feelings and emotions and give themselves the time and space to look at them, hear them and to react to them in a non judgemental, balanced way.

There is a direct correlation between our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Think about this for a moment..

You wake up in a great mood. ‘Today is going to be a good day’ you think to yourself. You get up, go through your morning routine and leave the house. When you get to work you see a parking space and get ready to move into it. Just as you are about to take the space someone else grabs it. How do you feel? What do you do?

Now, go through the same scenario but with you waking up in a terrible mood, convinced that today is going to be a nightmare. Now how do you feel? What do you do?

Did you get the same response each time? If you’re being honest with yourself, probably not. Yet both of the situations were identical apart from the first thoughts and emotions you were feeling. See how they can influence things?

One very effective form of therapy is CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy. It uses the same principles of analytically looking at our own thoughts and deciding if they are appropriate or not and then adjusting them accordingly. For instance if someone was suffering from OCD they may have a thought or belief pattern that makes them believe that if they do not carry out a certain action or set of actions then bad things will happen. Using mindfulness and or CBT techniques, they would learn to be able to notice these thoughts and to consider them in a balanced non judgemental way. With practice this can change and alter them into healthier patterns, which in turn, changes their behaviours.

Mindfulness is more than just this though. It is the ability to be in the moment. To fully appreciate what you are experiencing.

How many times have you not enjoyed something because you were worried about something else? Lost yourself in your fears that were totally unnecessary? Many of the clients I see as a Hypnotherapist suffer from social anxiety. This can be crippling and stop people enjoying their life, yet it doesn’t have to be the case. Simply learning and practicing mindfulness can eliminate it entirely.

In some ways Mindfulness is like a work out for your mind. It strengthens it, makes it more flexible and more able to handle things if and when they get tough. It’s like exercise in another way as well – it takes training and practice to get good at it. In this way your mind is like a muscle. You need to exercise it, to make it stronger before you have to do the heavy lifting or the marathon. You start small, get frustrated, keep at it and get better.

So, next time you think about a bit of self-care or self-improvement, you might want to consider getting yourself on a mindfulness course. Start small, practice and get stronger so that you are mentally as well as physically ready for anything life throws at you, and if someone asks you what is mindfulness, you’ll be able to tell them.

 

 

 

 

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How can I be happier?

A lot of people ask me ‘How can I be happier?’

Before that can be answered there are a few things that need to be defined. Firstly, what does happy mean to you? Then, how happy are you right now?

To me being happy equates to being content. If that is your goal I think you can be happy for much of your life. Others have told me that to them being happy is feeling joy. For people with that definition, happiness is fleeting and they will experience happiness for short periods, fairly infrequently.

Do you seek joy every moment of your life? If so, I fear that you will be perpetually disappointed. Even if your life moved from one amazing moment to another, you would quite quickly stop experiencing joy. Joy is an extreme emotion. It’s the thin end of the wedge, the edges of the bell curve. For brief moments it lights our life, but we cannot feel it all the time.

If your definition of happy is contentment, you will feel ‘happy’ much more of your life. This in turn makes you feel grateful and lucky, which leads to feeling even happier with your lot.

So, one way to be happier is to lower your expectations of what happy means.

Then we need to look at how happy you are right now. If you had to scale it between 1 and 10, with 1 being extremely unhappy and 10 being as happy as you can be, where would you score yourself? The chances are you are somewhere between 4 and 7. If that’s the case, you can probably do things to make yourself feel more happy. If you are at the extremes of the scale it can be harder to make a difference.

Obviously, if you are already on a 10, it’s going to be very difficult for you to feel happier than you are right now – there’s literally nowhere left for you to go. Awesome!

If you are at the other end of the scale, down in the 1-3 group, you are in a fairly dark place. There are lots of reasons that this may be the case. Firstly, something awful may have happened in your life. Loss of a loved one, bullying and poor health can put you in this place. All of these are things which take some getting over. Yes, there are professionals out there who can help get you through this time and support you with psychological strategies, but they are still difficult things to deal with. If you felt happy during one of these experiences, I would suggest there is other work to do.

Other reasons that people can feel deeply unhappy are anxiety and depression. These are two different issues which can be very difficult, but are also eminently treatable. With talking therapies people can work through these life limiting issues and get back to regular levels of happy – not happy all the time – just regular happy.

This brings me onto the final idea around wanting to be more happy. There is a regular level of happy. If you are happy all the time, you may have a problem. If you are unhappy all the time, you may have a problem. Even the best adjusted most balanced people experience happiness and unhappiness. It’s normal and natural. If you want to be happy all the time, you are setting yourself up for disappointment – which leads you to be less happy! There are things that steal our happiness, and we can work on reducing them, but if you love, you will experience loss. If you achieve, you will have to deal with defeat. Ups and downs are all part of the rich tapestry that is our complicated life.

My tip for today is be grateful.

Experiments have repeatedly shown that being grateful is one of the key things that makes us happy. Write down three different things every day that you are grateful for. It’s easy to start with big concepts like being alive, having a home, waking up this morning, but as time goes by you have to look for more detailed, smaller reasons to be grateful. Things like a good cup of coffee, a smile from a neighbour, enjoying a TV programme, somebody liking your blog post or even a positive comment…all of these things make me grateful, which is why I experience happiness every day.

Wishing every one of you a happy, healthy day. I’m so grateful you’ve taken the time to read this x

www.talktherapies.co.uk

p.s. If you are looking for a daily mindfulness tip/exercise follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/talktherapies 

 

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How do I help someone with addiction?

One of the most frustrating things on earth is watching someone you love throw their life away on an addiction.

It seems like nothing you say or do gets through to them. In fact the more you try to help them, the deeper they seem to sink into their addiction.

Sometimes that’s just annoying. Other times it’s a life and death situation.

If someone is addicted to coffee, you may not approve, but the chance are they’ll be ok. If they’re addicted to smoking, it may well be killing them, but it’s happening slowly and it may or may not affect them. If they’re addicted to alcohol, illegal or legal drugs they could be in more imminent danger. If they’re addicted to starving themselves, you may be watching them die.

Yet, despite this they don’t seem to be able to get their heads around the damage that they are doing to themselves. It’s as though the connections between what they ‘know’ is happening and the consequences to them are entirely gone.

I know this from personal experience.

I was a smoker for 17 years. I started when I was 21 (entirely old enough to know better) and quit 5 years ago. I can remember people saying to me “you know it’s bad for you right?” as though I was a moron or lived under a rock or something. People on the street would come up to me and say things like “It’ll stunt your growth you know”. I think they thought that was funny as I’m 6ft tall and a grown ass woman. My mum (an ex smoker) hated the fact I smoked and would ask me repeatedly to quit.

None of that made any difference.

It wasn’t about education either. As I said, I started smoking when I was 21. I was working as a microbiologist in Liverpool having been to University studying Biochemistry. I knew what smoking did to a body. I knew what it ‘could’ do to me. The thing was, it didn’t really do anything nasty at first. It was just a laugh with mates when we were out drinking. By the time I’d developed a smokers cough, I was already well into the addicted part.

So what made me try to quit? For me it was my best friend. I was complaining to her about people moaning at me about smoking and she said “So, are you just going to smoke until you die?” That was it. No attitude, no lecture, just a question. A question I had to think about. As I thought about it over the next couple of weeks I realised I didn’t want to die a smoker. I could visualise what my old woman self would look like smoking and coughing, wheezing along, maybe with an oxygen tank….and it horrified me. So then I had to think, well if I don’t want to die smoking, I’m going to have to quit at some point. Why not now? I mean it’s not like it’s going to get any easier?

Here’s my advice.

Don’t

  1. Don’t Nag – it’s annoying and it just makes people dig their heals in.
  2. Don’t lecture – it just makes the person being lectured at think up opposite arguments, which then helps to persuade them that what they’re doing is OK
  3. Don’t promise rewards for abstinence – study after study has shown that offering rewards convinces the psyche that it must mean that thing they are being asked to do is difficult.

Do

  1. Model the behaviour you want them to adopt. If you have someone in your life who is drinking too much, don’t drink around them. Don’t make a thing of it, just don’t do it. If you do what you are asking them not to, it just normalizes it for them and they think you’re an idiot.
  2. Spend time with them. Show them they are loved and worth loving. One of the main reasons people self harm (and addiction IS a form of self harm) is because they don’t like themselves very much
  3. Do fun stuff that distracts from their addiction. The more good stuff they have going on in their lives, the less room there is for bad stuff.
  4. Ask questions. Get them to think about what they are doing, in their own time, in their own way
  5. Be prepared for the fact that you may never get through to them. Ultimately you have to accept that it’s their life to live.

One final note – don’t forget to look after yourself. Don’t get obsessed with their addiction. It won’t help you or them. Take care of yourself and model healthy, social behaviour. It’s more powerful than you know.


If you or someone you know has an issue with addiction, get help. You do not have to deal with this on your own. There are plenty of support groups online and in person. There are also thousands of professionals out there who can help you.

Good luck on your journey

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Blog Plans for 2017

Happy New Year!

Well, after a lovely Christmas break, I’m back to the blogosphere….How are you all doing?

Personally I love January, because I love new starts. They are full of opportunities, possibilities and potential. They also scare me a bit because of this – when everything is a possibility it can all be a bit overwhelming – there’s just too much to choose from, and in my humble opinion, you do have to choose. Anyone that tells you that this year is the one where they will eat healthy, exercise regularly, look amazing every day, make a million dollars, have the perfect relationship with their friends and family, start a new business and find inner peace is expecting a little bit much, don’t you think?

Even if all you’re planning on doing is growing your blog audience or blogging every day, it can still be a big expectation. There are so many things to blog about, but how to choose? Sometimes there is so much possibility I can’t narrow it down, sometimes I can’t think of a single thing. What to do?

For me it starts with a plan. Plans don’t have to be set in stone, they are a starting point. Write yourself a plan, but know that it can and probably will change.

The next thing I do is think about what I want to talk about – broadly speaking. As my blog here is all about happiness, health and hypnosis that needs to be at the fore of my planning – what large topics fall under that remit?

So this year I’ve decided to dedicate a month to a topic. I started last year. December was all about self care, and I wrote it like an advent calendar with a different post every day from 1 to 25. It worked quite well for me and those that follow my blog. It gave me structure and motivation to write (I’d promised after all) and it gave my followers a reason to check in – they knew what to expect. If it wasn’t something they were interested in they could take a pass, but if it was, they knew to come back every day for more.

In the same vein here are my ideas for Blogs I will be writing each month for 2017.

January – Diet

February – Relationships

March – Addictions

April – Happiness

May – Food

June – Anxiety

July – Exercise

August – Depression

Sept – Different therapy techniques

Oct – Dec TBD – I’m open to suggestions here, if you would like me to cover a topic that falls under the title of Happiness, Health and Hypnosis, this is your chance to put forward an idea! Just leave me a comment.

See anything there that you think you may be interested in – make sure you click follow to get them when they come out!

Once I’ve narrowed it down to topic areas, I find it easier to think about topics related to each big theme. Take diet for example. I can look at nutrition, staying satisfied, types of food that keep you feeling fuller for longer, diet myths, healthy goals, body image, small changes to make a big difference etc etc. So now we both know what to expect 🙂

Starting tomorrow the rest of my January blogs will be dedicated to diet. Getting right and making it easy. If you want to make sure you see them, you know what to do.

See you soon – let’s make January an awesome start!

 

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 23

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder – what do you see that you think is beautiful?

All too often we neglect to see the beauty in what’s around us. In nature, in our home, in our friends and family, in ourselves.

Beauty is all around you if you take the time to look for it.

There aren’t many people in the world who can look in the mirror and honestly say that they see beauty there – and that is a terrible shame. Of course we don’t all fit into society’s pattern of what beautiful looks like (which by the way changes dramatically depending on which society you are in) but we all have beauty in us.

Is there a part of your body that you are unhappy with? Maybe you think it’s too thin, or too fat….Maybe you think it’s too saggy or too taut…..Maybe you think it’s too big or too small….Whatever it is you are finding fault with doesn’t really matter, because my self-care challenge for you today is to find a way to love it, to appreciate it, to find its beauty.

There are several methods that I find useful with this sort of challenge. I have fat ankles -let’s use them as an example.

Reframing

Ok, so my ankles are a little on the chunky side – on the upside they are sturdy. They don’t cause me any pain and they support my body. They are flexible and strong enough to keep me balanced and allow me to walk and run anywhere that I want to. I may not look as good as I would like to in a skirt, but I did get to walk all over New York last month (110,000 steps in 4 days) and explore an amazing place in person. In balance, I would rather have chunky ankles that support me, than pretty ones that don’t.

The lotion method

Now, this doesn’t work for every part of your body, but it’s good for things that are covered in skin. The idea is that you but yourself a nice bottle or body lotion. Something that smells good and that will condition your skin. You then make a commitment to yourself to use the lotion on the body part you dislike every day. Spend time rubbing the lotion in and thinking about that part of your body n as positive a way as you can. By the time you have finnished the bottle, you should have better feelings about that part or you.

Ask for feedback

Quite often the part of ourselves that we dislike most doesn’t even register as a thing with other people. I’m quite self conscious of my ankles, so I tend not to wear skirts ot shoes that show them off. When I pointed this out to a friend of mine she laughed at me at told me there was nothing wrong with my ankles and that I was being silly. That gave me the confidence to buy a dress I wouldn’t normally have done, wear it and then get lots of lovely compliments about how I looked.

Work on it

If the part of you you’re not so keen on can be improved with diet or exercise, why not give it a go? I carry my weight a little differently than most people, and even when I’m not overweight, I have larger legs than most. However, despite it being the last place to go, when I lose the weight, the ankle do slim down too – not as much as I’d like, but they do slim down. Maybe I could try some different exercises that would stretch and lengthen them too – Now there’s a thought…

So, I’m off to research ankle exercises. What will you be doing today?



It can be difficult to change how you feel about yourself particularly if you have body dysmorphia. Hypnosis is a great tool to help change your feelings about yourself so that you can see the positives in your amazing body. Don’t suffer unnecessarily – get the help you need to feel great.

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 22

Continuing our theme of looking at self care and the senses today we shall be thinking about touch.

What sort of things do you like to touch? Cool things? Warm things? Soft things? Hard things? Rough things? Smooth things?

Have you ever even thought about how touch affects how you feel?

If I’m feeling bad one of the ways I can make myself feel better is to be around (ideally surrounded and engulfed by) warm fluffy things. Like getting into a bed that’s had the electric blanket on or with several hot water bottles, or sitting under a blanket with big warm fluffy socks on. Or getting dressed in clothes that have just come out of the drier or off the radiator. I am the queen of cosy town.

There is a danish word that has no direct English translation. The word is Hygge and it sort of translates to ‘feeling warm and cosy in the company of good friends’ and often involves blankets, slippers, fires, candles and frequently alcohol. For me, hygge, is a desirable state.

When I’m feeling stressed, down or just worn out, I try to make time to feel better. I know that might seem like an obvious thing to say, but more often than not people will carry on regardless. They think that the way they feel cannot be affected by something as simple as taking some time out to create a different environment, so the put their heads down and just plough on.

So my self care challenge to you today is to think about how things make you feel, how you would like to feel, and how you can create an environment that supports you feeling the way that you would like to feel.

 

 

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 19

With only six days until the 25th are you feeling festive?

Are sleigh bells ringing in your ears? Is it beginning to sound a lot like Christmas?

All of our senses can take a bit of a pounding during the festive season, and our hearing is not immune to the excesses of party time. So my self care thoughts for today are based around your ears.

If things have been kind of hectic, give yourself some space without noise. Take a walk somewhere quiet and don’t put headphones on – just listen to what’s around you.

Or if that’s not an option for you maybe you could sit quietly at home, maybe playing a little classical music – something soothing like a piano concerto…

Then again, maybe things have been a little too quiet for you – maybe you need to play some Christmas albums and have a good old song along. Or, maybe go caroling?

Or maybe the spirit of Christmas has already overloaded your senses and you need to take a break from it with some crazy jazz, some banging metal, some turbo dance – what ever floats your musical boat. Just enjoy a little bit of whatever you need.

What works for one person will not always work for someone else. So if you feel frazzled by what other people seem to be enjoying, don’t worry. You’re just in a different head space than them right now, and that’s OK – you do what’s right for you.

 

 

 

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 18

Hi peeps – how are we all doing? With just one week to go to the big day, I’m hoping you’re all feeling pretty good.

A lot of what Christmas is about is relationships. If you’ve been watching a few cheesy Christmas films, you may have noticed that the heart of them all is the connection of one person with another,  and our connections to other people, whether family or friends are a significant factor in our happiness.

As with most things, what works for one person may not work for another, but those relationships are important to everyone – it’s just the numbers that vary. Some of us are happy with just a few people in our circle, some need many. The more people you have, the more work it takes to keep those relationships alive, and sometimes people get lost along the way.

Think back over the last 10 years or so. Have there been significant people in your life that have drifted away? I’m not talking about those we have lost because they have passed away (as heart breaking as it is, we have to learn to move on without them) but those we have lost to distance, time or disagreements.

Confession time – I’m not the best person at staying in touch with friends. There is a little insecurity there…a part of me believes that they’re probably not that keen on me so I don’t want to push to make arrangements in case they think of it as a drag or hassle. There’s also a little laziness…it take effort to stay in touch with people. There’s a drop of negativity…they will probably not want to get together anyway, and there’s also a little selfishness…I quite like my own company and my own home. All of these things come together in me, meaning that it’s very easy for me to lose touch with people. If I want to maintain or renew these connections, I have to make a little effort to do so. But when I do, the rewards are outstanding.

Each New Year I make a list of New Year’s resolutions. One of them that remains on the list every year is to reconnect with at least one person who has been important to me.

It can be a little scary making that first step. What if they ignore us? What if they actively reject us? What if they don’t remember us? What if nothing comes of it? Well the answer to all of those questions have similar outcomes. If they go our way great, but if they don’t we are in no worse a position than when we started. That person is still not in our lives we now just have a clearer picture of why they’re not.

So today, my self care challenge to you is to reconnect with an old friend. Write them a message on facebook, send them a christmas card, text them, email them, hell, you could even give them or call or go and visit them. It can seem daunting but a quick hello could lead to the nicest Christmas you’ve had in ages.


Social anxiety can reduce your ability to make and maintain relationships. This isn’t something that you have to live with. Please seek help from a qualified therapist to change how you feel so that you can enjoy life to the max. You really do deserve it.

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