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The Story of YOU

Our self image is nothing but a story that we tell ourselves. Whether you feel happy or sad, fat or thin, clever or stupid, active or lazy, driven or laid back – it’s all just a story.

Is your Story what you want it to be?

If not, how do you change it?

First try making a list of things that you would like to be.

Maybe your list is something like this, or maybe it’s completely different – what the list is doesn’t matter – it’s YOUR story, so it needs to be YOUR list.

Kind

Reliable

Consistent

Slimmer

Happy

Fitter

Now that you’ve created your list try to prioritise it. Put the most important things to you at the top and the least important at the bottom.

 

Let’s take the first thing on your list.

The first thing I’d like you to think about is why this is important to you. Let’s take being slimmer as an example. Why do you want to be slimmer?

The answers could be any or all of the following, or maybe something else entirely, but here are a few examples.

Being healthier

Looking better

Feeling better

Feeling more confident

Socialising more

Enjoying having my picture taken more

Being able to shop in different stores

Going to different places

 

OK, so now we have a list of things we believe we will gain. How would it be if instead of working on ‘being slimmer’ we worked on being healthier or feeling more confident. Maybe by choosing to be healthier (choosing better foods and doing a little more exercise) we naturally lose weight…Maybe by working on our confidence we actually end up socialising more and doing more…again helping us to avoid sitting at home snacking and allowing us to be more involved and active. Suddenly we may be losing weight by working on what we wanted to GAIN.

But our stories are more than that. Our self image is produced by millions if not billions of different things and reality only plays a small part of it. Take for example somebody with body dismorphia. Body dismorphia is when a person has a distorted image of their body. It could be somebody who sees a fat person in the mirror, but who is actually very thin, as with anorexia or it could be somebody who sees a skinny body despite the fact they have bulging muscles and work out 8 hours a day in a gym. Their story is not created by reality. It’s created by their thoughts, by what they tell themselves over and over again.

In most cases this is triggered my things others have said to them. It may have been a case of serious bullying where they were effectively tortured by those around them into believing something false. Equally it could have been an off the cuff comment that someone once said to them that has stuck with them and they have used as a basis for their distorted belief. That person could be as close as a parent or sibling, or just a random idiot who shouted at them in the street.

So, how do you change the story?

Well the easy answer is you make a new one. Your brain is a wonderful, amazing thing, but it is also flawed. One of it’s many flaws is that it isn’t very good at differentiating between things that have actually happened and things that you make up. For example, when you watch a scary film, you KNOW that the people are just actors and the story is fiction, but it doesn’t stop your body sending adrenaline shooting into your system, making your heart beat faster and your breathing become more rapid. It’s fooled by this made up story,

The good news is you can make up whatever story you want.

So if someone once told you you were stupid and would never be able to do maths and you have had a problem with it ever since, change your story. Imagine being back in that situation and think about someone telling you that you were brilliant and that if you worked at it you would be able to get it in no time. If someone once told you you had no self control and you have been using that as a model for why you can’t refuse a piece of cake, imagine somebody telling you how disciplined and controlled you are and how proud of yourself you should be for taking control of your life.

Then practice.

The story you have told yourself has probably been told thousands of times and it may take lots of retelling to change YOUR STORY, but I promise you, you can do it.

I believe anyone can be the author of their own story, but if you need help there are professionals ready and waiting to help you. Whether they are Counsellors, Hypnotherapists or any other form of therapist, they can help you to tell your story the way you want it to be.

 

 

 

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January Blues? 5 ways to feel better NOW

We’re coming to the end of January and for some, it can feel like a difficult time of the year. Christmas is over (though the credit card bills may not be) and the new years resolutions are an uphill battle. If things are getting on top of you, here are some quick things you can do to make yourself feel better now.

  1. Get outdoors.

Yes I know, the weather may not be what you’d like, but that’s probably the best reason to get out there. We can all suffer from a lack of vitamin D if we’re not getting enough sun, so it’s especially important in the winter months to get out whenever you can. Also getting some exercise in the great outdoors has other health benefits. A brisk stroll or gentle jog will get the heart rate up, burn calories and help you fend off a multitude of problems like dementia and type 2 diabetes, so pull out your woolly hat and get out there!

2. Eat clean.

The benefits of eating clean healthy food is enormous and very well documented. You don’t need me to tell you that it’s a good idea for your body, but what you may not be aware of, is that it’s a good idea for your mind too. By taking the time to eat well and look after yourself, you will give yourself a psychological boost. Not only will you feel proud of yourself for making positive changes, but you will also, subconsciously, feel more valued and appreciated by yourself. This in turn leads to feelings of more self worth and importance. The long term affects of eating clean will leave you looking healthier and more vital, so you will also start to get that recognition from others which in turn boosts your confidence.

3. Be mindful.

Practice being in the moment. Whether your going for a walk, sitting cross-legged burning incense or peeling the potatoes, you can spend a couple of minutes every day being mindful. I heard a great phrase – Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t make them tea. Being mindful is just that. Be in the moment, allow whatever thoughts come into your mind, and release them. Don’t focus on them, just notice them and let them go. You don’t have to do anything about a thought that pops in your head.

4.Be grateful.

One of the things that happy people tend to have in common is that they’re grateful for what they have. It may be riches, friends and beauty, or it may be being alive, having another opportunity to try again and a roof over their heads. However much you have, you will always find others who have more – and you will find others that have less. You can either be filled with envy or grateful. It doesn’t change your situation, but it does change how you feel – remember, you are in charge of that.

5.Stop feeling guilty

Guilt is a horrible emotion. It makes you feel bad and it makes those around you feel bad. Whatever you are feeling guilty about, STOP IT! Change your behaviour, change your feelings, change your life – it’s in your control. Guilt not only makes us feel bad, but it makes us behave in ways that we wouldn’t normally consider. In my humble opinion it is at the root of lots of cases of depression, low self esteem and even suicide. If you are feeling guilty about something that happened in the past, do what you can to make amends for it. If you can do nothing more about it, let it go and move on. I know that sounds difficult to do, but if you’re struggling to achieve it on your own, get help. There are plenty of people who are ready and willing to help you do this, either within your own social circle or professionally, so don’t suffer in silence.

Do these 5 things and finish January feeling fabulous – and if all else fails, start planning your summer hols 🙂

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How to write an effective To Do list (and a Not to do list)

I bet you have a ‘to do list’ – maybe it’s written down, maybe it’s just in your head, but I bet you have a list of things that you want to do.

It could be a list for the day

It could be a list for the week

It could be a list of things to do before you’re 50

It could be a bucket list

We all do it, and it’s not a bad thing. It helps us to be focussed on what we want to achieve and how we will do it. Which is great – up to a point. That point is when the ‘to do list’ becomes a burden. It becomes another thing that’s stressing us out.

So what can we do about it?

Well one of the first things you can do is to prioritise it.

Split your list down into sections.

Start with 3 things that HAVE to be done today.

This achieves a couple of things. Firstly it does that focussing thing again. You will be much more likely to achieve a small list of things that are important, than a great big list of things that you can postpone. Secondly, you will feel better when you start to tick things off that list. That in itself can give you motivation to keep at it. Now I know some of you will be saying that your ‘Have to be done lists’ are much longer than 3 items long, and I’m sure that’s true, but if you really had to put just 3 things down what would they be?

Secondly go with 3 things that you would like to do today.

These are not desperately important things, but things that you would like to get done. If you make it to these things – fantastic, Well done you – you probably deserve a treat of some sort – has someone put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea? By achieving anything on this list you are doing well. You may even be ticking off things that would be on tomorrows must do list – that’s great! You are such a winner!

Thirdly have a Not to do list.

This list is just as important. Maybe the things on it are time wasters – hobby jobs that you do even though you don’t have to. Maybe they are completely unproductive like playing Candy Crush or watching rubbish daytime TV. What ever they are, they are not helping you to tick off the important things on your list. Get rid of them until your to do list is done.

Finally have a Done list.

Don’t forget what you’ve achieved. Celebrate the fact that you have completed tasks that were important to you. If you don’t do this you can sometimes feel that you’ve worked all day for absolutely nothing. If that is how you feel, why would you want to do it all over again the next day? By recognising what you have achieved and the impact that has on your goals you can feel rightly proud of yourself.

So you’ve done it – you have your list. What are you waiting for? Get on with it already!

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Being Selfish

Let me start off by saying – I love what I do.

I’m a Hypnotherapist and every time I help a client to get past some issue or another it gives me a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

I love it so much when I get emails from them telling me how they are getting on now that their stumbling block is gone.

But just like with everything else in life – sometimes I need a break from it.

That’s what I’m doing this week.

Instead of concentrating on clients, I’m focussing on me.

I’m getting my diet back to where it should be.

I’m exercising every day.

I’m working on what I want from life and how to get it.

I’m being genuinely selfish – and I think it’s a good thing.

We all know people who are tired martyrs. They go through life doing everything for everyone else and very little for themselves. I quite often get to see these people when they have had enough – when they’ve burned themselves out. They come to me as anxious, nervous people who feel that everyone is taking advantage of them and that no-one appreciates them. Their stress levels are frequently through the roof and their self esteem can be very low. They often externalize their self esteem, so that they only feel good if other people are telling them how wonderful they are. The problem is that after a while you stop appreciating people who are ALWAYS doing things for you and you come to expect it from them. In fact you can go so far as to be upset with them if they stop for some reason, even if that reason is sickness or exhaustion.

The first thing I try to establish with these clients is a sense of self worth – not what others appreciate – but what they do. Once you have a genuine sense of self worth, you can start to be nicer to yourself and as a consequence, are sometimes nicer to those around you. This can be easier said than done, but hypnosis is a wonderful tool.

The next thing that comes from being nicer to yourself is making space in your life to take care of yourself. At its essence this is being selfish – and yes – I still think that’s a good thing. Thinking of yourself is important. Taking care of yourself is important. Being selfish is important.

As with almost everything in life, it’s about balance.

People who spend too much time just thinking of themselves can be even more self-destructive than those who never do.

So how much Selfish is good?

Honestly – that depends on you. It depends on those around you. It depends on what you are trying to achieve.

My challenge to you today is to ask yourself 3 questions….

‘Am I being selfish enough?’

‘Am I being too selfish?’

and finally ‘What am I going to do about it?’

Wishing you all balance and harmony, go and have a great day 🙂

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The process of learning – going from I can’t to I can

So, I’m trying to learn a new skill.

Have you ever seen the film Labyrinth with David Bowie?

Did you see the bit where the crystal balls are moved around as though they were made of air and free from gravity?

Well that’s what I’m trying to learn to do.

It’s really hard.

But then almost everything is when you can’t do it – it only becomes easy, or relatively easy, when you can do it.

So that’s what I’m trying to do – go from I can’t to I can.

Now, I know that this process may take months.

I may lose my desire to achieve it before I ever master it.

I may decide that’s it’s just too difficult for me (I don’t have the best hand eye coordination).

I may get bored or super frustrated with my inability.

But then again – maybe I won’t.

Right now I can’t do it – I can barely balance the ball on the back of my hand.

Soon I will get better at that. Then I can move onto the next step.

Lots of little steps to get good at…then one day I will be able to do it.

I’ll have gone from I can’t to I can.

Next time you tell yourself you can’t do something ask yourself some questions…

…What to I need to do in order to be able to do it?

What steps must I learn along the way?

Is there some resource I could use to help me?

What support could I have?

If you get these things right there is almost nothing that you can’t do …. eventually.

Here’s a taster of what I’m working towards…

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What’s in a name?

What do you call yourself?

If you had to name yourself today what would it be?

What would it say about you?

What do you want to project to the world and what do you want to keep hidden?

What defines you?

What is ‘you’?

The same question can be asked when your naming anything – a child, a pet, a business or even a blog.

In T.S. Elliots poems of the Possums book of practical cats there is a poem called the naming of cats. In this poem he looks at the 3 different names all cats have…

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey–
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter–
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover–
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Another wonderful example of naming comes from Doctor Who. In one episode the Doctor talks to a baby. The parents have named the child Alfie Owens, but the Doctor tells the parents that the child prefers to go by the name Stormaggedon, Dark Lord of all. He calls his mother ‘Mum’, hid father ‘not Mum’ and the doctor ‘also not Mum’.

So what might your name be?

I think I’ll go with Sue Imagineerer ….. as for my last name – well, that would be telling.

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Summer time and the living is easy

In the northern hemisphere we are now well into summer and it is glorious.

I’m not particularly a summer person – I don’t like to be too hot, I’m not a big fan of sunbathing, I can live without ever going near a bikini – but it’s still glorious.

So what is it about summer that makes us feel so good?

Well, obviously a large part of it is the sun. Longer days means more hours of daylight. Our bodies naturally respond better with more light as it makes us feel more alert and energised. We feel that we have more time to enjoy ourselves and do things. Also, because the weather is warmer, we can do more outdoor activities which means that we feel less cooped up and closer to our environment. There’s an old saying that you should spend at least 20 minutes a day in nature – unless you’re busy – then you should spend an hour! Being outside without the distraction of TV’s and computers gives your brain a chance to rest and recharge, which in turn helps you to be more present and happy.

Try taking some time to look at what’s around you – in detail. I know the old cliché of taking time to smell the roses, but seriously take the time to smell them, to look at them, each petal, each leaf, the construction of the stem, the shape of the prickles…think about the ecosystem it lives in and what lives on it….see where that takes you. This is all part of being mindfull – being in the moment. It is becoming increasingly significant as a form of therapy and self help as research evidences more and more the beneficial outcomes of this kind of thought process. It reduces stress, anxiety and helps to prevent relapses in depressive episodes. All of these help to increase mental health which in turn promotes physical health. It really is worth taking the time to smell the roses!

On the same theme, another thing that summer tends to provide us with, is holiday. Most people will take at least a portion of their holiday during the summer. Unlike other times of the year like Christmas, where the ‘break’ actually comes with a lot of other pressures and work, the summer holiday tends to be a time to relax and have a rest. If you are taking a holiday this year, make the most of it by ditching as much technology as you dare. At the very least avoid calls and emails from work. By staying in contact you aren’t letting your mind and body get the full benefits from being away. Your subconscious doesn’t know that the office is 2000 miles away. If you’re thinking about it, you may as well be in it!

I’m a big believer in ‘you are what you eat’ so another advantage of summer is the abundance of great seasonal fruits and vegetables. Salads are an amazing way of giving your bodies a variety of nutrients without too many calories. If you want to stay healthy (and younger looking) make sure that you eat the rainbow. Certain Buddhist traditions say that you should have at least 5 different colours in every meal – I love that idea. Not only does it promote variety in what you are eating, but it also means that you have a beautiful tasty meal to look forward to.

Enjoy your summer – whether it’s short or long. Eat well, take time to be and get some (but not too much) sun while you can.

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5 ways to look younger!

Everyone is always looking to find ways to look younger – to defy ageing – to regain that twenty something complexion.

Sorry to disappoint you but this post isn’t about ways to look younger – It’s about how we are all so obsessed with appearance and age that we forget how unimportant it really is.

I once heard a nurse who specialised in neonatal care talking. She was asked if getting older bothered her. She replied that she wore each wrinkle as a badge of honour as it was something that too may people never got to experience. When you are surrounded by sick and dying babies, the idea that someone might lose sleep over a wrinkle seems a little ridiculous.

And it does, doesn’t it? In fact isn’t it almost the definition of shallow?

I’m in my forties now and my skin is starting to change – wrinkles appear, everything is looking a little saggier than it did 5 years ago and quite frankly when I first wake up and look in the mirror I can freak myself out a bit! I get that it’s not great to see you face and body showing the signs of age, but try to shift your perspective a little.

How lucky are you to have survived this long when others that you may have known or loved have not.

How lucky are you to have a body that still functions and allows you to experience the world.

How lucky are you to have lived long enough to earn your wrinkles.

Try looking inwards a little more.

How young do you feel?

How much have you learned?

What can you do with that knowledge?

What can you do with the time that you have been gifted with to make things better?

I choose to love the body I’m in – wrinkles and all – it has served me well so far and I intend to look after it as much as I can in the hope that it continues to do so. I am far more concerned with what I am like than what I look like. Healthy, happy and fulfilled beat youthful and smooth in my book.

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My WordPress Birthday

I had a message from WordPress today to let me know it was my 2 year anniversary.

How time flies.

There have been times over the 2 years when I have blogged daily, there have been other times when I was lucky if I managed to write something once a month.

I started slow.

I don’t really know what I expected.

As I have said in previous posts, I had two main reasons to blog. The first was to share ideas that might help people. I come across all sorts of issues in my hypnotherapy practice and some of them are relatively easy to resolve. It just takes a change of perspective and a little practice. I’ve tried to share these things and I’ve had some lovely feedback from people who have given it a go.

Which brings me on to my second reason for blogging – to showcase an promote my business. This has had a really positive effect for me. Not only have I helped to increase the visibility of my website on Google and Bing, but I have also had a resource to send clients to when they are looking to find out a little bit more about me and what I do. I have also had clients who have found me from my blog, which was a little unexpected, but an absolute thrill for me.

Another unexpected bonus was that I have had a few more likes on my Facebook and Twitter pages – again, helping to improve my visibility to clients.

As with all things, people have to know you’re there before they can get to know you, so when I’m going through one of my more prolific stages I try to like and comment on other peoples blogs to advertise my presence. This has been one of the most rewarding things of all. Getting to know some of you, reading your wonderful thoughts and experiences and seeing your struggles has helped me enormously. If you want a better understanding of what people with depression or anxiety go through – read their work. If you want ideas on how to help and support them – understand them. If you want to see things from a different perspective – look for different perspectives. The people who write and share on here are heroes who have a wealth of knowledge and experience for you to see. Go and find them – it’s truly brilliant.

So I guess what I want to say on my two year anniversary is Thank You.

Thank You for clicking on my links.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Thank you for all the support and feedback you have given me.

Thank you for helping me with technical issues that confused and bothered me.

Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself with me.

Thank you for helping me to understand.

Thank you for everything.

Hopefully we’ll all still be here in another couple of years – tapping away on our keyboards and sharing our thoughts with the world – but until we get to celebrate that milestone – Thank You.

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The power of belief

coventry hypnotherapy

Belief is a powerful thing.

We all believe in things.

Some people believe in God who has a hand in their life.

Some people believe that they are lucky.

Some people believe that everything happens for a reason.

Some people believe in fairies.

Some people believe that the sun will come up tomorrow.

Some people believe in themselves.

Sometimes the things we don’t believe in are just as powerful.

What if you don’t believe in yourself?

Do you try anyway?

What if you don’t think you can do it?

Do you give up at the first hurdle because it just proved to you that it was impossible?

What if you don’t believe you’re lucky?

Does every bad thing that happens confirm that you were right?

We all have something called confirmation bias.

That means that we give extra attention and credit to things that confirm what we already think.

For example have you ever noticed that if you don’t like someone, almost everything you do annoys you. yet if a person you really liked did exactly the same thing it probably wouldn’t bother you (well, not as much anyway).

So when we don’t believe in ourselves our confirmation bias just makes it even harder to believe.

As a hypnotherapist, I often work with people who don’t believe that they can do the things they want. Maybe it’s lose weight, maybe give up smoking, maybe be confident in public, maybe its to be unafraid around spiders. Whatever it is, the more they believe that they cannot do it, the more likely it is that they won’t.

Luckily I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

The first thing I have to do is to change their belief set.

Today I was working with a lovely lady who wants to lose weight. She said that she had been overweight since she was a small child. When we first started the session I asked her if she believed she could lose weight and she said ‘no’. When I asked her why she said that, she had never been a healthy weight, so didn’t see how she could be in the future. So, after finding out about her eating habits, how she felt about food and eating, going through her routines and requirements we started with the hypnosis. The first twenty minutes were all about changing her belief patterns – nothing whatsoever about eating, appetite or food. After we had worked on this I asked where she was now – how much did she believe that she could lose weight? She replied ‘90% sure’

So we went from 0 to 90% in 20 minutes.

We then went on to work on changing eating habits and food types and put in place all the things she needed in order to be able to lose weight easily.

The real work was done in the first 20 minutes. She now believes that she CAN lose weight. Her confirmation bias will prove to her every day that it’s possible and if she wants it, she WILL be able to do it. The other stuff was just making it easier for her.

Think about what you believe in and maybe more importantly, what you don’t.

It could change your life!

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