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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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The language of food and what it means.

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A lot of the people I see come to me because they have issues with their weight.

The vast majority of them want to lose weight (though some have issues around limited eating or eating disorders) and they often tell me that they struggle to control their hunger. They are sometimes ‘always hungry‘ and sometimes ‘eat when they are not hungry’. When I ask them about their ‘Newsfeed’, I often get a confused look.

Let me explain where I’m coming from.

Language is a funny thing – especially the English language. It is full of metaphor, simile, multiple meanings and interesting roots. The use of language influences the way we think – so much so that when people do brain scans of bilingual people, they can sometimes differentiate between which language they are thinking in! As a result, the words we think in can influence our feelings and therefore our behaviours.

So, let’s explore some language around eating.

Metaphors around food and eating

Food / eating metaphors are often associated with things we like or dislike

‘That’s just to my taste’  ‘You’re my cup of tea’  ‘I could eat him up’ ‘She’s the cream of the crop’  ‘That’s the cherry on the top’

or

‘It left a bad taste in my mouth’  ‘That thought turns my stomach’ ‘scraping the bottom of the barrel’  ‘I’m sick of this feeling’

There are also lots of metaphors related to food and eating when it comes to information.

‘Here’s some food for thought’ ‘Do you just swallow everything you are told?’ ‘Do you fall for it hook, line and sinker?’ ‘How’s is your newsfeed?’ ‘Do you like things sugarcoated?’ or maybe you ‘take things with a pinch of salt’. If things are too ‘plain’ or ‘bland’ do you want them to be ‘spiced up a little?’ If you have ‘too much on your plate’ do you ‘break it down to bite sized chunks’ or spend time ‘ruminating’ on it? If you ‘bite off more than you can chew’, do you find it ‘hard to digest?’ or then again maybe you just ‘choke’. Do you ‘Cherry Pick’ your information or do you want to ‘have your cake and eat it?’

One of the quirks of being us is that we often conflate things. In this case the language of eating and the language of information.

This then begs the question, are there similarities between your approach to information and your approach to food?

Do you believe everything that you see or hear, or are you particular about where your information comes from?

Do you only look for information when you need it or are you permanently on the look out for stimulation?

Do you focus your attention at a particular time or are you always open for more?

Are you fussy about what you let in?

Do you like to be entertained with fast, cheap, junk or are you looking for something that nourishes you?

For those of you on WordPress, look are your reader lists – what do you see? If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, what does your ‘newsfeed’ look like? How often do you look at it?


I am constantly fascinated with the language of metaphors and would love to know of any more that you think of, or any insights you may have.

Please leave any feedback in the comments – I’m ‘hungry to hear’ what you have to say!

 

 

 

 

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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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90 day challenge

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91 Days ago I set myself a little challenge.

I had started my blog almost a year before and had had posted once or twice a month. I had a few followers – Thank You – but to be honest it was going nowhere fast.

Part of the reason I started the blog was to increase the presence of my Website on the net (it was appearing at about page 9 on Google, or in other words, it was invisible), but the main reason was to share thought and ideas that came up through my Hypnotherapy Practice in Coventry, UK.

When I first started I found it easy to think of things to write about, but after a few weeks I started to struggle with subjects. I created a little plan of posts that I would write and when I sat down to make it I quickly realised that picking topics that I could write about for a week, or every Monday, made it much easier to do. I also found that I would think of things to write about, but when I sat down to blog, I forgot all of the plans I had made and would sit there scratching my head, so I started jotting the ideas down as I had them. Some of these turned out to be my favourite posts.

A lot of inspiration came from other bloggers. Following other people with similar feelings and thoughts gave me a great jump off point for my posts, and by linking to them I found a few new followers and occasionally got a reblog from them which gave me a much bigger audience.

Part of the fun is getting likes, comments, reblogs and followers. It’s great. I really enjoy getting that sort of feedback. It’s like getting a gold star from teacher every day – what’s not to love?

Most of the fun is sharing. I love knowing that I have made someone smile, or given them a bit of help that can make a difference to them. With sharing, with helping, comes personal gains. One of my original goals was to increase the profile of my website – it’s now on page 2 of Google – there’s still work to do, but it’s doing a lot better than it was, but more importantly than that, I feel that what I write is valued and that’s awesome.

When I was struggling to think of things to write, when I was feeling like it was hard work to post and on days when I didn’t really feel like sitting down and writing anything, I thought that the day my 90 days was up I would have a break. Well, as I said at the start, this is day 91, and here I am, writing away.

I have created a habit which I now really enjoy.

So I just wanted to take this opportunity to say Thank You to the 500+ people who have decided to follow this little blog in the last 90 days and to let you know how much I value your likes, blogs, follows and comments.

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