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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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New Year, New Me?

Hello beautiful people! How’s your New Year going so far?

Have you set yourself a load of New Year’s resolutions or are you planning on staying exactly as you currently are? If you’re perfect already, why change?

Most of us haven’t quite achieved the ‘perfect’ status as yet and so may have some things that we are working on – getting fitter, slimmer, happier, richer, calmer, more motivated or maybe even just working on blogging more!

I’m a big fan of learning, growing and self improvement, but more importantly than all of that I’m an advocate of being kind to yourself.

I see lots of clients with various issues that they are looking to change. One of the most common factors that runs through all of them is a lack of self kindness. When I hear the words people use about themselves it horrifies me. I honestly believe that most people are bullies.

As a society, we generally frown on bullying. We dislike it when people use aggressive or hurtful language to each other. We cringe when people call other people names. We are against shaming people – and yet we seem to do it to ourselves all the time.

See if you can recognise any of these thoughts…

I’m not good enough

I hate myself

I’m so stupid

I’m fat and disgusting

I’m too thick to do that

I have no self control

I am so embarrasing

I’m useless

Now imagine saying that to someone you care about? Would you say any of this to someone you love?

You’re not good enough

I hate you

You’re so stupid

You’re fat and disgusting

You’re too thick to do that

You have no self control

You’re so embarrasing

You’re useless

Sounds pretty awful right? I know if someone spoke to me that way I wouldn’t want to hang out with them and I certainly wouldn’t call them motivational or helpful.

When I think about motivational work, I think about supportive, helpful language. Words that will encourage and lift the person hearing them. Things like…

You CAN do this

You can achieve anything you set your mind to

It’s a learning process, keep trying

Everyone has to start somewhere

You are in control

We all make mistakes, forget it and move on

I’m proud of the effort you are putting in

Look how far you’ve come

These things sound more like something I would say to a friend or someone I cared about. Think about how these words would make you feel compared to the earlier list.

For most of us, changing the way we speak to ourselves takes some practice. The chances are that we have been using bullying language for a long time, so it may take a concerted effort to change your internal dialogue – and that’s OK. It’s a learning process. Don’t give up, you are in control. If you even give this a go I will be so proud of you for trying to make a positive change – you CAN do this!


Changing the way that you think and feel can sometimes be challenging when you are trying to do all the work yourself. If you need a helping hand, take one! There are plenty of people like me who are professional therapists who’s passion in life is to help people like you feel the way you want to. Hypnotherapy is a great tool to take some of the hard work out of these sort of changes.

 

 

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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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Why am I always hungry?

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Diets work by restricting your calories. Simple as that. Yes, some combine foods in certain ways and some restrict certain food types, but ultimately it all comes down to putting fewer calories in your body than you are using.

There are 2 main reasons people fail to stick to their diet. One is because they crave a certain food or food type. I have already written a post about that this month – how to crack your cravings – check it out if you want some help with that. The other main reason is hunger, yet there is something you can do about this too – even on a restricted diet.

  1. Try to work out if you are ACTUALLY HUNGRY

That may seem silly, but quite often we ‘feel hungry’ even when we are not. Sometimes we are emotionally hungry, or hungry to be heard. Sometimes we are just thirsty and need a drink. Sometimes we want to eat food (because we like the taste) but are not hungry.

A starving man would eat just about anything – we’ve all heard tales of survivors who ate awful things just to stay alive – that’s the power of hunger. If you’re hungry, and you fancy some cake or crisps or other junk food, see if an apple will do instead. If it won’t, you’re probably not that hungry – you’re just looking for a taste sensation. That is not a good enough reason to eat if you are trying to lose weight.

You could also try asking yourself what else (other than food) you may need right now. Try giving yourself that instead and see if you feel satisfied.

Then again maybe you just need a drink and to put your feet up for 5 minutes. It’s worth a try!

2. Eat to avoid hunger.

One of the reasons we feel hungry is because our blood sugar had dropped. When we eat high sugar food it gives us a high blood sugar that our body has to bring down (because it’s really bad for us) so it changes our body chemistry reducing it. That then causes our blood sugar to drop, which in turn makes us hungry. That’s why you might find that after starting on a bar of chocolate, or packet of biscuits, you keep going back to them until they’re gone. Avoiding sugary food evens out the blood sugar meaning you get less low blood sugars and therefore don’t feel as hungry. It’s worth pointing out here that some foods get converted to sugar in your body and have the same effect. White starches like potatoes, rice, pasta, flour etc have very similar effects to sugar.

Instead of eating sugar and starch try to keep your meals small but packed with lean protein and vegetables. If you really need some starch with your meal try a sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa or chick peas.

3. Plan your meals (and have a back up)

We often reach for bad food choices when we are really hungry. They are quick, satisfying and make our life easier. People who manage their weight well are often good planners. They plan ahead – they know what they will eat and when. No long periods of starvation. No panic take away orders. Just sensible planned food. You can do this too.

Trust me if I can, you can. I used to be the person I just described but now I plan better and I’m losing weight nicely. I’m not perfect though, and that’s where the back up comes in. By having healthy choice, ready meals in the fridge and batch cooked, freezer meals ready to go at a moments notice, I can forget to plan and still have a tasty, healthy choice available to me for my meals.

4. Eat regularly.

Your body gets used to eating at certain times. Try to stick to meal times. After a week or two your body will only expect food at these times and it will become a lot easier to avoid snacking.

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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 16

If you read my post yesterday, you’ll know that I wrote this yesterday in an attempt to get ahead of the game – I hope you enjoy it. What did you get ahead of, and how do you feel about it today knowing that you have one less thing to do?

One of the reasons I wanted to get this done yesterday is that today is my Partner’s Birthday. He is away at work in the morning, but will be home by afternoon and I want to make sure that the house is nice and clean, his favourite food and drinks are bought and prepared and that I can spend all my time celebrating with him.

Which brings me on to today’s topic – time.

The most valuable commodity you have is your time. We all have a limited amount of it – 24 hours in a day, 365 days in a year and who knows how may years in our life. We sell our time to our clients or our employers. We give our time to our friends and family. Some of us have more than we know what to do with, some of us could do with bonus hours in the day and days in the week. Time is precious.

I often have people tell me that they don’t have time to do things. Exercise , meditation, cooking for themselves, mindfulness etc. My response tends to be that we all have the same amount of time in a day, we just have to decide how we are going to use it. When you say you don’t have time, what you mean is I prioritise other things over this.

Have you ever had a conversation with a child who wants you to do something with them, and you’ve said that you don’t have time. Try reframing that sentence into a priority statement. Instead of saying I don’t have time, you say it as I am prioritising something else over doing this with you. Now if the thing you are prioritising is important, that’s ok. Some things have to take priority – earning money to pay bills, buying food to eat, cooking meals to keep them healthy. If the thing you are prioritising is less important or maybe even selfish, then this sentence can highlight that and help you to see things in a more honest way. For example if you tell someone that you are prioritising getting drunk over helping them with something important to them, then you are going to struggle to justify that.

So, spend your time wisely today – and every day. It’s one of the few things you can never get back.


One of the ways you can tell if you, or someone you know, has an addiction is the way they prioritise their time. If fulfilling the addiction takes priority over everything else, like being with others, taking care of themselves or their children, or working, then it’s time to get some serious help. Hypnotherapy and other talking therapies are one of the best ways to help you break free of addictive patterns. See if you can get the need today.

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Blogging rules

blogging rules

So personally I think blogging rules, but this is more about a particular rule of blogging,

If it’s not your picture – don’t use it.

In the past I have been guilty of downloading the picture I wanted to use from google or bing images without really thinking about it, but it has recently been bought to my attention that this could leave me open to being sued!

Seriously – people who write fun little no profit blogs are being sued for thousands of pounds / dollars for using images they don’t own. It doesn’t matter if you give the owner credit, disclaim copyright or don’t know you are doing something wrong – you can still be sued.

So be warned and be careful.

If you want to use images you can always subscribe to an image library like shutterstock or create your own with something like picmonkey which is free to use and which I used to create the image on this post and the new header for my blog (which I would love your feedback on).

So, don’t say I never give you anything 🙂

Happy Blogging

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