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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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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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Amazing People or What makes you special?

There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about some amazing people – mostly because they have just died. I’m referring to the sad loss of Lemmy, David Bowie and Alan Rickman. All three have had an impact on my life in some small or large way – I’m guessing they have had some impact on yours too.

They all had a gift to entertain. They were brilliant lights in a sometimes foggy world. They were the characters that we knew, and so much more besides. The only ones who really knew these people were the ones closest to them. Those people would probably be able to tell us a million other things that made them special too.

I was watching a program on children’s development. There was a little girl on there who had been born with one short foot. She had no toes and the foot wasn’t much more than a stump. She took her shoes off and proudly showed her ‘small foot’ to the kids and announced that it was what made her special. I was thrilled at the confidence she displayed and thought what a great job her parents had done to help her to feel this way. whilst I was thinking about this I saw a facebook post saying why you were already one ahead of David Bowie …

DB

The thing is, all of those things that we’re worried about because they make us different, are all the things we should be celebrating, because they make us different.

We are fortunate enough to live in a society that celebrates individuality, uniqueness and difference, but sometimes people still somehow seem to want to turn that wonderful difference into a weapon to attack people with. That can make people afraid and doubt themselves.

If you’re lucky enough to be different – enjoy it. Own it completely and utterly and use it for whatever advantage it gives you. Find what makes you special and be proud of it. That way no-one will ever be able to use it as a weapon against you.

One of my favourite comedians is Eddie Izzard – if you don’t know his stuff you have a fun time on YouTube awaiting you. One of his routines that stands out for me is when he was talking about being a transvestite. He said he was worried about gangs of lads shouting out ‘look at the bloke in a dress!’, but then he discovered that if he replied with ‘yes, I am a bloke in a dress’ that they suddenly lost their power. As he put it ‘he didn’t have the victim mentality that they required at this point’. Instead of things escalating he made them feel uncomfortable by owning his difference and being proud of it.

So my challenge to you is two fold.

Firstly, find out what makes you different. Own it, be proud of it and let it work for you.

Secondly, and just as importantly, never be one of those idiots who try to shame others for being different. Otherwise you may one day be faced with a bloke in a dress who finds a way to turn the tables on you.

p.s. I’ll be standing next to him with all my friends waving our wonderful freaky flags.

 

If you need help with confidence, hypnosis is a great tool to help you feel the way you want to feel. Check out www.talktherapies.co.uk for more info

 

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Not just one Goal! Go for a Hat trick.

Hat trick
noun
three successes of the same kind within a limited period, in particular (in soccer) the scoring of three goals in a game by one player or (in cricket) the taking of three wickets by the same bowler with successive balls. “he scored a hat-trick”
The thing is I don’t play soccer, or cricket for that matter. But I do other things – lots of other things. I’m a Hypnotherapist, a small business owner, a marketer, and a blogger to name but a few. All of these areas of my life need to grow, to develop and to move forward. One way that I can make this happen is to have goals.
It is often said that goals are dreams with an end date, but I’m not sure that’s true. For me dreams can be unrealistic and fanciful, where as goals cannot. I can dream about what it would be like to be able to fly (without a plane) but it’s not a goal.
You’ve probably heard about SMART goals meaning that your goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and have Time scales. I think that makes sense, but I think you need to break it sown some more.
You need to also ask the questions
Why – Why do you want this?
What – What do you want to achieve from this/with this?
Who – Who do you want/need to be involved? Ask for help – people are often incredibly nice like that.
When – When are you going to do each part of your plan?
Where – Where are you going to do this?
Then you need to write your plan of how you are going to achieve your goals. Yes, actually write it down, otherwise it’s easy to go off track and forget what you set out to do. Try to be specific with each point. Also work out what might get in your way or go wrong with this and have things in place to deal with it.
Next try not to start out too ambitious. Making really ambitious goals can lead to a sense of frustration and failure and lead to you giving up – start small. This is a good reason to go for multiple goals. It gives you a chance for quick wins and and a boost to your confidence whilst still working towards the bigger achievements.
So here are my 3 goals for this month
1. Increase my twitter followers to 200 – you can help by clicking here and following me
2. Increase visits to my website – www.talktherapies.co.uk – feel free to check it out and tell me what you think. All constructive criticism is welcome.
3. Post 20 new pieces this month – and have fun doing it 🙂
If I can help you achieve your goals this month let me know in the comments – I would love to be part of what you are trying to achieve. Feel free to leave links to articles or websites and I will share where I can.
Last piece of advice with all goal making is make it fun – the more fun you’re having, the more likely you are to keep at it, and in most cases, persistence is all that stands between you and what you want.

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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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How to motivate yourself

We’ve all been there, right?

There’s something you really NEED to do, but you just can’t seem to find the motivation to do it.

You procrastinate.

You become busy with other, often much less important, things.

You justify why you don’t really need to do it now.

You find any excuse.

But there have been times when you were motivated. So what did that feel like for you? Can you think of a metaphor to describe it?

For me it’s a bit like being a fish on a hook. When I’m hooked by something I feel compelled to do it. I’m drawn to it like a fish being drawn on a line – it’s inescapable. Everything I do ends up bringing me closer to the thing that has hooked me.

When I lose motivation it’s like the hook has come loose – I may still swim in that direction, or I may not. I’m free to get distracted by other things and go in different directions. I may find myself getting tired and just drifting along with no focus at all.

So what’s it like for you?

If you can think of a metaphor or simile that you can connect to, then you can start to access those feelings when you want to kick start your motivation.

But you can also take it to the next step – get creative with your metaphor.

What else do you think of?

Is there anything particular about it?

What else does it make you think of?

How can you supercharge it?

What things could you do that would help you?

What things might get in your way? what could you do about them?

By getting creative with your metaphor you can often surprise yourself by finding real world solutions to your problems.

The theory goes along the lines that our metaphors are actually routes into our subconscious. It is our subconscious patterns that lead to how we think and feel about everything, from being motivated to falling in love, from fears and phobias to things that make us happy – it’s all programmed in there. The problem that we often have is that our conscious and our subconscious often have trouble communication with each other.

Take a phobia for instance. Before I got some help with it I had a phobia of Butterflies. Yes I know – butterflies are not scary – they can’t hurt you in ANY way. But in some ways they are a perfect example of a phobia – a phobia is an IRRATIONAL fear – it doesn’t have to make sense. You see, that’s the thing. My conscious mind KNEW that butterflies were harmless, but my subconscious wasn’t listening. As soon as I saw one I was terrified. Not scared – Terrified – yes with a capital T. Nothing I could logically, consciously think could change that. My subconscious thought they were going to kill me and that was that. See what I mean about your conscious and subconscious not communicating?

Part of the reason for this that they speak in different ways. Your conscious mind is all language and logic whilst your subconscious is all pictures and feelings. That’s what Hypnotherapists like myself use to help you change. We hypnotise you to access your subconscious and then talk to it in it’s own language. Quite often this is the language of metaphor.

So if you want to understand yourself a little better, try listening to your subconscious. Think in terms of metaphors then explore them to see what you uncover and manipulate them to get the results you are looking for.

Now, stop reading random stuff on the internet and get on with whatever you should be doing 🙂

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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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