Tag Archives: mindfulness

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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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 8

How quickly did that first week go? Welcome to week 2 of our Self Care Advent Calendar.

Where shall we begin?

How about building on that creativity that we started yesterday? This week, let’s try to create something less physical – let’s create a new habit.

Did you know that it is generally accepted that if you do something every day for 21 days you will create a new habit. That means there is just enough time for you to create a new habit before the end of the year.

I want you to think back to January. Did you make any new years resolutions that you haven’t quite got around to yet? It’s not too late – you can still make it happen.

So what sort of habits should we be making?

Well you could do worse than reflecting on the things we covered in Days one, two, three, four, five, six and seven of the advent calendar. Was there anything in there that you would like to establish as a daily habit?

Maybe it’s something else that you want to do. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure it’s something useful to you that makes you and your life better.

This month I am focussing on Self Care, so what habits could you create that would most benefit you? Here are my top 5 suggestions

  1. Meditation

I know this takes practise before you start to see positive results from it, but it’s worth the effort. Creating mental space in your life will help you to be more resilient and better able to cope with whatever life throws at you.

2. Yoga

Depending on the type of Yoga you choose this can involve meditation, but also helps you to be physically strong and flexible which again supports your resilience.

3. Mindfulness

This has similar benefits to Meditation but is easier to practice in day to day life. When we really focus on being in the moment we can alleviate a lot of stress and anxiety from our lives which has amazing physical and mental benefits.

4. Self Hypnosis

What a fantastic way to achieve the things you want to in life. Take control of your subconscious and make things happen the way you want them to.

5. Organization.

Ok so, this is a bit of an odd one. When you get into the habit of being organized – planning and prepping your life – you might be surprised at the difference it makes. It’s effects can be many and varied. One impact tends to be that you will feel less stress. Knowing what is happening and knowing you are prepared for it can get rid of a lot of worry. Another impact can be an improvement in your diet and exercise. By planning your food and knowing what you are going to eat you tend to make better choices than you would if you decided what to eat when you are already hungry. By planning in your exercise (and maybe organising other people to be involved) you are more likely to complete it. It can also have a financial impact. Less impulse buys + more planned budgeting = more money in your pocket!

One final note on this one – don’t be too ambitious. Create one achievable habit and build on it. Make a commitment to yourself to create one new habit and stick to it for at least 21 days before you even think about trying another one. Slow and steady wins the race!


Some of the most beneficial habits can take a little bit of help to get started with. If you are struggling to change there people out there who can help. There are lots of therapists available with lots of different techniques and tricks to get you where you want to be.

 

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 6

We’ve made it to day 6 – Woo hoo!

So just to recap, were up, clean and dressed, well fed, we’ve been out into the big wide world, we’ve got a plan for the month and we’ve had a clean up…aren’t we doing fabulously?

So what does today bring? A little sparkle that’s what. Or maybe not depending on your tastes…it’s up to you really.

My suggestion for today is to put up a decoration or two. If you celebrate Christmas, this is a lovely time of year to decorate your home with a few sparkles, but even if you don’t it doesn’t mean you can’t put up some special decoration. Maybe you’re celebrating something else and you could decorate for that or maybe this isn’t any special time for you, but you could still decorate with a beautiful photo or some fresh flowers…

It really doesn’t matter what you choose, but making a space beautiful has a positive impact. You fulfil an internal need to be creative and you respect your space by making it attractive.

Personally I like my decorations to have a little meaning behind them. When we go away on holiday I try to pick up Christmas decorations that will remind me of happy times. We recently spent a long weekend in New York and it was amazing. We bought a little Santa ornament at a Christmas shop just by Carnegie Hall and today I put it up in front of the clock in the living room. Now every time I look at the time I get a little positive memory of our wonderful trip – good eh?

There is also something kind of nice about taking some time over things. As I wrote yesterday, it’s important to make time to create some metal space. Doing things in a mindful way is an opportunity to do this. Instead of rushing through your decorating, take time over it. Avoid other distractions and hold the objects that you are placing. Notice how they feel, how they look, how they smell. What memories do they bring up? What thoughts do you associate with them? How will you feel when you place it just right. Really focus on each thought and emotion and see them for what they are – just thoughts and feelings. You don’t have to act on them. You don’t have to keep them. Just notice them and let them pass…when you can do this with all your thoughts and feelings, you can eliminate stress and anxiety from your life completely, so it’s well worth practising.

When you’ve put up your decorations, take time to enjoy them too. Sit back and admire your work. Invite a friend around so that they can tell you how gorgeous it all looks. Ask the neighbours round for a coffee. Whilst it’s good to do these things for yourself, it’s also good to share them.


A lot of people suffer with overthinking, worry and anxiety. Mindfulness can be a great way to deal with these intrusive thoughts and to learn how to master them. There are classes happening all over the world and online, so it’s worth spending some time getting to grips with this incredible technique.

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 5

Hi there, I can’t believe how quickly this is going. Day 5 already.

So, we’re up, clean and dressed, well fed, we’ve been out and we have a plan for the rest of the month – what can possibly come next???

How about we take a little care of our environment?

The area we are in most tends to be our home. It often makes me smile to see how someones’s home can be a reflection of their mind. Clean ordered environments are helpful to create a clean, ordered mind. Now, clean and ordered may not be a desirable state for you…maybe you need high energy or a creative chaos…It’s your mind you get to choose, but if you are trying to create an environment that promotes a sense of peace and calm, a good tidy can do wonders.

That’s right a tidy and a clean. I’ve hehypard the ancient art of Feng Shui described as ‘spiritual tidy up’ but that’s not really what I’m talking about. I just mean, put some stuff away, create some space and get cleaning.

By putting ‘stuff’ away in our physical world we can encourage our subconscious to put away things that you are fed up of thinking about – you know those annoyingly niggly thoughts that aren’t very helpful to you, like worrying if you sounded silly in that conversation, or wondering what someone meant when they said you ‘looked good’.

When we create space in our physical world we can use it to remember to make space in our mental world. How often do you sit watching TV whilst typing on your computer? Or listen to music whilst scrolling through your social media? We are no longer satisfied with doing one thing at once, let alone doing nothing, yet giving your mind space to do nothing is very valuable to it. If you practice mindfulness, meditation, tai chi or yoga you are creating wonderful spaces in your mental landscape and that has been shown to have amazing health benefits. From improving immune systems to combating depression, creating space is an important part of self care.

By cleaning our physical world we get a number of benefits. Firstly it’s a bit of exercise, and that is great for your mind and body. Using muscles, getting the blood flowing, increasing the oxygen getting to your brain. All good things. Secondly you are reducing allergens, bacteria and toxins in your environment, helping your body to stay healthier. Thirdly you will create a sweeter smelling, more enjoyable environment to be in. You can enjoy this yourself, but it also means that if you have guests, you will feel more confident, be more relaxed and enjoy yourself more. Brilliant!

If your home is always immaculate (well done you – what’s the secret?) then put your feet up for 5 minutes and enjoy it. Make that mental space and enjoy your home.


For most of us cleaning up is a bit of a chore but for some with mental health issues it can become a nightmare. If you struggle with O.C.D. or Hoarding you can get the help you need to feel comfortable in your own home again. Give a hypnotherapist a call and see what could be possible.

 

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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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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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Do your best

Have you ever done your best?

Have you ever tried as hard as you possibly can?

Have you done all of the preparation work that you possibly could?

Have you trained as hard as you could have?

Have you reread and rewritten your work enough?

Have you been focussed enough?

Have you tried every possible way to get it done?

Have you sought professional help or expertise?

Have you eliminated distractions?

Have you avoided all temptation?

Have you given it everything you’ve got?

Chances are that the answer is a big fat NO.

That’s OK.

(almost everyone else will say no to that too)

Stop beating yourself up. Accept that your not perfect and be a little nicer to yourself

There are, of course, exceptions – maybe you’re one of them – and if you are – Well Done.

I’m very impressed and all that but seriously – get a life!

Smile, relax, have fun, eat a cake, daydream, watch silly TV, make up stories in your head – it’s all really cool stuff 🙂

So maybe do your best, but then again, maybe don’t.

Try to be happy…

…but don’t try too hard!

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My Happy Jar

My Happy Jar

This is the latest post about my Happy Jar. It’s been a little while since I posted an update on this, but don’t worry there’s still plenty going in the jar 🙂

The Happy Jar is a way to look back and remember all the little things that make us happy.

The idea came from a nice story I once heard about a woman who had a jar. Every time she thought of something that made her happy, she would jot it down on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Whenever she felt down, or fed up, she would go to her jar and find all the things that made her happy. Some things were big things, events that happened that she could look back on and smile, but most were little things that she could cherish and maybe even recreate to make her feel better.

So here are a few things from my Happy Jar this month.

A pink sunrise (yes I know, red sky in the morning – shepherds warning, but it’s still pretty)

Catching up with old friends at a house warming

Seeing friends happy – on a new journey, full of excitement and anticipation.

Fresh Blueberries in my porridge for breakfast.

A gift to myself being delivered.

The smell of freshly cut grass after it has rained.

Seeing my old dog act like a puppy when she finds a new walk.

Listening to an album I haven’t played in years (and still remembering the words).

Sprouting seeds.

Finding an old friend on social media.

Getting my nerd on with a friend.

Finding out that some amazing shoes I want actually come in my size (I’m 6ft tall and have size 9 feet)

Getting great feedback from a post

Getting caught in the rain and running for cover (then getting home and dry!)

Rediscovering a joy in drawing.

I know none of these things are amazing, there is nothing earth shattering about them, but all of them have made me smile and brought a least a little joy to my soul.

What will you put in your happy jar this month?

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Come sit down beside me

I just read a beautiful little poem – here it is for you.

Come sit down beside me, I said to myself.
And although it doesn’t make sense,
I held my own hand as a small sign of trust
And together I sat on the fence.

Michael Leunig

Sometime when we feel lonely or that we don’t quite fit in, we need to remember that we can sit beside ourselves and offer some comfort.

If you are religious, maybe you feel that your God is sitting beside you.

If you believe in an after life maybe it’s a lost relative or friend.

If you would rather believe in the universal energy, maybe that’s what will hold your hand.

Me, I’ll sit on the fence with me and make faces at everyone.

If you fancy it, come and join me 🙂

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