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Dans Le Noir – Eating in the dark

I recently had a genuinely new experience.

My partner and I had a meal in the dark – I’m not talking about eating a burger with the lights off, I’m talking about a full three course meal, with strangers in total darkness.

It’s rare enough to be in total darkness – to literally not be able to tell if you have your eyes open or closed. Then we had the added layer of being around people we had never met (or knew were there) and eating a mystery meal.

Let me explain.

There is an amazing restaurant in London (and at other locations around the world) called Dans Le Noir. When you arrive, you go into a fairly standard waiting area with a bar. It’s dimly lit, but everything is easily visible. The host then asks you to use one of the free lockers provided to stow away your bag, coat and any piece of jewelry, watch or electronic equipment that can emit light or glows in any way.

Next you are invited to choose from the menu. You have the choice of 2 or 3 courses and a choice of menu plan – vegetarian, seafood, meat or chef’s choice, which could be anything at all. Being in an adventurous frame of mind, we both opted for the Chef’s choice and waited to be seated.

At the alloted time we were asked to enter an even more dimly lit corridor where we were told what would happen. We just needed to push through the curtain in front of us where we would be met by our waiter for the evening. With some slight trepidation we stepped into total darkness. We moved in single file with one hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us, with the front person being led by our waiter. We couldn’t see him, but he gave us clear instructions as we all shuffled round the impossibly dark room to our seats.

One of the unique elements of this restaurant is that all the waiters are blind. In normal everyday life, it’s common to think of someone who is blind as being disabled or limited, but in this situation they had the upper hand over us. Without our waiter we would have been totally lost. He navigated the space with ease and we were utterly reliant on him.

When we were seated, we found our place settings, napkins (which we were advised to tuck into our collars) and water glasses. We were seated opposite our partners on a long trestle table – think the dining hall in Harry Potter but scaled down. I actually have no idea how long it was – I’m totally guessing!

After a few minutes of working out our space and checking in with each other we worked out that there was a couple seated to my right (who had recently got married) and initially empty seats to my left.

We were bought a bottle of water. Simple enough right? Try pouring yourself a glass of water from a bottle with your eyes closed – certainly not impossible, but it takes a bit of thinking about.

Conversation quickly started. As we had heard the couple to my right, we did the fairly natural thing of introducing ourselves. Under normal circumstances, that may have been the only conversation we had with those people as we became absorbed in our own experience, but that too was changed by the dark. When a question or statement was made, we had no way of knowing who it was aimed at, so the comfortable thing to do was to respond. At one point I mentioned (to my partner) that my eyes were playing tricks on me in the darkness and it was like I could see stars – but not like the sky at night, like I was going into warp drive on a spaceship from Star Wars or something – the next thing I knew we were having a 6 way conversation with people (some of whom I had no idea were even there) about Star Wars – so surreal!

Then came the food. I don’t want to tell you guys what we ate in case you try this experience for yourselves, but I do want to share what it was like for me.

The first challenge is finding your food on the plate – I’m not going to lie, fingers played an extensive role in my eating. You just don’t get enough feedback from cutlery to let you know what you’re dealing with. Then came the taste. When you recognise what you are eating, it all makes sense, but when you are unsure it can become very confusing. I thought one piece of meat was pork, then steak before I came to the conclusion it was venison. FYI I was wrong all three times!

We both quickly realised how easily things could be adapted to make it easier when you couldn’t see – for instance you could have dents or marks in the table so that you knew where your place setting started and finished and you could make the handle of the fork different textures on the front and the back so you knew which way round it was.

Part way through our main course some new people came in and were seated on my left. It was so interesting to hear them work through things in the way we had done and to notice how quickly we had become acclimated to the situation.

It was almost disappointing when the end came and we moved back to normality. Our waiter graciously helped us back to the lit world where we saw his face for the first time – I have to admit he looked nothing like I thought he would and at that moment I realised how much store I put in what someone looks like, despite my many and varied protestations that looks do not matter. The was a quote in the reception area that said one of the unique elements of this experience was it’s lack of Vanity, and that certainly held true for me.

The final part of the experience was to have the menu shown to you. I was genuinely surprised at how wrong I had got some of it. I like to think of myself as a bit of a foodie, and whilst some of the dishes were a bit unusual, I had got some really simple stuff wrong. Like – really wrong.

I would strongly recommend this to anyone, especially someone who enjoys a great meal, but even if you’re not a gastronomic explorer, do something that changes your experience. You learn more in a couple of hours of immersion than you ever will thinking about what it would be like.

There is so much more I could write about this – it was (if you will excuse the pun) an eye opening experience, but I’ll finish with a couple of my favourite quotes from the evening.

“Just pop your finger in and you can’t go wrong”

“The tentacles got the better of me”

“Are you still there?”

and last but not least

“That’s not my hand”

 

 

 

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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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How do I help a fussy eater?

Hello beautiful people!

It’s May already. A third of the way through the year? How’s it going? Are you getting closer to your goals? Have you given up on them? Maybe they’ve just changed as your priorities have.

In January I decided that May would be a good month to talk about food. So, here goes.

Food – I love food. That’s not quite right – I LOVE food. I’m one of those people who wake up in the morning thinking about what they are going to eat today. I enjoy eating it, I enjoy cooking it, I enjoy shopping for it, I enjoy trying new things and revisiting old familiar things.

I like exploring food – if there is a new taste, a new texture, a new sensation to be had – I want it. My partner recently tried miracle berries. They were on my bucket list to try, so I was very excited to give them a go.

Miracle berries have a strange property. They stop you from tasting sour. So we lined up a load of foods which you normally think of as sour or sharp. We cut up lemons, limes, grapefruit and cooking apples. We got sharp tasting liquids like lemon juice, and vinegar. We got pickled things like onions and cabbage. We even got some guinness – not a classically sharp taste, but suggested as part of our little experiment. We got them all lined up and sucked on our miracle berries.

You have to keep them in your mouth for about 5 minutes. They don’t have a particular taste and there was no real sensation so I was a little doubtful that they would work. We were both a little nervous going for our first sharp flavour, but figured in for a penny, in for a pound, so grabbed a wedge of lemon and bit in….

….and it was delicious! It had the sweetest, loveliest flavour ever! We were so thrilled with the effect we blatted through the rest of the foods, amazed with their varying flavours. It was a really good fun half an hour. The effect started to wear off towards the end, but it was a gradual fade, so the sharpness just crept in slowly, and was kind of great too.

As part of my practice I’ve worked with a few people with food phobias. Generally these are adults, as for some reason, people think it’s perfectly OK for their kids to be fussy eaters. They let their kids get away with a restricted diet which then leads to issues for them as adults. As well as obvious problems like malnutrition, poor skin, poor eyesight and generally poor health, being a fussy eater can make it more difficult for people to socialise, to be around others, to train and to manage their weight. For me, eating new things is such a joy, I love helping people discover that joy for themselves.

A couple of quick tricks you can try if you are trying to eat new things.

First – don’t force it! All you are doing is building resistance if you try to force yourself to eat something. Try getting yourself in a position where you can be relaxed and comfortable before you try a new food.

Secondly – make it a really small amount. What ever food you are trying, cut a really small amount of it up. I mean really small. Then put that tiny piece in your mouth. Notice what it feels like, what tasted you notice, what thoughts it makes you think of. Do this every day for a month. Always try a small piece, but if you feel more confident, you can make it a bit bigger each time.

Finally – cook it in a different way. Don’t like boiled carrots? Try roasting them…or poaching them in sugar water with star anise, or grating them on a salad, or grating them into a bolognaise sauce, or just try them raw! Just because you don’t like them the way that you’ve tried them before, doesn’t mean you won’t like them a different way.

 

 

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January Diet Tips

In the UK, today is known as Blue Monday. Statistically it’s the most depressing day of the year. The weather is cold and the sky is grey. Everyone is broke from Christmas (and waiting for their January pay). All those new years resolutions (like dieting and getting fit) are feeling impossible. Or to put it another way, things are feeling a bit rubbish.

It’s also the day most people are likely to give up on those New Years resolutions. Instead of thinking about their healthy food choices, they are calling for take out, shopping for cake and drinking the sugary and often alcoholic drinks. Coincidence? I think not.

So how do you stay on track when all around you are running for the sweet stuff?

  1. Remember why you started

When you told yourself that this was going to be the year that you got control of your diet, you meant it. Has anything changed? Have you suddenly decided that you want to be overweight? Probably not. So think about what you want to achieve, how you’re going to do it and feel the motivation. Why do you want to lose weight? Is it important to you? How will you feel when you reach your ideal weight?

2. Give yourself a treat (that’s not food/drink related)

When life is a bit tough, it’s only natural to want to make yourself feel better, but it doesn’t need to be related to food or drink. Pamper yourself. Get your hair cut, have a facial, get your nails done – whatever works for you. Then again maybe it’s a day out, booking a trip or getting tickets to an event. Possibly it’s just organising a catch up with friends or calling someone you like a chat with. There are millions of calorie free treats out there – find one that works for you.

3. Think about how you’ll feel tomorrow.

Lots of people with weight issues live in the past or the present, but rarely the future. Let me explain. When faced with a high calorie treat they are focussed only on the treat. About how they will feel when they are eating it and the few moments that follow. They rarely think about how they will feel tomorrow when they stand on the scales and the number has gone up. How they will feel in 2 months when they haven’t achieved the weight loss they were hoping for. When you want to indulge, use your imagination to project into the future and think how you will feel.

4. Be nice to yourself

Life can be hard sometimes and when it is we could all do with our own personal cheerleader to get us through the day. Someone who believes in us, someone who will help and motivate us, someone who cares about us. The great news is, you can do that for yourself. That little voice in your head can be a bully or a cheerleader – it’s up to you. If you have a natural bully, make the decision to not listen to that voice anymore and ask yourself what your inner cheerleader would say to you – listen to that voice instead.

5. Forgive yourself

If all else fails and you buckle to the sweet treat – forgive yourself. A moment of madness need not ruin your whole eating plan. Diets don’t work by the hour or the day or even the week. One bad moment shouldn’t ruin your day, One bad day shouldn’t affect the rest of the week. Forgive your little moment and get back on with making the choices that will make you feel great.


If you’re having trouble getting your eating under control hypnosis is a great tool to help get your head into the right space to make the changes you want.

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Self Care Advent Calendar Day 25

Happy Christmas!

All I would like you to do today is to enjoy yourself.

Christmas is not about being perfect – it’s about having a good day. So don’t try too hard, relax, enjoy yourself and make the most of the day.

See you in the New Year x

merry christmas

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Just for today….

Sometimes making changes in our life can feel overwhelming – it’s just too much. Too hard to make permanent changes, even if we know that changing will make us happier, healthier and feel better. So why not try it just for a day?

It’s a technique that people who are in recovery from an addiction know pretty well – one day at a time. It might seem incomprehensible to an alcoholic that they will never drink again. An idea of a lifetime of sobriety is just too overwhelming to consider,but a day, or an hour or even a minute may be doable. After one minute, maybe I could do one more. After one hour, the next may seem more possible. After a day, I can try another day. Success can often lead to more success, so sometimes it’s better to make small goals.

It’s a great strategy for an addict.

So ask yourself what you are addicted to. Are you hooked on self defeating attitudes? Can you go through a day without beating yourself up about something?

Not all of the suggestions below will apply to you – maybe none of them will, but maybe, just maybe you’ll find something below that you could try – Just for today.

Just for today do something you want to do, but normally don’t let yourself.

Eat the forbidden food, watch the trashy TV, say the thing you’ve been wanting to say.

Just for today do something that you know you should do, but can never get started with.

Go for a run, clean out your wardrobe, sort through your photo’s

Just for today give yourself permission to feel how you don’t normally feel.

Have a day where you stop worrying, decide that you like how you look or stop putting others first.

Just for today allow yourself to be totally in the moment.

Turn everything off. Sit quietly and notice your thoughts.

Just for today drink nothing but water.

No caffeine, no sugar, no additives, no alcohol.

Just for today be honest with yourself.

Stop making excuses, stop lying to yourself, ask yourself the difficult question.

Just for today forgive yourself.

It’s OK not to be OK. You’re human, not perfect.

Just for today don’t complain.

Think about what you’re grateful for, think about those worse off than you, think about how lucky you are.

Just for today, help.

Help your family, help your friends, help a stranger.

Just for today be kind.

Be kind to yourself, be kind to those you like, be kind to those you don’t like.

Just for today, forgive.

Let go of the anger, let go of the hate, let go of the pain.

Just for today I’ll try something new

New tastes, new activities, new strategies.

There are many things that we could all change in our lives. Sometimes they are easy, sometimes they are hard. Why not try them on for a day – you never know, you might like it. If you do, maybe try it for another day,and another, until it’s just what you do now.

If you find it hard to change things in your life, there are ways that you can make it easier. My favourite is hypnotherapy, but others are available. Try change on your own, but if at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up, get some help.

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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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How to influence people

My Job is to influence people.

I’m a Hypnotherapist and people pay me to influence the way they think and feel, so I’ve learned a few tricks along the way.

One of the least successful methods to get anyone to change is to tell them to, yet that seems to be what most people do most of the time.

Another thing people think will work is to explain things to people. They believe that if the other person just understands that what they are thinking/doing is wrong then they will change their behaviour. Unfortunately, this rarely works either. Take smoking for instance. We all know that smoking is damaging to us, and that we are likely to suffer ill health if we do it, yet there are still millions of smokers in the world. Telling them so stop doesn’t work. Explaining that it is bad for them doesn’t work. So what does?

Generally speaking, the best way of influencing someone (who isn’t hypnotised) is by leading by example.

If someone has a phobia of spiders there is a pretty good chance they were influenced into this way of thinking by someone close to them who was also scared of spiders. They saw this person freak out and subconsciously decided that this was a good way to react. Conversely if a person with an existing phobia is surrounded by people who are calm and relaxed around spiders, they may start to feel more relaxed themselves.

I had a client the other day who desperately wanted their partner to come for a hypnotherapy session with me. The partner was adamant that it wasn’t for them and refused point blank to even think about it. So my client booked 3 sessions with me to work on an issue she had. She went home after each session and told her partner how good it was making her feel and how much she was gaining from it. By the third session, he was asking if he could take her place.

When I was 11 years old I was told by a headmaster that the best piece of advice he could give me was to choose my friends wisely. It was a great piece of advice. Not only have my friends helped me through some difficult times and made good times better, but they have also influenced me. They have shaped my ideas and beliefs, they have led by example and I have learned so much from them. If I had chosen other friends, who knows where my life would have taken me. My advice to you would be to choose friends you respect. Choose friends you care about. Choose friends you want to be like.

If you want to influence someone be the example. Be their friend and show them by your words and more importantly your actions how good life can be. Show them what it is to be strong, caring, committed, healthy, reliable, responsible, fun, interesting and non judgemental. It may take some time, but you will be amazed at the impact it can have.

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Thinking

It’s Sunday, It’s time for a little poetry.

I came across this the other day and like how beautifully it tied together the theories on positive thinking…

I hope you like it

Thinking

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t.If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!

Walter D Wintle

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A change is as good as a rest

Sue Griffin hypnotist

Hello!

I’ve had long hair for a while now, but on Wednesday I decided it had to go.

I booked an appointment at the hairdressers and today I went and had it all (well not quite ALL, but a hell of a lot of it) cut off.

It feels great.

Big changes are often scary, and I know that getting your hair cut is not that big of a deal, but I think it can be representative of how we feel about ourselves.

Quite often we change styles, cuts or colours when we move to new phases of our lives. It’s a way of saying goodbye to the old you and starting afresh.

Personally, I’ve been happy with the last phase, and I hope to be happy with the next one, but I must admit, I’m a little bit excited to see where it goes.

I was working with a client today who feels that they are stuck in a phase of their life where they don’t want to be any more. They felt that they didn’t have the strength to let go and move on.

It didn’t take long to find where the self destructive patterns of behaviour were, and with just a few tweeks and a reminder of how good her life had been before she entered this phase, she left feeling confident, optimistic, positive and enthusiastic about how she could move forward.

Those are things we can all strive to feel.

C.O.P.E.

Confident

Optimistic

Positive

Enthusiastic.

That’s how we cope.

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