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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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5 ways to make a positive introduction

energy

We’ve all been there. We need to introduce ourselves and we want to make a good impression, but how do we do that?

It starts before you even open your mouth.

Decide what comfortable looks like

Firstly, you need to get your energy right. Don’t get weirded out by the idea of personal energy – it’s not some strange construct about chi or laylines, it’s just the ‘vibes’ we give out. I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking ‘what utter nonsense’, but think about this for a second…have you ever walked into a room where nobody has said a word, but you can tell that there is tension – that things aren’t right…that’s the energy I’m talking about. In reality it’s probably a combination of body language and our subconscious minds. We pick up on all sorts of small signals and they give us a feeling of right or wrong, good or bad, safe or dangerous, comfortable or nervous.

When we meet people, we want them to think certain things of us and feel a certain way about us. Unless we have ulterior motives we probably want them to like us – to feel comfortable and at ease. So how do we achieve this? Let’s start by thinking about the sort of people we feel comfortable with…are they nervous or self assured? Are they  relaxed or uptight? Are they highly strung or laid back? Are they vigilant or unaware? Generally people feel comfortable with people who seem comfortable themselves. They seen confident, self assured, relaxed and happy.

I you don’t feel it- fake it

So we want to appear to be confident, self assured, relaxed and happy. If you feel that way then you are already most of the way there, but what if you don’t. The easy answer is fake it. Most people aren’t very good at telling if someone is genuinely confident, or just pretending to be, so fake it ’til you make it. Think about your body language. Imagine someone who feels the way you want to feel and think about how they look. What is their posture like? How about their eye contact? Are they fidgeting? Do they have a prop? What are their hands doing? If you can picture it, then you can copy it. Maybe you could even imagine floating into their body and assuming their mannerisms…

What if it all went perfectly?

Sometimes the reasons we feel anxious or nervous are because we have thought about all the things that could possibly go wrong. We go over and over the situation, thinking about what mistakes we might make or all the negative things people may think about us. Unfortunately, rather than helping us to prepare, this just makes us fearful. This in turn affects the energy. How comfortable do feel around people that are scared? I know it can be easy to think about all the worst possible outcomes, but with practice you can start to think about all the things that could go well. What if they really like us? What if it goes perfectly? These thoughts lead to confidence and a positive feeling.

Be realistic

When we meet people, what ever the situation, we have some hopes about how it’s going to go. If it’s a job interview, we want them to give us the job. If it’s a date, we want them to want to see us again. If it’s a new job we want to fit in with the new team and become liked and valuable. As much as we hope it will go perfectly – what if it doesn’t? Is it life or death? Will we have another chance to change things? Being confident is not about believing that everyone will like you, it’s about knowing that you will be OK even if they don’t. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself and relax!

Enjoy it

The nicest people to be around tend to be those that just enjoy the company of others. So put your best foot forward, relax (or pretend to) and enjoy the opportunity. Who knows where it could take you?

If you struggle with social situations or have problems with confidence and self esteem there are many ways you can get help. Hypnotherapists like myself are ready and willing to help you to feel how you want to, either through hypnosis or through a myriad of other psychological tools and tricks. Don’t suffer unnecessarily –  make the change!

 

 

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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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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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How are you going through life?

I heard someone talking on the TV this morning. They had been married to a man who was an outspoken atheist and was killed by religious extremists – she herself had been severely attacked at the same time. The interviewer asked her how she coped now. She relayed something her husband said to her – ‘when I’m travelling along in my little sail boat and the waters seem to big or to dark, I look up and I find you, ready to pull me along’. I just stay who I am, solid, and keep going.

As a hypnotherapist I’m very interested in peoples metaphors. It has been said that our metaphors are actually a direct line to our subconscious. The words we choose, the way that we express ourselves, often has little to do with a deliberate thought – we just say what we feel. When that expression comes in the way of a metaphor it can be very revealing.

So I ask the question – How are you going through life?

Are you the centre of your own universe?

Are you travelling through an environment? If so what is that environment like? Is it scary or friendly? Is it free or constrained?

Are you on the ground or on water or in the air?

Are you in charge of your journey?

Have you got things or people with you?

If you are stuck – how can you become free?

If you are let loose – how can you take a step in the right direction?

What is around you?

How does this relate to other things?

Is there anything else that you notice about your metaphor?

What does it mean to you?

It doesn’t just work with your journey through life. You can use this metaphor process for anything. Maybe you want to think about the blog you are writing, the relationship you are in, your work life or business…what ever you want to think about.

It’s worth thinking about this for yourself, but it’s even better to talk about these things with someone else to see what their perspective may be on it…maybe a friend, maybe a therapist….that’s up to you.

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Plot Twist!

One of the few constants in life is change – ironic right?

Change can be fantastic.

Change can be devastating.

Change can be invigorating.

Change can be unnerving.

One of the few things you know it will be, is different.

So, when life throws you a curve ball – and make no mistake – at some point it will,

just yell

‘PLOT TWIST’

and move on.

Trying to hang on to the past will not help you.

Do what you can to embrace the new because before you know it your new ‘new’ will be the status quo that you are worries about changing.

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Perfect place

In Hypnotherapy I often ask people to think of a perfect place – a place where they can feel safe and comfortable, a place where they can be entirely themselves. I ask them to think about where it is, what it looks like, what it feels like, what the light is like, what smells they can smell and what sounds they can hear.

It’s good to have a perfect place.

It reminds me of this song I used to love as a teenager. Still do actually.

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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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Magical Metaphor

I’m over the moon to be writing about metaphors. You know – metaphorically speaking.

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

Metaphors are also described as figures of speech, allegories, parables, analogies, word pictures and symbols.

They creep into our everyday life without most of us even noticing.

Have you ever really been as sick as a parrot? (I didn’t even know parrots were particularly prone to sickness).

Do you ever get run off your feet?

Have you ever actually been on cloud 9? (or clouds 1-8 for that matter)

Does your head get foggy? (or rainy, snowy or windy?)

When was the last time you said something was amazing or awesome? When was the last time you were genuinely amazed or in awe?

Is the world a stage?

Have you ever drowned in debt?

Metaphors are everywhere.

Personally I rather like looking out for them? When you start to spot them you can start to notice the language people are using with regards to their metaphors – it can be quite revealing.

As a hypnotherapist I deal a lot with metaphors and symbolism. The subconscious mind is much better at changing things if you give it symbols to work with.

You might want to give this little exercise a go.

Let’s imagine you have something coming up that you feel uncomfortable with. Maybe it’s a test or exam, maybe it’s a meeting that you are worried about, maybe it’s a conversation you are not looking forward to having. What ever it is try to think of a symbol that represents how you feel about it at the moment. The symbol can be a shape, a colour, a character, an object – whatever works for you. Now think about a symbol that represents how you would LIKE to feel about it – easy, relaxed, confident – whatever is best for you.

Once you’ve got the new improved symbol in your mind, make it destroy the other, less useful symbol. It can squash it, rub it out, fade it away, blow it up, burn it down, screw it up and throw it away – what ever suits you – just make your new improved symbol the only one that left afterwards.

Now – ask yourself how you feel about the thing that you were concerned about….

…better?

Using this technique along with hypnosis can and does make powerful changes for people – you should give it a try – it could leave you feeling on top of the world!

(metaphorically speaking of course)

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