And in life today there are countless examples of mental strength. Lord Alan Sugar for one; starting life in a council house and without a lot prospects, he is now a household name, having become a multi-millionaire along the way and at the age of 64, shows no signs of stopping. I look at the amazing troops to come out of war having suffered life-changing injuries both physically and psychologically, now taking on incredible challenges like Walking with the Wounded and I find myself asking again “what makes them stronger, more focused than others?”
We all know the people who seem to always find misery, they seem to never be happy despite the amazing house, car, husband, job, children etc. What makes them so different? Could it all be perspective?
I have been very blessed with my life, I have had my fair share of challenges which I hope has made me a better therapist but I have always found the inner strength to overcome what life has challenged me with.
The more I work with people and the more I learn, the more amazed I am by the power of the mind. We live in a world of technology, a world where we are becoming less and less aware of the little things in life, of our body’s natural rhythm. We take for granted so much of what we have, only stopping to look at something when we no longer have it. We strive for goals, reach them and then strive for the next one. Rarely stopping to enjoy the wonderful life we have created.
When I look at people like my Grandmother, Lord Sugar and the soldiers, the only answer I can come up with is that they have mastered the biggest tool we all have available to us. They have managed to work with their minds in a positive way. If we understand what drives us, if we work with our minds and bodies rather than against them, we can achieve amazing things, things we never thought possible. The mind is the most powerful tool you can ever have, more powerful than any computer. It has the ability to make you believe you can achieve anything.
Look how powerful it can be if we start on a negative spiral for example. We can imagine things so vividly even though the chance of them happening are less than 00.1%, but we still feel the physical and physiological responses as if it had already happened. Or there are the psycho-somatic cases when you tell your brain you are ill and it starts to give you the symptoms as if you really were.
Of course although our bodies are amazing machines, there are times when you must accept that your amazing machine is not going to recover to the extent that you want it to. You may never be the person you were before, but a fantastic thing to learn is that if you work positively with your own mind, you can see that the person you are now is as brilliant and in some ways better than the person you were before. If we all worked in a positive way the world would be an even more inspiring place – all that aggression that people have could be funneled properly to achieve something good.
I am not meaning to sound too idealistic; we all have our down days, but the trick is to make those fewer and more far between.
In our fast paced lives we may find that we keep putting off the things we intended to do to such a degree that everything becomes overwhelming. Although not a clinical condition, procrastination can have a negative impact on us, keeping us in a perpetual state of stress, guilt or sense of underachievement.
The Centre for Clinical Interventions defines procrastination as:
“…making a decision for no valid reason to delay or not complete a task or goal
you’ve committed too, and instead doing something of lesser importance,
despite there being negative consequences to not following through on the original task or goal”
They take a cognitive behavioural perspective (our thoughts influence our behaviour) in understanding and dealing with procrastination that I have found very useful. So with regards to procrastination, we have unhelpful ‘thought rules’ and assumptions about ourselves and our work, that influence digression. Such thoughts could be:
“Things have to be done my way. I shouldn’t have to do things I don’t want to”
“Life is too short to be doing anything difficult or boring “
“Everything I do has to be perfect (otherwise I will be perceived as a failure)”
“I must be certain of what will happen. What if it’s bad? Maybe I shouldn’t risk it”
“I can’t do it. I am not good enough or capable”
“I am too stressed and tired to do anything at the moment”
“There is loads of time, I can do it later”
When we encounter a work situation that activates any of these thoughts, we feel discomfort (e.g. anger, anxiety, resentment, frustration, boredom, fear, embarrassment, despair, depression, exhaustion etc). In order to reduce the feelings of discomfort, we seek to do something else more pleasurable – and so we procrastinate. We then begin to associate procrastination as a better alternative to the task at hand (because it reduces the feeling of discomfort, and what we choose to do instead is usually more pleasant or short-lived rewarding).
In this way we can get caught in a negative vicious cycle of procrastination. There are several things we can do to get out of the cycle. One is to modify the rules and assumptions we have about ourselves and work to be more realistic and helpful, by asking questions like, what is unreasonable or unhelpful about the assumption? what negative assumptions are linked to that? and what could an alternative more helpful assumption be? (i.e. I don’t always have to do everything perfectly, it is ok to make mistakes…)
Another way to reduce the procrastination cycle is to endure the sense of discomfort and realise that the feeling will disappear on its own! The idea is to try and break the habit of associating the ‘relief’ of not doing what one had set out to do by procrastinating, and instead try and gain a positive experience by achieving what that task – and then rewarding yourself for it. In other words, breaking the habit of associating procrastination as a positive experience.
On a final note, remember we all procrastinate and sometimes it can be good (we get other things done) and informative (our body maybe telling us we have too much going on). So sometimes we should simply acknowledge that it is ok to procrastinate one in a while.
Another way to try and change your behaviours is to do the 30 day Breathe Wellbeing program which is based on interventions from the field of Positive Psychology. These interventions have been shown to raise levels of personal wellbeing . To order go to http://breathe-london.com/positive-connections
Madeleine Mason is a member of the Breathe London wellbeing team
Madeleine is a Danish trained Occupational Therapist with a wide range of Psychology qualifications. In addition to an undergraduate degree in Psychology she has a diploma in Cognitive Behavioural therapy and certificates in Applied Positive Psychology and Level AB testing. She is currently studying for a Masters degree in Occupational psychology.
For more information on procrastination try looking at this site: http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=50
For many people when you speak about hypnosis their first image is of the stage. Watching people cluck like chickens etc, whilst the audience laugh away marvelling at the “control” the stage hypnotist has over the person. Stage hypnosis has helped clinical hypnosis become more recognised; it allows people to see the fun side as well as the therapeutic side.
So how does stage hypnosis differ from hypnosis that is used for therapeutic reasons? The trance you enter when under hypnosis is the same for both the stage and the therapy room. The difference is the goal, the objective. When you are on stage you are entering into this trance with a view to having fun with your subconscious, playing games and entertaining the audience. You are in that frame of mind. Just like all hypnosis, stage hypnosis is self-hypnosis, you have to want to go up on stage and prance around.
Very often when you go to a stage performance the performer will get a group of people on stage, usually made up of people who have volunteered. The performer then does suggestibility tests with this small group and gets it down to the most suggestible person, the one that they can work with best on that day.
Derren Brown is someone who I really admire; he has understood the human mind and how it works to an amazing degree. He tends to get people on stage by throwing a Frisbee into the audience; he will say something like if you don’t want to come up then pass it to the person next to you. This way he gets a willing participant up on the stage.
Similarly with clinical hypnosis, you have to be willing; you have to want to make that change. For example if you want to stop smoking, you don’t necessarily need to know how you are going to do it, but you have to want to become smoke free. If you are only coming for hypnotherapy because you have been nagged into it then even though you will still enter into the trance state, the hypnosis won’t have the amazing long lasting affect that it could have if supported by your willpower
No stage hypnotist would choose me, as I would be a “difficult” subject to work with. They would choose someone who was eager to “act the fool” and entertain the crowd. Great fun to watch! However, put me in a room where a hypnotherapist is working together with me to help me, and I enter into a trance state very easily.
Whilst as a hypnotherapist I do have the skills needed to perform stage hypnosis, I personally choose not to mix the two. I have chosen to get into the wonderful world of hypnosis to help people challenge their negative beliefs and become the person they want to be. I find my work extremely rewarding as I watch people beginning to make changes and take control of their world. Personally I wouldn’t feel comfortable mixing that professionalism and trust with the tricks of the stage.
Are you a positive thinker or a negative thinker? Do you tell yourself: Yes I can do this. I can reach my goal. Or do you tell yourself: I will never get that job so there is no point going for the interview. I am fat. I am stupid.
We all have moments of self-doubt where we question whether we can achieve something, but the difference between a constant negative thought pattern and a positive one is the difference between a person who never feels good enough and a person who feels content with life, happily challenged.
We all know those people who seem to have it all. They are always so happy. But when you stop and look at their life next to yours they have nothing more than you – sometimes they even have less than you. The difference is their internal dialog is set to positive; they look for the positive and they appreciate the things they have got.
Negative self-talk affects us in many ways. It can lead to stagnation, self-pity, depression and many more negative influences. When we repeat a negative statement over and over again we begin to believe it. “I am not good enough” may prevent us from taking the steps to achieve a promotion that we are easily qualified for. It gives us a lack of confidence that isn’t based on anything real, but reinforced by the internal negative dialog. Eventually these thoughts become all consuming and you find that you approach every aspect of your life with this negativity, beginning to feel stressed easily, depressed and having a lack of confidence and motivation.
Changing the internal dialog to positive statements makes our life better and assists us in moving forward, giving us the confidence to achieve our goals. If instead of saying “I am not good enough”, say “I can do this”. Not only will you achieve your goals but you will happier and healthier. Positive self-talk gives you a permanent cheerleader in your corner, one that carries positive messages to all areas of your life and helps you to move forward. Once you have this positivity no one can take it away from you, as it comes from within you, from your own though process.
Very often the nature of our self-talk originates from a very early age. It may be a teacher that said you weren’t good enough, or a parent that always made you believe anything is possible.
Hypnotherapy and NLP can help you to challenge the source of the negative thoughts and change them to positive ones. Eventually you will surround yourself with positive thoughts and that will create an environment that will allow you to live your best possible life.
Here a few easy steps to start to become positive:
· Smile more.
· Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. This can be hard at first. Start by talking positively. When you have a negative thought or catch yourself about to say something negative, stop yourself and see if you can spin it on its head and turn it into a positive one. Soon this will become second nature and you will find yourself thinking in the positive first.
· Expect positive results. When you set a goal expect that not only will you achieve it but you will be better than you thought.
· Actually visualize the success you want. Picture it in your mind, picture what you DO want, rather than having a list of what you DON’T want. Have an image of what you DO want, and see yourself achieving your goal.
We all have the ability to retrain our minds, we do it every day. Give it a go. What do you have to lose? Nothing. What could you gain? Everything.
Monica Black is a master NLP practitioner and has worked as a hypnotherapist for over 15 years . To book a session with Monica go to http://breathe-london.com/hypnotherapy
We no longer live in a world where we don’t know that cigarettes are bad for us. 30 years ago the effects of cigarettes were unknown but these days we know they damage our body, but what is inside them?
There are over 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke; at least 50 of them are known carcinogens (cancer causing). If you were to inject the nicotine in one cigarette directly into your vein it would kill you instantly, there is enough poisonous nicotine in one cigarette to kill a horse.
Benzene (petrol additive) – colourless cyclic hydrocarbon obtained from coal and petroleum, used as a solvent in fuel and in chemical manufacture, it is a known carcinogen associated with leukemia.
Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)- colourless liquid, highly poisonous, used to preserve dead bodies, it is a known cause of cancer, respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal problems.
Ammonia (toilet cleaner) – used as a flavouring, frees nicotine from tobacco turning it into a gas, often found in dry cleaning fluids
Acetone (nail polish remover) – fragrant volatile liquid ketone, used as a solvent, for example, nail polish remover
Tar – Particulate matter drawn into lungs when you inhale on a lighted cigarette. Once inhaled, smoke condenses and about 70 per cent of the tar in the smoke is deposited in the smoker’s lungs.
Nicotine (insecticide/addictive drug) – one of the most addictive substances known to man, a powerful and fast-acting medical and non-medical poison. This is the chemical which causes addiction. The great news is it is out of your system within 48 hours of stopping smoking
Carbon Monoxide (CO), (car exhaust fumes) – odourless, tasteless and poisonous gas, rapidly fatal in large amounts, the same gas that comes out of car exhausts
Arsenic (rat poison)
Hydrogen Cyanide (gas chamber poison)
The wonderful thing to find out is that our body is amazing at repairing itself. Your body starts to repair itself the second you stop smoking, even in between each cigarette. It is up to you whether you continue the damage with the next cigarette or if you become smoke free. Your body can only repair the damage so many times before cigarettes start to have a permanent damaging effect on your body.
You are 10 times more likely to remain smoke free if you use hypnosis.
Book a session with Monica Black at Breathe London by going to http://breathe-london.com/hypnotherapy
What is CBT?
CBTlooks at how our thoughts affect our feelings and subsequently our behaviour. Our thoughts have an extremely powerful effect on how we feel. If we approach a siltation with a positive mindset we are more likely to succeed than if we concentrate on the negative and everything that could go wrong.
As we grow and develop, our external influences model the way we feel and approach situations. We continue approaching life with the same mindset but often desire a different outcome. It is only when you start to challenge these entrenched thought patterns that you can change the way you feel about a situation.
Look at The Wright Brothers. Everyone thought that flight was impossible; the external influence upon their thinking was that it couldn’t be done. The Wright Brothers challenged this and saw a different way; it was only through changing their mindset and focusing on the positive that they were able to challenge the laws of physics.
Henry Ford said it perfectly: “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”
As did Albert Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The thoughts that go through our minds on a regular basis, the ones that are second nature, contribute to how we feel about ourselves and situations. CBT works by understanding these thought patterns and breaking through them to challenge them and give you a different approach, allowing you to develop techniques to have a more positive and constructive way of thinking that dramatically improves your self-esteem and confidence.
There are lots of misconceptions people have when they think about hypnotherapy. Here are just a few that I have come across whilst working with Hypnotherapy.
You lose control under hypnosis and say things you don’t want to say
Most people know about hypnotherapy through stage hypnosis and are nervous that if they went to see a hypnotherapist they would end up clucking like a chicken every time someone said potato. It is important to remember that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis and you remain in complete control the whole time. Take stage hypnosis, the stage hypnotherapist always chooses a willing participant from the audience. The participant goes onto stage expecting to act like a fool so when the hypnotherapist puts them into a trance and tells them to cluck like a chicken every time they say potato they react accordingly. However, if the hypnotherapist tried to tell them to stop smoking for example they would probably turn around and say no, as this was not what they were expecting to have to do on stage.
In the same way when you go and see a Hypnotherapist you are expecting to deal with certain things. By booking the appointment you are subconsciously and consciously agreeing to let the therapist speak to your subconscious about the thing you have come to see them about. If for example the therapist then asked you a question you weren’t willing to give the answer to you just wouldn’t.
Hypnotherapy is a magic wand
Lots of people think that hypnotherapy is a magic wand that can change the way their mind thinks without any effort from them at all. Whilst hypnotherapy is a very powerful tool as it speaks to your subconscious mind, it still requires strength and determination from the person to want to change. Just as under hypnosis the therapist can’t make you do something you don’t want to do, if for example you don’t want to give up smoking but your partner wants you to and sends you to a hypnotist the chances are that it won’t work long term as you didn’t want to make the change in the first place. If on the other hand you want to but just don’t know how, then hypnotherapy is the simple yet powerful tool you are looking for.
Only highly suggestible people can be hypnotised
Whilst people who find it easy to trust may find it easier to go into a deep hypnotic trance it is not a fact that only they can be hypnotised. Anyone can be hypnotised, the hypnotherapist will just use a different technique for a highly suggestible person than they would for a very analytical person. It may surprise you to know that we all enter a trance like state on a daily basis, when watching TV, waking, singing, etc. Take driving, when you do a journey you do every day it is common to “zone out”. You are still safe it is just that your subconscious brain has taken over the controls; the journey is so second nature to you that you just drive, sometimes arriving at your destination with no recollection of the journey. You know you were safe as you are still happily sitting in your car. If during that journey when you were on autopilot someone had stepped out in front of you that would be the time that you shocked yourself into action. This is all hypnotherapy is in its simplest form, quieting down the conscious mind so that the subconscious mind is listening.
As you can see Hypnotherapy is not something to be scared of, you remain in complete control the whole time. It is important to trust the Hypnotherapist just as it is important that you trust your doctor or your dentist’s professional capability. Recommendations are a good way to find a trustworthy Hypnotherapist, and when you have found them ring them up and ask them questions until you are happy. Listen to your gut reaction about them and you will find a therapist that can help you overcome most things, helping you to become the person you want to be.