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Your unconscious mind. What is the point?

your unconscious mind brain with words based on the unconscious and what it does

When you hear professionals, such as hypnotherapists and Neurolingistic Programming (NLP) experts talk about your unconscious mind, you can be forgiven for glazing over a little. What exactly is the unconscious mind? What’s the difference between that and the subconscious? What does it do and why does it do it?

Therapists and the like may naturally put great emphasis on the importance of understanding why we do things and understanding our unconscious. For many though, the bigger question could be ‘what is the point of an unconscious mind in the first place? If it creates so many problems for us, through creating phobias, anxiety, OCD and so forth, wouldn’t we be better off without it?’

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New beginnings – Why September is a such great time!

In my mind, there are three times of year when the time always feels particularly ripe for new beginnings.

If I ask any person, when they most start thinking about changing their lives or developing new habits, they’re bound to say ‘New Year’: Well yes, of course – resolutions. It’s become a bit of a cliche but just knowing it’s the first day of the year suggests the possibility of change.

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Change your life – is it too late?

change your life (choose not to catch the ball)

I have been a therapist and coach for over 6 years at the time of writing this. I have lost count of the number of people I have helped over that time. Even so, I still get excited when a new client enters my office for the first time. As you can imagine, when you want to change your life, I am curious to know what challenges you are facing. I look forward to exploring clients, the aspects of your lives that you want to change. I love to learn what you hope to achieve.

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School holidays are here! – Oh *(&*%!

school holidays, kids playing

I never rarely swear. So you have to take my title here literally. The length of time it takes to say ‘asterisk, bracket, ampersand, asterisk, percent‘, I would have to be really stressed. School holidays will do it. Every time.

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Discover your passion. 3 ways to find out what you love.

discover your passion - heart with a jigsaw piece missing

Passion is a big word that suggests something overpowering, uncontrollable and visceral. When we say we want to discover our passion, the word asks us to connect to our deepest selves. Many people are able to say what their passion is. Their deepest interests, their hobbies, their careers and the people that are around them.

A significant number of people that come to see me, have far less clarity about what their passion and want me to help them discover their passion for themselves.

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Improve your mood: 6 steps to feeling better.

meandering path to improving your mood

How can you improve your mood? How do you feel today? Do you feel motivated? Driven? Excited? Glad to be alive? Or do you feel apathetic, bored, lazy or just plain down?

As a Life Coach and NLP expert, part of my job is to help people feel better. This might be a short term boost to motivation or positivity, or it might be a long term plan to improve your mood by changing your life.

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Anxiety and risk, the wet floor sign dilemma

wet floor sign as a metaphor for anxiety response

Have you ever tripped over a wet floor sign? I know I have. I guess I need to pay more attention to where I am going. I do think I have tripped over more wet floor signs than I have ever slipped on wet floors.

Really, there ought to be a sign – to warn you about the sign. A ‘caution wet floor sign’ sign!

Now there’s an idea for a new product.

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Is low self esteem the biggest issue?

frog with low self-esteem offering flowers to princess

Low self-esteem is a constant theme that runs through much of my client work. By no means to do all potential clients come to me asking for help in raising self-esteem of course, but it often comes up as an issue.

One person comes to me about his relationship challenges and through exploration we come to the conclusion that his partner is not able to respect him because he does not adequately respect himself.

Another time I meet a young woman who is desperate to lose weight. She has been dieting in various ways since she was thirteen years old and has never been happy with her appearance since a gang of other girls chanted ‘fatso’ at her in the playground. She is an attractive, normal woman but her poor self-esteem causes her to focus entirely on the ‘negative’ aspects of her appearance.

Does self-esteem really make a difference?

Self-esteem is something we all have, but to varying degrees and in varying contexts. You can be a bear in the boardroom but a kitten in the bedroom. You can be a hero behind a fire hose and never pluck up the courage to ask a man out for a drink.

Ask yourself:

  • would you have lower anxiety levels if you have adequate self-esteem?
  • can you be totally depressed if you have a good level of self-esteem?
  • if you think more highly of yourself would you find it easier to stop smoking or drinking, Will binge eating or starving yourself be less of an issue?
  • could you be more confident, if you had higher self-esteem?
  • will your success be greater or less if you have a high level of self-esteem?

The list goes on. Not everything stems from low self-esteem. In fact some problems can actually be worsened if your self-esteem is too high! Arrogance and pigheadedness are unattractive qualities for example when trying to form relationships. It is also true to say that many psychological issues are caused by one-off experiences, trauma and other factors that are not necessarily linked to self-esteem.

I do believe though, that dealing with low self-esteem can significantly help with resolving problems. It can help you cope with life events and creating a more positive and successful future.

What’s more, raising self-esteem to overcome one issue, usually has pleasant side-effects in other areas of life too. Feeling better about yourself can increase the respect of others. It can give you better job prospects. It can help you find new and better friends and make you feel happier with where you are in life.

When you feel good about yourself people tend to notice it. Even if they can’t put their finger on exactly what it is. One of my most rewarding experiences when working with clients is when they tell me that their friends, their family or their colleagues say ‘you have changed now’.

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Finding your vision is like reading a detective novel

finding your vision

Finding your vision, or purpose, or your direction in life can feel like an impossible challenge. It is certainly among the top reasons that clients come to see me. The clues are often there, though and sometimes in the most unlikely places.

Why do you need to find a vision?

The first thing to check in with is, why do you feel you need to find a vision? I am probably committing coaching sacrilege here, but I think this a critical first stage. Is the reason you feel that there should be some ultimate purpose created within yourself or is it something that has been put on you from others? Are you feeling this because you think others expect it of you? Just because other people are goal focused doesn’t mean you have to be.

If this is within yourself then that’s great. You may feel comfortable with wanting those ultimate outcomes then go for it. On the other hand, if you feel there is an ‘expectation’ that you need to fulfill then you may want to consider that. If you could let go of that sense of discomfort you feel about not finding a vision, would you be happier? If the answer to this question is yes then you may just need to look at why you feel that way.

Even your need to find that vision, may be a clue as to what that ultimate purpose will look like. The need to have a vision suggests that you have an ideal about what life is all about that includes a vision or purpose. The people or things that lead you to this conclusion are important to you, and so they may also be part of that vision.

Every vision is different and personal, it’s not always about making millions or climbing mountains or running a marathon. For some a vision might be having a warm loving home, supporting loved ones or living in the moment.

Looking for clues to finding your vision

There are many clues to finding your vision. There are far too many for this brief article and some are more obvious than others. Here are a few that I feel can be particularly helpful in moving you forward, but they won’t all resonate with you now, so revisit this article from time to time.

What do you love doing that you admit to?
These are the hobbies and habits. The things that engage you and the things that release you. The stuff you do to relax when you don’t want to be bothered. If it brings you contentment then it can be part of your vision.

What about those things do you love?
It can be good to look a little deeper at those things you love doing and see if there is theme or a thread that connects them? If you like nature, walking and travel – what is it about those things that you love (discovering things? fresh air? exercise?).

What do you love doing that you don’t admit to?
What do you do that you are slightly embarrassed about but you still love doing it? How is that part of your purpose? What are you resisting? We often lack fulfillment because we feel guilty about liking certain things. At times those we care about may not be happy with our unusual hobbies or interests. You may need to recognise the importance of that. Why is it important to you, and why is it important that you resist it?

What do you do that you don’t really want to do?
Do you find yourself repeatedly feeling an urge to do something that you know on some level that you don’t want to do? All urges are clues? I know that sounds strange, and it’s not always easy to understand yourself to that level, But both the urge and the discomfort are clues to a deeper value within yourself.

How can you connect the different threads of your life?
Could they form a bigger picture? How can you follow all of those things in the most fulfilling way. You can unite and conquer or you can divide and conquer. By combining some or all of these drives, passions and interests you can create something unique. Not all visions have a job title. You can do one big thing or you can do several smaller things.Only connect. If something in your life is unconnected then find a way to connect it, or let it go.

Do I HAVE to find a vision?

Sometimes it isn’t about finding your vision at all. It may be about getting a sense of direction without having to know the outcome right now. Did you ever build something as a child out of bricks and then decide it was a house or a church or a fire station. Follow the themes and threads of your life as much as you can and find out where it all leads you. Many of my clients have found their purpose this way, but throwing themselves into their passions and accepting what they are, without a clear expectation of the outcome they have been led to achieving on a higher level than they would have dreamed possible.

You don’t have to know where you want to be yet, but if you continue connecting the dots of your present you WILL know. Be true to yourself and you will know, but it may not have a job title!

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Memory jars – make the most of your happy times.

glass memory jar

I expect all my clients to get something useful or valuable from every session. Reassuringly, they tell me that they do. Sometime it is an ‘Aha’ moment, or a complete re-frame of a conflict or problem. Other times it is a new tool, a new idea or a new perspective.

As a therapist and coach I get ‘takeaways’ from my clients too. Like the one I had today:

At this time of year I often provide clients with a list of questions to help them review the past year. Hopefully they gain some learning from their answers. My first question on the list is: ‘What were the 10 best things that happened to you and your family last year?’

Many clients can come up with answers easily and some struggle to see any positives in their year. With these people we work together to recognise that there is more pleasure in our lives than we realise.

Today though, my client (let’s imaginatively call him ‘John’) said ‘Oh that’s easy! We can just go through the memory jar.’

What is a happy memory jar?

A memory jar is not a particularly new idea, but I had never heard of it, I must admit. John explained:

We have a jar in the kitchen, with a pad of paper next to it and a pen. So any time we have a good experience, any one of us can write a note about it and put it in the jar.

At the end of the year, we sit at the table together and read them out. It is sometimes something we do on New Year’s day, or eve. It’s amazing how much you forget about your experiences and it can be great fun revisiting the memories together.

I can really see the value of this and I plan to suggest it to many of my clients.

I’ve seen some great, ready made memory jars online – like this one:

But it really is just a matter of getting any large pickle jar or something similar, a note block and a pen and getting started.

If there is a youngster who can’t yet write, they could draw a picture or you could scribe for them. I do think too it might be good to be aware that some members of your family may contribute less than others, so you might have to write some memories that specifically include them.

Once you have read them all out at the end of the year you could also write out the best of them in a journal or otherwise keep an ongoing record, year on year..

Here’s to building many more happy memories!

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