This is a selection of articles related to your consious and your unconscious mind. They explore the way we process our experience and how we think.
One of the questions I get asked in the early stages of working with clients, is ‘How long will it take to get better?’ When you are suffering from anxiety and depression, coping with a phobia or dealing with stressful situations, you want to get better as quickly as possible.
The traditional view of psychiatry is that you go and see your ‘shrink’ every Tuesday afternoon over a period of 2, maybe 3 years. You lie on her coach and tell her everything. How your mother didn’t love you. You father dropped you on the head when you were 6. All the traumatic experiences you endured, and of course every sexual encounter you have ever had. Through this the therapist has you come to some realisation that immediately makes you see the world differently. However once you often have that realisation you still need to work with it and come to terms with it.
Two or three years is a long time to be in pain, or confusion, or under stress. During this time, life goes on. You still have to go to work. There are children to care for. You have a relationship to maintain.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just change instantly?
Sometimes it happens like that naturally. No therapists, no interventions, no couch. You wake up one day and you think ‘right, that’s enough of that’ and you become a different person. Sometimes there is a flash of realisation – a St. Paul on the way to Damascus moment. Other times it is really hard to know what made the difference. A small change of habit can be very powerful too: daily meditation; breathing exercises, taking up running; even getting up an hour earlier..
If some people can change overnight, why does it take years for others?
One possible reason is your ‘expectations’. You expect it to take a long time, so it does. There are several different ‘reasons’ why we get the expectation that it will be a long process.
- You got told you would be in therapy years.
The traditional view of therapy comes from films, books and the actual experiences of many people. Some people talk about their therapist like their bank manager or their accountant. It is a long-term relationship. It’s also just nice to have someone you can trust that you can talk to about anything.
- Your problem is far too big, significant or overwhelming to overcome it any quicker.
Sometimes when we have some issue, particularly if we have been experiencing it for a long time, we assume that it will take a long time to overcome. Even when we look for a quick fix like hypnosis, or Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) we suspect on some level that it won’t work quickly for us because we are too far gone, or too bad.
- You don’t actually want to get better, even though you think you do.
There is a factor in change work called ‘Secondary Gain’. Sometimes a behaviour or a way of dealing with things has a hidden benefit of which you are not aware. This is a part of my early questioning of new clients. I want to find out if there is a benefit to the behaviour that might hold a client back from changing too soon, or at all. If there is, then it helps to find other ways to fulfill that benefit.
How long do YOU think it will take?
Sometimes I like to turn the question around and ask the client, what their expectations are. ‘How long do YOU think it will take?
They may say a year, or six months. They rarely say a week or a month. Part of my job is to manage their expectations. I could say, ‘it will just take one short session’, and in some cases this can actually be true. It is a risk though, because then someone who needs a little more time, or has not revealed something on a deeper level, could go away disappointed and feeling that the therapy has failed when they just need more time.
In my experience, six sessions can be a bit of a magic number for many. It can be very effective to raise expectations this high. It is often a surprise that I think it can be this quick, but six sessions is long enough that the client can adjust to the idea of rapid change.
It is based on experience too, the vast majority of my clients do experience at least some level of improvement in this time, and for many it is enough for them to be significantly better. If there is more to do, or the client simply wants to peel back more of the layers of self-awareness, then we can go on working together. On the other hand, if they recover more quickly, it’s hardly something to complain about, is it?
“Why am I different?” – It’s a question I get asked a lot by my clients about themselves. “‘I try to be like everyone else. I try to fit in. I wear the kind of clothes that other people my age wear. I join in with the conversations that go on and try to look like I am totally on their wavelength. I pretend to be interested in all the things they like to do, and I take part in the socials. I turn up for the charity events and I even turn a blind eye to the things that make me uncomfortable.
“I don’t agree with some of the things people say, and some of it is just so wrong, on so many levels. I daren’t say anything though, so I just smile politely. That makes me feel really bad inside. It just emphasises even more that I am different, and I don’t think people would like me if they knew what I am really like.”(more…)
Anybody who uses Facebook will be familiar with the insidious way in which it manages your daily experience. Click on a picture of a dog, and you’ll get flooded with pictures of dogs. You’ll get doggy treat adverts, dog adoption groups and cute videos of dogs cooking paella. In fact you don’t even need to have clicked. Such is the subtlety of the Facebook ‘algorithm’.
You only have to slow down or stop scrolling on your device to inform the social media site that this is something you are interested in and you’ll get more of it. It is almost impossible not to do that if something catches your eye.(more…)
I don’t know with certainty if you can have too much of a good thing, but it’s definitely true that you can have too much of a bad thing. This is, without doubt, the most testing of times. Coping with coronavirus is unlike coping with anything we have ever experienced before and it is a massive ‘reframe’.
A reframe is when something comes along – an experience, a therapy, a different way of looking at things, that causes you to suddenly completely change your way of living and being.(more…)
Past hurt is inevitable. It is almost impossible to go through life without conflict. There are always going to be people in our lives with whom we don’t see eye to eye.
Marriage break-ups cause more rifts than just those between spouses. Children are swept up in drama, families take sides and friends are forced into awkward situations.
Sometimes there are feuds over money issues, and some people can even bare a grudge for years over a misplaced word or a throwaway sentence.
In an ideal world, perhaps, we would confront these people in our lives. We might sit down and talk it out with them. There might be a row to clear the air. We could seek forgiveness or agree to put the past behind us. These are mature ways to deal with conflict that can and do work for many.(more…)
Some of you may know that as part of my involvement in the Vinings Natural Health team, I help run a Holistic Book Club. The club explores a wide range of alternative non-fiction from personal beliefs to spiritual beliefs and everything in between.
With all the reading and studying I do personally, it can sometimes be a bit of a chore to read something prescribed by a book club, and when the chosen title this time was ‘Proof of Heaven: a Neurosurgeon’s Guide to the Afterlife’ by Eben Alexander, I’m afraid I baulked.(more…)
One of the prime directives of our unconscious mind is to maintain our habits. An article in the New Scientist in 2018 suggests that ‘As much as 40 per cent of our daily behaviour is habitual’. No wonder changing habits is so difficult.
I highly recommend the excellent book ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Durigg. One of his fascinating stories tells of Eugene Pauly, a man who suffered severe brain damage, but was still able to function incredibly well, largely due to the fact that the part of his brain that dealt with habits and routine, was relatively unharmed.
When we talk about habits we are generally thinking of ‘bad’ habits such as smoking, drinking or biting our nails. Or we may be thinking about the ‘good’ habits that include things like regular exercise or eating healthily.(more…)
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?’(more…)
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.(more…)
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.Read THE BLOG
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.(more…)
Dealing with guilt, regret or shame using NLP or Timeline Therapy can be very helpful in enabling you to move on in life.
All of us, at one time or another, have had moments where we have made choices that we have later had cause to regret. Guilt for doing something, or failing to do something seems inevitable and can cause us great unhappiness and pain.(more…)
Anger issues are among the most common themes that come up when working with neurolinguistic programming (NLP) clients. Often when I meet someone for the first time, clients will be concerned that they are having angry outbursts or feel pent-up feelings of anger. They can’t understand why this is happening. Small things, which you would not normally find more than slightly irritating, take on an inappropriate level of emotion. The tendency to lose your temper can lead to difficulties in your relationships, social life, and also at work. Clients have found themselves (more…)
In the last blog I visited the concept of ‘metaprograms’ – the general approaches to life that influence our view of the world and affect the success of our choices and outcomes, both positively and negatively. There are no ‘wrong’ metaprograms, and they are preferences rather than hard and fast rules. So in the last example, having a preference for a ‘toward’ metaprogram, or an ‘away from’ metaprogram each has their own benefits and disadvantages.
Another metaprogram that can have a significant effect on your world view is ‘chunk-size’. (more…)
Is your map of the world (see my blog “I finally get getting there”) a generally positive one, or typically erring on the side of negativity?
How we respond to our world, as I’ve said many times before, can totally colour our view of life. Two people viewing the same event can have completely different experiences and interpretations, based on how they filter the information they receive through their senses. There are a range of these filters available to us. For instance we may filter our experience to favour certain senses – focusing on the visual, or on the sounds that are present. We may filter through our values – we may judge easy going people more harshly, for example if one of our highest values is consistency, or achievement. (more…)
Here`s the scenario. You are on your way to a meeting. Perhaps it is work related, or a club committee, or simply catching up with a friend. You’re about to head into the cafe, or the office and you suddenly realise that you haven’t got a pen. You’re going to look a bit silly if you need to take some notes or jot down some figures, or even just put a date in your diary.
Just down the road from the venue for the meeting is a local supermarket – a pretty big one. They will definitely be selling pens. (more…)
As we go through life, stuff just happens. It can feel like we are being carried on a wave and there just isn’t time to properly focus on what is happening and what we are feeling. But moods and states change constantly through the day as we all know.
Even the most depressed people have moments of feeling calmer and more positive. Even the most anxious people can forget to worry in a particular moment. The best state of all can often be the one we haven’t even noticed. That state of being in ‘The Zone’, so focused that you have forgotten where you are, all sounds become a background buzz and your attention is solely on the task in hand. (more…)
Stage-fright on some level, is pretty much a given with many of the performers and speakers that I work with.
On one level it is completely understandable. Few of us like the idea of standing up there in front of an audience of hundreds, maybe even thousands and singing, dancing or even just speaking.
At the same time, many of my clients are hugely talented people.As one successful client put it ‘I beat myself up over being so nervous. I should be used to it by now.’
The thing that frustrates many performers is that they know that having this fear over performing can mean that they actually perform less well. (more…)
There can be many ways in which we can be uncomfortable about our bodies. The most common, perhaps, is when we become aware that we are not that particular size, or weight that we ‘should’ be.
That ‘should be’ can come from lots of sources. It may be a standard we believe is set by our society, our friends, the media. It could be a measure our parents have handed down to us, unintentionally or intentionally, by trying to manage our food intake – ‘don’t eat too many cakes or you’ll get fat’.
You may be someone who has experienced those patterns of putting on the pounds and then intensively dieting and exercising to lose them again, only to find that a few months later you are back where you started or worse! Alternatively you may have just always been ‘big’ in comparison to others and feel that there is nothing you can do about it.
Most people have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the condition that is believed to occur during the months of short days, when we are less exposed to vitamin D and this, in consequence, results in low mood or even depression in the Winter months. It’s a definite thing and there are various ways you can help yourself if you have this condition – daylight lamps, vitamin supplements, or just going away to somewhere sunny (I personally would advocate the last of these if you can afford it!).
There are lots of reasons why we can feel more down and less motivated in the Winter however, and while I wouldn’t rule out SAD, I do think that the awareness of this condition can steal some of our power. There are several very common influences on our mood that tend to occur more commonly at this time of year: (more…)
Mean memes seem to be the thing of the moment as I write this blog. The disgusting practice of posting pictures of supposedly unattractive people on social media and encouraging ‘tagging’ others as some sort of joke or insult, has thankfully come under fire.
Stories of people such as Lizzie Velasquez, a motivational speaker and author, with a rare congenital disease that prevents her from accumulating body fat, have been covered in the Metro and other papers, have helped to shame some of these bullies. It may be that the practice will decline, or, such is the perversity of our society, it may increase them.
One of the things that strikes me about some of the pictures that I have seen used for this purpose, is that many of those depicted are actually looking pretty happy! The people who post (more…)
Fear is a necessary part of our existence. That may seem strange.
Think for a minute about the birds in your garden, or in a park. When you walk through the park you often will see birds in the near distance, pecking away at the ground. It may seem that they are oblivious to their surroundings, and I can guarantee that they will be gone long before you reach them. Animals, (more…)
One of the core principles of NLP is the idea that we view the world through a range of filters.
The thing is that there is just so much information in our day to day experience that it is impossible to take it all in. The human brain is only consciously able to process around 7 pieces of information simultaneously. It stands to reason that we are subject to a great deal more than this every minute of every day.
For instance if you are sitting in a coffee shop talking to a friend you are listening to her words, looking at the expressions on her face, thinking about what she is saying, or about what you are going to say next. You may be aware of the taste of your coffee and a general awareness of people around you. You cannot possibly, in the same moment, also be conscious of the feel of the chair on your legs, the words of the music that is playing, the colour of that lady’s handbag or the words on the sign in the window. (more…)
When you first enter my office in Haywards Heath I always ask you two important questions.
‘Why are you here?’.
It’s not a surprising question in itself, and probably likely to glean more useful information to me as a therapist and coach than ‘What’s your shoe size?’
Usually, though not always, my client will tell me (more…)
There are varying degrees of anxiety, it’s true, and worrying about an event in the future can be a very stressful experience. You may have found yourself lying awake at night thinking about that meeting you have to go to, or that difficult conversation you know you are going to have. There is an endless list of things to be anxious about.
In fact for some people, anxiety can take over their lives to such a degree that it prevents them doing the things most people take for granted. Often my clients have got to the point where they cannot travel, or leave a certain area, or go to public events.
Whatever level of anxiety you experience though, there are some very effective, but easy to use, NLP techniques that can have an immediate effect in enabling you to cope with worrying about a specific event that is coming up.(more…)
I’ve done quite a lot of spouting my thoughts and telling my story over the last few blogs, so this time I thought I would hand over to some more worthy characters from the past and present and share some great quotes about confidence. Some of them are serious, some inspiring, one or two are just witty and help us not to take ourselves too seriously. (more…)
Few things recharge your batteries more than a holiday There are many wonderful places to visit in the UK, but the sometimes unreliable weather means that many of us choose to spend some time abroad. It can be wonderful to relax by the sea in a sunny location, or take part in exotic and thrilling activities such as water sports, climbing, ski-ing or just exploring the culture and traditions of a new place.
For many though, the attraction of the holiday is jaded by the prospect of the journey there. So many people suffer to a greater or lesser extend with fears and phobias around travel, and probably a fear of flying is the most common. (more…)
I experienced a powerful period of growth, success and self-development during my late thirties and early forties. As I said in my last blog, this was largely due to putting into action the practices and philosophy of Steven Covey’s ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. It’s an excellent work and I refer back to it often, along with Covey’s other masterpieces – particularly ‘First Things First’. which is his book on time management.
Something went seriously wrong in my 40s. (more…)
I was looking out of my window the other day watching the Summer rain when my neighbour came out. She was wrapped up well against some very blustery weather with her wellies on, ready to brave a walk with her two dogs. She has a beautiful, elegant Deerhound and an energetic and loveable Spaniel.
Watching the two dogs with their owner, they could not have been more different from each other,
The Spaniel is a bundle of energy and (more…)
Do you carry a mirror wherever you go?
The truth is that in reality we all do, without realising it. When we judge others we are often just looking at a reflection of ourselves.
I was ‘innocently minding my business’ the other day in a local coffee shop when I overheard a snippet of a conversation a couple were having at the next table.
“That Mary is such a gossip! Did you hear the other day how she was slamming the woman at the green-grocers about her daughter running off with a painter? I mean heaven knows that is shocking, but why does Mary have to go round telling everybody about it? She’s one to talk isn’t she when she’s on her third husband and one in the fire if you know what I mean. It’s shameful.
I wouldn’t speak to her at all, but I like to know what mischief she’s up to. She’s such a trouble maker…”
The gentleman opposite the speaker nodded wisely and said, “If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people spreading rumours. There’s a chap in my office who’s just as bad. I’m pretty sure he’s having an affair with his boss too. The hypocrisy of the man.’
How easy it is to see in others the things that are deepest in ourselves. (more…)
I have to confess that I am an avid watcher of ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here.’ I have tired of most reality TV and in fact most television, but I do enjoy this programne. It’s partly the witty chat of Ant and Dec but it’s also my general fascination with people and the way they think and behave.
As usual the ‘celebrities’ are mostly relatively unknown to all but a few of us, but certainly many of a certain generation will remember Edwina Currie the politician. Not so well known is her erstwhile arch rival Kendra Wilkinson. The two could not be more different. Edwina is a 68 year-old woman, highly educated and respected by many, with high moral standards and a razor-sharp mind. Kendra is 29, an ex-resident of the Playboy Mansion, with a high-school education and a modelling and television career.
In the show the two crossed swords over Kendra’s apparent ‘only think of yourself’ philosophy. (more…)
Susie had finally put the kids to bed and tidied up the living room. X-factor would be starting in twenty minutes. Another quiet evening watching TV. Good to have a rest but a bit dull. Just enough time to grab a quick shower.
She went into the bathroom, set the shower going, undressed, and stepped in. The water and the lightly scented soap relaxed and invigorated her. After a few minutes she turned the shower off and reached for her towel, when she saw – a few feet away on the bathroom floor, the most enormous house spider she had ever seen. In her eyes it seemed about 6 inches across and it glared at her with its 8 eyes, ready to pounce. Ready to run up her legs and maybe bite her or just crawl all over her. She let out an involuntary scream, quickly stifled when she remembered the children in bed asleep. She hated them to see her like this. Sarah, her eldest was already starting to show signs of the same irrational panic.(more…)
Do you ever get up in the morning and think ‘It’s going to be one of those days? Maybe you put the toast in the toaster, pressed it down and the fuse blows. Or you are about to leave for work and suddenly realise you have put your top on inside out. You think ‘Everything is going wrong. Maybe I should just go back to bed before things get worse.’
But you decide to stick it out and you set off for work. You find a good parking space and so have time to pop to the coffee shop before you go in to the office. Bonus! The staff in the coffee shop are slow though and you get more and more anxious that you are going to be late. You order a filter coffee in the end because it’s quick and then you have to dash to the office and in the process splash coffee over yourself. (more…)
With just a few weeks at best before the final exams for GCSEs, A levels and University Degrees, there are quite a number of us who are feeling rather stressed. The exam season is stressful for everyone and anxiety can really making the whole process more painful.
Some of us can take heart that a small amount of exam anxiety may actually contribute to better results. In a recent session I did with a group of 15-16 year-olds some were incredibly blasé about their upcoming exams. Would these pupils really give their best on the day with that attitude? During the run-up to the exam day it helps to have that little bit of fear, telling you to make the best of the remaining time. If you were completely laid back about your results you would be inclined to work less hard, revise less and therefore perform poorly and get lower marks.
Stress and worry are there for a reason, they are among the body’s natural warning systems and they can help us perform better. (more…)
One of the things I love about working as a life coach and therapist is the wonderful variety of people I meet. A key presupposition in my work is that ‘everybody is doing the best they can with the resources they have available’.
From this perspective it becomes so much easier to relate and sympathise with clients whatever their problem.
Take a case I dealt with a few years ago. Naturally I have given the client a fictitious name to protect his identity:
Case Study: Stephen Nicklaus – Father
When Stephen came to me, he was in a rut. (more…)
As part of the process of performing NLP, Hypnotherapy, and indeed any kind of treatment, there is one very important check that always takes place. It’s the ecology check.
Clients can come to a therapist for an incredible range of issues. In fact I would say that every client has a unique situation, that is supported by his or her own personal history. So a good therapist will always seek some further information before performing an ‘intervention’, rather than assume that one technique will always work.
For example a client may come to a therapist with a fear of dogs, and there are several excellent and powerful techniques for dealing with such phobias which are fairly general. However the therapist will want to be sure that the phobia is not in fact an ‘example’ of something else. Removing a phobia without some deeper understanding of the issues may result in a less successful outcome, or it may be successful but leave the client with the bigger issue unresolved, which may mean he or she will develop new ‘symptoms’. (more…)
I have a passion for NLP, hypnotherapy and timeline therapy. I do not have a passion for cats.
They know this.
Cats have an ability to calm, to give perspective, to make a sometimes spiritual relationship with their owners – when they’re not vomiting over the bed or dragging a half-dead and bloody rodent around the kitchen.
I have two cats – (Yes… I know… why?) and when there is a need to use my home with clients, I am always careful to remove them to a place where they can’t bring their influence to bear on the proceedings. They seem to strongly disapprove of hypnotherapy. I suspect that this is because they know something far more effective than that – some sort of distant mind-control, and don’t want me stealing their thunder. In the early days my innocence assumed that the cats would merely give character and personality to the sessions. Maybe even, a cat-loving client might feel happier to share with little ‘Damian’ the ginger tom, purring in his or her lap. (more…)