Creating your world and feeling vulnerable

One of the aspects of my job that I particularly enjoy is personal development. Coaching clients to progress, to achieve, to become the best possible versions of themselves is a real privilege. Often all that is holding them back is a thought or a worry about ‘what if’.

The ‘what if’ is usually about vulnerability, ‘what if it doesn’t work?’, ‘what if I don’t succeed?’, ‘What if they don’t like it?’

We use our ‘what if’ as a shield protecting us from disappointment, criticism and from the threat of being disliked. But ‘what if’ we used it in a different way?

Many years ago I was considering embarking on an Open University degree that, part-time would take six years to complete and was discussing my indecision with a friend. My reason for not doing it? I would be 40 by the time it was completed. My friend took a breath and said ‘you’ll be 40 anyway’.

It was a challenging six years in which I experienced exceptional highs and horrible lows. Any time my work came back with constructive feedback about where I could improve I would view it as criticism and in my mind that meant that I was not good enough. Any time my work came back with positive feedback I felt that I was lucky or that I still could have done better.

In my penultimate year, with one essay to go I gave up. Just like that. The stress of trying to be good enough, the feeling of being judged, my own expectations of what I should achieve all got the better of me and I quit. Then I spoke to my friend.

‘What if you just finish this year?’ she said. ‘It’s only one essay and then you can give up and never have to do another one in your life after that?’

That ‘what if’ was powerful. What if I did do just one more essay? What if I did one more year? What if I did something for no other reason than I wanted to do it? Those ‘what if’s’ resulted in a completed degree in psychology.

Our ‘what if’s’ can become a beacon of possibility instead of a shield of protection enabling us to think about what we are capable of and beyond. It’s one of the things that I ask people to consider when they tell me all the reasons why they can’t or shouldn’t do something.

It’s OK to feel vulnerable, it’s part of moving forward, of developing confidence and creating a world in which you are the person you want to be. So think about what you would like to achieve this year and get ‘the what if’s’ working for you.

Fly comfortably with hypnotherapy

Scared of flying, let hypnotherapy set you freeWith so many people off on their holidays I thought it would be appropriate to discuss a very common phobia – fear of flying.

In cognitive hypnotherapy whenever we deal with a phobia we are interested in when the fear started. If it started as a result of a (scary) single event, especially but not exclusively when you were young we call this the initial sensitising event. In some cases this event has nothing to do with flying at all.

Whilst dealing with my own fear of flying the initial sensitising event at first seemed completely unrelated to flying. I remember being at a fair on a Wurlitzer ride with a friend and being terrified. The guys running the ride thought it was funny that I was afraid and so spun the ride faster and faster. I couldn’t get off and felt totally out of control – the same way I realised that I felt on a plane.

Feeling out of control is something that people commonly cite as part of their problem with flying. However there are several other fears that can contribute to a fear of flying. These include; claustrophobia, fear of heights, fear of vomiting, fear of having a panic attack, fear of turbulence, fear of hijacking to name a few.

Although it is not uncommon for the initial event to be different from the actual fear, fear of flying can be triggered by a bad flight, a feeling of personal vulnerability which can sometimes be linked to increased responsibilities such as becoming a parent and even experiencing extreme reactions to press coverage of airline crashes.

Fear of flying not only occurs when in flight but can cause weeks of anxiety leading up to a flight. It can prevent both leisure and business travel and for some people it is a major obstacle in their lives. Hypnotherapy is a really effective therapy for dealing with fear of flying and I know from personal experience that it works. So don’t leave it until the last minute, book a session so that you can look forward to your flight instead of dreading it.

There are Monsters under my bed

Monsters under my bed - hypnosis can help you get rid of them.Monsters under my bed - hypnosis can help you get rid of themI was in Westerham last week talking to a friend of a friend and when she asked me what I did for a living she told me that she was terrified of being hypnotised as she was scared of what she might find.

It’s not an uncommon reaction and it reminded me of when I was a child and thought that there were monsters living under my bed. My fear was so real and my belief so strong that I started to think that they would follow me where ever I went. They followed me on holiday and I worried that when I was invited for a sleep-over I would bring my monsters to my friends house.

I carried that belief for probably 3 or 4 years until one day I confided in my friend that the reason I didn’t want to stay at her house was because I was worried that my monsters would find out where she lived and hide under her bed too. Instead of accepting my belief as true she challenged me to stay with her so that we could hunt and capture the monsters so that they would not bother me again.

Armed with torches, empty boxes to catch the monsters in and biscuits – well you need biscuits on a monster hunt, we lay in wait for the monsters to appear. We spent several hours hanging over the sides of the beds shining our torches in the spaces beneath. No matter what we did or how long we looked we could not find them. With my courage boosted I went home the next day with my borrowed torch and repeated the hunt. All I found under my own bed was an old jigsaw and a long forgotten teddy bear.

Often our fear is the thing that stops us from discovering that monsters under our bed don’t exist and it’s that same fear that stops us from discovering that monsters inside our head don’t exist either. When we use hypnosis as part of therapy it’s just like using the torch. It shines a light to illuminate the darker spaces that you are scared to look in.

Once you’ve discovered the old jigsaw or the forgotten teddy there’s nothing left to be scared of and you can be free to move on without the monsters following you wherever you go.

‘If you don’t change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?’ W.Somerset Maugham

Incy Wincy spider phobia?

Spider Phobia HypnosisLate Summer and early Autumn can be a lovely time of year as the heat and humidity give way to crispy mornings and cooler days.

For many people though it is a time of absolute dread because it heralds the spider breeding season.

Millions of people throughout the world live in fear of these tiny, useful little creatures, who play a vital role in agriculture and horticulture, even though amongst the 40,000  identified species of spider, very very few  of these could be considered in any way dangerous.

Given that  spiders, in the main, don’t present an actual threat or danger, how come they have so many of us sweating;; shaking and rendered helpless, sometimes even  just at the thought of them?  There’s no definitive answer to that.    Evolutionary psychology suggests that this is an  atavistic reaction from the days when we lived in caves and needed to be aware of any venomous creatures crawling amongst us.   There’s another theory that puts forward a case for the fear being cultural rather that genetic and unconsciously passed down from one generation to the next.    Whatever the reason, fear of spiders, arachnophobia, is up there amongst the top ten most common phobias.

There are so many myths concerning the behaviour of spiders but for those who live in dread here are some reassuring facts:

– When we see them in our homes they are not coming in from the cold.   Modern homes with central heating are not the ideal habitat for spiders, they would much prefer to be outside.

– During the mating season, when looking urgently for a mate, the spiders are bigger and more prevalent and may wander in by mistake.

–  Once inside they may appear to be running towards us when in fact they are probably running away from something which appears threatening, like the noise of a T.V. or stereo.

-When you see a spider they do not have a family of 10 waiting in the wings, they will be alone.

-Spiders, like us, have the flight or fight response and if you stamp your foot in front of them they will probably freeze.   When you consider the size of them and the size of us that’s hardly surprising.

– Many spiders die after just the first frost and others hibernate until the following Spring.

By far the kindest way to deal with these misunderstood little beings is to cover them with a  clear plastic container; slip a sheet of paper or card underneath and take them outside.   It is a myth that they will simply try and get back in.

It’s all very well to suggest that the kindest thing is for the spiders to be calmly taken outside but for an arachnophobe the suggestion probably seems ludicrous, which is where hypnotherapy comes in.

Arachnophobia is what is known as a simple or specific phobia.   Anyone who has been subject to any kind of phobia will know how completely overwhelming the emotional reactions can be, the unconscious mind is amazingly powerful in convincing us that the threat is real.   The great news is that with a little direction (hypnotherapy) the unconscious mind can be equally powerful in allowing us to let go of old thought patterns and learn new ways of thinking that bring about  positive changes in emotion and  behaviour.

So  if spiders bug you at this time of the year, do get in touch  with Kim or I via the contacts section on our website.

Wishing you a very happy Autumn.

Hilary

 

 

 

 

The challenge of retirement

Get Ready for RetirementA few months ago I was asked to write an article for Perception magazine about the challenges that retirement may bring.

For a lot of people the thought of retiring is a good one but for many others it starts a new phase of their life that they seem ill prepared for.

You can read the full article here.

Although it may not seem like an obvious choice to see a hypnotherapist if you are struggling with being a new retiree there are several areas that we can help with. Apart from any emotional issues that emerge we can help you, through coaching to achieve any new life goals and adjust to the changes.

Why not share your experience and tips on how to make retirement a good one.


Retirement: Are you ready?

 

Are you looking forward to retirement? Do you see it as a time when you are free of the stress of work and can spend lazy days relaxing? Or are you dreading the day you no longer have to get up for work and wonder how you will fill all those extra hours?

Retirement can and should be an enjoyable time. The freedom and leisure to engage in new hobbies, travel and enjoy time with friends and family is a gift. For many it can seem like an extended holiday.

Retirement is wonderful. It’s doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it. ~Gene Perret

However our emotional response to retirement can vary. It can depend to a large extent on the reasons for leaving work. People who have planned their retirement are more likely to enjoy it than those who have been forced into it early through redundancy or ill health. People who found their work unrewarding or particularly stressful are also more likely to have a positive view of their retirement.

The transition from work to retirement isn’t smooth for everyone however. Although we commonly plan for our retirement financially, we rarely plan for any emotional challenges we may face when confronted with such a major lifestyle change.

Work provides structure, money, social interaction, purpose and a sense of self worth. Retirement can raise issues around relationships, boredom, and self-esteem. For some these challenges can seem overwhelming leading to prolonged stress and depression.

Identity Issues

Our identity and sense of self worth is often so intrinsically linked to our profession or the roles that we play that it becomes difficult to redefine ourselves in retirement when this changes.

When we define ourselves in terms of our job, for example, ‘being’ a doctor, a teacher, a pilot it makes it impossible to differentiate what we do from who we are. This can lead to a sense of loss once we retire, of not knowing who we are anymore.

In contrast, when we talk about working as a doctor, a teacher, a pilot it classifies what we do as separate to who we are. So redefining our sense of self away from what we do towards acceptance of who we are as a person has a huge advantage when we transition into retirement.

Relationship Issues

Retirement can bring new challenges to existing relationships. Additional time spent in each other’s company can upset the balance and bring unresolved but previously manageable tensions to the fore.

It can highlight contrasts in ideas and personality types. One partner may see retirement as a time when they just sit back and relax, whereas the other may be looking forward to a busy schedule with extended travel, new hobbies and an increasing social network.

Sometimes this is just a difference in personalities. Introverts may be more comfortable spending time alone and with limited social contact whereas extroverts will need company and regular social interactions more often in order to keep them happy.

Personal space and privacy can also be an area of concern. Friction can arise if a couple try to do everything together and don’t have enough autonomy. This can be additionally difficult if one partner has retired earlier than the other and has enjoyed independence and personal space that then may become restricted when their partner joins them in retirement.

Retirement can also mean that decision making processes change. Prior to retirement, work routines can provide a very clear division in decision making responsibilities. After retirement this division may no longer be clear and the need to make joint decisions more often can put a strain on the relationship.

Communication is essential to creating a harmonious retirement. Check that your expectations of retirement are the same as your partners. If your needs differ then make plans that will fulfil both of you. It is important to maintain activities that can be enjoyed both together and separately.

Loneliness

People often underestimate the importance of their work friendships. In many cases the people you spend time with at work are sharing up to 8 hours a day with you. If you don’t have a stable social network outside of work the absence of these daily contacts can create feelings of loneliness and isolation.

This can be complicated further if your retirement plans involve a move to a new area where you don’t know anyone or if you are single or have friends or family that live some distance away.

Make the effort to maintain your social contacts. Prior to leaving work agree future dates to meet up with friends so that you will have some social engagements to look forward to after you retire.

If you are moving or don’t have any friends that are local to you make the effort to join activities, clubs or special interest groups in your neighbourhood, It’s a great way to increase your social circle.

Boredom

Lack of routine or planned activities to look forward to can increase this sense of isolation and lead to feelings of boredom and depression. After we retire there is often a sense of not being useful anymore, or having a lack of purpose.

When we work our daily routine is shaped by the requirements of our job. Our success is based on how well we perform and we get rewarded for our success. We are very much dependent on an outer structure to provide us with a sense of achievement.

Once we retire, we are solely responsible for planning our days. We are making a shift from the outer structure of a work environment to the inner structure of retirement.
Simple daily routines can add purpose to each day as can regular activities. Volunteering can also be an option for some and can provide a new purpose as can any activity that is done on a regular basis.

Creating a happy retirement

Many people find adjusting to a life of retirement difficult but knowing what you want from your retirement and planning for it can help you manage any emotional challenges you may face.

Understanding what makes you happy should be the first step. Retirement should be an enjoyable stage in your life when you have the opportunity to do all of the things you didn’t have time to do when you worked. So don’t waste it.

Maybe you want to climb Everest or go camel trekking. Take up an art class or simply spend more time in your garden. Whatever you have a yearning to do make plans for it and then tick it off your list of things you always wanted to do but didn’t have time for.

Communicate with your partner and compare expectations. It is better to talk these things through before you retire so that you can plan for any disparity in ideas. Even if your views of retirement differ entirely there are many ways to manage those differences so that you both get what you need. Your partner may surprise you and be happy to join you on the back of a camel.

Don’t forget to talk to your wider family too. Their expectations may be different from yours too. Just because you are no longer working doesn’t mean that you should be constantly available. Decide and agree boundaries.
Maintain your social network. Even if you are looking forward to retirement and want a period away from the people you worked with don’t lose contact. Make new friends and increase your social circle. Although this can seem scary, joining a group or group activity is a great way to meet like minded people.

Find a purpose. Small things can often provide the greatest meaning. Helping a neighbour, looking after a pet, babysitting the grandchildren are all purposeful activities.

Keep active. There is a lot of research that suggests that people who stay active and involved cope best with retirement. The benefits of physical exercise are well documented but don’t forget your brain.

Work provides mental stimulation for many so if you need to continue it after you retire why not consider learning something new. There are a lot of organisations that run adult classes so whether you want to take up a new hobby or further your education you are bound to find something that interests you.

Remember retirement is a process. Work often provides structure, hierarchy and defined roles whereas retirement is undefined and unstructured. Like any transitional period retirement has both emotional rewards and pitfalls.

How successful your retirement is depends on you and your ability to find happiness in your relationships both old and new. As well as satisfaction in your personal interests and challenging or creative mental activities With forward planning and good communication you can look forward to a smooth transition into this exciting phase of your life.

I’m not just retiring from the company, I’m also retiring from my stress, my commute, my alarm clock, and my iron. ~Hartman Jule

Hayfever season

Hayfever Hypnosis MP3 The sun is out, it’s officially summer and for a lot us it’s a welcome relief after the long, dark winter.

If you are among the 1 in 5 people that suffer from hay fever however then even the mention of the onset of spring and summer can cause noses and eyes to start itching.

It’s hay fever season. Caused by an allergy to grass or hay pollens, hay fever, like all allergies, results from your body over reacting to a normally harmless substance.

Whether your particular allergen is trees, grass, pollen it can be a miserable condition to try to manage. Cells in the lining of the nose, eyes and mouth release a chemical called histamine that results in cold like symptoms, runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing.

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Hay fever season can start as early as March and lasts until late Autumn depending on what you are allergic to. There are many remedies available over the counter or via your GP who can give you advice of the type of allergen you are likely to be reacting to.

Although there are plenty of lotions and potions that offer relief, if you prefer not to take medication of any kind then hay-fever can have you wishing for winter again.

So that you can enjoy the summer months tissue free we’ve got a free hay fever download for you to try.

Listen to it at least once a day for a month and let us know how you get on.