Think small

As we head towards the end of January I wonder how many New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside?

Making resolutions isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What makes them unsustainable is that we want to change too much too soon. I was speaking to a friend who confessed her resolution to give up sugar had survived for less than 2 days.

Why should a positive change be so hard to stick to? Because it’s too big. In the sugar example there are lots of things to think about. Sugar is in a lot of food stuffs. In order to give it up you need to prepare, organise and plan what you are going to eat. You need to consider what happens if you go out to eat or if someone invites you over for dinner? You need to know all the foods that have sugar hidden within them. Making a change is often more complicated than we initially think.

So if you are one of the people that are already mourning the untimely departure of your resolution I want to challenge you to start thinking small. Instead of focusing on the end goal think about the smallest change you can make instead.

What is the one thing you can do to begin to work towards your ultimate goal? It may be cutting out that teaspoon of sugar in your coffee or having one night a week that is alcohol free. Build on success. Every small step you take is a step towards accomplishing your objective. It’s rare that success is instant. Instead it is a series of small steps and sometimes we may even take a few steps backwards but that’s fine just keep your eye on the goal and learn from your mistakes.

So as we look forward to the year ahead think about the changes you would like to make and what you can do to make the smallest change possible.

Change one thing

Change one thingAs I was searching for a topic for this weeks’ blog I came across this story which was published in The Hypnotherapy Journal Issue 1 volume 13. I love it because it shows how one small thing can change your whole perspective and quite literally your life.

Erickson who is referred to throughout the piece is Milton Erickson a leader in the use and development of hypnosis.

‘A favourite aunt of Erickson’s colleagues was living in Milwaukee and had become seriously depressed. When Erickson gave a lecture there, the colleague asked him to visit the aunt and see if he could help her.

The woman had inherited a fortune and lived in the family mansion. But she lived all alone, never having married, and by now had lost most of her close relatives. She was in her 60s and had medical problems that put her in a wheelchair and severely curtailed her social activities. She had begun to hint to her nephew that she was thinking of suicide.

After Erickson finished his lecture, he took a taxi to the aunt’s house. She was expecting him, having been told by her nephew that he was coming. She met Erickson at the door and gave him a tour of the large house. She had had the house remodelled to allow wheelchair access, but other than that, it appeared as if nothing had changed since the 1890’s. The furniture and household decorations showed a faded glory, smelling of must. Erickson was struck by the fact that all the curtains were kept closed, making the house a depressing place indeed. The aunt saved the very best for last, however, and finally ushered Erickson into the greenhouse nursery attached to the house. This was her pride and joy; she had a green thumb and spent many happy hours working with the plants. She proudly showed him her latest project taking cutting from her African Violets and starting new plants.

In the discussion that followed, Erickson found out that the woman was very isolated. She had previously been quite active in her local church, but since her confinement to a wheelchair she attended church only on Sundays. Because there was no wheelchair access to the church, she hired her handyman to give her a ride to church and lift her into the building after the services had started, so she wouldn’t disrupt the flow of foot traffic into the church. She also left before services had ended, again so she wouldn’t block traffic.

After hearing her story, Erickson told her that her nephew was worried about how depressed she had become. She admitted that it had become quite serious. But Erickson told her that he thought depression was not really the problem. It was clear to him that her problem was that she was not being a very good Christian. She was taken aback by this and began to bristle, until he explained. ‘Here you are with all this money, time on your hands, and a green thumb. And it’s all going to waste. What I recommend is that you get a copy of your church membership list and then look in the latest church bulletin. You’ll find announcements of births, illnesses, graduations, engagements, and marriages in there – all the happy and sad events in the life of people in the congregation. Make a number of African Violet cuttings and get them well established. The repot them in gift pots and have your handyman drive you to the homes of people who are affected by these happy or sad events. Bring them a plant and your congratulations or condolences and comfort, whichever is appropriate to the situation.’

Hearing this, the woman agreed that perhaps she had fallen down on her Christian duties and agreed to do more.

Twenty years later, as I was sitting in Erickson’s office, he pulled out one of his scrapbooks and showed me an article from the Milwaukee Journal ( or whatever the local paper was called). It was a feature article with a large headline that read, ‘African Violet Queen of Milwaukee Dies, Mourned by Thousands.’…

From O’Hanlon, B; Do one thing Different William Morrow pp 6-8

So if there was one thing that you could do today what would it be?

Warning – Forest operations

How hypnotherapy can help you find the motivation to change

I am fortunate that each day I get to walk my dog in beautiful countryside much of which belongs to the National Trust. One of our favourite places to walk is Limpsfield Chart. It is a large wooded area that consists of both native and non native trees. There are three main areas of non natives, predominately pines that provide a dense, dark and almost silent space in the woods. These are my dog Theo’s favourite, he rolls in the fallen pine needles and digs in the rotten tree stumps. Not much grows below the top third of the trees as it’s so dark.

Over the last few months there have been ongoing forest operations in the woods. They are stripping out the pine trees with a view to re-plant natives and encourage new growth and wildlife into those dead places.

It looks awful. Great swathes of trees have been cut down, the earth churned by the huge machinery needed to complete the task and branches and small trees have been crushed and lay fallen on the paths.

All of us that use the wood have felt the loss of those trees, of the shelter that they provide from the wind and the sun and the rain. All of us it seems are mourning the loss of what were essentially dead trees. Why? Because change can seem difficult.

Despite knowing that once the forest operations are complete and the replanting finished there will be a beautiful, alive and vibrant wood that will encourage and sustain wildlife it’s hard to trust the process.

For many of us knowing that the benefit of that change will far outweigh the short term turmoil is still not enough to motivate us to fell that first tree. So how do we find the courage to take that first step? Focus on your desired outcome. Think about your future just as you want it. Think about the things that you will be doing, the ways you will be behaving, how you will feel differently.

Somewhere in the near future once the forest operations are complete, all of us that use the wood will benefit from the changes that clearing out the dead wood will create.

The Missing Keys

Hypnotherapy helps you rethink your directionAt some point in our lives we will probably find ourselves looking for something. This may be something as simple as keys but often we are seeking so much more.

Whether we are looking for happiness, fulfilment, success, wealth or any number of other things it doesn’t really matter because the way in which we search is as individual as the thing that we are searching for.

But how do we begin to look for the thing that we want or the thing that we have lost when sometimes we don’t even know what ‘it’ is. It can feel like we are searching in the dark.

When we are having difficulty we just need someone to direct us to look in the right place. As I use stories and metaphors in my work I thought I would share this one with you.

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The missing Keys

It was late and Nasrudin was down on all fours on the street in front of his house. It looked like he was searching for something.

‘What are you looking for?’ people asked him.

‘I have lost my keys,’ he answered.  

Some men bent down to assist him in the search. They looked everywhere, but could not find the missing keys.

Finally, growing tired, one of the men asked him, ‘Where exactly did you drop them?’

‘Inside my house.’

‘But then why are you looking over here?’

‘Obviously it is easier to look for them over here! There is more light here than inside my house!’


For a no obligation chat why not give me a call.

Take care,


Do you love me like I love you?

Sunray-Language-of-love-21-02-2014So how was your Valentine’s day? Did your partner prove their love to you with a thoughtful gift that was just perfect or were you left disappointed and wondering if your partner knows you at all?

Love may be thought of as the universal language but we actually each have our own dialect. If you or your partner feel that you are not being appreciated it’s worth considering whether it’s just a case of needing to learn a new language.

Here are the top five love languages that we speak and understand. Most of us do have a preference so why not sit down with your partner and work out what they are you may be surprised at the difference it can make to your relationship when understand each other.

Words of Affirmation

Compliments, encouragement, affirmations and kindness.  This could include thanking your partner for doing something for you or telling them that their hair looks especially nice. If your partner’s language is words of affirmation be specific in your compliments, vagueness such as you look nice today can seem dismissive. We all have areas in our life where we feel insecure, words of encouragement or affirmation can be very powerful resulting in the increased belief that we are loved.

Quality Time

Undivided attention, shared activities, listening and sharing. Learning to actively listen is a key skill. Sometimes people just need to share feelings and solve their own problems. If your mind is problem solving for them you aren’t really listening, you are busy inside your own head. Talking is also important and involves sharing your inner feelings, not just your thoughts or opinions. Generally if you can use the word ‘think’ instead of feel then it is not a feeling. For example , ‘I feel you drink too much’,  isn’t expressing a feeling, it’s expressing a thought. However, ‘I feel worried when you drink too much because I’m concerned for your health’ is sharing a feeling.


Gifts can be simple, extravagant, home-made or shop bought. They can be gifts of time or affection. Receiving a gift, whatever it is can make us feel valued. Giving gifts can also make us feel good and both the giving and receiving is extremely important for some people.

 Acts of Service

Acts of service are about doing something that your partner would like you to do , not what you would like to do or think is important. Sometimes this may mean stepping outside of your normal routine and really thinking about what your partner would appreciate.  You may already cook dinner, clean the car, walk the dog but what don’t you do that your partner would appreciate a break from? Clean the bathroom, take the rubbish out or something else?

 Physical Touch

Touch is a powerful way of communicating emotional love and is some peoples primary love language.  It can include things like hugs, holding hands, kissing, physical proximity, and sex.

Being able to communicate love to your partner in their own dialect and vice versa can transform your relationship.  So take the time and find out what your partner really likes and remember that learning a new language can be challenging but ultimately worthwhile.

Are you sitting comfortably?

The healing power of storiesStorytelling is one of the oldest arts in human history. Stories transcend the boundaries of language and culture and have the power to resonate with listeners over thousands of years. It’s not surprising then why we love them.

Whether it’s a horror story to celebrate Halloween, a love story to touch your heart or a tale of adventure, stories can transport you through time, across continents and even take you to other worlds. All stories, even simple ones have something to say.

I often use a story or metaphor to  illustrate a point. I have collected quite a few over the years both formal and informal so be prepared to hear some over the coming months.

I decided to share the following story with you this week as it was the first I heard that was used formally to make a point and it was very effective.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I would love to hear some of your stories so why not leave yours here or post it to our facebook page.