Managing Your Great Expectations

“You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you.”
Lisa Kleypas, Love in the Afternoon

Whilst walking my dog today I met a family walking their puppy. As her Mum and Dad were talking to me, their daughter who was about 7 or 8 wrapped her arms around my dog and hugged him.  Her expectation was that my dog would be happy to accept the hug. Fortunately, apart from my dog looking a little surprised her expectation was met. Will this meeting affect her behaviour in the future? Probably.Setting Expectations, Managing your Happiness

Expectations and Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that is responsible for transmitting signals in between the nerve cells (neurons) of the brain. It is part of the brain’s complicated system that is related to  motivation and reward. Dopamine neurons become activated when a cue from the environment indicates you are going to get a reward with unexpected rewards releasing more dopamine. So when the little girl hugged my dog her expectation of a happy, furry cuddle was met and she got a dopamine hit.

However what happens when our expectations are not met? We can feel disappointed, frustrated, angry, guilty or a whole host of other unhelpful emotions. Our dopamine levels fall which isn’t  a pleasant feeling. We experience low levels of unmet expectations regularly. Expecting a journey on a busy motorway (like the M25 around London), to be traffic free and then finding yourself in a monster traffic jam will decrease your dopamine levels for example.

Managing expectations

A good starting point to work out if your expectations are beneficial for you is to ask yourself if your current expectations are helping you move forward in life or if they are making you unhappy?

"I always dreamed I'd sell insurance"


Paying attention to your expectations and identifying those that are likely to be met is a good way to start to manage them and regulate your emotions. Consciously changing your expectations can have a huge impact on your happiness.  Expecting a monster traffic jam on your journey and then finding it traffic free will definitely increase your dopamine.

We often discriminate in our expectations, setting ourselves a much higher standard than we do for other people. So next time you expect something of yourself ask if you would expect the same from a friend. Adjusting your expectation so that your chance of getting a reward will be more likely will increase your overall happiness. So next time you go to hug a dog make sure you’ve asked the owner if it’s friendly first.

Here are a few quotes that made me think about managing our emotions, and happiness in particular. How about you? Do you have a favorite quote, one that has shaped your thinking?

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” – Benjamin Franklin

Loneliness and how to overcome it

Do you suffer from loneliness, feel disconnected or suffer from a sense of separateness at a deep level? To some extent loneliness is part of growing up. From birth we start the process of separation and growth towards becoming individuals.

Whether we have a smooth or bumpy ride from birth to adulthood, there are sure to be times when the process of growing up into our separate selves feels difficult. There will be times when we experience feelings of anxiety, insecurity, abandonment and of feeling unloved, in other words when we feel lonely. It’s a balancing act that continues throughout life between the acceptance of isolation and the search for intimacy.

Many people who look for help with feelings of loneliness have active social lives, a stable relationships and a busy job. It is possible to feel lonely in a crowd.

As our busy culture is geared towards extroversion and on togetherness, we often confuse being alone with solitude and to think of them both in a negative way. However there are many people who choose to live a solitary life and are very happy doing so.

It’s possible to overcome loneliness, but we need to be determined and active. If we just wait for others to do it for us, it won’t happen.

loneliness and how to overcome it

Our top 10 tips for overcoming loneliness.

1. Practise kindness. Complete one act of kindness for another being each day.

2. Take up voluntary work. If you have some spare time why not think of working as a volunteer. There are lots of groups who would welcome an extra pair of hands.

3. Do something productive. Clean your home, weed the garden, or tidy your cupboards.

4. Local interest groups. There are many local groups and societies that cater for a wide range of interests and tastes.

5. Join a class. Classes are a great way of learning something new and meeting people.

6. Pick up the phone, or write an email. Don’t wait for people to contact you, take the lead.

7. Join an exercise group. Get fit and meet people.

8. Go for a daily walk in the park or woods. Connect with nature.

9. Learn to be alone practise how to feel relaxed in your own company, yoga, meditation or even just keeping a journal can help you relax

10. Keep a gratitude log. Remember to look for the good things in your day. Make a note of 3 good things that have happened to you each day.

Remember that no one person can complete all our emotional needs. In order to keep loneliness at bay we need to become more self reliant and to value solitude and to take an active role in overcoming it.

Do you have any tried and tested tips for overcoming periods of loneliness and for feeling connected? Why not share them with us?

Intuition as a ‘sixth sense’ or a ‘personal sat-nav’

Research into how our brains really work reveals new and exciting understanding all the time.  Recent studies on our sixth sense, that of intuition, appears to show that it is very much hard-wired into our make up.  Why is it then that we frequently ignore it?

trust your intuition

Sometimes it may appear to be  at odds with what our other senses are telling us, for example someone may tell us one thing, but we may ‘feel’ that there is more behind what they are saying.  Something may ‘look’  good and yet we feel intuitively that it isn’t. We should listen to these intuitive feelings, and consider them carefully. A friend and colleague of mine refers to our intuition as our ‘personal sat-nav’ and I think that’s a good analogy.

‘In life, if you focus on possibilities, they become probabilities. How you perceive the world and everything in it affects how the world influences you. The real power of intuition is that it gives us, at every moment, the capacity to change our destiny.’
 – Mona Lisa Schulz, ‘Awakening Intuition’
Intuition may come in many forms. Sometimes it is simply a sense that you should take one form of action, such as remembering to look both ways before walking into the street. In other ways it may be simply a positive (albeit subjective) feeling of one choice over another. Sometimes you may just be picking up on repeated signals, such as an opinion that you read in a newspaper that is reinforced later in the day by a friend giving similar advice, e.g. moving to a new area or a holiday destination.

Of course, these feelings are just that – feelings. The power of intuition is simply that ‘x-factor‘ when your heart and head agree; and something tips the balance for you.

Making use of your sixth sense in your interactions may help you to be more receptive and sympathetic to the concerns that the people around you face in their lives. Although, you might not feel at ease relying  upon on your sixth sense, if you take account of these insights, you may perceive more subtle associations and bring a more considered approach to your decisions and understanding of others; and the situation unfolding before you. With this level of awareness, you may find a more natural, instinctive approach to people and situations that makes your life more rewarding.

Your ‘personal sat-nav’ is set in the direction of keeping you on the right track.  Use it well!

ME Awareness Week

ME Awareness Week
6-12th May 2012action_for_me_logo

ME Awareness Week takes place from 6-12 May 2012. Organised each year, the week seeks to enhance understanding of M.E. as well as increase funding for research into this difficult condition .

ME can certainly have an effect on various areas of the body and it leads to muscle pains, severe fatigue as well as problems with memory. It is usually extremely challenging for sufferers to live with , but there is support available .

ME is an illness with many names . Within the NHS it is commonly called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or CFS/M.E). Sometimes it is known as Myalgic Encephalopathy or diagnosed as Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS). It is a long-term chronic , fluctuating illness affecting 250,000 people in the UK. M.E. symptoms may include persistent exhaustion , muscle and/or joint pain, sleep disturbance, feeling ‘flu-like’ and having problems with memory and concentration. Many people with M.E. experience persistent fatigue or pain. However, M.E. is characterised by a range of additional symptoms.

A few of the signs and symptoms of M .E and Post Viral Fatigue are muscle fatigue and not being able to concentrate for lengthy amounts of time. Hypnosis and hypnosis may help the individual struggling with the problem handle the emotional and physical symptoms of the condition. Aching joints, discomfort , disturbed sleep, excessive fatigue, lack of ability to concentrate, as well as feelings of exhaustion are indicative of M.E. and Post Viral Fatigue.

Even though its cause is unknown it is thought probable that M .E and Post Viral Fatigue can develop following an infection or may be triggered by an emotional upset . Often the sufferer develops flu-like symptoms in the first instance and then the symptoms of M .E and Post Viral Fatigue worsen. The symptoms often get worse as the result of stress.

Individuals with M.E. and Post Viral Fatigue may find themselves too tired to work or even go out in some instances. The physical discomfort may also be very severe plus they may start having loss of memory, which could effect their lives. making it difficult to allow them to understand verbal instructions and loss of co-ordination. Many become exhausted by simple tasks . Evening sweats or severe shivering are typical, much like issues with balance .

Should you recognise all or any of those signs and symptoms in yourself then hypnosis may help – either directly, or by focusing upon related issues such as stress and depression.

Action for M.E. is the leading UK charity for people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) and their carers. They were founded in 1987 and throughout the previous twenty years they have been campaigning for better treatment solutions and research. In the course of the awareness week , Action for ME will be organising fundraising activities in addition to asking you to become involved. On the official ME Awareness Week web site you may learn everything about the charity, the week, as well as a great deal of fundraising hints and tips.

It’s easy to get involved , so visit the website today and make a difference this May.

Hypnosis: Overcoming Infertility the stress-free way

This guest post is by Russell Davis of the Fertile Mind.

fertile mind

My name is Russell Davis and I want you to know if you are struggling with infertility I understand where you might be right now. My wife and I tried for 10 years to conceive (double infertility) and given you are reading this then I expect you may recognise the pain, grief, anger, hopelessness, and all the other emotions we experienced on our journey.  We did finally conceive naturally and have a wonderful son.  Having now become a Cognitive Hypnotherapist the one thing I wish I had made more use of is the power of the mind. Looking back I can now see how my thoughts and feelings affected our progress.

Mind-body link
As you probably know, reproduction is one of the most delicate systems in our body.  Your mind can affect your ability to get pregnant on multiple levels.  The hypothalamus in your brain helps regulate hormone levels as well as impacting the pituitary and adrenal responses which produce and regulate the level of stress hormones in your body. Changes to these responses can have dramatic affect on the delicate cocktail of hormones necessary for ovulation, fertilisation, fallopian tube functioning and even successful implantation of the egg.

There is also a growing amount of research on the positive affect hypnosis and mind-body programs can have on fertility.  A recent study lead by Alice Domar at Boston IVF studied 100 women undergoing IVF treatment. 52% of the women who completed the mind-body program were successful compared to 20% of the control group.

Another study of 185 woman by Professor Levitas of Soroka Hospital Israel found that 28% of the women who were hypnotised for the embryo transfer during IVF treatment became pregnant, compared to 14% of the women in the control group.

How it can help you
Hypnosis can help you whether trying to conceive naturally or undergoing treatment.  It can help you let go of things such as negative beliefs, stress or fear of not ever being fulfilled that could be holding you back from getting pregnant.

There is no denying infertility can be highly stressful. One study has demonstrated that the stress levels in infertile women are equivalent to women suffering from AIDS or cancer.  No-one tells them just to relax!  Unlike relaxation methods, which can give you periods of respite, hypnotherapy can let go of the underlying causes of your stress, your thinking about your situation.

Hypnotherapy also goes beyond letting go of these negative things which can be impacting your chances of success. Hypnosis can positively utilise the mind-body link and actively guide your unconscious mind to what you want.  Again there is research demonstrating how your mind can positively change your biology.

In one such study by the Learner Institute in 2003 a group of volunteers visualised exercising their little finger over a period of 12 weeks.  Their muscle strength had improved by 35% and continued improving to 40% four weeks after the study and training had ended – without lifting a finger!  I have witnessed remarkable changes such as ovaries that were not responding to traditional treatment start releasing eggs.

Get Started
The Fertile Mind® fertility hypnosis programs use the latest hypnosis techniques which are short, relaxing and enjoyable. There are separate programs for natural and assisted conception as well as one for male fertility.  See and explore how Cognitive Hypnotherapy could be helping you.

“It helped me to gain perspective and to regain a feeling of calm when I felt my life was completely out of control.   It also helped me to start the next IVF cycle with a positive frame of mind that the cycle could actually work and gave me the strength to continue. During the IVF process which was completely out of my control, it helped me to feel that I was able to make a positive contribution to my treatment.  It helped me to remain calm and relaxed at very stressful times and also gave me a feeling of empowerment.”
Sarah used The Fertile Mind® with her 4th IVF cycle which was successful.

About Russell Davis

Russell Davis as helped many couples achieve their dream of becoming pregnant using Cognitive Hypnotherapy.  Russell is the founder of The Fertile Mind®   fertility hypnosis programs and The National Council of Hypnotherapy (NCH) Fertility Special Advisor.  He is also an Accredited Member of the Complimentary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

Step into my world… See, hear and feel the other person’s perspective

Have you ever thought you were speaking a different language, unable to make yourself understood? It’s possible that you are.

We all have a preferred way of experiencing the world. Some people are more visual, others auditory, some people are touchy feely (Kinaesthetic) and others have an internal dialogue that never stops (Audio-Digital).

Although these 4 preferences are generalisations because in reality we tend to use all four depending on the context, they can have a huge impact on our ability to successfully communicate with one another.

Someone with a visual preference may ‘see where you are coming from’ but be unable to ‘hear what you say’. A kinaesthetic  may ‘get a feel’ for a conversation that doesn’t ‘make sense’ to an audio digital.

So next time you are in conversation with someone try to spot the language patterns they use. Is it dotted and coloured with visual words or maybe stuffed full of kinaesthetic clues? Perhaps it is silently screaming with auditory indicators or distinctly making sense from a audio digital perspective.

“You’re not listening to a word I say!”

“…and you don’t feel the way I do….”

Personality profiles show us that people don’t experience the world in the same way. This simple observation may deepen our understanding of why our friends, family and acquaintances act the way they do. When dealing with misunderstandings it helps to see, feel and hear the issue from the other person’s perspective… to step into their ‘world’.  If you are having trouble making your point, try changing the language you use to match the preference of your conversational partner and see how you get on!

Why not take our Character Quiz to learn more about your personality profile?

“Our greatest strength as a human race is our ability to acknowledge our differences, our greatest weakness is our failure to embrace them.”

-Judith Henderson