I follow a Facebook page called Humans of Dundee. It’s like Humans of New York but for Dundee. It’s wonderful. A snapshot of people’s lives. I was even featured on it myself once.
I am always looking for opportunities to Pay it Forward and I like to look for opportunities on this page. So when a fireman, who found himself unable to walk one day, posted how keen he was to get back to work after 6 months off it seemed like a good opportunity for me.
I suggested Dr David Hamilton’s book “How your mind can heal your body” and offered my services to see if we could work together.
The first reply from someone was as follows:
I think it is SICK to prey on people like that! Unless, of course, you’re doing it out of the goodness of your heart and not charging a penny. If that is the case, I am sorry. If not, SHAME on you!
And it’s a shame that the first thing this person assumed was that my intentions were not good. What sort of world do they live in where they see all the people around them as predators and don’t take things on face value.
CAPITAL LETTERS. Shouting at me because their first thought was that an offer of help was preying on someone.
Shame on them for judging that quickly. Shame on them.
But I wasn’t mad at them. I wasn’t upset. I felt sad for them actually. I felt sad that things must be so hard in their world, in their mind, that they can’t see kindness.
The fireman took it as intended. A friend of his had the book and lent it to him which was great.
The exchange got me thinking.
If I could have one wish, it would be that people didn’t stand in judgement of others
Because you never know. We all play different roles depending on who we are with. Who you are at work is not who you are at home. Who you are with friends is not the same as who you are with your partner. And most of us have a facade that we use for protection. Most of us don’t want people to know that we are worried or insecure or scared.
Someone outwardly confident is often just as insecure inside as everyone else. They just hide it well.
Someone who hates themselves can still smile and look after their appearance. They aren’t going to walk around telling everyone they hate themselves.
You can’t tell be looking. You can’t tell by hearing. You can never tell what it is like in someone else’s head. So don’t think you can.
Don’t respond to others based on how you think.
Don’t judge. You don’t know.
In the caveman days, there would be a certain pattern that our life would follow.
Firstly there was the time after we had caught a woolly mammoth. The was a period of feast. As well as eating for survival, your mind would guide your body to store fat and nutrients from what you ate. This would mean that during the inevitable periods of famine that followed, you would have plenty of reserves to give you best chance of survival for as long as possible.
Then food would run out. You would have no idea when the next catch would be and so you entered a period of famine. During a period of famine everything had to change around from a mind/body perspective. The focus would be on using the nutrients and energy from anything you consumed, and only tapping into your reserves as a last resort. After all, who was to know how long a period of famine would last.
Whether in feast or famine, your mind/body relationship is programmed to give you the best chance of survival.
Now fast forward to the current day and think about a diet. A diet is a period where you deprive yourself of food – either by quantity or by type of food. To your brain this is famine and it adapts accordingly.
And then you have time off a diet. Because everybody does; a birthday, a holiday, or just fed up of trying. To your brain this is feast and once more it will adapt accordingly by stocking up your reserves again.
This is why diets work in terms of losing weight, but then you put it back on again – and some. And each time you diet you lose weight, and gain more until it gets to a point where you have to make a superhuman effort to diet. And you probably feel a failure – like you are no good at dieting. But all you are doing is exactly what your mind and body are designed to do.
This ability of the brain to decided how to metabolise what you eat, based on environmental/emotional factors, can also be the reason why some people feel ‘unfairly’ overweight because they don’t eat that much. If your brain has a reason for you to keep the weight on ( e.g a suit to hide behind or having to be likeable as a person if you can’t use your size as an excuse) then no matter what you try, it will ensure the weight doesn’t come off.
I can help. I can get you out of that diet cycle by freeing you up from food or your size having any meaning – leaving you the freedom to choose to be whoever you want to be.
Why not email firstname.lastname@example.org today? You will see changes from the first session in your relationship with food and yourself. And I can usually help you in as little as 3 sessions spread over 6 weeks.
Maybe today is the day…
Where are you compared with where you think you should be?
How do you cope? How does that compare with how you think you should cope?
In my experience, when a client comes to me with symptoms of depression, out of control emotions or low self-esteem, the problem often comes down to expectations vs reality.
They think they should be someone they are not. They think everyone else expects them to be something different.
And so each day they judge themselves as failing. Failing because they are not living up to their expectations of themselves and their perception of what others expect of them.
It’s not true but that doesn’t make it any less real. What it does mean is that it can be changed. Nothing is real in our heads. Everything is altered by our own perception.
When interviewing, if a policeman asks “how tall was your attacker?” they will get a tall person.
If they ask “How short was your attacker?” they will get a short person.
If they ask “What height was your attacker?” they will get something more accurate but they will still need to ask 5 other people to get a fairly accurate answer. We all see things in our own way.
But this is a good thing. It means by changing our perception we can change our reality.
So ask yourself “What expectations do I have of myself?”
Then ask “What would happen if I dropped those expectations? How would I feel?”
I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is that simple.
And if you need help with that, drop me a mail to email@example.com
I went to see AvenueQ last night. It was brilliant. Very adult, but very funny.
In a strange way there were loads of really good life lessons in it too. I giggled a bit when the Japanese lady character – Christmas Eve – mused on being too effective as a therapist because people didn’t come back after their first session!
There is a theme about finding purpose in life, to give it meaning, that runs through the show. But the end number sums it all up. It talks about just appreciating now.
Why does everything have to be so hard?
Maybe you’ll never find your purpose
Lots of people don’t
But then I don’t even know why I’m alive
Well, who does, really?}
Everyone’s a little bit unsatisfied
Everyone goes ’round a little empty inside
Take a breath, look around
Swallow your pride for now
Nothing lasts, life goes on
Full of surprises
You’ll be faced with problems
Of all shapes and sizes
You’re going to have to make
A few compromises for now
But only for now
Only for now
For now we’re healthy
For now we’re employed
For now we’re happy
If not overjoyed
And we’ll accept the things
We cannot avoid, for now, for now
For now, for now
But only for now
Only for now
(For now there’s life)
Only for now
(For now there’s love)
Only for now
(For now there’s work)
For now there’s happiness
But only for now
(For now discomfort)
But only for now
(But now there’s friendship)
Only for now
Only for now
Only for now, sex
Is only for now, your hair
Is only for now, George Bush
Is only for now
Don’t stress, relax
Let life roll off your backs
Except for death and paying taxes
Everything in life is only for now
Each time you smile
It’ll only last a while
Life may be scary
But it’s only temporary
Everything in life is only for now
It’s one of the more common deep-rooted beliefs that many of my clients hold. They believe they were not loved by their mother or father.
We are programmed to connect everything in our childhood to how it increases love or reduces it. After all, in the caveman days if your mother didn’t love you then you would have no chance of surviving.
Even though that is not true these days, our subconscious is too primitive to know the difference – so it is still following the basic rule that says if you are not loved then you will die!
As a result, all through childhood your subconscious is looking for evidence of how your behaviour can increase the love your parents have for you. Even in an impossible situation where a parent has significant issues with showing emotions or is abusive, as children we are still looking to modify our behaviour to guarantee we will be loved.
Miscalculations inevitably happen. In the negative – “My mother was never the hugging type and never really showed me affection. I don’t think she loved me” and in the positive “When I went to the dentist my dad would always take me to the chip shop for a treat after. When I eat chips it makes me feel loved”. The problem with a miscalculation is that it puts you in an impossible situation. You can’t possible change your behaviour to earn the love of an emotionally detached mother because it’s not about you. It’s about her.
But we are programmed to make the connections so that we can learn and we can survive.
This is all even more significant if you understand a little bit of the science around feeling loved.
Lack of love hurts, not just emotionally but also physically. Feeling connected, feeling love, heals us.
When we feel connected to someone, through a long hug or some sign of affection, our brain releases a feel-good drug called Oxytocin. Not only does this drug make us feel happier but it also makes physiological changes. It swells up the blood vessels which lowers our blood pressure. It also scrubs out the insides of our veins and arteries, clearing out some of the stuff that builds up. So by having a 20 second hug you are not only improving your mental state, but you are also physically improving your health too.
This is why we have just got a puppy. In 2007 my husband had a quadruple heart bypass operation. This added to mobility issues he already had. What he has lacked for years is true companionship. I used to travel a lot with work and although we are also best friends we all need someone as well as our partner.
I realised that the best thing I could do to help my husband with his health was to get a dog. Recent studies on men over 50 who had some form of heart operation showed that those who got a dog recovered at the same or better rate than those who had physiotherapy.
It’s a no brainer. My husband gets a companion and a boost to Oxytocin which boosts his physical and mental health.
Talk therapy ‘best for social phobia’, study finds
This article is one of many articles I read online, or hear on the radio every day. They talk about how we need more therapies instead of giving out so much medication for depression and anxiety.
The irony is that this is all talk and no action.
Every client that comes to see me answers a set of questions, using tick boxes, before our session starts. The data from those forms goes anonymously into a database and is collated as research. Research that shows, using NHS definitions and measures, how effective Cognitive Hypnotherapy is for treating conditions like depression and anxiety.
The results are amazing.
This year they will go into a white paper and hopefully, soon, GP’s will be able to send you to see a Cognitive Hypnotherapist on the NHS.
I went to my local medical centre several weeks ago. I took my data. Data that shows I generally help people within 3 sessions over a period of 2-3 months. No matter what their problem is. People that have been on medication for years. I send them back to their GP to discuss how they can come off their medication.
The doctor sounded interested. He said he would discuss with the other partners and be in touch.
They never got in touch.
All talk and no action. Ironic really. When everyone acknowledges that we need less action (issuing medication) and more talk (therapy).
When I was ay University I started struggling to see the white board at the front. I found myself having to move closer and closer to the front. Not good because it made it easier for the lecturer to spot the games of boxes I was playing with my friends!
Anyway, I ended up going to an optician and I ended up with a new pair of glasses.
That summer I was home for the holidays and was walking through the countryside to my summer job. I looked at the trees and noticed how remarkable the leaves were.
Then I realised, I hadn’t been able to make out the leaves before – they were blurry.
I did that thing where you try looking with and without the glasses and the change was remarkable.
The most interesting thing was, until I had my glasses I hadn’t even realised that I wasn’t seeing the leaves on the trees. The way I saw things was so normal to me, I didn’t realise that they didn’t actually look that way.
I didn’t realise it was just my way of seeing things until something changed my perception.
This is also true when you have low self-confidence or low self-esteem. You assume that the way you feel and the way you see things that people say is the only way. You assume it is the truth.
But like the leaves on the trees, everything is really just a matter of perception. And perception can be changed. Changing the way you see something changes the way it is. And changes you.
If you think everyone is down on you, that you are not as good as everyone else, that you look terrible…then maybe today is the day to drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I can help. Like the optician helped me with my eyes, I can help you with your head!
One of the biggest challenges my clients often face is meeting the expectations of others.
Well, I say meeting the expectations of others but what I really mean is meeting their perception of what other people expect of them.
You see, we can’t read minds.
And yet most people think they can. Most people think they know what other people are thinking. Many people who see me think other people are judging them. But if you put 10 people in a room, who are all worried about what other people think about them, there really isn’t any time left for them to judge you. Because they are occupied by worrying about being judged themselves!
You can’t win because you don’t know what other people think of you. And you assume their thoughts relate to your insecurities. So you project that expectation.
And that puts pressure on you. Huge pressure. How can you live up to expectations of others when you can’t possibly know what those expectations are? It’s an impossible situation.
For example. I have found that believing they need to stay strong and cope can lead to episodes of depression and anxiety in clients. You shouldn’t feel the emotion of the challenges in life. You should be strong and stoic. You should cope no matter what. You should never let it be seen that something is hard.
But life is hard. Tough stuff happens. And sometimes it is really difficult to cope. You might get teary, angry, snappy. You might feel like curling up and hiding.
That is ok. It is ok to feel stuff and to struggle. It is ok to be human.
If you think about it, does it really make a difference when you try and be strong and show people you can cope with anything? Or does it really make everything a lot worse because not only are you struggling with a difficult thing in life but also judging yourself for how you are coping?
To find things difficult is part of being human. It doesn’t mean anything to who you are. No one else can know what it’s like to be you. They don’t know what resources you have. Nothing anyone else says can make a difference so why not accept that you don’t have to live up to your perception of what anyone else thinks. You can only be you. And at any given moment you are the best version of you that you can be.
Remember, your track record for getting through the day is 100% so far
Don’t worry mummy, your belly covers your bits
It was true. It was an innocent statement made by her based on what she saw. Not based on any form of judgement.
These days I am comfortable enough in my own skin that I don’t care. I smiled and told her she made a good point and we carried on laughing and giggling as we got changed.
In the past that might have caused me a problem. But my weight doesn’t define me. And it’s changing. I’m changing.
How I look doesn’t matter to her.
What I do doesn’t matter to her.
All that matters to her is how I make her feel.
When she looks back on photos and reflects on memories when she’s older, it won’t be what size I was that she remembers. It will be what she was doing and how she felt.
My daughter knows that beauty on the inside is way more important than beauty on the outside. My daughter knows we are all different and that’s what makes people interesting and amazing.
She doesn’t care what size I am or if I have make up on. She doesn’t even care if we have a hug when I have just got back from a run and am hot and sweaty!
She doesn’t care if the photo we’ve just taken together shows me with a double chin. What she sees is her mum and she loves me. What she sees is how much fun we were having as she remembers what we were doing at the time.
We are not remembered for what we do. We are remembered for how we make people feel.
So next time you try and hide from that photo or cringe at a comment made by your kid that makes you self-conscious – remember that. Be in their moment, don’t hide from it. You might regret it later in your life if you do.