Category Archives: Cognitive Hypnotherapy

Why is it so hard to lose weight? (Video)

Do you struggle with your weight? Have you successfully dieted only to find yourself putting more weight back on when you stop? Do you have friends that seem to be able to eat whatever they want without gaining weight? This video explains it all!

Just talk to someone

13439189_10154271134650768_101458163295860802_nThe other day my daughter (8) had been complaining of a poorly tummy all weekend, so we kept her off school on the Monday and took her to the doctor. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong and called her a puzzle. On Tuesday she got up and ready for school and all was fine. Until I told her to get her shoes on. She started whining that her tummy was sore – worse than it was before. I told her she couldn’t keep missing school or she’d end up going back a year. She cried and said her tummy was sore. I told her if she stayed home she’d have to spend the day in bed. No technology. She said she wanted to do that.

And then I knew something more was wrong than just her tummy.

“Is there a reason you don’t want to go to school?” the hubby asked.

“I am scared of X who is really mean to me. He shoves me around”

And there it was. The reason for the sore tummy.

My daughter doesn’t worry what people say. She knows everyone is screwed up and she knows she can’t read minds. She’s pretty resilient and one of the happiest kids that I have ever met. But that doesn’t work so well when someone is being physical with you. So we headed up to school and spoke to the head who was extremely supportive and told her she should never feel scared at school. School was for having fun. She made sure my daughter understood she could talk to any of us if she was ever worried.

Since then we’ve had no problems. She is my happy little girl again who loves school.

What I couldn’t understand is why she didn’t tell me or the hubby that she was worried about this? We talk about everything (or so I thought). She had kept this in her head and it had become something bad enough to start taking a physical toll.

In our house, because of my childhood experiences, we have a rule which is no secrets. There is no good reason to keep a secret. We can do surprises (secret with a known end date!) but not secrets. So we talk about everything. And yet, she had kept this to herself.

In 2015 I took my abuser to court for historical abuse. When I was talking to the police in the run up to the trial I mentioned that I told my best friend what had happened when I was 16. I didn’t think she believed me. We stopped being friends and I hadn’t been in touch with her since we were at school together. But the police tracked her down and as soon as she took the call she knew what it was about. She remembered it well. She also remembered a bunch of other stuff I had told her, that I didn’t remember. She had felt guilty her whole life for not acting on what I told her. I had no idea. I was amazed. And over the last couple of years, as I’ve re-connected with old school friends, it became clear that they knew too.

I had no idea. I thought it was only me. I thought I made it all up. I thought I was making a big deal out of nothing. Other people knew stuff and I had no idea. I would *never* have spoken to them about it. Like my daughter didn’t tell me what was going on with the older boy at school. It would have made such a difference to know I wasn’t alone. Just having someone who listened.

So my point is, keeping stuff in your head, doesn’t make it better. It doesn’t make it go away. It makes it bigger. Because it occupies all the space. It becomes your reality. Talking about it, opens that space up. It allows you to expand your reality and share it with others. Which makes it all look different. Just talking can be enough to help you see a different perspective, and a different perspective can make you feel less alone, less different, less broken.

So don’t worry what people think – you can’t read minds and they can’t read yours.

Talk. Talk to a friend on Facebook through messenger if that’s easier, write an email, tweet it, pick up the phone, send a text message.

I know any of my friends would listen to me if I needed it. It might surprise you who is listening. And if you really truly believe that you know absolutely no one. If there is absolutely no one that you can message, then contact the Samaritans using the details in the image on this post. They are really really good at listening.

You are not alone. Ever. No matter what you think. The thoughts in your head are not real. They are a factor of right now, and right now always changes. See, it just changed again…and again…and again…

I am not what happened to me

I was not sure how to write this post.

My Timehop reminded me that I was in court a year ago with this post

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A friend on Twitter pointed out that Timehop is not always a good thing. Sometimes it reminds us of stuff we don’t need to be reminded of.

I see it differently.

I reported my abuser to the NSPCC for historical abuse in October 2013. 2 years later I attended court. The police and prosecution were almost 100% certain that they would get a guilty verdict based on my evidence. My evidence was a 3 hour video interview where I told them everything that had happened. Every detail, no matter how painful. I figured if I did that, it was worth it because it would give us the best chance of a conviction. I didn’t do it for validation, I did it because I believed he had, and would, abuse others. I was strong enough to be their voice thanks to Cognitive Hypnotherapy.

Over 2 days I had to go through watching my video evidence again. Re-living every horrific detail. I had to be questioned about being abused in front of a jury. I met with the prosecution barrister before the trial. They told me to talk to the jury. That is who I was giving evidence to. But the jury of 12 was made up of at least 10 student age lads. Each day at least one of them overslept and the trial was delayed. None of them made eye contact with me when I spoke. The looked down and they looked bored.

His testimonial was full of lies and he was destroyed by the prosecution. He turned up to the verdict with his suitcase.

He was found Not guilty.

In that moment, of hearing the verdict, I was devastated. I cried for 2 days.

It took me 3 months to feel that the tension from the shaking had left my body. I felt traumatised by what happened in court and the verdict seemed to have only served to enhance that. I went through all that for nothing? But it wasn’t for nothing. I had called him out. I had removed the power he had over me. Those memories no longer served a purpose and I visualised them dissipating into the breeze.

My head was clear.

I realised that the verdict did not matter. This happens with jury’s. They are unpredictable. Everyone believed me and not him – even the judge made it clear in his summing up.

In many ways the verdict was more liberating for me than a guilty verdict would have been. If it had been Guilty I would have talked about it, shared my story, again and again. Every time we tell our story, we relive it a little. I would have kept myself reliving what happened.

The verdict allowed me to let go once and for all. All the traumatic memories. All the meaning. Everything went away.

For the first time in my life I was free. I started a new chapter. I could be whoever I wanted to be.

A year later the Criminal Injuries Compensation board awarded me 100% based on the police evidence and my statement. It felt like a final vindication. I let go of the injustice of the verdict that had been plaguing me.

I went back to where I grew up, on holiday, knowing he lived there.

My past has no power over my present and my future.

I am not what happened to me.

And so my Timehop reminds me that it is possible to move on from even the most traumatic events in our lives. It reminds me that we don’t stay in the same place for any length of time. This too shall pass. Always.

Can you time travel?

Tardis

I should have done it differently

I wish I had…

Regrets. They are part of being human. Wishing we had done things differently. Wishing we had said something or not said something.

A couple of weeks ago, my best friend of 15+ years died. It was sudden and unexpected. Well, sort of unexpected. She had been ill with an undiagnosed illness for around 5 years. As part of the range of emotions I went through after I heard, I went through guilt and regret. I should have done more to help her. I am a therapist. As her friend I should have helped more.

But she didn’t need a therapist, she needed a friend. And that’s what I was. So I moved on from those thoughts pretty quickly.

We all believe we can time travel. I’m sure you’ve thought back to something in your past and, as a result of seeing it differently now, wished you had handled it differently.

Many of my clients assume that the way they think now is the same as when they were a child. This is particularly true in the case of sexual abuse, where you believe your younger self should have acted in the same capacity that you would now as an adult.

You can’t change time.

None of us are capable of time travel. We can not go back and change the way things were.

Your understanding as a child was very different from your understanding as an adult.

In the case of abuse, you couldn’t have fought back. You couldn’t have run away. You couldn’t have told someone. You were confused, scared, dependent and surviving. What you think now, as an adult, has no relevance to how you thought then, as a child.

The past has gone. You can’t travel in time so you can not change what happened, you can only change your perceptions of what happened.

The future is unknown. It always will be. You have no idea what will happen next.

All you can do is live in the present moment

Have you noticed how young kids have a tantrum when you try and get them to leave somewhere where they are having fun? Did you try and persuade them to leave by telling them they could come back another time? How does that make sense? “Leave this fun thing that you are doing right now so that you can come back at some undefined time later and do this fun thing”. Children live in the present. We need to learn from that.

So what?

You are only ever the best version of you that you can be right now, in this moment.

The past is gone and can’t be changed.

The future is unknown and can’t be controlled.

You can only be the best version of you right now.

To help with this, I find asking “So what?” helps.

Right now, so what?

If you can do something right now, do it. If you can’t, then let it go. Don’t let something you can’t do anything about stay in your head.

Visualise it disappearing.

That worry, that thing that’s in your head. Ask “So what?” and let it go.

Anger is just like anxiety

It’s easy to forget that the primal fight or flight response includes the word FIGHT.

I think we are used to talking about anxiety; social anxiety, public speaking anxiety, etc. When something scares us we assume that we will either freeze or try and get out of it/avoid it.

But there are a whole bunch of people who react to something that scares them with a fight response.

It’s a perfectly valid response from your subconscious. It’s job is to keep you alive when threatened. So when you are faced with a sabre toothed tiger you have a choice: leg it as fast you can or stand and fight. The physical response in your body is the same for both options : adrenalin flooding through your body, heart rate increase, cognitive function disengaged.

So if you find that you are quick to temper, maybe it’s not that you have anger issues. Maybe it’s that your subconscious thinks something is going to hurt you and it’s doing it’s best to keep you safe and well.

Be more hedgehog

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Hedgehogs are stupid animals. So it might surprise you that I am suggesting that you try and become more like a hedgehog.

Let me explain:

The thing that makes a hedgehog stupid is the way they approach obstacles. They don’t really get obstacles. They don’t try and work out the best way round. They walk forward in an unrelenting fashion.

If faced with a rock they will try and go over it rather than round it.

In the UK we have cattle grids to stop cows getting onto a road. We had to start putting ramps in them to let the hedgehogs out because they wouldn’t take the safe path, they take the straight path.

I have approached my life in the same way as a hedgehog approaches it’s journey. I have been a hedgehog. I move forward in an unrelenting fashion with no acknowledgement of the obstacles that get in the way. The doubts, worries, risk etc. are given no time in my head.

I am a hedgehog. I a move forward irrespective of the obstacle.

Try it. It’s amazing what can be achieved when you ignore obstacles (just don’t go near the cattle grid, or tennis nets!)

Different realities

colour blind

Some people can’t see certain colours. Some people can’t see reds and greens. It’s hard to understand what they see, when we can see them fine. But we accept that some people see colours differently.

The thing a lot of people don’t realise is that it’s not the eyes that see. It’s the brain. We all see things based on our own reality. We all see things differently.

So why is it so hard to accept that we might see other things differently? Why is it so hard to accept that the way we see ourselves may not be the same as others see us?

You don’t know what you don’t know. Until you see things in a different way, no amount of explanation from anyone else will shift your perception. A person who is colour blind will not realise that they see things differently until someone points it out to them. Even then, they still won’t truly understand until something helps them see differently. A person who is experiencing depression will not be able to hear what other people tell them. They are living in a restricted reality in their own head.

This video of a baby getting glasses for the first time is a great example. She doesn’t know that there is anything wrong with her eyesight,  until she sees the world for the first time through glasses.

Baby sees with glasses for the first time

When people leave their first session with me, they mostly look bemused. They know themselves pretty well, and have no reason to believe an hour spent talking to me will change a thing. But as they go through the weeks after that session, they begin to see things differently. Their reality begins to shift. The more evidence they gather of how things can be different, the more it brings into question everything they thought was true about themselves.

It can be both unnerving and exciting.

In time, they stop accepting their emotional state as a black and white truth. They begin to realise that it is a temporary reality that can be changed. Until they do, I am there. I remain the objective observer, finding the right glasses to allow them to see the world as it is, rather than a filtered version based on past experiences.

It’s a wonderful journey and I am honoured to be part of it with so many people.

Plenty of sleep and still exhausted?

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Do you find that it doesn’t seem to matter how much sleep you get, you are still tired?

Do you wake up through the night and struggle to get back to sleep with your thoughts racing?

Let me explain a little bit about sleep.

In a standard 8 hours sleep cycle

For 2 hours of your sleep cycle you are in REM sleep. In this state your subconscious is doing the filing. It is taking all the events and emotions from through your day, and working out how to connect and sort them in the context of everything else you have experienced in your life to-date. It doesn’t do this with any intelligence (it’s your subconscious so it is stupid!)

For the remaining 6 hours of your sleep cycle you are in a state of deep restorative sleep where healing takes place and batteries are recharged.

Where it goes wrong

The problem comes when your subconscious can’t do the filing. This happens when it can’t work out what is connected to what. It stands and scratches it’s head for a bit, searches for the right place to put stuff, changes it’s mind. During this confusion, the REM sleep gets extended. If it can’t work out where to file stuff it just keeps on trying. Because your REM sleep is now extended, your restorative sleep is reduced, which means your batteries do not get fully charged. This is why, no matter how many hours sleep you get, you still wake up exhausted.

It gets worse

Because your batteries are not recharged, you start the day with a reduced cognitive function. You should normally have around 10% of the day where you can think rationally and logically. With this 10% diminished you become less capable of logical and rational thought (or of simple tasks like making a cup of coffee). As a result, you go through your day in a haze, unable to process events that need processing. Then night time comes and you collapse into bed exhausted. But now the filing is even more tricky because you haven’t sorted anything out through the day, because you couldn’t think straight! So the cycle perpetuates.

So what can I do?

Essentially, to sort out your night time stuff you need to resolve your daytime stuff. The best way to do this is to address it during the day (by coming to see me). However, if coming to see me is not an option for you then you can try the 2 simple tasks below:

Task 1: Pre-filing

You can do some pre-filing just before you go to sleep. This means that your subconscious has more of a chance of working out where everything goes and your REM sleep stays within the threshold. You can also do this exercise if you wake up through the night to banish the thoughts that get in the way of going back to sleep.

  1. Focus on your breathing to bring yourself into this moment in time. 
  2. Look for a thought entering your head. It’s impossible not to think so one will always come in (Even if it’s “I’m having no thoughts”). It’s important that you don’t try and stop the thoughts. Let them in.
  3. When a thought enters your head label it. Maybe you can label it as a worry, a thing to do, a thought from the past, Steve. It doesn’t matter what label you use, just stick a label on each thought.
  4. Once a thought has been labelled, visualise it leaving your head again. There are a number of different ways you can imagine the thoughts appearing and you’ll find a way that’s right for you. Examples might include: imagine the thoughts as branches on a tree, as each grows it turns to jelly and drops to the ground, or imagine each thought is like a post-it note that floats off a wall, or a leaf dropping off a tree and floating down the river. It doesn’t matter how you visualise it, just make sure you allow the thought into your head, visualise it, label it, and send it away.
  5. After you’ve labelled the thought and sent it away focus on your breathing again and when the next thought comes in, just label it and send it away again.

Do this until you fall asleep. Keep spotting, labelling and dismissing the thoughts.

Task 2: Listen to the download. Get the sleep MP3 here**

Many people try to address sleep problems by working on the symptoms rather than the root cause. If you really want to get a better night, then you need to try and get a better day.

**It is designed to relax you and get you to sleep, so you would be really really crazy to listen to it while doing anything that requires focus and attention like operating diggers, speedway racing, or even driving. If you are daft enough to listen to it at any other time than when relaxing then the consequences are entirely your responsibility!

You can’t talk someone out of depression

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Don’t ask someone why they are depressed

This is what you read in the mental health forums. People talk about the Black Dog. It is a metaphor for the state of deep depression that people experience. The Black Dog represents a state that is out of their control. It represents an illness.

But what is depression? As a label we all have an idea what it means. In fact most of us, if we are honest, will be able to say we have had a period of our lives where we could have been classed as depressed. For some this period extends out to span their whole lives. There is a perception that you will always be prone to depressive spells.

Labels comfort and constrain us

You are unique. No two people will experience depression in the same way. How can a label possibly represent this?

When you have been battling for a long time, you can feel like you are going mad. Everything can feel out of control. Then you go to your GP and they give you a label. They have to because once they have labelled you they can treat you.

At first a label can be a comfort. You can read around. You can find other people experiencing the same thing as you. You feel part of something. You feel like you are not creating your own problem. You experience the catharses of talking and letting out a big secret.

But you are unique. In time you might realise that you are not the same as everyone else. You may realise that it’s not enough to know that others have a similar problem. Because all those people are now constrained by their label, in the same way that you are.

Medication for depression is not a cure. Medication for depression balances the chemicals in your brain to stop you going too low. They have a value for this. Chemicals in the brain can be very powerful for influencing our state. However medication is a sticky plaster. A plaster doesn’t heal a wound, it just stops it getting worse.

If you want to get over depression, you need to get rid of the trigger.

In my experience as a therapist, there is a reason for depression. The thing that people get wrong is they use their current reality to try and explain why they shouldn’t be depressed: “I have a great life”, “I have great family and friends”, “I have a good job and I’m really successful”

The reason for depression doesn’t come from your current reality. It comes from your past reality. It comes from childhood.

In my experience, the state of depression comes from a mismatch between expectations and reality. Expectations that you should be somewhere in life that you are not, or expectations that you should be able to cope better than you are.

This is why you can’t talk someone out of depression. They are living in a different reality to you and won’t be listening

Moving on from depression

So if you want to move on from a depressed state, instead of addressing current reality, amazing change can be achieved by addressing the source of the expectations

You are not as in control of your thoughts as you think. At least 90% of the time your subconscious is in charge. This part of you is a primitive and emotional part of your brain, but it means well. It’s job is to keep you safe from harm. This goes beyond keeping your heart pumping, fighting off viruses etc. The subconscious also protects you from stuff in your environment that may cause you harm, both physically and emotionally.

Because we are all unique, we all have different rules for what might harm us. This is why some people are scared of spiders and others aren’t. This is why some people are scared of picking up the phone and others don’t even think about it.

These “rules for survival” are created as we grow up. As children we are learning many things. A tiger cub will learn from its parents how to hunt safely, how to sleep so nothing can hurt it, etc. In the same way, our subconscious learns lessons on how it can keep us safe once we are adults. Those lessons go into a rule book.

Between the age of 14 to 16 your brain switches to following the rules in the rule book rather than writing them.

Time travel

So let’s look at depression differently. I said that it is about expectations versus reality. It is the expectation part that’s the problem not the reality. If there are no expectations then you are able to accept your reality.

When I work with clients who have symptoms of depression, I seek out the point at which the expectations were written in the rule book. We time travel through a web of memories to find the significant moment where a lesson was learned. Did you know there a 7,363,282 minutes that you experience by the time you are 15 years old? Any one of those minutes can be taken by your subconscious as significant enough to learn a lesson from.

Try this. Think of the most recent time you laughed. Got it? Now think of the very earliest memory where you felt happy. There is a web of memories and your mind will automatically make the right connections if you just touch on the right strand of the web.

Summary

There is a reason for depression but that reason does not come from your current reality. It comes from expectations versus your current reality. If you get rid of the expectations you can accept your reality. If you change it this way, then you will not keep on going back into that depressed state. It frees you up to accept your life without risk of sinking into extreme lows when life gets on top of you.

To learn more check out my book “The Caveman Rules of Survival”

I don’t stop you smoking

Stoptober 2015So here we are again, Stoptober.

Everyone is advertising their products to help you stop smoking.

The government has a new poster with famous people in it

 

I was asked a while back why I don’t list smoking on my website as one of the things I help with.

Most smokers do not want to come to me stop smoking

You see, I won’t stop you smoking. I don’t work on your habit and behaviour of smoking.

I get to the bottom of what smoking gives you and I get rid of the reason you smoke.

I don’t stop you smoking. I stop you needing to use any substance – cigarettes, food, alcohol.

And that’s a bit different. When someone comes to me to give up cigarettes, they are giving up a substance. They are learning to use resources inside of them to cope. They don’t eat more after. They don’t drink more.

In fact, sometimes they smoke more at first. But they learn they hate smoking. When they do stop it’s for good. They will never need the cigarettes again.

Yes, I have an app to boost willpower. Yes that does work. It will help you give up. But will it help you stay off cigarettes? Will it help you avoid substituting cigarettes for something else? Maybe not.

So most people won’t come to see me to help them give up cigarettes because they want to stop the habit, not sort the reason for the habit forming in the first place.

If you think you want a little more, then drop me an email. I can help you dawn@thinkitchangeit.com