Are you ready for permanent change that you control?

How often have you spent money on weight loss and fitness plans, lost weight and then put it all back on again (and some) when you stopped following the programme

EMERGENCE is a new approach to weight loss and self-esteem that uses the principles of Neuroplasticity to guide you to change yourself – permanently.

It is 4 week self-paced programme with live expert support to help you permanently change your relationship with food and yourself.

This programme will deliver permanent change, tailored to you, for a one off payment. It puts the power back in your hands – empowering you to change yourself. Gone are the days where you have to pay out weekly or monthly, only to find that when you stop paying, the changes also stop

Here’s how it works…

Following the programme:
The programme is delivered over 4 weeks into your email so you can fit it around your day-to-day life. Blocks start at set times through the year and are strictly limited to 20 people so fully personalised support can be provided

More than just an email:
Each email will come with simple explanation videos so you will always understand why you are doing what you are doing. Each task will be supported by a powerful MP3 track that helps with each stage of your journey.

Fully supported:
Online logs will be used to track progress and provide personalised feedback from an expert as you experience changes. As long as you work through the programme in the 4 week block you will always have someone there to answer questions and make sure it’s working as well as it can for you.

NO MONTHLY PAYMENTS
Just a one-off payment of £99 to cover the whole programme

Yes, I want to start changing today 

(No money will be taken by following this link. Once you’ve registered,  you’ll be sent a link for payment)

100% of people who have taken the programme would recommend it to a friend
“The most exciting change was not binging on food, it was a relief to stop eating. The guilt has stopped too because I’m not bringing anymore. Words can’t describe my gratitude.”

“Awareness of my emotions and the function of food as a safety tool. How the subconscious works was fascinating too.”


“Not feeling emotional when i eat just seeing it as fuel”


“I’ve stopped turning to chocolate and crisps and my portion sizes have decreased dramatically”


“I feel I know the real me the one that’s been hiding and my life has stopped revolving around food ! “

Yes, I want to start changing today 

A FEW TECHNICALITIES
*The programme starts on the 7th of January, 2019. Spaces are limited to 20 people per block. 
*As spaces are limited they will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Completing the form will ensure you are registered to complete the programme.
Will it really work in only 4 weeks?
Yes. This programme uses an understanding of how the brain works around addiction and anxiety to guide you to permanently change the way you think. Once a change has been made it can’t be undone. It may take longer than 4 weeks for you to experience all of the changes, but the groundwork will be done during the programme. 

What happens if I need more help with other stuff after?
Sometimes there is more going on than your relationship with food and others. In this case there will be one-to-one sessions available at the end of the programme at a significantly discounted rate. Change is always possible. 

I’m not very technical. Will I be able to follow it?
As long as you can receive and respond to emails, and have a smartphone, tablet or laptop that will allow you to play audio files, then you can do this programme. That is all that is needed. 

Do I have to stop all my other programmes?
Sometimes people are doing other weekly programmes such as Slimming World, Lighter Life or something else. They won’t conflict with this programme although you may find that you don’t see the point of spending money on them any more as you progress.
**PLEASE NOTE**
The programme is delivered via emails. Please ensure you are capable of receiving and responding to emails for the next 4 weeks BEFORE you sign up. The programme can not be paused.
At many stages you will receive an MP3 audio to listen to. This is a critical part of the programme. Please make sure you have access to a device capable of playing MP3 audio files BEFORE you sign up.
Because of the one-to-one structure of the programme, it will be run at pre-allocated times throughout the year. It will be run with a block of people. There can be NO MORE THAN 20 PEOPLE IN A BLOCK.

In 2019 I will…

My Word of the year is “Strong”

A year is a long time. Lots can happen that is outside of our control. At the end of the year we can get very reflective. We set ourselves grand goals “This year I will…stop smoking…lose weight…get fit….follow my passion…find love…etc”.

Most people give up on their resolutions within a few months and forget it covers the whole year.

So I tend to approach it slightly differently. I imagine I am at Christmas 2019, looking back on my year, what would I like to say I’ve achieved? I then aim to do something each day that brings me a step closer to that vision of Christmas 2018. If I get blindsided by something, it doesn’t matter, as it’s an aspiration rather than a fixed goal I can succeed or fail at.

**Here was what I wanted to have achieved in 2018 and an update on how it went**

1. Continued to develop my reputation and become the known expert in my field: I want to do a new TED talk using my puppets and with a better title : “We’re all screwed up, and that’s ok”. I also want to get into high schools and do some more practical talks building on my latest book. I also look forward to the results of my Masters Dissertation and hearing the findings quoted on the radio!

UPDATE: I developed a totally new, more personal, version of my talk and delivered it numerous times. It worked really well. I also did a talk to hundreds of high school students and rolled out a new programme of talks and workshops designed just for schools. The results of my Masters are really interesting and are opening doors. I need to contact the newspapers to get a piece done on them.

2. Completed my Masters and made progress towards signing up for a Phd: My Masters is due for completion in August 2018. Before that point I would like to have started the process for applying for a Phd. I can not conceive of life without University now. I love the place. Dundee Uni is awesome and I can’t see myself walking away from it at the end of the year. So I would like to look back at the end of 2018 and know I am making progress towards the Phd and possibly lecturing.

UPDATE: I got my Masters and I no longer plan on doing a Phd. Academic writing is very outdated and it is rare for anyone in the “real world” to get access to the results. I also hate writing that way. I love to make things real and understandable – not complicated and confusing. I am not willing to waste 4+ years doing something I hate. Plan scrapped!

3. Created a stable income: I started a very exciting collaboration at the end of 2017 where I developed a 5 week online programme for breaking the emotion connection that people have with food. It has been piloted with 10 people who have all said they would recommend it to others. There is nothing like this on the market. It will create a secondary channel of income for my business.

UPDATE: Well that collaboration didn’t happen but I recently took that programme back to be owned by just me and I will be launching it in 2019 with the help of a Marketing student. I am really excited about where I can take this and how many people I can reach.

4. Climbed out of a hole: In 2017, I made it through the challenging times by ignoring them and employing distraction techniques. This is not sustainable long term so I hope to resolve some of these issues in 2018 – although I have no idea how!

UPDATE: I did it! I still don’t actually no how. It was more about taking one day at a time. I can’t say I’m back to my happy place quite yet but I’m definitely not teetering on the edge of the precipice either. My word for the year is strong so I think good things are ahead of me

**So what do I want to say when I look back on 2019?**

1. Progress was made on a stable income. The Emergence programme is well established with each month being filled up at least 50% of the year. In my role as Mental Health Mentor I have a good number of students I mentor providing a stable weekly income.

2. I did a new TED talk.

3. I wrote and published my new book “We’re all screwed up”

4. I delivered numerous workshops including more to corporate clients and my new range of workshops for therapists.


So what would you like to say at the end of next year ?

Dealing with difficult people at Christmas

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I bet you think you can read minds don’t you? In fact, I would go as far as to say that you think you have mind control super powers and can make people think things about you and even, change the way they think about you. Don’t worry. It’s not just you. Everybody thinks they have mind control superpowers.

What do you think happens in that first 6 seconds when you meet someone? They judge you.

Of course.

You judge them.

Of course.

But whether you judge them because of what they are wearing, how they sound, what their hand shake is like, whether they make eye contact etc has nothing to do with them. It’s all to do with you and the way you see the world.

I had a client that felt it was very important to remember people’s names. They made a point of paying attention to that fact. They would get offended if the other person didn’t remember, and use, their name. I couldn’t care less if you remember my name or not. I respond to anything. This unique perception can be referred to as your model of the world.

We weigh up situations based on our model of the world. This has nothing to do with reality. It also has nothing to do with what is going on in the other persons mind – because you are not a mind reader.

This can often be a bigger problem at Christmas where you are forced into the same space with other people you don’t know very well for a length of time.

Why do we struggle with some people and not others?

So when you don’t get on well with with someone, or even out and out fight with them, it’s because you have a different model of the world to them. But beyond that, it’s because you assume they have the same model of the world as you and are deliberately and maliciously doing the exact opposite just to get up your nose.

Not true. In fact, they believe the same as you. They believe you have the same model of the world as them and are deliberately and maliciously doing the exact opposite just to get up their nose!

This difference in the way we see things is the basis of pretty much every relationship problem. Ever.

Is there anything you can do?

No matter how it comes across, it’s not about you.

Image result for snapchat logo

Imagine they are wearing a pair of glasses with a filter on like a Snapchat filter. You know the ones. The ones where you end up with dog ears or an abnormally large mouth. Now, everything you say, you will say with that filter on. It doesn’t matter if you try and speak more clearly, or are less animated – they still have the filter on so will always see you in the same way.

Nothing you can do to change that, so stop trying. Most of your frustration will disappear if you stop trying to be someone that your non-existent mind reading skills tell you that you should be!

How can you avoid getting into arguments?

Have you noticed how some people really wind you up and others don’t? Have you ever had to talk your other half down from a rant about one of your mates that they really hate and yet you can’t see why?

The thing is, this model of the world thing means that you don’t see people for how they are.

Your brain is constantly pattern matching. It’s looking for things in your environment that may be of some risk to you. How did it learn what those things are? It learnt as you grew up. Like a baby tiger learns to hunt safely and sleep safely from it’s parents, we learn from ours. Not how to hunt. But whether we are good enough, whether we listen, whether we are clumsy or can turn our hand to anything. We learn the things to avoid. In terms of your subconscious, those things you avoid are the things that would hurt you (and as far as it’s concerned, hurt equals death). These days it treats things that hurt you emotionally in the same way as things that hurt you physically. It triggers the fight or flight response. People forget the “fight” part of fight or flight. It comes from the same basis. When you get angry with your own (or your partners) relatives, it’s just a protective response to feeling threatened.

I did a survey recently of people who had a fear of public speaking. Of all the respondents, 88% could remember a childhood event that was connected to the fear. Of those 88%, 69.1% were from a time in school. Not big things either, small things like being put on the spot and not being able to answer a question.

So if your brain decides that the way someone is speaking to you is just the same as the time Mrs Fudgebucket, when she asked you a question at 12 years old that made you feel like a total muppet, then you become 12 years old again. You react as the 12 year old you. You feel stupid. You can’t tell that it’s not them making you feel stupid. You just know how you feel, so you go into fight of fight or flight. You fight back. You will not let them make you feel that way! But they have no idea this is all going on, because they can’t read your mind. All they know is that you are having a go at them. And so they fight back…and neither of you is really in the room. You are both off in your head working of memories.

What happens when it’s too late?

The problem around Christmas is that people often drink, and drinking can lower inhibitions. It may be that no matter what you try, you still get into the argument.

There are a couple of ways you can counter the pattern matching going on in your head.

One is defensive and one is preemptive.

The defensive way is the easiest. Image you have a shield of some sort around you. It can be an invisibility cloak, a two way mirror, a blanket, bubble wrap or something else. Inside that space is your happy place. Think of a happy or a calm memories. Use it to reinforce that shield. Nothing that they say can get through to you. After all, you can’t read minds. You can deflect it away so it bounces off. You can transform it like Harry Potter and Boggart so it becomes harmless, or you can distract from it by totally changing topic. Either way, you don’t let it in.

The preemptive way takes a little more time and preparation. You need to stop the memory becoming a trigger. We need to re-programme your brain so there is no match when your brain goes searching. This is far more simple than you might think thanks to neuroplasticity. Try something for me. Don’t think of a pink elephant. Did you manage it? If you did, it’s only because you thought of a blue elephant instead, or maybe a different animal. You can’t not think of something. Now, your brain doesn’t have a revision history. There is no track changes like there are in Word. So every time you change something it’s permanent. You can’t go back to a time before you thought of a pink elephant. Too late. Update has happened. We can use this to change the way memories are stored.

So let’s go back to the memory of Mrs Fudgebucket. Let’s change her voice to something that is impossible to take seriously. Donald Duck is good, or like she’s breathed in a helium balloon. Your brain doesn’t learn from things that are silly, only things that hurt. The minute she sounds silly the memory loses the meaning and, because of neuroplasticity the memory is permanently changed. When your in-laws say something that reminds you of that moment, it no longer reminds you of feeling stupid, which means there is no protective response and you don’t rise to the bait.

So see if you can think of how they make you feel when they say what they do, then see if you can find your earliest memory of feeling the same way, then change the memory to make it ridiculous. Job done.

Repairing arguments

Now, you are only human. Things get said. Emotions get out of control?

What if it’s too late?

What if the same thing always comes up?

Well, it’s never too late. If it doesn’t matter to you what they say, then you can just ignore it. It’s a lot easier to push off something, so if you don’t respond to what they say, then the argument will automatically lose momentum. You can then resort to the distraction or transformation options mentioned earlier and just change the topic.

Useful phrases can be “I can see how you see it that way”, and “I guess we just see it differently” or “Here’s 10p, phone someone who cares” (ok maybe not that last one).

So there we are. Just remember we are all screwed up and we are all operating from our own model of the world. Nothing is really about you. You are not that powerful!

Here’s an MP3 that might help if you need a timeout moment 

The path less travelled

If you walk through a field, then it makes sense to follow the worn path. It’s an easier route to go. 

Unless the worn path goes all round the field. Then it might make more sense to cut a new path straight through the middle. 

At first that new path will be hard going, but pretty soon it will get easier. 

When others notice the new path, they will probably use it too. More footfall means it gets worn down quicker. 

As the other path gets less used, it will grow over until eventually it will not exist at all. 

This is like your brain as you change. 

Each time you do something new you create a new path – a neural pathway. 

Each time you travel that neural pathway by doing the new thing you reinforce it. 

Old pathways disappear as you stop using them. 

Seeking that new pathway and thinking about that new pathway makes it stronger quicker. 

Pretty soon the old way of thinking and behaving is a long forgotten path. 

This is Neuroplasticity. This is what every client I work with goes through. Permanent changes in the brain. 

Effect of childhood on our genes

Yesterday I attended a conference about ACEs – Adverse Childhood Experiences. It was about making Scotland the first ACE aware nation in the world. It was certainly thought provoking. 

I particularly enjoyed the talk from Dr Nadine Burke Harris about the physical implications of what she refers to as “Toxic stress”. 

Toxic Stress

The stress response is a physical and emotional response designed to help us escape sabre toothed tigers. This set of responses is designed to give us the best chance of surviving when fighting or running away from a predator.

  1. The pre-frontal cortex – the thinking part of the brain – is disengaged, because it’s too slow to help us survive. Taking time to think and work out options, in the middle of an attack, is a bad idea.
  2. The heart rate increases
  3. Adrenaline and cortisol flood the body – preparing our organs for instant response. Adrenaline also impacts on the immune system. Not really possible to ask the tiger to come back tomorrow because you have a bad cold right now. Our immune system is directed to preparing to fight infection from any injuries. 
  4. The pain response is adjusted to allow us to keep fighting or running even when injured. 

This all makes total sense – when fighting tigers. 

But what if the threat is violence from a parent, that could happen every day of your childhood. 

What if the threat is emotional or sexual abuse where you are being hurt but not necessarily physically. 

In these situations, the body reacts in exactly the same way. It treats the thing that hurts you emotionally in exactly the same way as if it was going to hurt you physically. 

Epigenetics

In itself this is bad enough, but this toxic stress has an effect on your genes through Epigentics. 

Image result for musical notes and notations

The way Nadine described Epigentics was great. If your DNA is the music notes on a piece of music, Epigentics are the musical notation that tells you what to do with the notes such as speeding up, slowing down and pausing

Epigenetics are like a series of little switches that activate and deactive things in your DNA

Because of these Epigenetic switches, right through into adulthood, when the threat is no longer present, the physiological response can remain.

This can lead to physical issues such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, weight issues and chronic pain conditions such as Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. 


All is not lost!

There are two ways to address this:

  1. We can work we children to offset the effect of any adverse experiences and prevent them from becoming toxic stress
  2. We can work with adults to re-programme the interpretation of the childhood experiences and switch the Epigenetic switches off again. 

Can trauma be controlled?

Trauma is where your brain has encountered something so difficult to process and comprehend, that your only option is to not process it. It’s a tipping point, often from an event that is no more than 20 seconds long. This is often referred to as a flashback. 

These tipping points are often not what would be perceived as traumatic by an outside observer.  Everyone processes in different ways, depending on their experiences in life, the perceived consequences and meaning in the event, and, to some degree, their perceptions of how they should have conducted themselves versus how they actually did.

So if a child is being brutally beaten regularly, that is not necessarily traumatic. The trauma can be caused more by something the perpetrator says while delivering the beating, rather than the direct, obvious pain caused by the violence.

Problems come, not from what happens, but from the meaning found when processing what happened. 

When dealing with trauma, it is common practice for therapists to wait at least a few months after an event before starting any therapy. 

The brain is an amazing thing, that processes and files, and organises everything that happens to us. 

This process takes time. It will be different for everyone. 

If you start trying to ‘fix’ trauma before that processing has taken place, it can do more damage than good. The event may not have registered as traumatic with an individual. Treating it as traumatic will then result in the memory being enhanced and processed as traumatic.  

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My husband once told me a story about a time when he was in the police:

2 teenage girls had been walking down the road and a man had flashed at them. 

They reported it to the police and my husband went along to interview both girls in their home. He interviewed them individually in their homes, with their parents present. 

The first girl was distraught. The mother was raging, talking about how disgusting it was and how traumatic it was for her daughter. The daughter was really affected by it and struggled to be interviewed. 

The second girl was calm and bemused. Her mother was joking about it and saying how ridiculous the stupid man was. 

You do not decide if something is traumatic or not, your brain does. 

So whilst we should be aware of the potential of things to be traumatic, we should not presume to know how someone else will experience and process an event. What we class as traumatic will be very different to someone else.

So be cautious about labelling something as traumatic based on your own perceptions of trauma. 

Everything can change. 

I can help you clear that traumatic block from your head. It only takes one session to clear the trauma, and then a follow up session to work on some of the structures in your brain that have been effected by it. 

Email dawn@thinkitchangeit.com to talk about how I might be able to help you. 

What Winnie the Pooh teaches us about labels

Piglet, Pooh, Rabbit, Roo, Kanga, Tigger and Eeyore in Disney’s live-action adventure CHRISTOPHER ROBIN.

Over the weekend I went to see the new Christopher Robin film. 

I absolutely loved it and laughed all the way through. 

Before I went, someone had mentioned that the characters were typical of some standard mental health issues, so I had that in mind as I watched.

It was quite a revelation. 

It showed what labels can mean, but more importantly, what ignoring them means.

Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger

Eeyore

I think Eeyore is the most obvious one. Eeyore is always depressed. His expectation is that everything will go wrong for him and all his friends will ignore him. But here’s the thing, none of them do. They totally ignore his mood and include him in everything they do. They don’t care if he’s depressed, the love him for who he is. They don’t try to change him. They don’t tell him to stop being miserable. They don’t tell him he has a great life and to snap out of it. They accept him as one of them unconditionally. 

Piglet

Piglet has anxiety. He worries about everything. He’s scared of doing anything. At one point in the film, all the friends are going through the tree, out of the hundred acre wood. Piglet stops and says he doesn’t think he can go and he should just stay behind. Once more, Pooh doesn’t try and persuade him that he’s wrong and that it’s actually safe. He just takes his hand and tells Piglet that they need him to get through this adventure. Pooh gently leads him by the hand, into the tree, all the while reassuring him that he’s an important member of the team. 

Tigger

Tigger has ADHD. He loves to bounce, is constantly high as a kite, and crashes around without paying any attention to what everyone else is doing. He will sing his song at any opportunity and you just smile when he’s bouncing around (Tigger is my favourite character). As with the other characters, no one tells Tigger to calm down. No one tries to change him. They just accept him as an often welcome distraction from things that could get pretty intense. At one point he is in a taxi and, seeing his reflection, gets a little over-excited about another Tigger existing. This leads the taxi to crash. Does everyone berate Tigger for messing stuff up? No. They just get on with the situation they are in and make the best of it. 

Winnie the Pooh

For a bear with very little brain, Pooh is remarkably wise. 

“Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something”

He doesn’t flap or worry. He doesn’t get anxious or hyper. He just accepts things for how they are and trusts that things will work out ok in the end. He is a little obsessed with honey and constantly thinking about food. But it’s not a coping mechanism for him. It’s just who he is. 

All in all I thought it was a wonderful film. I didn’t want it to end. The animation and voices were perfect. The characters were exactly as they are in the books. Whether you find the characters fascinating or just immerse yourself in the experience, I highly recommend it. 

Hold on to your past – it defines you.

When I was 3 I told that my grandfather was molesting me. Nothing changed and it continued until I moved to live with my mother at 8 or 9 years old.

When I was 12 I told my mother I was being abused. Nothing changed and the abuse continued for some time after.

3 years ago I faced my abuser in court and he walked out of the court free. The jury found him not guilty. Nothing changed.

Before I went to live with my mother, I was starved and looked like a skeleton, beaten to the point of being covered in bruises and neglected. School knew. Social Services knew. Nothing changed.

At 14 years old my brother ran away for the first time. He was returned home. At 16 years old he ran away again and this time they couldn’t bring him home.

I stayed.

I went to university, got a degree in computing, met the man who would become my husband, and went on to have a very successful career, eventually ending up on a 6 figure salary in BT. I had a wonderful house, husband and daughter. Everything was amazing.

Except I was still the broken little girl inside. It was all a pretence.

Then I found cognitive hypnotherapy and everything changed.

Nothing changed what had happened, of course. It was me that changed inside. My internal story changed. The meaning behind the events changed.

One day a friend suggested that I should let go of my past as it didn’t serve me any more. I got really upset.

Who would I be if I had not experienced my life?

I am where I am not just because of who I am, but also because of the experiences I went through.

 

If I wasn’t the person I am, I wouldn’t be here writing this, helping people, trying to change the world, one person at a time. I would be like my brother, a drug addict struggling to keep going each day.

If I hadn’t gone through the experiences I did then it would be unlikely that I would dedicate my life to helping others escape the demons of their past.

So I don’t want to let go of the past. It made me who I am.

I sometimes learn new things about my past. Recently I reconnected with a relative (there are very few people from my past allowed in my present life). I learnt things about what was done, and what people new, that floored me a little. I felt angry and upset. I asked why no one protected me, as I have done many times before.

But this time it was different for me. I didn’t ask what was wrong with me. I didn’t feel even more evil and broken.

I felt upset. Genuinely upset that people would treat a little girl that way.

And I felt in awe of the person that I am. The person that got through that. And the person I have become as a result of that.

So don’t let go of your childhood experiences. You need them. They go with your personal qualities to make you who you are today.

Don’t give up on yourself

This weekend I was at Regents University in London for a course run by Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy. To get to the Uni, you walk through Regent’s Park. It’s a stunning park right in the centre of London, close to Baker Street, and behind Madame Tussauds.

I have experienced many moments in this park.

  • There was a conversation with Trevor Silvester about how I would one day look back on my childhood experiences and be thankful for them. I remember that conversation. It seemed a ridiculous thing to say. He could tell it unsettled me and quickly switched to a distraction. But I remembered it. And, of course, he was right. I am in that place now – but only just!
  • There was a moment just a year or two ago, where those of use who were qualified came together for an annual Cognitive Hypnotherapy event. I felt so different. I felt like I didn’t belong. And I felt sad, because I always felt different. I sat on a bench with a Starbucks over the lunch break. I left everyone else behind to chat. I isolated myself. It was just me and a squirrel that wanted what I had (no way it was getting my Starbucks!). I have since learnt to accept my differences – even like them. I can be comfortable with people I don’t connect with, in the same was as those I do. Not everyone is my tribe.
  • There were many Saturday mornings where I walked along, having had a session with Trevor on the Friday, desperately trying to process the barrage of emotions and thoughts that flooded me following yet another fundamental shift.

As I walked through the park on Saturday, I felt a deep, calm peace.

It occurred to me that I was unrecognisable in comparison to the person that first walked through the park just over 6 years ago. So much so, that you would swear it was not the same person.

There have been many times in the last few years that I have felt that I have reached the limit of change. Often, with things that I still was unhappy with. I would try and accept the version of me that I was. I would try and convince myself that some things just couldn’t be changed.

But I didn’t believe that to be true for my clients, so how could I accept it for myself?

And like that 18 year old me that didn’t take the bottle of tablets, there was a part of me that still fought; a part of me that still believed there was something better for me.

And then another shift has happened. In many ways, this was the most profound shift yet. And I realised that I was wrong: everything can change.

Bowling

I often tell my clients that this process is like bowling

Image result for bowling images

When you go bowling, you don’t know how many pins you are going to knock out of the way until you actually roll the ball down the alley. You have to bowl, and wait.

Each session we bowl.

You also can’t take the bowling ball and go round the back to get the back pins first.

You have to start with the front row.

So sometimes you feel that you have gone backwards. You uncover a row of pins, and because the others have been cleared out of the way, they feel significant. It feels like that was the main problem all along.

But as with bowling, you can only get at the back row once the rows in front are gone.

Don’t give up

So my message to you is: don’t give up on yourself.

Keep bowling. Keep going. If you are not happy with anything, it can always be changed. It might take a while, and it might even catch you by surprise, but everything can change.

And remember, whatever you think, the fact that you are reading this blog post means that you have not given up on yourself yet!

We’re all screwed up – including me

It’s not secret that I have had my struggles.

It’s also no secret that I had a very difficult childhood. In fact, people who have heard the story have said I should make it into a film. It is a bit ridiculous!

Cognitive Hypnotherapy has been the thing that freed me up.

Even though the actual number of sessions of therapy I’ve had is relatively low (8 in total over the last 7 years), I have been able to find an amazing level of peace, happiness and contentment with my life. But it’s not been a short journey. Every day has been about learning.

Recently I was getting very frustrated with myself.

I still hated myself. I couldn’t look in the mirror without sneering. I wanted to be someone else. I found it impossible when people said nice things. It was actually upsetting. How could they be so cruel as to say something that was so obviously untrue? It wasn’t fair.

I knew this wasn’t right. It was frustrating. How could so much else have changed but not this?

I also knew I had some behaviours that weren’t right. I would never ask a question in a meeting or at Uni, because I assumed that nobody would pay any attention to what I said. When courses didn’t sell, and videos didn’t get many views I would think “Of course, why would anyone listen to me?”. When someone disagreed with something I said in a forum I would back off and not argue my point. I physically would shake and dwell on what I said and what they said.

I know enough to know that isn’t right, and, more importantly, I don’t have to accept it.

And then I got help from a fellow therapist. And we changed the hurt child girl so she was happy.

And things began to change.

I went to my daughter’s school to talk to them about an issue. I could have avoided it but I didn’t. I felt calm when I was there.

I started engaging in discussions on forums.

I went to the doctors about a lump above my stomach. I’d done this before and they dismissed it but I knew it was not right. I had been putting off going but I made the appointment and stuck to my guns to get a scan.

I went to the hairdressers and closed my eyes and relaxed while I was having my hair washed. Something I have never done before.

To many these may seem like small things, but to me they were huge signs of change.

And then I had an opportunity to do a talk to our local ACES group (Adverse Childhood Experiences). I want to become the sort of public speaker that talks at large events. Ultimately, I would love to do Tony Robbins style conferences (obvious they will be Dawn Style by then). I know that I need to share my personal story – what brought me to this point – if I really want to connect with people. I know I have a hell of a story.

I’ve always been able to write this but never talk. This was because of my mother telling me at 12 years old never to talk about the abuse again. But she didn’t say to never write about it lol!

In the past, when I’ve tried to talk, my subconscious has shut me down. I lose the ability to speak or move. So I’ve avoided telling my story.

On Tuesday I went along to this group event with a plan to talk through my story. ACES is all about resilience, and the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on our physical and mental well-being. I know that my story shows how it is possible to be happy no matter what. I know I am a better therapist because what I’ve been through shows that it is possible to overcome anything. This was a good audience to start with.

My passion is to help everyone realise that we can all find happiness, no matter what has happened in our childhood. I have never made it so personal before.

I have never told my life story to anyone out loud, from start to finish before, let alone a room of strangers. I spoke to about 15 people. I told them everything from when I was 6 right up until I took my abuser to court. I told the whole story. I explained how if I’m ok, then anybody can be, if you just have the right help.

It was liberating. I felt so free afterwards. I had told my story and I was fine. That’s all it was – a story. Something that I could use to help other people. It did not leave me shaking (although I was a little nervous when I started talking!). It did not stir up nightmares. I did not go into the ‘no-speaking’ state. I was absolutely fine.

I felt exhilarated and I feel so lucky to have been given that chance.

So now I’m working towards a new TED talk next year. A talk that will draw on my experiences both from childhood, and from working with over 600 clients.

“Our past creates us but doesn’t define us – lessons from over 600 clients”

(if anyone can think of a better click-bait style title please let me know!)

This is my next step and I can’t wait.