Tag Archives: depression

Beware of destination addiction

destination addiction

It is hard to see how far you have come. It is in our nature to always be looking out for stuff that hurts us, and so we are more in tune with things that are wrong than things that are right.

Every client is at the start of a journey the minute they reach out to me. It doesn’t matter whether they message me on my Think it Change it Facebook page, or drop me an email, or pick up the phone, or even if they read my book “The Caveman Rules of Survival”. Everything that you do in an effort to improve yourself is the start of a journey.

You do it because you believe there is something better out there for you.

Every client that sees me in person is given a little book. This book is used for them to write down the changes they experience (the online clients are given the same task but I can’t give them the little booklet).

Initially most are able to spot many changes, but that tends to drop off as they begin to focus more on where they want to go instead of where they have come from. That’s where the book can be most valuable

We only compare where we are with where we want to be, and often fail to notice how far we’ve come

Since May 2011 I’ve experienced a level of transformation that I didn’t believe was possible. It’s that personal experience that allows me to help my clients. Everyone is unique, and I never know what we will do until they sit in front of me, but I know there is always a way to get them to where they want to be. And I know, when they have doubts and dips in their journey, that it’s all part of the experience of change. I know 100% that we will be able to work through it to get them to where they want to be.

These days, I am aware enough of how changes work to notice them. The other day a client gave me a hug before they left. It happens quite a lot. Most people wouldn’t notice. But I did, because 5 years ago it would not have happened. I would have sent very strong “back off” signals. Hugs were not safe. Trevor, the therapist I went to see, was a hugger. But he recognised that not all clients would be comfortable and would only hug you if you hugged him – which of course I would never do. Until one day, when leaving after a brilliant weekend of learning in London, I went to say goodbye to Trevor and gave him a hug. It surprised both of us. Apparently hugging was now ok.

Everything can change. The challenge is to not be so focused on where you want to get to, that you lose sight of where you are

The three steps

  1. Initially I am a guide to show you how to change
  2. Then I become a mentor to coach you through the change
  3. Then I become a distant friend that you can talk to when life throws stuff at you

My hope is that one day you almost forget about me. You don’t need me. I just have to teach you that.

To get started on our journey together, email dawn@thinkitchangeit.com or if that’s too much, come and join in my discussion group on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/groups/DawnsCave/


You can’t talk someone out of depression


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.


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”

Expectations vs Reality

IMG_2031What do you expect of yourself?

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 dawn@thinkitchangeit.com

A need for labels

It’s funny isn’t it? How we feel the need to be part of something.

A couple of weeks ago I joined thousands of people screaming at the TV when the first episode of The Apprentice 2014 was aired.

Now, in fairness, shouting at the TV is what makes this programme so much fun– but this year my shouting reached a new level.

Why? Because of this lady (please ignore the fact that she’s a hypnotherapist!)

This lady didn’t just label herself but also put the same expectations on everyone else.

She said women could sell better because they could wear short skirts and make up. She started off the first week as a project manager for the women’s team and tried to get all the women in her team to wear short skirts.


Whilst this seems ridiculous, it is not unusual for us to put ourselves into boxes – to label ourselves. We criticise others for imposing these labels on us but have you ever really thought of how often you do this to yourself?

Labels make us feel like we belong. They make us feel like we are not alone. In a way, they make us feel “normal”.

I have heard many interviews lately about depression where someone who had been really struggling went to the doctor who labelled them as “clinically depressed”. You can hear the relief as they are interviewed – they are not crazy – they have a label.

Because a label implies someone somewhere knows how to treat you. Because you now belong.

But how do you get rid of a label? Once you have found your place, it is so much harder to give it up. So we cling on to the labels we have been given (or give ourselves) for way longer than needed.

You are not depressed. You are experiencing the symptoms of depression.

You are not an anorexic. You are experiencing the symptoms of anorexia.

You are not anxious. You experience anxiety.

You are not your label. You are you.

Sometimes the first step in moving forward can be to accept that you are so much more than a label you have been given.

Just because Sarah on the Apprentice found she could sell reasonably well, doesn’t mean that it was because of her short skirts and make up. Maybe there was more to it than that. So applying that formula to other women might not have the results she would expect.

That’s the problem with labels. They are black and white. And people aren’t. There is so much more to you than a label.

I don’t work with labels. I don’t care what your ‘diagnosis’ is. What I do know is that the way you experience your problem is unique to you. I also know that no matter what you are struggling with, there is a way past it. You see that’s the other problem with labels – if the standard solutions don’t work, there is nowhere left to go.

So think about the way you label yourself and ask yourself “If I was not X who would I be?”

Give me a shout if you need some help. dawn@thinkitchangeit.com

And don’t forget to like my Facebook page for information, special offers and the occasional giggle.

More therapy options


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).

Invisible reality

If what other people thought of us really mattered and was material to our sense of who we are then Robin Williams would still be alive today.

Why do I say that? Well today I woke up to the news of his suspected suicide. It was well known that he struggled with depression. But the reason for my opening statement is based on the response to his death. People are showing nothing but love, kindness, respect, sadness and understanding.

We feel a sense of loss for a person we feel connected with but never truly knew.

But even if we did know him – even if we shared a beer with him every week – would that mean that we would have more of an insight into how he was feeling? Unlikely.

Depression (if that’s what led to his death) is invisible. It happens inside of a person’s head. It happens in their version of reality that rarely bears any resemblance to the reality of the world around them. If it did, then they would be able to see the love and respect of the people around them. They would be able to see how much they would be missed.

But it’s invisible. So often even closest friends and relatives have no idea. And it makes you blind, so you can’t see a way out. You feel hopeless. You *feel* hopeless but that doesn’t mean things are hopeless.

There is one simple thing anyone who is stuck in that dark place in their heads can do.

Talk about it.

That’s it.

Just talk to someone. Tell them what is happening in your head.

It’s like opening thick curtains, just a crack, on a bright sunny day. By talking the light shines right in through that opening. Just by talking the darkness begins to disappear.

You are not alone. You are never alone. If you don’t feel you can talk to a friend or relative talk to The Samaritans 08457 90 90 90 (UK).

Open that curtain, just a crack, and let the light in.

We all have bad days

My track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good.

Good stuff happens every day but it is human nature to delete it and focus on the stuff we aren’t happy with. For example; If you are trying to lose weight and you go to the gym in the morning and eat a piece of cake in the afternoon you will probably only remember eating the cake at the end of the day.

In addition your brain gives you feel-good drugs for stuff it recognises. Dopamine is released by the brain in anticipation of something familiar. This means when you are changing, you don’t get your drugs, which means you feel bad. This is why we don’t like change.

The rule here is: The more you do the more you do. The more you do of something, the more familiar it becomes, the better you feel.

This is most important to do on the bad days. We all have bad days. But the good stuff is always there if we look for it.

To change your thinking to notice the positive in every day try this task:

At the end of the day WRITE down 3 positive things that you have found in the day.

They don’t have to be big things. A moment in the sun, a giggle from a child or even staying calm in a stressful situation. 

The benefits of this are:

1. By writing them down your brain can’t delete them. In fact it has to seek them out so that you have something to write. 

2. By priming your brain to see the things it would normally forget you begin to get dopamine for the good stuff. 

3. Being more positive gives you even more powerful natural drugs like endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin which in turn improves health. 

4. It’s a great excuse to buy a lovely notebook!


I saw this quote on Facebook from the Dalai Lama

The very purpose of our life is happiness, which is sustained by hope. We have no guarantee about the future, but we exist in the hope of something better. Hope means keeping going, thinking, ‘I can do this.’ It brings inner strength, self-confidence, the ability to do what you do honestly, truthfully and transparently.

And it got me thinking about my relationship with my clients.

Often people come to me as a last resort. They have tried many other things and they’ve just about given up all hope.

But the thing I know is that there is still something there. A little core of hope that led them to get in touch with me.

The other thing I know and totally believe is that I can help. Until our first session I’m not sure how but I do know that if they let me I can help.

A lack of hope can be symptomatic of depression. Can you imagine how powerful it would be in that darkest place to know that there was a way out? That there was hope?

In our first session together my goal is to nurture that core of hope. To take that ember that is barely glowing and fan it and blow on it until it glows brighter.

To begin with it is likely to be almost impossible to believe what I know is possible – that I can help. That after one session they will see changes. That after one session that ember will be glowing brightly.

And then we go on a journey together.

In that journey we move from a glowing ember and they learn initially how to use my help to keep the flame alive but they also begin to learn how to do it without my help.

In just a few sessions my clients usually have all the hope and belief they need to know that things can change. That nothing needs to be the way it’s always been.

And with the belief comes a determination to keep going no matter what and hopefully, eventually a belief that they can cope with anything because no matter what obstacle they come across they can either cope with it themselves or they can come to me.

The only way that ember will be allowed to die down again is if my client gives up. Because I never do.

I am in the business of helping you see that there is always hope. It’s just you may not have looked in the right place before.

Do you have something deep inside that keeps you going no matter what? Do you need help nurturing that glowing ember? Then drop an email to dawn@thinkitchangeit.com and remember I can help you on Skype or Facetime as well as in person.

Dealing with birth trauma

Giving birth is a beautiful thing.

It is magical.

It is what a woman’s body is designed to do.

But the realities of giving birth can sometimes not be magical. Or beautiful.

Sometimes giving birth can be painful, humiliating and scary.

Sometimes giving birth can involve a major operation that requires months to recover from physically and years to recover from emotionally.

When you do it through the system (as opposed to a home birth) there is often nothing dignified about being pregnant and having a baby. Suddenly your body is looked at in the most intimate ways, measured, prodded and invaded by total strangers as they track progress of the baby.

During birth in a hospital there are even more strangers around and you lie exposed for everyone to see…and this is supposed to be ok. Because this is the process.

Sometimes things go wrong and everything seems to spiral out of your control. You just want to be with your baby but things start getting in the way of that so to add to the fear there can be the very primal need to connect that is not met. 

And when things go wrong (or even when they go right) even people with the most robust body image can find themselves struggling with feeling out of control and with the lack of dignity.

I have had a number of women come to me over the last year or so who have struggled with this. Struggled because their child is now a few years old and they still can’t look back on the birth without anxiety or fear. They feel guilty for not being able to appreciate the birth or for not being ‘as good as’ someone else who seemed to cope so much better than them.

These women who have been traumatised by their birth experience are often experiencing effects very similar to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) in their day to day life.

There is hope though.

It is never too late to work on this.

I can help. I can help a woman by taking away the trauma of birth which then frees them up to accept that things happened as they did without the pain and anxiety it used to evoke. I can’t change what happened during birth but I can change the way you feel about it.

It can be quite liberating to be able to look back on the day your child was born without fear and anxiety for the first time.

This is something I can do online via Skype and Face to Face so if you are being held back by a traumatic birth experience why not drop me a mail to dawn@thinkitchangeit.com and see if I can help (and don’t worry if it’s too hard to talk about, we can do just as much without you telling me the details of what actually happened)

The Black Dog

No one can really know what you are going through if you are suffering from depression. But that doesn’t mean that no one can help you either.

I think this video does a great job of helping us all understand depression. And the message is clear…don’t bottle it up. Share. Get help.

If you want help I can help you either face-to-face or online via Skype/Facetime. But even if you don’t ask me for help…ask someone ok?