Tag Archives: The Caveman Rules of Survival

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.

Over-thinking

“I over think everything”

“I wish I could stop over analysing. My mind is constantly racing”

These are things I commonly hear from my clients in the first session.

They believe that we can stop those thoughts.

There is nothing wrong with over thinking. In fact, try and think of nothing.

Go on…think of nothing…

You are thinking of the word “nothing” the number zero or an empty space. And I guarantee that empty space has a colour because you can’t think of a nothing colour!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking, analysing etc.

The problem is believing your thoughts and letting them stay in your head.

Thoughts are like a fast moving river. You can’t stop them. You can’t contain them. You can just smoothly direct them onward.

Your thoughts are lying to you. They are not real. They are an illusion created by your brain. And most of that illusion is caused by your subconscious. Your subconscious is in charge at least 90% of the time, so most of the thoughts you have are primitive and irrational. But they hide amongst your rational thoughts. I call them ninja thoughts because they sneak in and pretend they are real.

Imagine this scenario:

You are at work and someone gives you a weird look. You stop and wonder what it is about. You decide that they are not happy with you because you haven’t done that thing they asked for yet. And that’s really out of order of them, because you’ve had loads of stuff to do and you’ll get round to their thing as soon as you have a second. How dare they be offish with you! They have no idea what you are having to deal with. You glare back at them, projecting your anger straight back at them.

Now, we know we can’t read minds. So the weird look was probably because they were thinking about what to do for dinner later, or going over a conversation they’d just had with someone else.

You believe the first thought: they are not happy with you.

Imagine if you could recognise that it was just a thought and it wasn’t true. You wouldn’t go off on this whole story. You wouldn’t react to the thought. You’d observe it and let it go.

The problem is not having thoughts, it’s believing them.

 

Why do I have to wait 2 weeks after the first session?

A client sits in the chair in front of me. They are looking unhappy. It’s the second session.

“How have the last couple of weeks been?”, I ask.

They shrug their shoulders non-committaly.

“Ok. There have been ups and downs”, they answer.

“Good”, I say.

They look surprised.

It’s an interesting phenomena.

Before the first session, anyone would laugh in your face if you said you could sort all their problems out in just one session.

However, because of the way I work, people feel different when they walk out of our first session together. And with that difference , a new bar/expectation is set.

I am good. But I’m not good enough to change your life in 2 weeks!

For every change they experience, they EXPECT that change to be permanent. Of course it’s not. In those first 2 weeks what you get is a sneak preview, a movie trailer, to show you what life will be like in your future. They are moments of change amongst your normal behaviour.

And that’s where the problem comes. By the second session you assume you have gone back to where you started. Of course you haven’t.

If I see you after 1 week, you are still on an unnatural high.

If I see you after 3 weeks, you have stopped seeing the changes and have convinced yourself this won’t work.

2 weeks is a sweet spot. It’s enough time to have had good moments, and usually a bad day. On a bad day you think you are back at square one and then the expectation changes.

You feel disappointed that all the changes haven’t happened.

You sit in my chair and feel despondent (or online).

“Really?”, I ask “How good do you think I am that I can change everything in 2 weeks?”

People generally leave my first and second sessions feeling happier.

About 60% of my clients only need 2 sessions. 

How would it make you feel to know that within 6 weeks you could be feeling much better about your life?

Why not drop me a mail to dawn@thinkitchangeit.com and get started today

One part, many parts, or both

I am absolutely fascinated by this woman.
 
We are all made up of parts. And not all of us can accept that. In most people it becomes about denying there are different parts of us and attributing behaviours to us as a whole.
 
For this woman she has gone the other way and fully dissociated from her parts. She regards them as not belonging to her and paints as them. She has many different painting styles. She talks as if her parts are totally different to her. 
 
I believe we are neither one part, or multiple distinct parts.
 
I believe all behaviour serves a purpose, and all behaviour has a positive intent.
The problems we have often come from a battle between the parts. So I believe that harmonising the parts is the answer – not separating them or ignoring them. (I am not sure if this media file will load)

I recently went on my own journey of bringing some parts together, helped by a fellow therapist.

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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”

Re-writing memories

Have you ever talked about childhood memories with someone who was there? They probably don’t remember the same moments as you, and if they do, they probably remember it differently.

You see we all remember things in our own way. This means, that whilst we can’t change what actually happened, we can change our perception of events.

This is really useful when trying to get over unpleasant or traumatic memories.

Changing any detail about a memory, even if you don’t believe it to be true, changes the meaning of a memory. This is down to the way your brain stores memories. Everything is connected.

subconscious

You know when you hear a song and it takes you back to a moment? This is the constant pattern matching that is going on in your subconscious. Because it’s in charge 90% of the time, this pattern matching is happening constantly for good and bad things.

If we change the earliest memory that your subconscious is pattern matching back to, then everything else will automatically change.

What do I mean by change? Well any change is enough to destroy the meaning. You can change a person’s voice to something ridiculous like Donald Duck, a minion or a helium balloon. You can change the colour of the walls. You can make something bigger or something smaller. And you can’t unsee something. You know those posts people share on Facebook that are really annoying because once you’ve seen them you can’t get the image out of your head? This is the same. Once you see it differently, you change it.

You brain is trying to learn lessons and then follow those lessons. If the original situation was just silly, then there is no way it will learn anything from it and the significance is gone. With that moment meaning nothing, it becomes one of the 7, 363,228 minutes that you experience before you are 15 years old.

Let me give you a very personal example. Please be aware that this relates to abuse and may be a trigger. If you are worried, don’t read any further….

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I have always had an anxiety about being able to breathe. Well, not always. Only since I was 10. It is why I struggle with running, because any difficulty catching my breath leads to me panicking.

My abuse started with him sticking his tongue in my mouth. I tried really hard to keep my lips tight shut but it didn’t work. I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t breath. I wanted him out of my mouth. Every time I struggle to catch my breath, my subconscious pattern matches me back to that moment. It’s as vivid as the day it happened. Probably more vivid, because I understand it now. Because I have had years to think about it and build on it.

This morning as I went for a run, I got breathless. I started panicking (which only made me more breathless) I decided it was time to change this.

So I imagined biting his tongue off. Initially I thought of throwing his tongue in the waste disposal. Then I decided to take it with him to hospital. Where he would have to explain how I got in a position to bite his tongue off (which of course he couldn’t do because he had half a tongue) There was no way people wouldn’t listen to me about what he was doing. There was no way he wouldn’t be found out.

And so that memory has now changed.

It will take a while for the effect of that change to spread through all the connected memories. But in time it will just become another insignificant moment in a bank of memories.

The Caveman Rules of Survival is out today #IGotDawnsBook

Today is the launch day of my book. I am very excited about this. It has been shipping in paperback from Amazon for just over a week and now the ebook will ship as soon as you buy it.

Also it should be in bookshops. So I have a competition!
The first person to share a photo of my book in a bookshop on Facebook, Twitter or by emailing Dawn@thinkitchangeit.com will win a signed copy of the book plus a free USB drive with special MP3 recordings to help you deal with each of the Caveman Rules.

So get looking!

And remember, if you have my book already, please share a selfie with me with#IGotDawnsBook

What people are already saying

Wow – this book is one of those that you just cannot put down. It’s superbly written in a way that is easy to understand whilst being immensely informative. The authors personality really shines through which engages the reader. It gives you a fascinating and clear insight into how our minds work and why we do the things we do. Knowing this stuff can really change how you look at yourself and take control of your life. It’s a wonderful addition to any bookshelf and would appeal to any human being with a brain. Buy it now – you won’t be disappointed!

What if you realised that you could quiet the little voice in your head that says “I can’t do that because…”?
That’s what Dawn Walton shows us in this book, and a lot more besides. I’ve experienced Dawn’s Cognitive Hypnotherapy work and have struggled to explain to people exactly how it works. When a friend picked up my copy of The Caveman Rules of Survival, within a couple of minutes she was nodding and saying “THIS makes sense… why didn’t you explain it this clearly?”. In this book Dawn shows us just how our caveman brain takes over, and how we can turn that thinking around and change the way we live from day to day. It’s brilliant, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.