Tag Archives: think it change it

Why it’s good that you are not a horse

There are various terms for conditions associated with a fear of being sick:

  • Emetaphobia : a phobia that causes overwhelming, intense anxiety pertaining to vomiting. This specific phobia can also include subcategories of what causes the anxiety, including a fear of vomiting in public, a fear of seeing vomit, a fear of watching the action of vomiting or fear of being nauseated
  • AFRID (Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder)
  • SED (selective eating disorder)

The fear can be of being sick, or of feeling like you are going to be sick, or of choking, or of something else. It’s often connected to an early experience of sickness (either your own or someone else’s) which was so unexpected that it basically freaked out your subconscious.

After observing the sickness event, your subconscious becomes very jumpy.

“Oh my god! That was scary and awful and we need to make sure that NEVER happens again. I know, I will make sure you never eat anything that will cause that”

The problem is that your subconscious is being unneccessarily jumpy. You are not a horse.

Ok, that may seem like an obvious thing to say but it’s actually very relevant.

Horses can’t be sick.

The problem with not being sick is that if you have anything bad in your stomach, you have no way of getting rid of it.

That’s where the real problem lies.

Also, in a real twist of fate, one of the things that horses find difficult to process is fresh spring grass. Too much of it gives horses a condition called Colic.

Colic kills horses.

Because they can’t be sick.

So you see, it’s a really good thing that you are sick. It’s a really good thing that people can be sick. It’s a really good thing that we can choke.

These things mean your subconscious is doing it’s job really, really well.

It is stopping things getting stuck.

It is stopping things poisoning you by ejecting them from your stomach.

And if we can help your subconscious understand this, it can stop freaking out. And that means you can eat safely.

As a side note, when kids have selective eating of any sort, they are usually ready to change when they hit around 11 years old. This is the age they want to hang out with their friends, maybe in restaurants or go on trips away. This is when the eating thing becomes a problem to them, not just you, and this is when I can help them change. If they don’t want to change because they don’t see a problem, they won’t!

If you have anything like the problems I have described, or you know someone who has, give me a shout and let me help stop the subconsicous freaking out. Email dawn@thinkitchangeit.com

Why Betrayal hurts so much

Most of us have been betrayed in some way at some point.

It’s not the act of being betrayed that causes the problem. It’s what happens in your head as a result of that.

It can lead to a desperate attempt to control everything, in the belief that if you are more alert, if you just act differently, you can prevent more hurt in the future.

Often, the intensity of hurt that you experience from betrayal can be as bad as the grief of losing someone.

It can trigger Episodic memories, taking you back to times in childhood were you were unfairly accused of something or treated unfairly. It’s that moment, where your brain, in an attempt to protect you from that hurt, learns that you need to watch everything more closely. If you can get in trouble for something you didn’t do, then everything you do could be wrong. This is not a good lesson to live with: feeling everything you do is wrong.

My biggest betrayal comes from my mother. I thought I had a good relationship with my mother. Because she is disabled, I was her carer and constant companion from the age of 10 or so (I lived with my father and stepmother before that)

The first betrayal was when she walked in on my stepfather abusing, and then walked out again, doing nothing.

The second betrayal was a year or two later when I told her he was abusing me, and she lost her temper with me and told me never to talk about it again. And the abuse continued.

The third betrayal was when he divorced her and she asked me to read the letter he wrote her, which contained explicit references to their sexual relationship.

The fourth betrayal was when I reported him to the police for historical abuse. She told me that she would do anything that was necessary to help me and then wouldn’t talk to the police. When she eventually did, she would not corroborate my story.

The final betrayal was during his trial, when my mother refused to come to court to testify. Her written statement was so bad, that it was better for the barrister prosecuting him to let the jury think my mother didn’t believe me, than read it out. At the end of the day, it was my word versus his word and he was found not guilty. My mother was the only person that could have shown the jury otherwise.

It was after the final betrayal that I stopped talking to her and broke off all contact.

I ask myself why I didn’t do it before? What sort of fool was I to ever believe her. I have questioned my whole childhood with her. None of those fond memories were true, because I thought she cared and she clearly didn’t. I feel weak for allowing her to continue to be in my life, for caring. It leads me to think that nothing I believe about our relationship was actually true.
And that could eat me up.

However I know that I can’t time travel. Everything was the way it was at the time. I do not have the benefit of hindsight. I can’t let younger me know what was going to happen later. So at every point in my life I’ve been the best version of me I can possibly be.

I am not responsible for her. My actions have no effect on her. It was not about whether she loves me or not. Nothing I do changes what she does. I am only responsible for myself, not for others.

An unspoken secret

18 year old me

I have a secret.

This may not be a surprise to you if you know anything about my past.

But its not what you think.

This secret has created meaning in the events that followed. The secret has eaten away at me.

You see, it’s not what happens to us that causes us a problem. It’s the meaning we assign to it. It’s the meaning that triggers a protective state. It’s the meaning that causes hurt.

There’s a catch though. We interpret and attribute meaning to events, well before our brain is developed enough to understand.

The prefrontal cortex, the rational and analytical part of you brain, is not fully developed until you are at least 19 years old.

At least 19 years old before you can understand what happens to you

And before you are 16 you have learnt all the important lessons that you need to stay safe as an adult

This is the catch.

And so I have a memory from when I was 9 years old, and it had meaning. It was the unspoken thing.

I think we all have them, those moments that we carry, that we don’t want anyone else to know of, for whatever reason. Sometimes, they rest, untouched, with very little impact on our day to day lives. Other times the gnaw away, answering with silent words in our head.

They are not big, traumatic moments, but they are moments that form our sense of self. They might be loaded with shame, or guilt or something else.

They are unspoken.

My moment? I walked in on my stepfather when he was having a shower. I was 9. I pointed to his private parts, and touching it accidentally, asked what that was. He angrily told me that I should never touch that.

I thought that I made him think about me as a sexual object. I thought it was my fault that he abused me. I thought I was his partner, not a young child who was abused.

I never, ever spoke the secret.

And it meant everything was my fault. Who was I to cry victim when I created the problem?

This unspoken secret meant I planted the idea. It meant I was complicit. It meant I was not a victim. It meant I was a participant in the abuse, not a victim of it.

Because it was my fault.

I knew about my secret. But I didn’t ever speak about it. Or even tell anyone I had it.

I didn’t want them to know that all these things I spoke about were my fault. But I was sure they were.

And so I hated myself and my body for the role it played. I hated it for being involved in what happened. I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. I felt like a fraud for letting everyone else believe I had been abused, when actually I had created the problem.

And then thanks to the help of my amazing therapist friend, I spoke the unspoken and the spell was broken.

And now I see that there was nothing I could do. I was a young child. I was abused. That is never a child’s fault.

My body is not to blame. I am not to blame.

Speaking the unspoken changes it.

What is your unspoken thing? Who do you trust to tell that thing to?

You deserve freedom from the unspoken.

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.

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.  

Image result for flasher cartoon pictures

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.

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.