A message to anyone who is struggling

A message to anyone who is struggling

“Whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time.” Marcus Aurelius

 There are few guarantees in life and one thing we know for sure is that hard times will hit us at some point. This blog is particularly dedicated to anyone in that position now.

When watching an interview with Shaolin Master Shi Heng Yi recently, he was asked by the host to give a closing message to anyone experiencing hardship right now. Master Yi paused and at first seemed reluctant to generalise, but then nodded as if agreeing to some internal dialogue and said the following;

“However bad things are right now, don’t give up. Don’t give up…because one day you will look back to this time and realise that this was exactly how it was supposed to be.”

Much like the opening quote by Marcus Aurelius above, the wisdom here is palpable. In the west we are fond of the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ and this resonates in a similar way.

Whether it’s Zen Buddhism or the Stoics from ancient Rome, seeing life in this way given us an opportunity to step back and realise that this is one big journey. As nice as it is to imagine a life without hardship, challenges or stress, in reality that would lead to nothing but unhappiness.

In the same way a muscle needs to be torn in order to grow and the heart heeds to be pushed in order to be fit, the mind needs to experience tests in order to grow.

Every hardship is growth in wolf’s clothing.

 Have you ever met a truly wise person who’s had an easy life? No … and that’s because your hard times are what will give you depth in the future.

It’s not that the hard times and suffering define us, what defines us is our ability to learn and grow from them.

So hang in there.

    Why not book a consultation now by calling 07401127872 or by messaging through the website?

    I offer therapy online or locally in Sheffield.

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    Scott’s journey to success

    Scott’s journey to success

    “Owen really helped me to get back into competing again, I would highly recommend. The tips and advice he gave me helped me focus and keep calm, thanks a lot.”

    Time for some inspiration.

    This blog post is dedicated to a former client of mine, Scott. As you’ll be able to see, he was recently crowned as Yorkshire’s Strongest Man and even received a personal letter of congratulations from legendary bodybuilder Tom Platz (if you know your bodybuilding, you’ll realise how much of a big deal this is, if you haven’t heard of him then give him a google).

    Scott came to me in April 2022 for some help with bouts of performance anxiety that would seriously affect him before and during strong man competitions. At this point in his competition career, Scott had not yet won.

    Scott came to me having never done hypnotherapy and willing to try something new by addressing the subconscious mind.

    We worked together for a number of weeks and used a variety of solution focused hypnotic techniques and this led to his first competition win soon after we concluded our appointments together. I recorded this on the sports performance section here, at the time.

    Just to prove that this wasn’t a one off, Scott has now reached new heights after a phenomenal amount of hard work and training. It all started with an open mind and the humility to admit there was an issue with the mind that needed to be addressed.

    One of the reasons I wanted to publish this as a blog is to demonstrate the utility of hypnotherapy for all types of issues. Whether it’s sports performance anxiety, social anxiety, smoking or other substance addiction, relationship issues, IBS, mood problems … they all have one thing in common; it all starts with the subconscious mind.

    Scott has a heart as large as his muscles and his achievement proves that with the right mind set, there’s no telling what goals you can reach.

    What can we learn from Scott’s journey?

    1/ Have a goal and a vision. Research shows that goal orientated people are happier people.

    2/ Humility; have the humility to ask for help and recognise when you are struggling.

    3/ Invest in yourself. Whether it’s qualifications, gym memberships or therapy, investing in yourself gives the greatest returns of any financial investment.

      Why not book a consultation now by calling 07401127872 or by messaging through the website?

      I offer therapy online or locally in Sheffield.

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      What every BODY is telling you

      What every BODY is telling you

      Firstly, apologies for the long absence from the blog. Life has been very busy with work and the arrival of a new baby into our family. As the dust settles a bit in my own life, a matter that keeps coming up in my therapy room is the mind body connection.

      Understanding the effect of the mind on the body is really important for anyone who wants to get to the bottom on their anxiety or nerves. Whether it’s a case of getting tongue tied in social situations or experiencing terror before delivering a presentation, the same fight or flight mechanism is the root cause.

      So why would we go into survival mode in those situations (see my blog on social anxiety)?

      In both situations, the subconscious part of the brain is detecting a potential threat and getting you ready to either freeze, fight or run. Even though these responses are primitive responses that worked very well for your ancestors, and may have even worked well for you as a child, they are now getting in the way.

      So faster than you can even think a thought, a threat signal is translated into the body with a release of adrenaline and other neurotransmitters that will send blood to the muscles often getting you ready to run. This will cause the hands to shake and cause the body to hunch forward, leading to shorter, sharper breaths as the diaphragm has less room to move. The arms will often go forwards or across the body, covering the vulnerable vital organs and neck; a typically defensive and closed posture.

      You cant think clearly or rationally when you are in survival mode.

      As you will have experienced at some point in your life, it’s not a nice feeling. There is a way to make things easier though.

      Before your next large social event/interview/presentation you will remember that even thought the mind tells the body how to behave, the body can also tell the mind how to behave – it’s a 2 way system!

      Try this exercise…

      …stand up and hunch your neck and shoulders forward with tension, cross your arms or put them into your pockets. Lower your chin right down to your chest to cover up the neck. Now ask yourself how you feel. Do you feel confident and open, or defensive and closed off? Can you take nice big slow breaths into the stomach, or short shallow breaths up high in the chest. Do you feel relaxed or tense?

      Now lift the chin right up and roll back the shoulders and relax the muscles of the shoulders and neck. Open the palms outwards and keep the space in front of your belly open and exposed…almost like you’re praying. Now ask yourself how you feel again. Notice the ability to take bigger, slower breaths. Do you feel closed off or open? Do you feel panicked or calm?

      So here is the empowering take away – you have a lot more control over your feelings and your ability to be confident than you realised.

       

        Why not book a consultation now by calling 07401127872 or by messaging through the website?

        I offer therapy online or locally in Sheffield.

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        A new relationship with anxiety

        A new relationship with anxiety

        “The first lesson is realising it’s no one else’s fault….the last lesson is realising it’s no-ones fault” Epictetus 

        As a person born in the early 80’s, I don’t remember the word ‘anxiety’ coming into my conscious awareness until I was in my 20’s. I didn’t hear it in school or on TV. This week, however, is Children’s Mental Health Week and that’s a sign of just how far we’ve come.

        So what’s changed in the last 30 or so years? Perhaps mental health was not talked about and as a culture we adopted a more stiff upper lip. Perhaps the pressures in society have changed. Mobile phone technology and social media have certainly had a huge impact.

        Whatever the case may be, anxiety is now a serious social issue and huge numbers of people suffer from this disorder. I know this because of how many anxious clients come through my hypnotherapy practice, after bravely seeking help.

        1 in 3 of us suffers from an anxiety disorder at some point in our lifetime.

        Even though the culture and the technology has changed, we still have the same brains and nervous systems as our ancestors, so how do we reframe anxiety?

        If we didn’t feel anxious thoughts then would we ever get anything done? Neuroscientists, for example, will often define anxiety as one of a number of a ‘mental states’. Rather than being labelled as positive or negative, these states can range from lazy and low energy/arousal to anxious and high energy/arousal.

        If, for example, you are relaxed and tired and you’ve set a goal to go to the gym, then you will need to arouse your nervous system to a more anxious, energetic state in order to motivate yourself to achieve your goal.

        So we know that anxious states are needed, but why does it tip over to becoming a disorder? This happens when the newer part of the brain, the pre-frontal cortex, makes too many negative predictions about the future. This then builds up as stress in our mind and body and can be crippling.

        It’s not the events themselves that make us anxious, it’s the stories we tell ourselves around them.

        What’s the solution?

        Firstly we need to recognise anxious states as energetic states. We can’t be productive without them and they can serve a really positive purpose with the right mindset.

        Also, our mind needs to be able to make some negative predictions in order for us to make the right choices. Negative predictions means adaptation and that’s what has made us such intelligent primates. Your brain is trying to help you, even though it may not feel like it at times.

        So with that in mind, it’s time to change the script and use that amazing pre-frontal cortex and our unique human imagination in a way that will help us. Rather than repeatedly making fearful negative predictions, start making more positive ones. But how do we change something that is happening below the level of consciousness and doesn’t come naturally to us?

        That’s where hypnotherapy can really help. A hypnotherapist is trained to get you into a trance state and access your subconscious mind to then stimulate these positive ideas and images that then change your programming and neural circuits, to allow more positive predictions of the future to come more naturally and automatically. This means less fear, less anxiety and a more calm and optimistic existence.

        Self-hypnosis is another great method, but this is a skill and unless it’s done well, your own limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns tend to creep in and prevent the positive changes.

        If you suffer from anxiety and you want change then please don’t hesitate in making that courageous first step in seeking help.

        Why not book a consultation now by calling 07401127872 or by messaging through the website?

          I offer therapy online or locally in Sheffield.

           

           

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          What exactly is hypnosis?

          What exactly is hypnosis?

          “Imagination is more important than knowledge“ Albert Einstein

          What is hypnosis?

          So given that this is a blog for a hypnotherapy practice, it’s good to understand what hypnosis actually is. Even though it’s becoming more accepted in neuroscience and mainstream thinking, many people still shy away from it.

          Before we get to what it is, lets debunk a few myths about what it isn’t.

          What Hypnosis isn’t:

          • Hypnosis is not brainwashing or mind control.
          • No one can make you do something you’re not comfortable doing
          • You cannot be hypnotised against your will or be ‘stuck’ in hypnosis.
          • Hypnosis is not magic.
          • You always have your morals, ethics and values during the process of hypnosis.

          Hypnosis is as natural a state as eating, drinking or sleeping. You may not know it, but you’re in a state of hypnosis for most of your day, including now as you read these words. You’re also in a hypnotic trance when you play an engrossing video game or watch a film or become lost in a good book. The common theme with these examples is that these states occur during relaxation.

          So when we relax the body and mind even more deeply, we go into a trance state and it’s in these relaxed states that we can focus our attention on our goals and desires. Whether in therapy with a trained practitioner who can guide you, or on your own (known as self-hypnosis), these relaxed states give us access to the subconscious mind and allow us to make really positive changes in our thinking and our lives.

          When it comes down to it, Hypnosis is really a form of focused concentration.

          Hypnosis is wonderfully effective way to address issues at the root cause by changing your perspective and allowing you to focus on the positive things in life. This change in perspective leads to happier and more fulfilled lives.

          So Hypnosis can change the way you perceive the world and make you feel happier, what else can it do?

          Studies have shown that hypnotherapy can boost your immune system (Ohio State University 2004) and even speed up recovery of broken bones (Harvard Medical School 1999).

          Even though it may be hard to believe that our thought patterns can heal our bones quicker, remember that the mind and the body is one system made up of many parts that work together. For example, the immune system communicates with the nervous system and both communicate with the brain. Even though most of this communication happens without us noticing, it’s the basis of all our feelings and emotions.

          Stress plays a big role in how these systems work and communicate and hypnotherapy has been proven to reduce stress significantly.

          Think of it this way, imagine that your body is a country and your skin is the border. In times of peace, the economy will grow and the arts and culture will flourish along with the health of the people. In times of war, however, the economy plummets, the people are on rations and the health and wealth of the nation declines.

          Your body is the same, it can’t be in a state of growth and protection at the same time and our thoughts and perceptions are what regulate the stress that cause us to go into protection mode, also known as fight or flight.

          So hopefully you now know a bit more about hypnosis after we’ve debunked a few falsehoods and shown just how important our thoughts are for our health and wellbeing. I recommend that if you’re considering hypnotherapy, just dive in and give it a go because the results speak for themselves.

           

          Why not book a consultation now by calling 07401127872 or by messaging through the website?

            I offer therapy online or locally in Sheffield.

             

             

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            Habits, making and breaking

            Habits, making and breaking

            The 4 steps to making or breaking habits.

            If your honest with yourself, you will be able to think of some bad habits you’ve got and some good ones you would like to have or improve on.

            Perhaps you drink too much, you vape, you don’t eat enough fresh food or you need to exercise more? At least one of these will apply to you, right?

            You’ll notice those examples are all negatively framed ie you aren’t achieving this or you’re doing too much of that. As useful as this is for habit change, it’s even more important to set positive goals.

            If you set and reach achievable goals (start small or you will set yourself up to fail), you’ll get a little ‘feel good’ reward from your nervous system in the form of the neurotransmitter dopamine, sometimes called “the molecule of more”. Dopamine motivates you and gives you that sense of achievement when you reach a goal or target and getting your dopamine system working for you is the key here.

            There is just one problem though. How many times have you made a New Year’s resolution and then just found the motivation fading and you gradually forgetting or losing interest?

            Here are a couple of great tips to prevent this from happening. Firstly, mentally rehearse the new habit. Close your eyes and imagine the act step by step and build a positive association with the act by imagining the smile on your face and more importantly the good feeling you’ll have after completing the task. Once you’ve run through it all from start to finish in your mind in a positive way, do it again … and again.

            This is a form of basic self hypnosis, because hypnosis is widely recognised by neuroscientists to be the most effective way to create profound change in habits! In fact, I would encourage anyone who wants to create new habits to invest in some sessions with a hypnotherapist.

            If you are quitting smoking or vaping for example, with hypnosis you are 4 times more likely to achieve complete cessation in a single session! (Speigel et al, Stamford medicine).

            Amazingly when you mentally rehearse, you’re building neural networks in the brain that means when you carry out the habit for real, the mental electrical signals have less resistance to overcome.

            Other than the mental rehearsal, the other vital ingredient is to do something called bracketing. For example, brushing your teeth is a successful habit because it’s bracketed between waking up and going downstairs for a coffee. Because it’s before one regular behaviour and after another, it’s bracketed and therefore requires no conscious effort.

            If you are starting a new healthy habit, be it exercise, meditation, diet planning … bracketing will help a lot because your neural networks in your brain will build long lasting associations.

            4 recommended tips for making and braking habits:

            1/ Hypnotherapy – this is the most effective, proven way to change habits

            2/ Set realistic goals

            3/ Mentally rehearse the new habit repeatedly and build positive neural networks

            4/ Bracket the habit between existing behaviours

              Why not book a consultation now by calling 07401127872 or by messaging through the website?

              I offer therapy online or locally in Sheffield.

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