New Year’s Resolution Flop
The Babylonians started each year with pledges to pay debts and return borrowed items, whilst the Romans began their year worshiping Janus; (January) God of New Beginnings and Transition. Known as the god with two faces, Janus could see both back and forward, symbolising the transition from the past to the future and was revered by those seeking a change of fortune. As Gatekeeper of the heavens, Janus was the bridge between morals and the other gods…so staying on the right side of him was clearly a priority! To try and gain favour, worshipers would make Janus all sorts of promises to become better people, in exchange for their prayers being heard by the other gods.
New Year's resolutions continue to this day and most of us will still promise to make changes as the New Year dawns. Depressingly, more than 80 percent of all New Year’s Resolutions fail, with most people throwing in the towel by mid-February. So what makes four out of five people lose their resolve so quickly?
Perhaps your expectations were too high? Perhaps it’s so much harder than you thought it would be? Perhaps there’s an “R” in the month?...So you cave. And before you know it, you’re reaching for the snacks or lighting up another cigarette. And whilst it feels good to end the misery you have been in for the last few weeks, there’s another part of you that knows you failed and feels bad.
However prepared you are; however much you’ve paid for your new gym membership, or spent on nicotine replacement products, you’re essentially relying on willpower. And willpower is rubbish! Yes, that’s a big statement, so I’ll say it again…willpower is rubbish! By mid-February, willpower doesn’t have quite the same enthusiasm for salad it did a few weeks ago and is no longer taking you past the gym, on your way home from work.
One problem is the psychology behind the word itself. Resolution is a strong, demanding word, screaming “I must! I must!” It's a demand that we place upon ourselves, and there is no room for failure. Yet failure is pretty much inevitable. The truth is, our minds simply don't respond to this technique, and when we don't, we feel disappointed in ourselves, even ashamed.
Most of us fail because we go about it the wrong way. We fail to use the right tools for the job! Willpower and determination are fantastic attributes to have, but using them to quit smoking or lose weight, is like trying to crack a brazil nut with your face, when there’s a perfectly good hammer next to you. Yes, it might work eventually, but when we see, and more importantly feel the damage it causes, most of us decide it just isn’t worth it.
It would be quicker, more efficient and significantly less painful, to have simply used the hammer in the first place. It sounds obvious, but when it comes to stopping smoking or losing weight, our default setting seems to be; to take the slowest and most painful route we can find.
That’s were hypnotherapy comes in. Confronting a problem at the source, is the quickest and most efficient way to change something about yourself you don’t like. Willpower and determination can only chip at the surface and the little impact they have, is temporary at best. Hypnotherapy delves beneath the surface, allowing you to change or reprogram your thoughts and behaviours, at a deeper level of awareness. When you change things at an unconscious level, you’re effectively giving your conscious mind a set of co-ordinates or a map to follow, to achieve success. So without relying on willpower or determination, you can reach your goals quicker, easier and with significantly less pain.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation and see how hypnotherapy can help you achieve your New Year’s Resolution.
Losing Weight with Hypnotherapy
In trying to tackle obesity, the government spends billions of pounds a year, running huge public campaigns, to promote healthy eating and educating people about the dangers of being overweight. The NHS spends even more, offering a variety of services, in an attempt to stem the tide of obesity; everything from support groups in your local community, gym vouchers, to increase exercise, referrals to dieticians and nutritionists, even bariatric surgery.
Despite this, obesity is rising faster than ever before. A third of people over the age of 35, are currently obese. Why? What do all these methods have in common; aside from the investment from the taxpayer?
They all attempt to tackle obesity at a conscious level, showing you the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and the dangers of obesity; presenting a well researched, logical argument to your conscious mind. Super! You already know the health implications of being overweight...but still, it isn’t enough. The motivation just isn't there.
You’re overweight because you overeat! Ok…so why do you overeat? What’s driving that behaviour? That’s the question no one is asking. It’s very difficult to stop doing something, if you don’t know why you’re doing it in the first place.
Lifestyle factors, contribute to weight gain but they aren’t the cause. In adults, who are 3 or more stone overweight, overeating is rarely, if ever the problem. It’s a symptom of an emotional state, buried deep in the unconscious mind, underneath your level of awareness.
Trying to tackle an unconscious problem, at a conscious level, such as going on a diet, is like trying to shoot a target in France, standing this side of the Channel…not exactly inefficient but takes a superhuman effort, all the same.
Hypnotherapy bypasses the conscious mind, to uncover the hidden processes, driving your food choices. Sort that out and the weight loss takes care of itself; no dieting, no cravings.
Yes...diets make you temporarily lose weight but 95% of all people, who lose weight through dieting, will regain it in one to five years, with the vast majority putting on more weight than before they went on the diet. That’s because, they are tackling their weight at a conscious level. If you only treat the symptoms and not the cause of the behaviour, weight loss can only occur in the dieting period, meaning you’re either on a diet or you’re putting on weight, with no middle ground. Many know this as “Yoyo dieting”.
Hypnotherapy uncovers the hidden thought processes, driving your behaviour to overeat, providing you with an understanding of why you do the things you do. All your decisions about what you eat, when you eat and how much you eat, take place in your mind. This is why many people never feel full. They never get the signal to stop eating, because they were never hungry for food in the first place. It is paramount, to deal with what is going on at an unconscious level, in order to achieve long term weight stability. Only then, will you have the clarity to distinguish between real and emotional hunger.
Following this, an image of the “ideal you…the best version of yourself” is cemented firmly in place. This increases motivation but more importantly, means your mind will accept that “idealized image” as reality and reject anything that goes against that belief…including unhealthy food.
The therapy then moves on to putting “anchors” around food and the way you eat. This means “reprogramming” your mind to eat slowly, enjoy your food (without the guilt, normally associated with dieting) and feel fuller faster. With these suggestions locked in place, you will automatically find yourself eating less and losing weight, without really thinking about it...And wouldn't that be nice?
The Dark Side of Hypnosis
Across the internet, people tend to sit in one of two camps regarding hypnosis; those who revel in their own ignorance, believing hypnosis is a “pseudoscience” and those that think they understand what it is, claiming people under hypnosis have complete control and can reject suggestions if they do not agree with them. If either of these were true, you wouldn’t be able to induce rapid hypnosis on unsuspecting subjects (a talent I have been developing over the last few months).
Contrary to the most therapeutic hypnotic inductions, which can be very verbal or scripted in nature, rapid inductions tend to be a much more physical, engaging process. So instead of talking a person into a state of hypnosis using suggestions for relaxation, focus, tiredness and metaphors such as going down stairs or floating on a cloud, rapid inductions involve physically confusing, interrupting or shocking the subject. This creates a momentary ‘window of opportunity’ whereby they become highly suggestible to instructions, such as ‘Go into hypnosis’ or, as is more commonly associated with rapid inductions…‘SLEEP!’
While it is true that people can reject suggestions in hypnosis, it appears that this can be simply bypassed through the implementation of confusional statements, subliminal commands and physical shock.
By wording suggestions that avoid evoking conflict with the subject’s belief system, a hypnotist can make the subject feel like the hypnotist’s interests are enjoyable and relaxing, even if the subject wouldn’t ordinarily consent.
For example, the suggestion “The deeper you go, the better you feel, the better you feel, the deeper you go” followed by “every step deeper you go, you feel 10 times more comfortable with the words I say”. These types of statements incite the subject to comply with the hypnotist’s instructions, even if these instructions challenge their moral code. The first suggestion focuses on going deeper, whilst the second uses the deepening loop, to strengthen the suggestibility of the subject. A process called Fractionation usually follows. This technique works similarly to the Snooze button on your alarm clock. So, when your alarm goes off in the morning, and you press snooze, you are able to go back into deep sleep immediately, and then when the alarm goes off a few minutes later, it can sometimes feel like hours have passed and you have been in a very deep sleep.
The Fractionation Induction works in the same way, the subject starts in a light level of trance, then comes back out and go back in several times. Every time the subject goes back in, they go deeper and deeper, enabling the hypnotist to give bolder and more complex suggestions.
It’s often commented by hypnotists, that a patient can wake up at any point if they do not feel comfortable with the suggestions, but the whole key to hypnosis is creating comfort and using that comfort to embed suggestions. Most people are looking to relax and enjoy themselves. If a hypnotist associates doing something illicit with relaxation and joy, the subject is easily manipulated, this in laymen terms is brainwashing.
This was demonstrated by illusionist Derren brown, whereby he used hypnosis to compel an ordinary man to assassinate TV presenter and national treasure, Stephen Fry; an act deemed inconceivable in his normal “waking state” . The subject meanwhile, was completely oblivious to the fact that he was being trained to assassinate someone, believing instead, that he was at an indoor shooting range.
Pseudoscience or Mind Control?
There will always be those, through a combination of ignorance and a desperate need for attention and validation, who insist hypnosis, is a pseudoscience. I have absolutely no wish to engage with these people, in the same way I wouldn’t engage with someone who denies the holocaust. There is however, strong evidence hypnosis is an invaluable therapeutic tool, producing positive and long lasting change. As for mind control…I strongly suggest we pop our heads into the rabbit hole and prepare to be amazed!
The Importance of Letting Go
At some point in our lives, we've all faced the decision of whether we should hold on or let go, to something or someone. Letting go is often one of the most difficult things that we have to do in our lives, yet sometimes it is the only way that we can get ourselves to move forward. It can be especially difficult to let go of things, that which we hold so dear. We have conditioned ourselves to think we need to hold on to them because the thought of them going away, is just too much to see past. However, we need to take a step back and see beyond the act of letting go, which is difficult in itself. Instead, we need to look forward and see what letting go will allow new room for, in our lives.
Some of us may have a hard time letting go because we feel insecure. We may think that we will never find something that’s good enough or better than what we already have. We have to understand that this simply is not true. As long as we remain hopeful, better things will begin to come our way. We can't let our attachment to something get in the way of our letting go processes. If we truly love ourselves, we will take time to reflect. Is what we have, truly good enough for us? If there is any shred of doubt, we need to begin to consider letting go of whatever it is. We are the masters of our own destinies and as such, our choices ultimately determine how much we grow and succeed as a person. Once you are honest with yourself and make a decision that something needs to go, it will be hard at first, but over time, you will see how taking this step truly benefits your growth and your life.
One way to begin the letting go process is to ask yourself; “If I let this go, what will it make room for?” This is most likely being something of equal or greater value. Let’s say you’ve been holding on to a jumper that you haven’t worn in years. Your best friend gave it to you for your birthday and you have a lot of fond memories of wearing it. You remember the last day you wore it and what happened while you were wearing it, but you know that you probably won’t wear it again. The sleeves are slightly too short and it doesn’t really suit your body shape. It can no longer serve you in the way it once did. If you let it go, you clear that space in your wardrobe, to hang a new item of clothing; you find the next time you’re out shopping. This new item of clothing will probably fit you better and be more stylish. It will be a better choice for you. It’s an extremely simple example, I know, but the idea is the same in even more complex situations. You see, when we give something up, the love that we have for it is never truly lost. It eventually transforms itself into a love for something else. This is possible because now we have made space for something new to come along. It is very important to keep in minds that even though we have let something that we care for go, we always get to keep the memories that we have of it.
Letting go does not have to mean forgetting. It means releasing something’s ability to affect you in a negative way, so that when you’re remembering it, you’re not overwhelmed by negative emotions. You might choose to let go of a loved one, because loving them and having them in your life, is no longer serving you in a positive way. Letting go does not mean forgetting everything that ever happened with that person, it means being able to recall memories, of your time together, without feeling sad that you do not have him or her in your life anymore. Letting go of that person, frees your heart to find new opportunities, which fit you better. In order to help yourself through this, if you feel yourself starting to miss that person in a way that makes you feel sad or lonely, redirect your thoughts toward thinking about the endless possibilities for which your life now has space for.
We have the power to decide what we let go of and what we hold on to, and those decisions will eventually shape the trajectories of our lives. If you hold on to a job that you do not love for too long, it can have a negative affect on your happiness and overall well being, but if you let go of it, you are opening up your life for other possibilities and experiences, where previously, there would have been no room. Letting go of something that you truly love or care about, is truly difficult. Healing is a process and pain is part of that process. To let go of something you truly love, because it’s no longer good for you, is truly the most powerful thing you can do. It shows you have respect for yourself, high values and strength of character. So, be kind and patient with yourself and you will become stronger than you ever imagined you could be!
Why I became a Hypnotherapist
One of the questions I am most often asked is; why I became a hypnotherapist. After all, it isn’t exactly something the career advisors at school promoted. After a few years wanting to be a pharmacist and before that, a Spice Girl, I finally settled on a career in psychology.
Whilst in a Cognitive Psychology lecture, during my second year at university, we were taught about the basics of hypnosis. I had arrived at my lecture, tired and slightly hung over, meaning I wasn’t firing on all cylinders, both physically or mentally. The lecturer then asked for a volunteer to demonstrate the techniques to the rest of the class.
Without putting too much thought into it, I raised my hand. For those of you thinking I must a born performer or exhibitionist, to volunteer to be hypnotised in front of the whole class, you couldn’t be further from the truth. I am very typically British and I would rather put my hand in a blender, than perform in front of an audience.
Further to the fear running through me, I was curious to know how hypnotherapy worked and what it felt like. As I reached the front of the class and noticed all the other tired, hung over faces staring at me, I realised just how out of my comfort zone I actually was. I briefly toyed with the idea of faking some sort of seizure, before my natural curiosity to learn kicked in and forced me to listen to the instructions given by my lecturer.
He asked me to take a few deep breaths and close my eyes. I remember him asking me to picture certain things in my mind and as his rhythmic voice flowed over me, I could feel myself letting go, becoming more and more relaxed. And the really interesting thing was that his voice became my thoughts and whatever he said resonated with me, in a way that I had never felt before. I was aware of where I was and the class room watching me but I felt myself detaching and slipping further away from my external reality, into a deeply relaxing internal state, like being wrapped in a warm duvet. I was given various suggestions, resulting in my feet being stuck to the floor, even to forget my own name, much to the general amusement of my classmates.
When my lecturer counted me up to a waking state, I felt like I had woken from a 10 hour sleep. I was deeply relaxed and felt an unhurried calmness flow through me. It took me a few minutes to get my bearings, before I could stand up and return to my seat. But from that moment on, I resolved to learn everything I could about hypnosis.
Shortly after my degree, I studied a diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy. I watched spellbound, as people suffering debilitating phobias, were cured in a few, short hours of therapy. I read as much as I could and practiced often on friends and family. There is usually no shortage of volunteers, when you tell people you are learning hypnosis and need volunteers to practice on.
I still remember the first time I hypnotised my friend, who was suffering from excruciating toothache. He was due to have the offending tooth extracted the following day, at the dentist but was really struggling with the pain, leading up to his appointment. I performed a basic induction and something called “Glove Anaesthesia”. When he woke, the pain had gone completely, so much so, that he contacted the dentist and cancelled his appointment for the following day.
In the supportive and caring way, only a close friend could get away with, I told him not to be so stupid and go to the dentist. What I offered him, was a reprieve from the pain and that the tooth still needed to be extracted. The upshot was that he refused to attend his appointment but interestingly, the pain never returned. It was then, I realised how powerful hypnosis is and the real difference it can make to people.
So, ten years on, here I am…a professional hypnotherapist, practicing in two clinics in Birmingham. I’m doing my dream job and loving every second of it.
Smoking and Hypnotherapy
Round and round we go. When we stop smoking, nobody knows…
You’ve made the decision and this time, it’s final!
You’re going to quit smoking. You’re sick of hearing about the health risks, you’re sick of the money you are wasting, you’re sick of the power smoking has over you! You’re going to give up smoking and this time, it’s for the last time!
You know the average smoker spends £3500 every year on cigarettes. Your mind drifts…what would you do with the money? A new car, a holiday, maybe decorate the house? Oh no! Decorating is such hard work and it’s been such a difficult year. You’ve quit smoking after all. Definitely the holiday!
Hang on! As you decide you are getting ahead of yourself. You only quit smoking 3 minutes ago.
You understand you’ll get cravings but unlike the last time you tried to quit smoking and the time before that and the time before that, this time your willpower will save you! It’s not like you didn’t have the willpower before, but your life was so hectic back then. And it’s amazing how so much in life, comes down to good timing. No! This time, it will be different!
Two weeks later and you’re sitting at your desk, chewing the end of your pen and wishing you had called in sick. You’ve got this nervous tension in the pit of your stomach and you aren’t really sure why. You remind yourself of a swan…calm and majestic on the surface, (albeit with blue ink all over your chops) whilst flapping ten to the dozen underneath. Ok, you were late for work, your boss is on the warpath and you’ve had the morning from hell…but what’s new there?
“God, how I’d love a cigarette! Just one…No!” You remind yourself to be strong. Besides, you haven’t even got any. Just then, you colleague leans over…“Coming out for a fag?”
It’s amazing how many thoughts can rush through your head in such a short space of time. It’s been a horrendous day and you haven’t even made it to lunch yet. Your boss is putting pressure on you to finish your report and you have all the focus and concentration of a five year old child, eating blue Smarties!
And then in a split second, the decision is made. “Yes!” you say boldly, with considerably more force that your colleague was expecting. You’ve given plenty of cigarettes to him over the years, now it’s his turn to share!
As you stand outside, lighting your first cigarette in a fortnight, you can’t help but feel a little disappointed. Failed again! You were so sure you could do it this time. You were so committed, so determined. What went wrong? “Urrrrgh!”
Well it’s November now. You missed STOPTOBER but New Year is coming soon and that’s a much better time to quit anyway. You can make it one of your New Year resolutions.
Does any of this sound familiar? Would it help if I told you that there is nothing wrong with you and that your willpower is not akin to a damp sock?
Is my mind working against me?...
In a word, yes! The brain is divided into two parts; the left (conscious) half, which is responsible for logical thought and rational decision making and the right (unconscious) half, responsible for emotions and creativity.
There isn’t much communication between the right and left sides of the brain. So the left half knows all the logical reasons why you should stop smoking but the right half feels like it wants a cigarette.
Where the left and right sides of the brain want different things, the right nearly always wins. That’s why willpower alone, is rarely enough. It’s like telling someone having a panic attack, not to panic. The raw, intense emotion of the situation, (emanating from the right side of the brain) now consumes the whole mind. Logical thought simply doesn’t get through.
How hypnotherapy works…
That’s where hypnotherapy comes in. Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation and focused attention, which accesses the unconscious, right half of the mind, completely bypassing the logical left half. This altered state of consciousness is often referred to as a “trance state”. When in trance, the unconscious mind is highly suggestible to ideas and beliefs. It is then possible to implant and embed powerful suggestions, deep in the unconscious mind, fundamentally changing the way you feel about smoking and bringing balance and harmony to body and mind.