Do you know who the best hypnotist is?

The answer may surprise you…
It’s actually you!
Hypnosis is essentially becoming absorbed in thought, and being open to suggestion. Truth is, we do this all the time to ourselves, on our own, with no ‘hypnotist’.

All hypnosis is really self-hypnosis. It is a natural phenomenon and occurs throughout the day. When you think about it, we spend our lives in our mind and in our thoughts. Unfortunately, we can often get ourselves into unhelpful ‘trances’ and end up delivering a stream of negative suggestions to ourselves, without even realizing that it is happening. This can lead to feelings and habits that are unhelpful. That inner voice might be telling us that we are not good enough or we can’t cope. Or perhaps the (automatic and unconscious) suggestion is to light up that cigarette, or have another biscuit. Maybe if we are in constant pain, we are constantly asking, ‘why is this happening to me?’ (a fair question of course, but one which is directing the focus of your mind in a way which is likely to exacerbate your suffering)
These patterns seem to happen automatically. Solution focused hypnotherapy is about creating new automatic patterns of thought, self-talk and behavior that are much more helpful, and this can increase your happiness and self-control.
Many of these negative patterns have been learnt and ingrained in our mind through years of repetition. Sometimes they have been learned in an instant, through a very intense emotional experience. In order to unlearn these unhelpful patterns, we need to employ the same tactics, of repetition and intensity.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a very popular, and for many people, it is an effective way of attacking these negative habits of thoughts and behavior. One of the key advantages is that it is something that you can do on your own. The concepts of CBT are woven into my own work and can provide the ‘repetition component’ of treatment.
Hypnosis magnifies and amplifies imaginative experience and increases receptivity to positive suggestion. This can be used to provide the ‘intensity component’ of treatment.
The aim is to create new better automatic ways of thinking, feeling and responding to life’s challenges.
If you are interested in using hypnosis to manage anxiety, cope with chronic pain, stop smoking or reduce your weight, then please contact me to see what we can achieve together.

Do you hate Monday mornings? How ANTs can make it worse…

ANTs, Automatic Negative Thoughts

Let’s face it, for most people that have to get up and go to work it’s not the best time of the week. Friday afternoon seems a distant memory –  when you set off for home from work, with a wonderful sense of hope and expectation, as the whole of the weekend stretched out in front of you. Maybe the weekend didn’t deliver the relaxation or enjoyment that you were hoping for – or maybe it did, and that just makes the thought of going back to work even worse.

Sometimes the way that we talk to ourselves can influence the way that we feel. I don’t necessarily mean talking to ourselves out loud, but rather that inner dialogue that goes on automatically inside of our heads, without us barely being aware of it. When you actually stop for a moment and really take notice of that voice, you can often realise that it is an endless stream of chatter that just keeps yacking on and on – and much of it is negative. In the field of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, these thoughts are referred to as automatic negative thoughts, or ANTs for short.

This automatic negative thinking, can also be conceptualized as negative self-hypnosis. It is as if we are in a trance, where our negative inner dialogue, and consequently the uncomfortable feelings in our body are automatically surfacing, without any apparent means of controlling it.

There are a number of approaches to combat this. In order to unlearn these unhelpful patterns, we need to use tactics that employ repetition and intensity.

One way is to systematically challenge these thoughts by writing them down. The simple process of getting them out of our heads and on paper puts distance between us and the thoughts. Once on paper, we can dispute the thought by asking logical questions such as:

Is that fact or opinion? Where’s the evidence? How is that thought working for me?

Many negative thoughts contain distortions of the truth, and it is these thinking ‘errors’ that cause much of our suffering. By systematically attacking the negative thoughts, we are able to restructure our thoughts, and reframe them in a more positive manner. This can take time and practice but with persistence we can create more positive automatic thoughts.

In addition to this systematic logical approach, we can also ‘do hypnosis’ with a much more deliberate and positive intent, and create different more helpful automatic responses to life’s challenges. Hypnosis magnifies and amplifies imaginative experience and increases receptivity to positive suggestion. This can be used to provide the ‘intensity component’ of treatment.

The aim is to create new better automatic ways of thinking, feeling and responding to life’s challenges.

If you have any questions about using hypnotherapy to enhance the quality of your life, I would love to hear from you.

Could you ‘write your way’ to better health and reduce anxiety?

Expressive writing can reduce anxiety and stress

Anxiety is a natural response that is there for our benefit. It is very unpleasant for a purpose: to compel us to take action to ensure our survival. We experience anxiety because of a release of stress hormones.

Short-term anxiety is useful and necessary to escape danger. However, when the levels of stress hormones are elevated for a sustained period of time, it threatens to take its toll on your body, with a risk of elevated blood pressure, poor sleep and even your immune system being compromised. Gaining separation from our anxious thoughts is key strategy in managing anxiety, and expressive writing is a tactic that you can work on by yourself almost anywhere.

What is Expressive Writing?

Expressive writing is an exercise to separate us from our stress response, where you write down your thoughts, positive or negative, and immediately destroy them. Research has demonstrated that expressive writing has a beneficial effect on the immune system.

I have recently been following the work of David Hanscom, an orthopedic surgeon who has written at length, on how the mind can greatly affect our perception of pain, both physical as well as mental. He describes the process as:

‘…writing down your thoughts and then instantly destroying them. Begin by writing down specific thoughts. They can be positive or negative, rational or irrational. Don’t worry about making sense or even being legible. This creates a space between you and your thoughts on the paper.

As you write, focus on the physical sensations you are experiencing, as this helps create new neurological connections. Don’t analyze your thoughts. It’s counterproductive to keep these as a journal. When you rip up the pages that you’ve written, your brain then associates the space you’ve created as a physical separation from your thoughts. This allows your nervous system to calm down, and your pain symptoms to lessen.’

This of course is not a comprehensive approach to dealing with all of your anxiety, but why not spend just 5- 10 minutes a day, this week to see how it works for you. Like all things that are good for us that easy to do… they are also easy not to do!