Why we do the things we do – part 3

To feel significant or important is a need which everybody has.  Just as with our other needs, we can satisfy the need to feel important through either positive or negative actions and behaviours.

Positive significance can be achieved through our accomplishments in our education, career and relationships; these require consistent hard work and perseverance and often the rewards only come at the end of the hard work which can take years.

Negative significance is often achieved through actions which either threaten or undermine others.  The use of weapons in gang culture and workplace bullying are examples of this.   Often those who consciously or unconsciously realise the need to feel important through negative actions or behaviours doubt their ability to feel important through any other means or are blinded by their  need to feel important now, without having to invest any sustained effort on their part.     It has been suggested that this short-termism has been generated by the advent of reality tv and social media and there may well be some truth in this; what is true is that any form of short-term gain goes against the long held belief that real and meaningful reward comes only after effort.

To feel significant one has to recognise one’s own abilities and to self-validate, rather than relying on other people or external factors for validation.  This is an example of living in balance – relying on oneself rather than solely relying on others for validation.  We are all important because we exist, not because of the car we drive or our bank balance and when we accept this we can then focus our attention and effort on what we do want from life; success on the outside begins with success on the inside through self-acceptance.

 

What makes us do what we do? Part 2

Have you ever wondered why it’s sometimes hard to stay focused on a goal? A goal that you chose and that will benefit you?   Despite what you may think it’s not due to a lack of focus or staying power but due to one of our 6 basic human needs.  If a need isn’t being met through positive or beneficial ways it will be met through negative or detrimental ways, at times even through illegal ways.  The second of our basic human needs is the need for variety.

With recent advances in technology we are presented with a multitude of choices; choices in how we spend our free time, choices in how and when we access information  and even how and when we communicate with each other, choices in how we shop, how we holiday and travel  etc.  We also live in an increasing throw-away world where consumer goods are regularly replaced by updated, faster, more sophisticated versions.  We expect to have access to what we want, when we want it; a constant source of external stimulus with which to fill our time.   As a result  our boredom threshold has never been lower and  is equalled by our impatience and our intolerance of routine and consistency.

But as Tony Robbins has pointed out, our need for variety is at odds with our need for certainty.  We need both.  A balanced life where we consciously avoid the trap of staying in our comfort zones allows for positive variety; learning something new, visiting new places, meeting new people are all positive ways of introducing variety.  Unless we deliberately create positive variety for ourselves we can begin to  blame the lack of it on our jobs, studies and even relationships which we often end up sabotaging.

Life isn’t always fast-changing, it isn’t always exciting or entertaining and it does sometimes feel like an uphill grudge!  But it’s positive variety that balances out the dull and the mundane – pay attention to your needs so all the plates stay on the canes!

What makes us do what we do? Part 1

Have you ever wondered how hard it sometimes feels to change a negative habit or behaviour?  Despite what you may think it is not due to  a lack of will power or even motivation but due to one of our 6 basic human needs.  If a need isn’t being met through positive or beneficial action it will be met through negative or detrimental action, sometimes even illegal.  The first of our basic human needs is the need for certainty.

 

Never before has the world we live in been more uncertain.  The pace of change has brought much progress and yet has also highlighted our need for certainty.

Most of us communicate via email and text and because of the immediacy of this communication we find ourselves  expecting a response within a time-frame that feels comfortable to us.   When no response is forthcoming within our desired time-frames we are left in a state of confusion and uncertainty.  Has the email been read? Has it maybe gone into the recipient’s junk mail? Has something happened to the recipient? But the worst question many a sender has found themselves thinking is, am I being ignored?   The pain of vulnerability that is created by our real discomfort with uncertainty is hard to bear; even worse is not knowing how to alleviate this pain because  if we email again too soon we look desperate and needy and as if we have no control over our emotions.

To live without any uncertainty is unrealistic; we can’t predict the weather, world events, economies or even football results but perhaps the most painful uncertainty is not knowing if we are still part of our ‘tribe’.  We belong to many tribes, our family, our friends, our colleagues, team members etc and the fear of having been ostracised dates back to primitive times when belonging to a tribe represented safety with people who we could identify with and understand.

When a change in habit (despite how beneficial that change would be) means no longer being part of one of our tribes (of smokers, or drug addicts  for example), we can feel scared at the prospect of having to make our way through a world which can feel alien, lonely and full of uncertainty.

We are though all more accustomed to uncertainty than we might be aware of.  Everything thing we have learnt has initially felt unfamiliar and uncertain; we practise new skills without any guarantee of success but we know that it is through consistent practice that we can transition from unskilled to skilled; not only are we practising and learning  the new skill but also practising and learning how to become more comfortable with uncertainty and in the uncertain world we live in, that’s one of the most useful skills to learn.

So what is solution focused evidence-based hypnotherapy?

 

Solution focused hypnotherapy was developed by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg in the 1970s.   It is future-focused, goal-directed, client-centred with a  focus on solutions, rather than on the problems that prompt clients to seek therapy.

Clients are often surprised that we don’t need to hear about the problem nor do we engage in any analysis of the root cause of the problem.   Instead we focus on the exceptions to the problem, those times and situations in which the client managed to cope but has often overlooked.

By encouraging the client to focus on the exceptions and his or her own resourcefulness which made the exceptions possible we are not only validating them but also enabling them to talk about themselves and perceive themselves  in a more positive and empowering way; often people  see themselves only in terms of their problem rather than as a person who has experienced a problem at certain times.

Asking the client to identify which of his or her existing, or previous resources he or she could use to take a next small step forward, encourages him or her to own their own solutions as they are the expert in themselves.  It further serves to develop a future-oriented focus away from a past and problem-oriented focus.   Even a small step towards a goal releases positive chemicals whereas focusing on the past and on a problem  leads to negative thinking which shrinks our ability to perceive possibilities and solutions.

The hypnotherapy part of the session begins with a progressive muscle relaxation because the brain follows the body; it continues with guided visualisation using solution focused language and indirect suggestions.  EEGs (Electroencephalography) illustrates that in the relaxed ‘trance’ state there less activity of problem-focused beta waves and increased activity of solution-focused alpha waves.

In between sessions clients are asked to listen to a relaxation/hypnotherapy mp3 to reduce anxiety and stress and thereby facilitate a mindset that is increasingly solution focused. Each week even the smallest step forward is recorded and validated.   Solution focused therapy is now being used in hospitals with cancer patients to help with anxiety as well as patients with chronic pain, it can help with phobias, breaking negative habits, relationship difficulties, depression and stress as well a psychosomatic illnesses; it has applications to the world of sports performance both on a professional and amateur level  as well as to the business world in terms of problem solving and confidence building.

Pain Management

The management of chronic pain can require such a multi-disciplinary approach that many hospitals now have Pain Management Clinics.  Often there is no cure for chronic pain so the goal is to lower the pain so that it becomes bearable and has less of a negative impact on the individual’s life.  Chronic pain is debilitating and can cause poor sleep, reduced mobility, reduced work opportunities, financial stress, emotional and relationship difficulties – chronic pain therefore affects the whole person, body and mind and potentially every area of a person’s life.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is becoming more widely used in hospitals  as well as by therapists in their own consulting rooms and our clients are often referred to us by osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists and GPs.

It  can help you learn how to manage the anxiety and stress that often accompanies and worsens chronic pain. You learn   to relax your  mind and focus your thoughts away from the pain through the use of progressive muscle relaxation and guided visualisation; self-hypnosis techniques are also taught so that you can  be confident of being able to manage your pain better outside of the therapy room in your everyday life.    Hypnotherapy isn’t a quick fix and like any new skill it requires practice and some people will need more sessions than others.

The connection between the mind and body has long been recognised as being extremely powerful and our  perception of pain and pain threshold are both  greatly influenced by our thoughts, our emotions, our mindset and self-confidence; a more relaxed and positive mental attitude has only benefits for everyone and is instrumental in post-operative, post-injury and post-illness recovery.

For appointments call 07899 625 156

Yvonne Morgan  MEd,BA (Hons) DHP MRAH HPD Dip-CBT

An orange cannot be an apple!

 

In a world which is seemingly obsessed with positive thinking, positive action and success we can feel like failures as people if we experience sadness, a dead end in our plans or a broken relationship.  People are neither simply successful nor failures.

It is our actions, behaviors and judgements which are central to a success or failure. Those central elements will be influenced by either the presence or absence of luck, opportunity and education and both physical and mental health.

We judge ourselves to be a failure when we compare our life unfavorably to that of our peers; we judge ourselves to be successful when we compare our lives more favorably to that our peers.

Success and failure are merely snapshots of a given moment in time. Neither are permanent and both are fluid – they are what they are just as each of us is what we are, a combination of successes and failures. Comparing ourselves to others is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, a constantly changing illusion.

Accept where you are, enjoy the moment. Remind yourself that hard times don’t last forever and that things change, don’t compare you to others – be you, be unique.

Winning starts with winning words

 

The impact of how we think and what we allow ourselves to focus on has been highlighted during this World Cup as we’ve witnessed some of the giants (Germany, Argentina, Spain and Portugal) knocked out by teams from countries without such a successful World Cup history.

The England sports psychologist, in preparation for a potential shootout situation, has been helping the team to approach it unburdened by the history of previous disappointing England shootouts and with calm nerves.
Even this morning ahead of the England game against Columbia, Gareth Southgate, the team manager has urged them to ‘write their own history’. What can often hold all of us back is the narrative of our past, whereas when we actively and decisively focus on creating a new story we free ourselves to move forward with a new perspective and a new belief in our abilities. The past does not equal the future and only when we truly believe this and when our self-talk mirrors this belief can new feelings and actions flow.

There’s always a way, even when you can’t see it

In my work as a solution focused hypnotherapist one of the things I help clients do is to recognise and believe that there is a way for them to make positive change despite whatever challenge they may face or disappointment they may have experienced. We all want change to be immediate and to take all our problems away instantly yet deep down inside we all know that this is not realistic. Change is rarely a single event but is mostly the result of a process.

The biggest hurdle to change is mindset. A negative perspective will highlight only what has gone wrong in the past and what will go wrong in the future and will lead us to despair, demotivation and at times depression. Our problems can cause both physical and emotional pain; physical pain from illness or injury, emotional pain from relationship breakdown, career uncertainty and financial stress. It’s human nature to want to run away from pain and stress and primitive man found this to be an highly effective strategy in his world where simple survival was an everyday struggle. In modern times our desire to run away from pain and stress can lead us to seek solace in alcohol, drug use, nicotine, food, gambling etc. and yet these types of solace are often addictive but overtime lower our mood even further and also compromise our physical health.
A former client of mine was a professional sportsman who had suffered a bad injury whilst playing. His rehab was frustrating him as he continued to experience physical pain and to lose belief that he would ever regain his previous level of fitness. Not surprisingly his increasing low mood was exacerbated by poor sleep and by him continuing to over-analyse what had gone wrong in the match that led to him being injured. In our first consultation he admitted that he re-played the match over and over in his mind and whilst he realised this was not helping him, he felt unable to stop. His hopes and ambitions for the future had gone as all he could envisage was the loss of his career, source of income, loneliness as well as feeling unqualified to do anything else.

I firstly explained a little bit about what Solution Focused Hypnotherapy was (no swinging pocket watches in my consulting room nor any lengthy analysis of the past!). Drawing on evidence-based research in the field of neuroscience I introduced him to the workings of the brain and how when we allow negative emotional to overwhelm us the resulting ‘amygdala hijack’ would lead us on a roller-coaster of worst case scenarios thereby robbing us of rational thought and the problem solving ability of the pre-frontal cortex. We also touched on the relationship between high levels of stress hormones, inflammation and pain as well as my explaining how his sleep needs to be improved. He seemed intrigued and was able to apply our discussion to his situation – he also said he felt more optimistic than he had for quite a while! Music to my ears!
As I knew he played competitive team sport which had rules I established two initial rules for our sessions, punctuality and no complaining or moaning – this was solution focused therapy after all! And we were retraining his mind to focus on noticing the positives, no matter how small they might appear to be – just like learning a new set-piece for the playing field.

Over the course of our sessions we were able to reduce his stress levels and his sleep quickly improved. He reported feeling brighter in himself as well as being as being able to consider his future more positively. He also said that his rehab was feeling more manageable and even enjoyable and that his pain had reduced dramatically. I’m happy to say that his injury healed and he successfully continued his playing career.

Solution focused hypnotherapy is becoming more widely recognized as beneficial within the sports and medical environment; helping with depression in terminally ill patients, with young patients, rehabilitation of wounded and injured, aiding pain management, needle phobias etc. We are not doctors, nor physios, nor osteopaths. What we are able to do is recognise our client as being an individual who exists as separate to their illness or their injury, we recognise them as being the expert in themselves and whilst we are solution focused we offer them acknowledgement of their struggles as well as helping them recognise and draw on their own inner strengths and resources during their treatment or rehabilitation.
Yvonne Morgan
Clinical Solution Focused Hypnotherapist 07899 625 156

Chasing the cure on the outside

It’s human nature to want to find a ‘cure’ as quickly as possible and due to the advances in science and medicine we naively hope there is a cure for everything but sadly this is not  always the reality.   Not only is there not a cure for everything but there are some conditions for which even the causes are not agreed on, such as tinnitus.

Tinnitus sufferers  often experience a near-constant ringing or buzzing in the ear(s), resulting in extreme frustration which in turn negatively impacts on the quality of many areas of their lives such as relationships, work,         sleep and mental health.

By the time a tinnitus sufferer comes to see a solution focused hypnotherapist they will have tried many things in a desperate attempt to find a cure; referrals to ENT clinics, elimination diets (no salt, no caffeine, no alcohol), losing weight etc.  Understandably with no recognised single cause or solution (exposure to loud noise is often thought to be a contributory factor), lack of sleep, due to the constant ringing,  can often be accompanied by anxiety and  depression together with an increasingly  negative focus towards both the tinnitus and life in general.   Anxiety and depression also contribute to poor sleep and so a negative spiral quickly sets in.

Solution focused hypnotherapy can  help such a client accept that in the absence of any identifiable physical cause, relief and better management of the condition if often achievable  through regular stress bucket emptying.  Whilst stress as a cause of tinnitus is not  universally accepted within the medical profession, high levels of stress make tinnitus seem worse and more difficult to deal with.

Improved quality of sleep is one of the first benefits of relaxing the mind through regular stress bucket emptying, as it allows for a more rational perspective and calmer response towards life’s challenges.   The use of self-distraction via hobbies such as exercise and seeing friends, can be of particular value to a tinnitus sufferer as enjoyment captures our attention away from pain or frustration.   Regular stress reduction, improved sleep and enjoyable activities also   boost serotonin, a mood regulator, as well as another mood regulator dopamine, which is also associated with motivation.

Acceptance that there is no cure or magic quick fix  is the first step towards a new calmer perspective and an ability to shift focus towards the more pleasurable and positive  aspects of life because as the Buddhists believe, everything on the outside is a reflection of what’s happening on the inside.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy appointments: face-to-face in Bristol and elsewhere via Skype/Zoom/Botim.  Yvonne Morgan 07899 625 156