This section is written by Chris Hargan BSc (Hons) Psychology who specialises in and treats the causes and effects of emotional disorders, confidence and addiction based issues with hypnotherapy, NLP and psychotherapy.

www.psychologicalsolutionsforme.com  

The articles all concern the mind and psyche and our behaviour

 

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MEMORY

Oh how many times have you wished that you could remember?………….. Your memory is probably not as bad as you think. Did you know that working memory (sometimes called short term memory) has a duration of just 10 seconds – so the next time you have problems in remembering something don’t be so hard on yourself - the simple fact is that the item simply hasn’t yet reached your long term memory.

Did you know… the biggest cause of poor memory is worry – fear, particularly amongst those of more mature years that ‘you’re losing your marbles’. If you lack confidence in your ability to remember things and worry about your failures, the impression that you get, is those failures are becoming more and more frequent. Often the behavioural spiral that results is downward. After all if you break the behaviour down to its base level - worry is simply fortune telling – looking into the future, but only at what can go wrong. If you’re expecting bad things to happen / that is all you will find. The result can fuel the mind to believe it’s degenerating, driving it to look for more evidence to confirm decline. If that sounds like you, simply concentrate on all of the things that you have remembered and you will find that as your confidence increases so will your memory.

There are lots of ways of improving memory, the best one for you depends upon the way you learn most effectively. Some people learn by doing (experiential learning), some by example – watching other people doing things, others by lectures (theoretical learning) – documented cases or, stories of what individuals, or companies people have achieved. Can you think of any others?

Generally memory is improved by repetition, but how things are repeated and retained is individual. Once you are happy with your ability to memorise things you need to be able to recall them. How many people I wonder when asked how many days there are in the month of say November? Recite 30 days have September…. Our parents and teachers simply taught us mnemonics to help us. Mnemonics are simply hooks that help us to retrieve things from memory…

So how are your memories stored?

There are lots of theories on memory storage. I like to think of the brain as a filing cabinet, filled with a massive amount of information. It is separated into two parts your long term memory (unconscious mind) holds all the information that you really don’t consciously need to access, to help you function, I like to think of it in terms of ‘unthought known’s’, (a Freudian term I believe). After all you don’t need to think about functions such as breathing –you simply do it – if you hadn’t learned that one, you wouldn’t be reading this!, so the process is stored in your unconscious mind along with lots of others, the memories of events in your life, everything you’ve learned in your lifetime and new skills.

Your working memory (conscious mind) holds a more limited amount of information that which you are likely to need to recall quickly, so it’s important to learn to retrieve from your long term memory as we discussed in the previous article. AND there are hundreds of methods of retrieving information. The best method for you depends upon your learning style. There are clues to your preferred learning style in the words that you use and the way that you behave – for example, when you get a piece of flat pack furniture, do you read the instructions? Or, where available would you prefer to watch an instructional video? Some people prefer to just unpack the carton and get stuck in. Other people take a more balanced approach, and read the instructions, watch the video, think about what can go wrong and why… and after considering all of the repercussions, of their actions – they go ahead, but worry about the amount of time it has taken.

Once you have identified your learning style and memory type you simply work with it to improve, your memory, the way that you learn is important, because your success, or not depends upon your approach.

One of my favourite theories of memory storage is a time-line, because it seems fairly straightforward, essentially all of your lifetime memories are stored in a line, starting at birth and stretching way ahead in the invisible distance to the end of your life. Because we are individuals each person has learned through trial and error to code time. How we remember things is individual. Some people can recall their memories using all of their senses and as if they are in the cinema with the events playing back to them, the people involved seeming clear, other people recall without vision, like story telling, other people recall by straightforward dialogue. Some traumatic events may be stored like a photograph, those are called flashbulb memories.

The important principle in the theory is that many individuals whose memories are not stored in a logical fashion suffer from an assortment of issues, for example, why do some people have trouble with spelling? Simply some people don’t have their memories stored in a logical manner. That being the case, they have to re-learn the way a word is spelt each time they write it. - one theory of dyslexia is that the sufferers have memories that just float around in their mind, the memory storage system simply lacks structure….. Just think how reorganising your memory could help.

Other ways of helping us to remember, include hooking onto things we have already committed to memory and the sillier they are, the more likely you are to remember them. If you wanted to remember a shopping list, you could choose an automatic sequence of events like getting up, so item one would be stopping you from sitting on the edge of the bed, item 2 had to be moved from your slippers before you put them on, 3 in the sleeve of your dressing gown, 4 in front of the bedroom door etc. When you want to remember the shopping list, you simply recall the silly scenario of getting up.

When I used to work as an office based contractor – before arriving at the office on the first day of the assignment, I used to ask for a seating plan, so I knew the names of colleagues–if it was a really large office, I’d concentrate on the section in which I would be working, first memorise the names if they were multi-syllable giving each part really silly image then their desk position, and on day one I could walk in and know all of my colleagues’ names. Simple but effective.

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FEARS AND PHOBIAS
Do you, or anyone you know have a phobia? Email over details (via website) and the most unusual one will be treated free - providing you are happy for the treatment to be documented. Client confidentiality will of course be maintained. Lets face it, none of us has gone through life without the odd emotional knock or scrape, but for some people life has dealt some real blows, that have knocked their emotions off balance.

So what is the difference between a fear and a phobia? Fear could be described as apprehension that something awful is going to happen. Acute fear generally disappears when the stimuli is avoided or removed. Some fears are chronic and some are complex and have no specific cause.

A phobia could be described as an unusually intense fear of a certain situation or object. People sometimes suffer from an unusually intense fear in a number of situations.
Both fears and phobias can be monophobic - related to one item or multiphobic - related to a number of items. One interesting thing about fears and phobias is that the trigger may not have happened to the sufferer. It may be a learned response, for example if a parent had an intense fear, they may pass it on to their child, after all small children observe and imitate. All a small child – or an animal needs is reinforcement / reward for the unwanted behaviour and it becomes set, until action is taken to desensitise the person.

Some fears are fairly logical, such as a fear of bees – the sufferer had probably been stung at some time and the reaction unintentionally reinforced, by the person providing comfort. The individual takes steps to avoid the insect, to avoid being stung in future. That’s nice and clear and obvious – except that the act of avoiding the insect the reaction usually attracts the creature, who is simply being nosy…. The sad thing is that people can go through their whole life being afraid of, something without getting the fear treated. Often with hypnotherapy, or neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) fears and phobias are quickly treated, - usually 3 or 4 sessions for a single phobia and the result of the desensitisation can be life changing - liberating.

A fear of water may result in the sufferer never crossing water – so that may be an inability to use a bridge, a boat, or ship, aircraft, learn to swim etc and resolving the fear positively liberating….. just think about the result of a medically based fear. If you’ve ever wondered the word phobia is Greek, that’s the ‘norm’ that most of the names follow, however, new names for phobias are being added all the time and it’s here that inconsistencies creep in because many of the new fears and phobias are being named by the medical profession who work in Latin.

Lets look at some different ways of treating fears and phobias. Do nothing and hope it will go away on its own -. Simple… perhaps, and indeed if you have a mild fear that is not impacting upon your life, that is a real option….. How long have you been suffering from that phobia? Another method of treatment is counselling, although most counsellors are excellent and highly skilled; resolving a phobia by sitting and talking about it is usually a lengthy process, because the client/counsellor partnership are dealing with the effects of the issues rather than resolving the cause. The client may be unable to find the cause of the original trauma because the human mind locks the origins of trauma away in order to protect the sufferer.

Other methods include Emotional Self Management (ESM) developed by two clinical psychologists and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) a shortened and simplified version. These are relatively new therapies, both work on acupressure points. Their developers claim that the layers of emotion surrounding an issue are unlocked, simply by tapping on accupressure points, and talking through a sequence of phrases accepting and forgiving yourself, rotating your eyes, humming tunes and counting. Other methods include faith healing, meditation and a number of associated therapies.

My favoured approach is with a combination of hypnotherapy and Neuro-linguistic Programming.
Hypnotherapy works with the unconscious mind - the part of the brain that contains all of the memories and motivations that makes you as an individual tick and is focussed on rapid results. The hypnotic state is one that you are familiar with it is simply a state of conscious relaxation. A good parallel is that of driving a familiar route arriving at your destination and not recalling the journey. When hypnotised your brain is in a state of active awareness and will only absorb suggestions that you agree with. You are aware of your surroundings, your companions and everything that is said to you.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is the practice of understanding how people organise their thinking, feelings, language and behaviour in order to feel, think and learn, the way that they do.
• Neuro (neurological) - The way that individuals process data that is received through all of their senses.
• Linguistic - The meaning that we assign to each piece of data we receive. All of the sensations we experience sound, taste, smell, touch; the feelings we associate are individual, complex and varied, and form our conscious awareness.
• Programming - The behavioural response resulting from the data received and meanings derived from them.
All of my clients have appreciated the use of anchors, simply anchoring a feeling, it could be calmness, and/or confidence for someone suffering panic attacks, a feeling of being full and comfortable for a dieter, etc.

In response to my request for unusual phobias I’m going to talk you through the treatment of a ‘client’ ‘C’ for short. ‘C’ is a healthy, outgoing normal young(ish) adult, in her late 20’s. I explained to her that most phobias take 3-4 sessions, depending upon the complexity of the phobia.
The first session (always gratis) was spent taking a thorough case history and building a rapport with the client. I like to provide a calm anchor early in the session with phobia clients because I know that they will need it when discussing the phobia, it also instils confidence in my ability to help them. So I ask them to go back into their memory and recall a time when they felt really calm and relaxed. When they have recalled the memory I ask them to tell me about it, using all their senses as if it were happening now I ask questions so I can help them bring back the feelings as strongly as if they were experiencing the memory here and now, and once it is maximised I press a finger to anchor the feeling into that finger, if they want to recall the feeling all they have to do is to press the anchor.

The case history was as follows and it was agreed to share the details of treatment in lieu of payment whilst I agreed to protect anonymity – the client also agreed to the content of the article:

‘C’ has had this fear for as long as she can remember it has worsened with age. Now at nearly 30 she is unable to touch a toilet cistern, other than to flush it.
‘C’ is able to use the loo if it has a low level cistern - close coupled is best and she dreads those with a flush pipe. The lid must be firmly in place – if ajar she’s unnerved, if the lid is off – unable to enter the room. High level cisterns are out and although white cisterns present less of a problem she’s still unable to use the loo. In desperation she’s been known to take her partner in with her!

An overflowing cistern (high or low) causes panic as does touching any of the pipework to or from the cistern. The worst combination would be a big black cistern hung high on the wall ‘with an overflow pipe stuck out the front like a nose’. ‘If it were overflowing into the pan you wouldn't see me for dust’.
The second session was spent regressing the patient back to the cause of the phobia, I like to do this through hypnosis, so they have an induction, are taken into a safe place in their mind, where they are returned if they have a panic episode during hypnosis, their calm anchor is reinforced, and I like to briefly scan through the Client’s lifetime a year at a time for the origins of the phobia, I simply count down from their present age to 0 and back up again asking them to raise a finger for any year that they have a memory that caused this problem – I like to be thorough and to ensure that multiple causes for the phobia are not missed. It’s frustrating for me (and distressing for the client) to discover that the issue was not quite resolved. ‘C’ took me back to the age of five. I thanked the client’s subconscious mind under hypnosis for helping me and I terminated the trance. I had a chat with her afterward and assured her that at the next session we would work together to resolve the cause of the fear so that it does not trouble them in the future.

Session 3 – I induced ‘C’ into hypnosis revisited her safe place, reinforced her calm anchor and asked her to go back in her memory to a time when they were five just before the upsetting incident happened. I always stress that they are watching their younger self on a video screen, as I’ve found that it minimises the client’s distress. It turned out that she was in reception class with the teacher and all of her peers, they had all spent quite some time hunting for the class hamster who had escaped. ‘C’ needed to visit the loo so off she skipped. I asked her to describe the loo – it had a high black cistern with an overflow pipe protruding ‘like a big nose’ and it had a long chain. I asked what happened next. When the toilet was flushed she found the hamster he had apparently drowned in the cistern and was flushed into the toilet pan. Her screams alerted teacher and the rest of the class. All of the class was upset apart from one boy who thought it was funny. The teacher comforted the children. There the scene ended. At the point in the video where she flushed the loo ‘C’ became a little distressed so I pressed her calm anchor. When she was calm again and ready to continue. I asked the child ‘C’ if she needed reassurance? She clearly did so I suggested to ‘C’ that the adult ‘C’ knew exactly what was needed to comfort her younger self. When she was ready we rewound the video and replayed it, with each time the video is played it gets faster as the effect it has lessens, this sequence was repeated 4 times until it was really fast. When she appeared ready I asked her to rewind the video and this time to step into the video as if she was there, but as an adult. This time nothing happened no anxiety, fear, butterflies, just a feeling of regret surrounding the whole incident. The next step was to go forward and picture herself – going to a toilet with a high cistern and to see what she feels. The effect was nothing. I thanked her subconscious mind for helping her to resolve the issue and brought her out of hypnosis. We chatted for a short while afterwards and I suggested that she may like to visit the loo? I’d moved the cistern cover slightly so it was on the skew…. She returned chuckling having readjusted it!
Comment from ‘C’ “I had no idea what caused the phobia, but am just so grateful for your help in resolving it. So quickly and painlessly too!

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HYPNOTHERAPY
Hypnotherapy - is a therapy which is focused on rapid results and it can be used to treat a variety of conditions. Some of the common uses are, breaking unwanted habits, such as smoking, overeating, or nail biting. It can also be used to treat fears and phobias, help control emotional issues such as anger and depression and increase personal effectiveness, self esteem and confidence.

How does hypnotherapy work?
The human mind works on two levels the conscious and the sub-conscious. The sub-conscious level which is also sometimes called the long term memory contains all the “unthought knowns” – how to breathe, eat, drink, talk, walk etc, etc and the memories of your life so far, all those things that you do automatically but really don’t need to think about to function on a day to day level. It basically stops the brain from becoming too clogged up with data to function effectively.
The conscious mind is sometimes called your working memory, it has a limited capacity – roughly ten seconds and it contains thoughts and the rationale to undertake tasks.
Normally people function perfectly well and are happy and balanced but sometimes in their past they have a trauma which is unresolved. The subconscious mind locks the memory away to protect but an emotional response to a stimulus is experienced,
A hypnotherapist simply accesses your sub-conscious mind through hypnosis, finds out what the issue is and what needs to be done to resolve it. Once the issue is resolved the emotion attached dissipates and it is permanently resolved. Christine will if desired guide your subconscious mind to explore causes of unwanted behaviour and to unlock the emotion attached. This very often causes a ripple effect where other issues simply seem to dissolve. You will become aware of the unconscious motives and reasons for the behaviour, which in turn will provide you with the framework to resolve issues in your subconscious mind and therefore allow you to choose whether you wish to change your behaviour. Hypnotherapy can also be used to come to terms with events in your past and you can if desired explore events in early parts of your life and even be regressed to a past life or progressed to a future life.

What is hypnosis?
Hypnosis is simply a state of conscious relaxation. A good parallel is that of driving a familiar route arriving at your destination and not recalling the journey. Your full concentration was not needed so you went onto automatic pilot, your brain is in a state of active awareness and will only absorb suggestions that you agree with. You are aware of your surroundings, your companions and everything that is said to you.

Can anyone be hypnotised?
Yes - if they want to be. A hypnotist is simply a facilitator who talks the individual into a trance – a state of active awareness.

What is the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy?
There is a big difference between stage hypnosis and hypnotherapy. A stage hypnotist is an entertainer and will choose individuals who wish to participate in entertaining an audience; the subjects are aware and willing to undertake ridiculous activities. A therapist who uses hypnosis is trained to help individuals to resolve emotional issues. Some therapists undertake a diploma, or training course(s) in hypnotherapy and others such as myself have an educational background in psychology are qualified to degree level (BSc Hons) and then undertake career development in additional therapies and are registered and insured.

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STRESS
Why is stress such an issue in our lives? Can modern life really be more stressful than that of our ancestors? I suggest that the answer is no…. Our lives are just very different…. Indeed in many ways life is much easier… we no longer have to hunt for food, or put our lives at risk to gain that piece of meat that we may choose to cook for dinner, or worry whether we will be killed by an animal as we sleep. We no longer have to fear, our families starving, or being separated from us because we can’t feed them. Legislation is in place to ensure that we are no longer cold, or really hungry. However, our brains have not changed to cope with the different demands created by modern life.

So what is stress? Wikipedia describes it as the failure to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats whether actual or imagined, including a state of alarm and adrenaline production – short term resistance as a coping mechanism and exhaustion. Common symptoms include inability to concentrate, irritability, muscle tension, headaches and accelerated heart beat. Its origins date back to the 1930’s when research was undertaken by Hans Seyles on hormonal reactions in laboratory animals when exposed to harmful or worrying stimuli.

Is stress a bad thing? Some stress is quite healthy, it revs up our metabolism causes us to think and helps individuals to optimise their resources…. The medical fraternity have measured brain and body activity during stressful experiences so effects can be explained through hormones, heart activity and psychological function. There is a general agreement across the medical profession that mental stress may increase the risks of both mental and physical ill health.

So how do you know if you’re stressed? Alarm is the first stage when adrenaline is released to bring about the flight or fight syndrome. Resistance is the second stage when the individual tries to cope with the symptoms, to adapt and to become accustomed to them and possibly to deny that the body is stressed. The third stage is exhaustion, in which the symptoms such as sweating, increased heart rate amplify and become exaggerated and serious health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, nerve damage, depression and panic attacks can occur.

There seems to be a general lack of understanding about how the links between stress and ill-health manifest themselves, whether there’s a link between nature and nurture - can stress reactions be learned or inherited? Are the reactions toward stress general throughout the population? I’m sure that that they are not… some people suffer from high blood pressure, others suffer panic attacks, other people over-breathe and suffer from asthma, or other allergies….

The differences between individuals are incredible what sends one person into over-drive, may be a normal functioning level for another – simply individuals need to understand what is normal for them and what happens when they are overloaded or under loaded, It stands to reason that the optimum stress level for individuals is in the medium range neither being under stimulated, or over stimulated. At the optimum level the brain is moderately aroused, the individual’s resources are mobilised and full attention is given to their surroundings. At low levels the individual suffers from boredom, and loss of initiative and loss of capacity for involvement. When over loaded the ability to respond selectively to the impinging signals is impaired. Feelings of excitement and tension develop, followed by a gradual fragmentation of thought processes loss of ability to integrate the messages into a meaningful while, impaired judgement and loss of initiative.

So what can you do to relieve stress? Firstly recognise that you are stressed. Find someone to talk to? If failure to achieve is bugging you, someone else may be able to help, brainstorm to find solutions…. Ask for help. Express your emotions; laugh, cry, shout, scream, enjoy a hug, - do you realise how many people in Western society are never touched? Smile…. A smile is contagious, it will be returned and releases endorphins, be genuinely appreciative, compliment someone, a partner, colleague for something they have done, it will be reciprocated and releases endorphins and helps to calm the nervous system.

  • Accept yourself, be kind - provide small regular treats you deserve to be spoiled occasionally particularly when you’re down.

  • Release the adrenaline through exercise – but be sensible don’t attempt to run a marathon, or swim back to the UK, if it’s inappropriate for your fitness level.

  • SLEEP… Although at times of high stress sleep can be evasive there are lots of ways to help drift off – if you need help ask.

  • Reduce fear, to a balanced level of healthy caution….

  • Look forward positively, and anticipate all the good things in life. Your situation will improve if you want it to…. Unwittingly many people affect what life deals them. If you expect only bad things to happen that is all you will see, it’s not that good things don’t happen to you, you simply don’t appreciate them.

  • Breathe deeply, exhale thoroughly and slowly and relax taking the effort to slow your breathing relaxes and calms you, stops panic attacks and reduces blood pressure.

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SPEECH PROBLEMS
Stuttering or stammering is a remarkable disorder. It’s easy to treat and has been claimed to be impossible to cure. So what causes it? Brain scans have found that adult stutterers appear to have abnormal under activity in their central auditory processing area.What's wrong with adult stutterers' auditory processing is unknown, but one theory is that it is simply caused by fear. What stutterers have in common is frustration, fear and anxiety. In the words of one stutterer below. (courtesy of www.psychforums.com)

"Stuttering is absolute sheer frustration. You know exactly what you want to say, you know how to say it, you can picture every movement of every syllable in your mouth about how to say it.......but, you can’t say it. You get stuck, have a block, or repeat a sound. and when you try to force out that sound it just makes it worse, muscles clench and your face contorts from the sheer physical effort of trying to speak. You are also physically conscious of how you look and how you sound. You have to deal with people putting the wrong words in your mouth, or misunderstanding you, or too impatient to wait long enough for you to speak…. That’s what it’s like all day every day."

You can’t overcome stuttering until you admit that you stutter. That one simple act can help you improve your fluency, because you are no longer fighting it. Severe stutterers are often the least willing to do anything about it, usually due to fear. However, and here’s the good news Stuttering is one of few disabilities that get better over time. Most children outgrow it. Even adults who stutter severely in their 20s usually learn to manage it in their 30s. One probable reason for this is the natural confidence that comes with maturity.

Many former stutterers have had quite high flying careers – so you’re in good company, anyone remember Winston Churchill – he got around his problem by researching political issues weeks in advance and finding responses to any possible objection, or Kim Philby, a spy who claimed that stuttering once saved his life, because it confounded a fast paced interrogator. Men are not the only ones to suffer Marilyn Monroe, who’s famous pout and heavy breathing was a way of slowing down speech, thus dealing with the condition, and Carly Simon got round her issue by singing.

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INSOMNIA
How many times have you gone to bed dog tired and desperate to get to sleep? You lay there and sleep just doesn’t come… The harder you try the less able you are to sleep, and so the cycle continues...

There are many reasons that people have difficulty in sleeping…. Some are medical, others physiological, others psychological…. Most reasons for not sleeping are fairly obvious, such as changes in your life, perhaps, your work has become erratic, maybe you’ve lost your job, or are worried about something, or someone, have you had a change of medication, hormonal changes, diet…. Perhaps there has been a change of temperature, or climate, or partner?

There are almost as many strategies to help you as there are people. Do you have something on your mind? Don’t lay there worrying about it take action. Get up and write it down. A simple brain dump - writing down any thoughts that are buzzing round your head will often help. Once you’ve documented them your mind is free.

If you cant get to sleep within half an hour or so – simply get up and do something non stimulating till you feel tired and then go back to bed. Try to keep your bedroom for sleeping – working in the bedroom often has a detrimental effect on nocturnal activities, due to the subconscious association with work rather than relaxation.. Try to make a habit of getting up early in the morning – you will get tired in the evening! Don’t nap in front of the telly – make a habit of sleeping in bed, not on the sofa and try to keep to a routine. Have you tried sleeping with your head facing North? Why should that make a difference? Apparently it aligns you with the magnetic pull of the planets, bringing you in tune with the earth.

If you have health worries go to see a doctor…. That will at least put your mind at rest and confirm whether you are healthy, if all else fails you may choose to take some medication in the short term. Relaxation - there are lots of relaxation techniques – warm baths, milky drinks, herbal teas, a massage, a cuddle. Taking some gentle exercise an hour, or so before bed if you are able, often helps, too.

In addition there are lots of alternative therapies, self-hypnosis is brilliant and so is anchoring, an experience Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner can anchor feelings onto part of your body – so simply pressing the place on your body where the feeling is anchored can recall a feeling of choice in this case the drifting feeling just before you drop off to sleep.

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MOTIVATION
I think we all have times when we are lacking in motivation, although most therapists will be able to help you to achieve your targets, whatever they are…but the only person that can really help is you. So how well do you know yourself? If you have times when you are really struggling to keep motivated what you really need to think about is why?

I like to take a structural approach to resolving issues as I believe that most of us follow patterns in our lives and if we can recognise the patterns our issues resolve themselves. It always helps if you avoid getting bogged down with detail so an approach I like to take is to brain storm I would take a large piece of paper and on one side note down times and situations when I felt really motivated, and on the other side times and situations when I didn’t. Things to consider are:
  • Personality type - Are you a ‘driven person, or are you happy rambling through life, or perhaps somewhere in between ?’
  • Do you need help to get you fired up?
  • What feeds your desire to achieve?
  • Think about times of the day, what were you doing immediately before....
  • Were you tired?
  • Had you recently eaten?
  • Undertaken exercise?
  • Do you need a deadline to work toward?
  • What really motivated you - create a mind map. Once you have found a structure that works for you, stick to it.

Other things that may help…. There are lots of psychological theories that explain how are needs are met and that helps fire motivation. I’ve summarised probably the best known that make sense of why... some things motivate better than others? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explains basic human needs. There are 5 levels:-
1. The most basic level is survival so it includes breathing, sleeping, eating/drinking excreting, reproduction. If those needs are met you move onto
2. Safety that includes both physical and psychological your own and your family’s body/health, resources/ do you have enough money coming in employment, and property. If needs on the lower two levels are threatened you are likely to feel stressed and threatened.
3. Love and belonging that includes family, friendship and emotional bonds
4. Esteem, the need to feel appreciated, to have confidence in your own abilities, to respect others and to be respected and to achieve. To have targets or ambitions. Its this level that most employers aim for at annual appraisals you wont get your pay rise unless you meet…
5. The highest level is self-actualisation that means having your own standards and living up to them, problem solving appreciating differences, being non judgmental, accepting facts for what they are and people for who they are being creative and appreciating what you’ve achieved.

In my view the lack of motivation means that one (or more) of your level of needs has not been met. The next stage is to meet your need and to move on. We talked about how not having our needs met can lead to poor motivation. To summarise: the five levels of need are:
1. survival
2. physical and psychological safety
3. Love and belonging including friendship and emotional relationships
4. Esteem, feeling respected and appreciated and having confidence in your own abilities to achieve, and have targets or ambitions
5. Self actualisation, this means having your own standards and beliefs and living up to them. If you haven’t got to at least stage three, you are likely to feel stressed and threatened and may become ill.

If you find yourself lacking in motivation there are a number of things you could think about. Are you feeling threatened in terms of security – for example do you have enough money coming in? Is your relationship stable? Do you have health worries? Emotional issues very often cause physical ailments, headaches, depression, inability to concentrate and aches and pains as well as asthma and panic attacks.

The most common areas where people have issues, however is within the area of esteem. If you work, hard but simply never feel appreciated. The answer is simple…… communicate in order to have your needs met, other people around you simply need to understand what your needs are. It is important to ask others to fulfil them, whilst negotiating to ensure that you reciprocate.. It is important to own your own feelings and not blame them on others, if you use the I for example I feel unloved/unsettled because…means that you are taking responsibility for your own feelings and if you use phrases such as ‘you make me feel’, ‘you never’ etc will put the other party on guard because, they may feel that they are being blamed or threatened.

Other ways to rev up your motivation include: internal alignment. When our beliefs, attitudes and values, support each other and other people confirm this we’re usually happy with life and have achievable targets. Whereas if there’s evidence to the opposite generally people become de-motivated and unhappy, because we don’t see the point and although we may try harder in the short term. If we continue trying too hard we set up a negative cycle and become de-motivated.

People have a real need to conform with social norms. When there is conflict between behaviour that is expected by others, and our natural behaviour pattern, the threat of social exclusion often sways us towards our own beliefs even though it may cause significant inner conflict, without noticing and we may make excuses such as:

  • Denial - 'I didn't see that coming.'
  • Excuses - 'It was going to fall anyway.'
  • Admitting mistakes - 'No-one’s perfect.'
  • Persuasion -'I'm good, really, aren't I?'

For example : If you make a promise, you’ll feel guilty if you don’t keep it. Everyone is inconsistent in some areas. If you do feel you have to fit in with other people, think about, potentially more serious, internal conflicts that you will be opening up.

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ANXIETY
Sounds a bit daft, but have you ever stopped to think what anxiety is?...... the assumption is that we all know, but if you check a dictionary, there are lots of definitions… In their dictionary of psychological terms English & English (1958) state 6 separate meanings, one of the most obvious being… that anxiety is a learned and anticipatory response to an event in the future and it has three components – the first is rooted in thought processes, the second in behaviour, and the third in physiology.

Did you know that when you get anxious/ worried about something; your body changes. You become more nervous, anticipating something bad will happen your behaviour changes, fidgety perhaps, or jumpy, your breathing becomes more rapid and shallower, your heart beat races you become a little flushed, ….. your metabolism will speed up a little and you may get a rush of adrenaline – the primitive fight or flight syndrome. Actually when you think about it, a little anxiety is healthy, humans still have some primeval instincts even in this modern computer driven age and consumer society – but what if it becomes a problem?

The simple answer is: do something about it. What can you do? There are lots of self help methods available. Firstly work out what you are anxious about. Is there a certain cause? You could brain dump…. Get a piece of paper and empty your mind…. Write down all the things that make you anxious and see if they have anything in common. Then ask yourself why they make you anxious? Is there a common cause? How do you react to anxiety? Once you have found the cause you can rationalise, are you justified in being anxious?

• If you are - simply reduce the likelihood of being exposed to the trigger.
• If not - you could ask yourself what you need to do to minimise the effects.

The effects usually include:-
Rapid breathing, increased heart beat and knots in the stomach
How do I minimise the effects?
Simply take three deep breaths, each to a count of three and exhale thoroughly, until the lungs are completely empty. The reason breathing deeply is so calming is that over breathing creates excess oxygen in the body, that causes, flushed skin, increased heart beat, and increased adrenaline. Sounds simple…. For some people it is, for many others it really isn’t.

A very sad sign of the times is that a whole set of industries (mine included) have been created to address anxiety. The leisure industry has been created in response to parental fear of their children being abducted, and murdered or molested, to the point that town dwellers are reluctant to let their little ones play outside. For the lucky children that get to play out, they may get skin cancer because of the sun… so rather than being sensible and stay out of the sun, simply taking a siesta, or training them to play in the shade we spend a fortune on products that protect the skin…. (another industry built on fear) so we can stay out in the sun for longer… Grannies in hot countries used olive oil, (that their families produce) from the kitchen cupboard to protect the skin and Aloe Vera from their gardens to sooth burns, grazes and cuts.

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PAIN
Nothing begins, and nothing ends, that is not paid with moan;
For we are born in others' pain and perish in our own.
-- Francis Thompson

How can a therapist help with pain? it’s locked in my body, not my mind. A logical thought perhaps. Although pain is felt in the body it can originate in the mind. I’m not suggesting that I think people suffering from pain are hypochondriacs, simply but much can be done to alleviate pain by using the power of the mind.

First things first – you need to explore.
• Do you know the cause of the pain?
• Has the cause been discussed with a physician?
• What was the opinion?
• Are you following their advice?
• What triggers the pain?
• Do some things exacerbate it?
• Are you taking prescribed medication?
• Does the medication work?
• Is the medication becoming less effective?

Have you looked at alternative ways of managing your pain? There are many techniques that can help. Therefore, as you are an individual, the method that will suit you is also individual. If you need to heal yourself, or have a pain that simply won’t go away, give this a try… it is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming technique with ideas originating from the works of Connie and Steve Andreas.

≈ How do you see the pain, or unhealed ailment – is your cup half full – or have half the contents, or more gone?.
≈ Do you hope the pain will get better? Or,
≈ Do you expect it to get better?
≈ When you think about recovering how do you see yourself? – are you in bed in pain, or using a walking stick, or taking drugs?, or are you simply acting as you did before the pain happened.
  • What about the way you view a past injury, one that has healed automatically, something that will heal no matter what you do maybe its a cut, a burn or a pulled muscle – it could be anything.
  • When you think about the healed injury are there differences in the way you see the pain, and the way it heals?
  • Are there differences between the two?
  • What are the differences?
  • These are your clues toward making the pain go away.
  • So identify what you want to heal.
  • How will you know when it has healed? What will be different about the cause of your pain, or discomfort.
  • Think about something similar to the discomfort that has already healed on its own
  • Think about the thing that has healed as if it were happening now notice what you would see, or feel to know it was healing – for example would there be inflammation that diminishes, would there be bleeding that stops, how do you imagine it?
  • What is different about the way you see the condition that is causing you pain? Notice where you see it - is it in front of you above, or below to the left, or right? Now think about where you see the remembered pain – are you looking in the same place? For example is one on your body, and the other ahead of, or behind you? Is one in colour and the other monotone?
  • Now make your unhealed experience like the healed one, you should be seeing the healed experience in the same way as the unhealed one. If you see the healed experience in front of you, that’s where the unhealed one should be, if you see it on your body, that’s where the other one should be.
  • Notice any differences…. And amend them…. Does your memory of the injury seem as vivid, or compelling as the one you currently have… if not amend them. You are reprogramming your illness or pain into a memory. If it is a memory it will fade automatically with time.
  • The next step is to check to see if there are any advantages to having the pain, or illness - you should ask yourself whether part of you objects to healing automatically. If the answer is no, then your body will now be healing automatically, if the answer is yes you need to be aware of signals. Getting better could for example lose you time, or attention with those you love, it may lose you financial benefits, such as disability allowance. It could simply mean that if you’re ill you can avoid doing things that you feel unable to refuse.
  • The final step is to ask yourself if there’s anything else you need to do to help your body heal itself? …. If there is, then act.

Finally, for many people this method is really successful but please do not stop taking medication until your doctor instructs you to do so.

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WORRY
There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.
Epictetus

Although it’s a common term lets look at the definition of the word. Worry is an unconscious process where a person feels anxious or concerned about either a real, or imagined issue - some people go through their lives worrying about everything, some people don’t seem to worry about anything at all and others may go through periods of their lives where they worry incessantly and then the phase passes and they return to normal ……

I think of worrying as fortune telling, but looking for only negative things to happen. It is a state of mind - if you’re looking for good things to happen that is what you will find – whereas if you’re expecting negative things, you will overlook the positive things – it’s not that nothing good happens, more that you simply don’t see it because you’re focussed, or pre-occupied - looking for the bad.

I’m not saying that all worry is bad – it does serve a purpose, and can be healthy - it stops you from doing dangerous things and can prompt you to take control of a situation that you see as risky. It could serve to save you money, because you will do your research before purchasing an item that you see as important, or, risky and certainly it can promote the production of adrenaline the flight or fight hormone and worriers certainly burn more calories, consequently worriers are often much slimmer than those of us who don’t worry – well that’s my excuse.

There are also different kinds of worry
Future worries - simply worrying about what may, and most probably won’t happen
Present worries – what may go wrong in the present and the suffer often feels helpless
Past worries – worrying about what has happened in the past – to my mind pointless, as you are unable to resolve what has already happened

There are lots of theories regarding why people worry but it is generally accepted that it is a learned response, rather than a genetic predilection. If you look at the close families of people who worry excessively you will usually find that a parent or carer is, or was a worrier.

What are the side effects of too much worry? These are all feelings
• Inability to cope
• Loss of confidence
• Difficulty eating, or sleeping
• Problems with digestion, IBS, diarrhoea
• Feeling sick, butterflies
• Anger
• Lack of concentration
• Difficulty in making decisions
• Headaches
• Emotional stress
• Panic attacks
• Lacking energy – get up and go all got up and gone
• problems with immune system
• Health issues

So what can you do, if you worry too much? … you could:
• Catch yourself in the act - Be aware of when you are worrying and stop yourself… the reward could be half an hour, or an hour a day when you allow yourself to worry.
• Record what you are worrying about, write the details down along with the possibilities, good, bad and indifferent - track the outcome… questions for each worry, such as, could you have handled the event better? was the outcome really worth your time and energy in worrying about it.

Over time you will have collected your own evidence about whether your worries really turn out badly? And if they do, you will have collected enough confidence in your ability to deal with the effects of the ‘disaster’ and therefore you will trust yourself and build your confidence in the future to be confident

• Relax - if you’re unable to relax you could try taking a deep breath to a count of five, and exhaling thoroughly, to a count of ten, repeat this three times- you will be deliberately slowing down your breathing and consequently your blood pressure, your adrenaline will also drop, and the very act of concentrating on something else will stop you from worrying.

• You could try going back into your memory to a time when you were calm and relaxed and reliving the memory as if you were there now…. What time of the year? What was the weather like? do you remember which day? who was there with you? Were there any aromas/smells associated? You really need to surround yourself in the memory – re-live it as if you were there now….

Worry can also be one of the signs of depression, if you, or someone close worries incessantly you/they may need help.

There is a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.
Harold Stephens

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LIFE'S EXCESSES
A moderate addiction may not always be hurtful; but when taken in excess it is nearly always bad for the health. There are lots of ideas and theories on why, some people have issues with excesses and others do not. People who succeed in life have confidence, and those who do not, make tentative attempts, its like they are not really expecting to succeed, so they need to reward, or punish themselves – people who have problems with excess, whether it is food, alcohol, cigarettes, medication, or another substance generally have one thing in common. The substance misused is a quick fix and avoids resolving the issue at the root of their problem.

For the obese - food becomes their focus…. It’s a reward used to make them feel better – the trouble is, they eat to make themselves feel better a quick fix but the result is they become fatter so their body image deteriorates and the lower their self esteem because they (and even worse others) view them as weak – so the problem self-perpetuates…. Ever heard of the term spiralling out of control?

The obese person may join a slimming group and lose lots of weight…. They are gaining motivation from other people through shame and reward – I wonder where they first experienced that? They are ashamed if they have not lost weight at the weekly weigh in, and are rewarded by praise and awards if they have…… but as soon as the target weight is reached and they leave the support (discipline) of the group….. the behaviour returns….. something makes them feel bad, incompetent or whatever the trigger is and the original behaviour returns….. Does this sound familiar?….

This is true for people with dependency on all kinds of things…. The problem could be anything from a long forgotten unresolved child-hood issue, through to something went wrong during the day, but what most of them seem to have in common is that they have been conditioned to self-regulate…. They have been taught to reward themselves and shame has been used as a punishment. ….

The way the mind works is on two levels, that, that you need to know to function –and the things that you know automatically. All of the issues surrounding an excess, or compulsion are locked into automatic behaviour and have a trigger. The trouble is that the sufferer and their families are too close to recognise the spiral of behaviour, because their response is automatic. The key is to recognise what is happening; once that hurdle is crossed, a solution can be found. And often the solution is unexpected.

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I.B.S.
So what is IBS? Like many other conditions it’s simply a label for a condition which includes pain in the abdomen and the label means different things to different people. Like many other conditions it has a collection of symptoms including:
• Change in bowel habits, diarrhoea, constipation, passing bullets, or mucus, or you may change, or alternate between any of these, but when you get an attack it is normally the change in bowel habit that marks the onset of the condition.
• Pain in the abdomen, the pain can be mild, or severe, pains can be griping, crampy or aching, or any combination.
• Flatulence, it can be trapped wind, or enough to fly a kite
• It may come on at a particular time of day, or in women time of the month
• Bloating of the abdomen
• Nausea
• Indigestion
• Uncomfortable fullness

Different people suffer different symptoms and therefore you are unlikely to suffer from all of them. Research has shown that probiotics, otherwise known as friendly bacteria, such as Acidophilus, (the capsules are much cheaper than the yogurt drinks and are vital if you have a dairy intolerance) or yogurts or drinks containing friendly bacteria can help some people, these drinks can also help control thrush or fungal infections because the good bacteria simply neutralises the bad.

Diet is anther factor; particularly if it contains a lot of processed food, simply because many of the modern farming methods include the use of antibiotics, or heat to destroy bacteria in our food so that it remains fresh for longer. One of the side effects of antibiotics, whether taken as a medicine, or as part of the food chain is that they kill off the good bacteria in the stomach causing problems such as constipation.

Food intolerance is another major cause, if you suffer from the symptoms of IBS try keeping a diary so that you can look for patterns, what did you eat and drink before each attack? what were you doing? What was your mood, happy, sad, depressed, lonely, frustrated? Were you angry with, or about anyone, or anything? Once you’ve established a pattern simply eliminate the food, or drink and keep the diary to check the results. Research by the Isr Med Assoc in 2001 by the University of Mexico, on Brain-gut interaction in irritable bowel syndrome, has shown that many people suffering from food intolerance/allergies are also stressed and this is a ‘vicious cycle’ because intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome, leads to more allergic reactions that leads to more inflammation, that leads to more intestinal permeability etc.

There’s a link between the brain and the digestive system because both use the same neuro-receptors, and in fact the intestines are now known to have the highest concentration of nerve cells within the body other than in the brain and one of the common receptors is serotonin a neurotransmitter that also affects mood. Therefore, its quite logical that a disturbance in one, will affect the other. Simply once the stress disappears, so does the IBS. How can alternative therapies help?

When the body gets stressed blood is redirected from the gut to the muscles in order to either run, or to fight and any alteration in the brain function will have a strong reaction on the activity of the gut. Therefore, the digestive system is shut off until the danger passes – this is the point where constipation sets in… when the danger passes the gut the digestive system over compensates and knows it needs to eliminate the waste quickly – diarrhoea. Hypnotherapy helps because it involves deep relaxation a good therapist will find the cause, or causes of the stress and treat them. The therapist will also teach the client how to recognise signs of stress and to treat them as they occur and therefore effectively treat the condition.

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