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
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
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.
BACK TO TOP
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
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
• 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
• 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!
BACK TO TOP
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
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.
BACK TO TOP
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
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.
yourself, be kind - provide small regular treats you
deserve to be spoiled occasionally particularly when
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.
at times of high stress sleep can be evasive there
are lots of ways to help drift off – if you need
Reduce fear, to
a balanced level of healthy caution….
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.
exhale thoroughly and slowly and relax taking the
effort to slow your breathing relaxes and calms you,
stops panic attacks and reduces blood pressure.
BACK TO TOP
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
"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.
BACK TO TOP
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.
BACK TO TOP
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
- What feeds your desire to
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
2. physical and psychological safety
3. Love and belonging including friendship and emotional
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
- Denial - 'I didn't see that
- Excuses - 'It was going to
- Admitting mistakes -
- 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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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
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
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.
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
There are many techniques that can help. Therefore, as
you are an individual, the method that will suit you is
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
≈ 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Finally, for many people this
method is really successful but please do not stop
taking medication until your doctor instructs you to do
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There is only one way to
happiness and that is to cease worrying about things
which are beyond the power of our will.
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
• Inability to cope
• Loss of confidence
• Difficulty eating, or sleeping
• Problems with digestion, IBS, diarrhoea
• Feeling sick, butterflies
• Lack of concentration
• Difficulty in making decisions
• 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
There is a great difference between worry and
concern. A worried person sees a problem, and a
concerned person solves a problem.
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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
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
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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
• Flatulence, it can be trapped wind, or enough to fly a
• It may come on at a particular time of day, or in
women time of the month
• Bloating of the abdomen
• 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
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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