- Find a replacement habit (big clue, it doesn’t have to be a ridiculously healthy habit!). When you stop drinking alcohol, there’s a gap. For me, it was a huge, cavernous hole. Eventually you want to get to the point where you can sit with that gap, explore your life and be able to stay with the discomfort of your feelings but in the very early days, it’s useful to replace your drinking habits with another habit. The mistake some people make is thinking that this habit has to be super healthy. ‘I’m no longer going to drink every night at 6.00 – I’m now going to have a detox drink and go to the gym’. If that works for you, fine – but for many people this is too much of a leap, too soon. My replacement habit during my early sober days was mug collecting (exciting, I know!). I figured that I was saving at least £5 a night on wine so I would go to the supermarket and buy a mug. Sometimes I’d treat myself to something else – a scented candle, some flowers or some nice soap – and these little treats made me happier about stopping the wine. Some suggestions include having nice long baths, finding a good yoga class, going to the cinema one evening or getting out and having a coffee. It’s up to you to fid your things and – as long as it’s better for you than drinking booze – go for it. doesn’t matter if it seems silly or pointless (or if you end up with an awful lot of mugs) – use it as a means to replace one behaviour with another and reward yourself into the bargain.
- Be selfish. Sober living is a huge step – one which is going to allow you to live a life you didn’t even know was possible. You need to put yourself first while you make these changes. Being selfish has a whole load of negative connotations but think of it like this – you are looking after yourself and putting your own needs first. What could be wrong with that? You might feel empty and grumpy when you stop drinking. Make sure you look after yourself. You might hurt and offend other people with your decision to stop and they may be people who are close to you. Don’t let yourself be made to feel bad or be manipulated. This is your life. Other people are free to act in the way they want to. If you choose to stop drinking, that’s up to you. It is no one else’s business except yours. You need to stick to your ground and do what’s right for you. If that means avoiding certain social activities for a short while then that’s what you have to do. If it means offending someone, then feel free to offend. This is too important to ignore your own needs.
- Nurture yourself. Whilst your coming to terms with the physical and mental changes which are taking place, you might feel like giving up sober life – because it’s so much easier to keep drinking alcohol. Sleep deprivation is a very common problem for people who have stopped drinking. Although alcohol severely affects the quality of sleep you get, you’ll have been used to sleeping in a certain way for a long time. When you stop drinking, there’s a complete overhaul in your sleeping patterns. Many people find they’re hardly getting any sleep in the early days. If this is you – make sure you rest when you can. If you’re so tired you can’t cope with work, treat it like a sick day and have a day to catch up. Remove those responsibilities which drag you down. Curl up under the duvet with a good movie if you need to. Share with your family and friends what you’re going through. Read inspiring books. Find a tribe which will support you – there are some great Facebook groups out there such as Dry January and Beyond. Find a life coach or counsellor who specialises in working with alcohol addiction – reaching out for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, bravery and commitment.
The first in my A – Z of hypnotherapy-related terms is anchoring – a fantastic NLP technique which I use with most of my clients, most of the time.
Although anchoring is usually thought of as an NLP technique, it’s useful to think of anchoring as a completely natural response and reaction to a range of situations, which we, as hypnotherapists, simply manipulate in a positive manner to help people. So what is a ‘natural’ anchor? An anchor is something which immediately – at an unconscious level – triggers a memory or response in us. Anchors can trigger both positive and negative responses, and any of our five senses can be triggered in a number of ways. Let’s imagine you walk into a room and smell a familiar smell which immediately makes you think of your grandmother. Your response to the smell is immediate – you don’t consciously register what is happening. Without realising it at first, you have smelt your grandmother’s favourite perfume and are transported back to the memories and feelings of being near your grandmother. Or perhaps you are walking past a man and smell his aftershave, and unconsciously find yourself lost in thought about the time you met your husband for the first time in a nightclub. If you are working on a difficult project, which is stressing you out, and an old song which you loved as a teenager suddenly comes on the radio, you may find yourself feeling calmer and happier, lost in the feelings that the music is invoking. When I walk along the beach near my home in Prestwick, on the west coast of Scotland, the sound of the waves often evokes early memories and feelings associated with childhood holidays in Shetland. Perhaps someone says or touches you in a perfectly innocent way, but it immediately anchors you to a negative experience. My brother, who was 9 years older than me, used to tickle me until I was in pain and crying, and sometimes hung me over the bannister as part of the tickling experience. If my sons or partner dare to give me a friendly tickle, I react in a very extreme way because – unconsciously – I am anchored immediately to this earlier experience (having been warned on several occasions, and having received the occasional extreme response from me, they all know not to tickle me now). These are all examples of natural anchors – a stimulus which immediately and suddenly takes you to a particular memory and state of mind.
How do we use anchoring in hypnotherapy?
Although anchors are completely natural, we can manipulate them in a positive way. Instead of just randomly letting an anchor ‘happen’ we can set one up, so that you can choose a trigger which will anchor you to a state of being of your choice. Again, some people have a tendency to do this naturally. For many years – long before I trained as a hypnotherapist – I used some anchors on myself. When I was at the dentist, I would find myself digging my thumb nail into my finger so that I would focus on that instead of the dental work which was taking place around me. I discovered through chance that certain pieces of music helped calm me down considerably whilst driving, and would play these songs when I was approaching a driving experience which I found difficult. If you take a minute or two now to think about it, you might find that you have specific things that you do or say to yourself which help you to stay calm and in control in particular situations. Children may find themselves hugging their favourite teddy, which immediately takes them into a calm and safe state. And sportspeople are famous for having specific tools and techniques which help to ground and anchor them before a performance. Anchors, therefore, are not only natural, but we often have the innate sense to create our own personal anchors.
We can take things a step further when it comes to utilising anchors in hypnotherapy. Firstly, we don’t leave things to chance, or rely on the fact that you will just inherently ‘know’ what is a good anchor for you in a particular situation. If there is a situation which tends to trigger a strong stress response, or which makes you act in a self-destructive manner – say, driving in heavy traffic, or binge eating when you feel low – I start off by asking you how you would prefer to feel in these situations. People would generally like to feel calm, confident and in control of the difficult situation – rather than the situation being in control of them (which it currently is). I then go on to ask my clients if there is a time when they have felt confident and in control of a situation, perhaps a time when they have achieved something good in their life, completed a task or simply felt like they were that ‘best version of themselves’. Even if it was a long time ago, we all have had times when we’ve handled a situation well, or utilised our best qualities, and I spend some time talking with my client to help them remember the right sort of memory. I then help them to use this good memory to ‘anchor’ them to the more positive state of mind they told me they experienced when they passed their driving test/ completed their work ahead of time/ achieved their weight loss goal. I create some kind of a tool to help them access this state whenever they need to. For instance, I will give them a word, or a scent, or a task to do – such as firmly clasping their thumb and finger together – which is, from then on, strongly associated with their good memory and state of mind.
I work with the client, in a state of hypnosis, to strengthen their anchor and to use their strong imaginations to experience how it feels to use their anchor during the situation they usually find difficult. For instance, if you came to me with a phobia of thunder, I would create a strong anchor with you – based on what you told me was a time when you had felt strong, confident and in control – and then, in a state of hypnosis, I would ask you to imagine yourself in a thunder storm, using your anchor. If you had an issue with alcohol, I would ask you to imagine yourself in a situation which usually triggered your drinking – such as feeling bored or lonely during the evening – and I would then ask you to use your anchor, so that the next time you were bored and lonely, you would be immediately transported to that ‘best version’ of yourself.
It’s impossible to overstate how powerful anchoring can be as a means to immediately and effectively access your ‘best you’ – whatever that ‘best you’ is. It seems like such a simple technique. But it’s beauty really lies in its simplicity. Because it is so natural, and so easy to do, it works at a very deep level which bypasses any need to have to think about it. In fact, in some ways, it’s the opposite of thinking. When we are in a state of panic, we’re in our ‘fight or flight’ system, and its impossible to think straight. One of the things to go when we’re in fight or flight is the ability to calmly and rationally think things through. Logic goes straight out of the window. The anchor works in a very different way to trying to think things through by quickly and fundamentally triggering a new, favourable response. Simply by breathing in a scent, or squeezing together your thumb and finger, or saying a special word, you automatically go into your desired state of confidence and being in control. You IMMEDIATELY feel a sense of calmness which means that the fight or flight response subsides, and which allows you back into the land of rational, logical thought.
Anchoring – as well as mentally transporting you into a very helpful frame of mind exactly when you need it – also provides some ‘time out’, which is especially useful for habits and destructive behaviours. I had a client recently who had a nail-biting habit which was causing them a high degree of distress. I helped them to create an anchor, based on a time when they had felt really good about themselves. In a state of hypnosis, I then encouraged them to imagine the types of situations which usually triggered their nail-biting response, which tended to be when they were bored and usually when they were at home after work. I got the client to replace the nail biting with an anchor or rubbing their thumb and forefinger together, which produced a sensation of feeling calm and satisfied and which replaced their old desire to nail bite, and which created a break between the feeling of boredom and the old behaviour of nail biting. A client with an over-eating issue found that her anchor gave her some time out and that she used it to manage the old cravings until they disappeared. When – with the help of the anchor – she felt calmer and more in control, she could make a rational decision about whether she wanted to eat the food, or whether to choose a healthier option, or no food, instead.
If you feel that you have a behaviour which is out of control, or that some situations cause you such stress that you feel unable to deal with them, an anchor may provide a very effective solution. Please get in touch if you would like to make a hypnotherapy appointment at my office in Prestwick, or would like to arrange for a Skype hypnotherapy session.
A Skype hypnotherapy appointment is very similar to a face-to-face appointment. It’s amazing how much technology has advanced over the years. When I trained over ten years ago I remember being astounded when our tutor told us he had a client in Japan who he communicated with by phone. Phone hypnosis?! Never! Although Skype was around, it wasn’t used anywhere near as widely as it is now. My first experiences of Skype weren’t great – as far as I was concerned, anyway. After my youngest child was born, we lived abroad for a few months and my partner’s family started Skyping us. I would generally avoid the shouts of “Can you hear me?!”, and “Can you see me?!” and run off in the other direction. I’d far rather have communicated by phone.
However, all things change and not only am I a huge fan of Skype as a means of providing hypnotherapy sessions for clients who live too far away to visit me at my office in Prestwick, Ayrshire (even if they are missing out on the treat of a lovely coastal town). I’ve also warmed to visual communication on a personal level too, and find Facetime is a great way of keeping in touch with my adult son.
Initial hypnotherapy consultation
One of the most important aspects of a hypnotherapy session is the initial consultation, which can either take place before your session and is free of charge (a free phone or Skype consultation) or which can be added during your initial consultation. The initial hypnotherapy consultation allows you to ask me all the questions you might have about hypnotherapy, including your ability to be hypnotised and how effective hypnosis is for whatever it is you feel you need help with. The initial consultation also allows you to decide whether you feel that I am the right therapist for you, or whether your needs would be better met by someone else – or by a different type of therapy. During your consultation, I will ask you about what it is you would like help with and go into this in some detail, so that I really get a feel for how we might work best together. All clients are unique. One client’s weight loss journey may be very different from another client’s weight loss experience. I never have a one-size-fits-all approach, and make sure we have a thorough consultation. With Skype, the initial consultation takes exactly the same format that it does when I have an in-person consultation. Being able to see each other really enhances the experience.
Once we have discussed things in detail, I will lead you into a state of hypnosis – a state of mind which is day-dreamy and slower than the normal, waking mind and which feels a bit like meditation or being very absorbed in a really good book or daydream. Some hypnotherapists use touch – for instance, lifting and dropping a hand – whilst they guide someone into a state of hypnosis. Personally, I prefer not to use touch in favour of simply using my voice to guide you into a hypnotic state. For that reason, there is very little difference in the way I conduct a Skype session to how I work with my hypnotherapy clients in Prestwick. I simply talk to you in a calm manner, which helps you to focus inwards. There is one great benefit of doing this by Skype, however, which is that – because you are comfortable in your own surroundings – you may find it far easier to relax and focus inwards than you would do in-person. You can have your room set up exactly the way you like it. You’ll know how and where you like to relax, and you can make sure things are exactly right for you. Clients often Skype me from their couch, wrapped in their favourite blanket and with some scented candles lit. Quite often I see a cat or dog somewhere in the screen too – if an animal helps you feel safe and relaxed it’s great to have their company!
Comfort and relaxation during hypnosis
Hypnotherapy is all about becoming relaxed and focused. Sometimes, no matter how much effort the hypnotherapist has put into creating a lovely environment – and most therapists do try very hard to make their offices as comfortable and welcoming as possible – it just helps if you’re in your own place. It means that you don’t have to worry about traffic or bad weather, and you know that the second the session is over you can just lie back and relax very deeply (or even have a snooze if you want!).
Choosing the right hypnotherapist
Another major advantage of Skype hypnosis is that it allows you to choose the right therapist for you without being bound by travel considerations. I specialise in a few areas, including children’s hypnotherapy, menopause hypnotherapy and working with women’s health. Because I have trained hard and achieved considerable experience in these areas, I attract clients from far afield who would be unable to visit me in person. My clients this year have included people as far away as the Czech Republic, Brazil and Canada. We’ve done some absolutely amazing work together and I’m so delighted that I’ve had the opportunity to be able to do hypnotherapy with these people – who I would never have met in real person. If any of them are ever in this country and fancy a hypnotherapy session perhaps we’ll meet up in person one day! Skype hypnosis – also known as Skypenosis – allows me to work with an extensive ex-pat community in a range of countries who find it beneficial to have a therapist whose first language is English.
Establishing rapport during a Skype hypnotherapy session
Before I started to work with clients by Skype, I felt that they – and I – would be missing something. I felt that it would be difficult to establish rapport in the same way that I do with the clients I see in Ayrshire, but that fear simply hasn’t manifested. Rapport is a key element of hypnotherapy, and providing a safe, ethical, respectful and comfortable environment for my clients is one of the most important things I can do. But, despite my worries, I feel that the rapport I have with my Skype clients is every bit as real and deep as the rapport I have with my in-person clients. At the beginning, it felt slightly unusual to be talking to someone by Skype, but that’s simply because I wasn’t used to it. I appreciate that some of my clients are less used to using Skype than I am, and it might feel slightly strange to them for the first few minutes. However, as soon as we start talking – and communicating through facial expressions, smiles, nods, looks of sadness – I see their awkwardness just disappearing. We get into the depth of the session in the same way that I do with all my clients, and I feel that everything which should be there in a good session, is there. It’s that simple. I would be very hard pressed to think of anything negative when it comes to Skype hypnosis – or Skypenosis.
Of course, Skype isn’t the only contender these days for online therapy and I have conducted hypnosis sessions using Facetime and other mediums. With the rapid growth in technology, ways of communicating are simply going to progress at a fast rate and more and more people will turn to online hypnotherapy. All this isn’t to say that in-person hypnotherapy doesn’t have a place. It absolutely does – and sometimes having somewhere to go which is separate from your own environment is a major attraction in choosing a hypnotherapist. However, Skype hypnotherapy offers you the choice. You’re not limited to finding a hypnotherapist in your town, who may lack the training and experience of someone who lives in a different town – or even different country. You can spend some time researching whether this hypnotherapist’s approach and experience are right for you and choose who to see on that basis, rather than simply whether they live close to you.
If you are considering Skype hypnosis but are still not sure, please feel free to get in touch with me. I’m happy to offer a free, half hour consultation by Skype so that you can experience it for yourself and see whether it is an approach which suits you or not. If you’re considering hypnotherapy for menopausal symptoms or women’s health issues, you may find it difficult to find someone with the necessary experience nearby geographically and I would be happy to work with you via Skype. If, like me, your initial experiences weren’t great and involved lots of shouting as to whether you could see and hear each other…don’t let that put you off! Things have really improved. And, to be honest, even if you wouldn’t choose it as your first means of communication on a personal level, the therapeutic relationship – which is so crucial to hypnotherapy – is very different to a personal relationship. I’ve had clients who would still prefer not to talk to their friends and family by Skype, but who find it works brilliantly for them in a therapeutic context.
If you’d like to visit me in Prestwick, South Ayrshire or would like to discuss the possibility of a Skype session, please contact me. And remember, I offer a free, half hour consultation during which you can ask any questions you have and which allows you to see whether I’m the right hypnotherapist for you. This consultation can be by phone – or Skype! It gives you a great opportunity to have a quick taster of Skypenosis before you commit – just remember to get your room nice and comfy first!
Emotional resilience refers to a person’s ability to adapt to stressful situations, and to recover more quickly and fully from stressors. Many factors can reduce a person’s emotional resilience, including childhood neglect and trauma, gender and age. But – even if you feel that you are a person who finds it difficult to handles stressful situations and takes a long time to recover from experiences which your friends or family appear to handle with ease – you can develop emotional resilience. Here are seven ways hypnotherapy can help you to develop emotional resilience.
1) Identify your inner resources
Inside us all – no matter how bruised and battered they might be – we contain inner resources which can help us to be emotionally resilient. If you were neglected, criticised or abused in some way as a child, you might have forgotten that you have strength and knowledge within you. You may have learned early on not to trust in your own judgement, or you may have been taught that your ideas were wrong. One of the first things we will do together is to work to connect with your inner sense of yourself, to provide the time and space for you to quieten the critical voices, and to connect with what your body is telling you. Your body is an incredible storehouse of information and constantly tries hard to communicate with you what’s right and wrong for you – what we sometimes call our gut instincts. We often tend to get caught up in logical thinking and ignore what our bodies are telling us. Hypnosis provides a great way to listen to our bodies which, somewhere, have stored that awareness of our inner resources. By using hypnotherapy, you can learn how to identify these resources once again – and use them in a positive way.
2) Imagine a positive future
Under hypnosis, you can imagine the future you want. Hypnosis provides a powerful way to make this future realistic. The brain finds it difficult to distinguish between what is real and imagined, and you will experience under hypnosis what it feels like to be more resilient. You’ll rehearse certain situations which you usually find difficult, and experience how it feels to tap into your inner self at these times. By using hypnosis in this way, when you next have to face a difficult situation, you will have a powerful experience of how it feels to have strong emotional resilience. In contrast to your future self being an abstract idea, hypnotherapy helps to make that idea real. Once you’ve felt and imagined it under hypnosis, it’s so much easier to pursue that future with yourself in it as a more emotionally resilient version of you.
3) Develop a strategy to pursue that positive future
It’s always useful to have a plan in place so that you know exactly what is required in order for you to be more emotionally resilient. You need a strategy to work towards and a range of practical measures you can take to help build emotional strength. These measures might include identifying the situations which you usually find most challenging, and coming up with solutions – in advance – to help you cope with these situations in the future. It can also include identifying self care measures – such as exercising, developing a support network and pursuing interests and hobbies that help you to feel fulfilled – which will improve your mood and help you build emotional resilience. It may include developing a detailed timetable of helpful activities, and making sure you commit to the time each week to carry out these activities. It may involve identifying long term goals and life changes which you need to help you become more resilient. During our hypnotherapy/ life coaching sessions, I will help you to develop your own personal strategy for emotional resilience and will provide the support to help you stick to your goals.
4) Change perspective
We all tend to become entrenched in our ideas, which is perfectly understandable. If, as a child, you were constantly put down and criticised, you will have learned that your opinion is ‘wrong’ and that you don’t deserve the respect of others. If you were subjected to trauma while you were growing up, you will have learned that the world is a difficult and dangerous place. When faced with stress, your mind and body will react accordingly and you might find it very difficult to cope or to recover from a stressful incident. Your perspective will be framed by these negative experiences, and the way you act will be informed by that perspective. Using a combination of life coaching and hypnosis, I can help you to reframe that perspective – which is unhelpful and limiting – to a more positive perspective. If you can go into a situation with a healthy idea of what may or may not happen, and how you may manage it, you will be far more resilient in the fact of a whole host of stressful and difficult situations.
5) Increase awareness
If you come to see me and feel that your emotional resilience is lower than you would like, it’s possible that you may judge yourself quite harshly. You might feel you are stupid and incapable for not being able to manage certain situations as well as you would like. You may well blame yourself for feeling this way, and feel inadequate. In fact, there is nothing inherently wrong with you. You simply learned – probably a long time ago – that the world is a dangerous place, and that you are powerless to change it. Although this isn’t true at this stage in your life – and there is a huge amount that you can do to empower yourself and become resilient – it might have been true for you as a child, when you lacked a decision making capacity and were disempowered. If you weren’t properly respected and cared for in your early years, you can very easily reach a point where you find it hard to cope with life as an adult. It’s very important to accept that there are reasons for the way you react to things, and these are reasons which were probably out of your control for much of your life. It’s important to let go of self-blame, and to move forwards. Increasing awareness in this way is also not about blaming other people, but accepting that some of their actions perhaps had unintended consequences for you. It’s about identifying how and why your emotional resilience was first lowered, and then taking that knowledge to turn your situation around, to regain any control that you might have given away and to put into places any changes which now become apparent to you. Hypnotherapy can help you increase your awareness and let go of resentment and blame as you move forwards.
6) Have a form of release
It is important that – as you commit to becoming more emotionally resilient – you have a form of emotional release. Sometimes it’s easier to continue to act as we always have, despite the fact that we can see it’s not doing us much good. It’s easier to avoid a social situation which may cause us stress, even though it prevents us from having fun or meeting people who could turn out to be nice. It’s easier not to apply for a new job, because the process will undoubtedly be stressful – although it could result in an improved quality of life. When you commit to becoming more emotionally resilient, you will find yourself confronting situations and digging deep emotionally, and you need to make sure you have some way of releasing the stress and tension which may accompany these experiences. Hypnotherapy and life coaching will help you identify suitable forms of release for yourself, and I will support you in maintaining activities and experiences which help you pursue that emotional release. Self-hypnosis is a wonderful way of providing emotional release, and you will learn some easy and highly effective self-hypnosis techniques as we work together.
7) Provide support
As a hypnotherapist and life coach, one of the most important things I can do to help my clients become more resilient is to provide them with the right kind of support. Ultimately, the goal of any therapist is to work with a client until the point where that client becomes resilient and is able to manage their lives in a fulfilling way without the support of the therapist. The therapist is not like a friend or family member who will be there for the rest of the client’s life. The therapist’s job is to help the client become more independent and sure of themselves, ready to take the tools they have learned in therapy into their lives. Until that point, I will provide you with the ongoing support you need to become more resilient. I’m there to discuss your advances and set-backs, and to encourage you to take risks and try new things out to help strengthen your resilience. Making huge changes is scary – and having the right kind of support along the way will help you to achieve those changes which are necessary to become the emotionally resilient person you wish to be.
I hope you’ve found the above article interesting. Once you’ve developed emotional resilience, it is a skill and a way of looking at the world which you’ve got for the rest of your life. I work extensively in this field, and it’s always a wonderful moment when I see the scales tipping in favour of a client becoming resilient. If you’d like to visit me in my office in Prestwick, Ayrshire or would like a Skype appointment, please get in touch.
If you’re unable to visit me for a hypnotherapy or life coaching session in Prestwick, Ayrshire, you could arrange for a Skype session instead. It might seem odd – but it works beautifully, and many clients prefer the Skype experience. For one, it means you don’t have to brave the cold, wintry weather! It also means that you can benefit from my specialities wherever in the world you are. At the moment, I have clients as far away as the Czech Republic and the USA. One of the major benefits, though, is that you are in your own environment, and can feel totally relaxed and comfortable. In the comfort of your own home, you might find it easier to relax and experience hypnosis. Every client is different, and some people prefer the face-to-face experience, but Skype’s definitely worth a try for a whole new level of relaxation!
Do you ever feel yourself responding to situations in a way which feels disempowered? Do you find your weak points easily triggered during a meeting at work? Or react in a highly sensitive way to comments from your friends or partner, which you later end up regretting? We all have an ‘inner child’ within us (with our other states being adult and parent) – and sometimes this inner child part of us reacts in a way which is, for want of another word, childish. Whilst you may be a woman in your forties with two kids and a demanding job, there’s still a part of you which didn’t receive a sufficient level of love and attention as a child. Perhaps you were criticised by your parents. Or were bullied at school. Or your mum was anxious, which led you to be fearful as a child. Although you’re a responsible adult most of the time now, certain people and situations make you feel like a small, lost, frightened child – which is a very disempowering and scary place to operate from. When I’m working with clients, I help them to connect with their inner child using hypnotherapy. I encourage them to listen to their inner child, and to offer their child help and reassurance – instead of ignoring and locking away their inner child. Just as a real child needs that support – so does your inner child. When you being to connect and help your inner child in this way, you can begin to take back more control as an adult, to set clear, firm, kind boundaries with your inner child and to recognise when you’re in that child state.
To arrange a hypnotherapy appointment with me in Prestwick, or via Skype, please contact me and let’s start working together to heal your inner child.
One of the ways I work with clients, using hypnotherapy, is to work with their ‘shadow self’. The shadow self was a term first used by Carl Jung to describe that part of us which is hidden – both to others and to ourselves – but which is responsible for causing us to act in certain ways. We have a persona which we think of as ‘us’ – but underneath what we know and show of ourselves is another self. This shadow self – may cause us to think and act in certain ways, which might seem very at odds with how we want to think and act. Let’s take someone who really wants to find love and have a fulfilling relationship. But every time they start a new relationship, they find themselves sabotaging it and cheating on their partner. Another person loves their job and wants to progress up the career ladder, but they fail to apply for the jobs they want because, deep down, they feel they aren’t good enough. In both these cases, the shadow self is causing us to act and think in ways which go against what we feel we want. The shadow self isn’t all bad – it can be a fountain of creativity, of deep insight, and can be assertive and aware of what we really need, when we have been raised to act against our better instincts.
What is the point of looking at our shadow self? Isn’t it better just to pretend that it doesn’t exist? The thing is, it does exist – and denying it just means that it’s controlling certain thoughts and actions. Let’s say your shadow self is deeply hurt and upset, because you were neglected as a child. When these thoughts surface, you push them down and present a happy face to the world. But, deep down, you’re still hurt and upset – you just choose to take your feelings out on your partner who reminds you of the mother who didn’t love you. Or let’s say you have resentment and anger because your father left when you were little, and your mum depended heavily on you. Perhaps you turn that resentment and anger inwards, and become depressed and anxious.
If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression or loss of confidence, or are engaged in addictive and self-sabotaging behaviour, exploring your shadow self in a state of deep calm and relaxation, where your creative mind is carefully allowed to explore and accept the shadow can be extremely helpful.
To make an appointment for a shadow self hypnotherapy session via Skype or at my office in Prestwick, please get in touch.
Many of the hypnotherapy clients I see in Prestwick, South Ayrshire ask me how effective hypnotherapy is in helping people to stop smoking. Many studies have shown that it is as, or more, effective than nicotine replacement therapy – and it doesn’t involve repeatedly putting chemicals into your body. I have helped so many people stop smoking with hypnosis, and can safely say that clients have about a 75% success rate – which is fantastic when you think of how many people try to stop, and then fail. What makes these clients stand out is their determination to stop – the first question I will ask you is, “on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being utterly determined, how determined are you to stop smoking?”. If you rate yourself as 5 or under, I’ll suggest that you go and think about things as perhaps you’re not motivated enough. Hypnotherapy can really help you stop smoking – but it needs your motivation! If you can answer between a 7 and 9 on that scale, we can work together. Smoking cessation packages are £110 which includes a 90 minute session, personalised MP3 track and free follow up session if required.
One of the most important things my younger clients learn is that they have a superhero within them. That – no matter what messages they receive from kids at school, critical teachers or parents, or society in general – they can access their inner strength whenever they need to. This works brilliantly for kids who have been disempowered, and who have been labelled as ‘shy’ (which is often used negatively by adults). No matter how ‘shy’ a child is, they can secretly dig deep – and a kid who isn’t outwardly confident often has a deep sense of knowing their inner strengths. Hypnotherapy is a great way to help them identify these strengths, and quickly access them whenever they need to. Fantastic for resilience building at a young age!
What happens when we ‘give up’ alcohol? I imagine that most of us think our lives will suddenly become a lot bleaker, that we’ll have less fun and that we will become boring as hell – the type of person that other people side swerve at a party. When we think of ‘giving up’ something we immediately think that we’re losing out and that whatever alcohol currently gives us – whether it is a false sense of bravado at a party, or a cut off point from the kids in the evening for some ‘me time’ – is going to leave a gaping black hole when we stop drinking. I know I thought this – although I felt tired, had low immunity, sore muscles and anxiety and although I lied through my teeth to the doctor about how much I drank (usually settling on a realistic sounding 10 units a week) – and the fear of having to live with that perceived blank space was what kept me drinking. Most of my clients are the same – they know instinctively that drinking is affecting them in a range of negative ways, but they’re too scared to stop because they’ve become reliant on what they perceive to be all the benefits of consuming alcohol, such as being able to handle social situations, shutting off from the pain in their lives and ‘treating’ themselves. Once you’ve stopped drinking, after the first few days or so when the psychological and physical cravings may be particularly strong, you’ll probably start to notice that you sleep better, than your anxiety levels drop and that you have the time and energy to do things that you may never have done before (or neglected for some time). But what else is there? When you’re not clocking out large chunks of the day with booze, you may be forced to have a better look at your life, which can be scary. It’s important to ask yourself, what else do I want from life? What can fill the blankness? What can I do, or gain, now that I’ve stopped drinking? This can be anything from small treats, like spending your ‘drinking’ money on a massage or a new pair of jeans, to thinking about how you might use that energy to do something fun, or to go even further and think what job opportunities might be available to you now that you’re a calmer, energised and more financially responsible person.