Ready, Steady, GO!

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They’re all back to school.

That’s it.

The holidays are over and once again everyone’s social feeds are full of children in uniforms just that little bit too big, ready to begin their next year. Full of innocence for what’s to come.

They’re equipped for the year to come and full of promise and expectations.

It’s strange that as grown ups, we don’t have those assessment points anymore, years can blend into each other and before we know it we are pounding that same old treadmill that we did last year and the year before… and the year before that…

I keep an academic diary, one that starts in July for that very reason, I find my year is much better beginning in the autumn rather than the depths of the frozen and wet winter. I do this because, like many parents, this is when I come back from holiday filled with vigour for the months to come. So it is now I set my goals, (fair enough, I ignore quite a few of them), but this is the time I can dream, sitting in the garden with a lovely cuppa.

So perhaps you too could consider the same? While the sun is out, you feel positive (and most importantly), the kids are gone, and you can create in this beautiful peace before 3:30pm where it all begins again.

Lost your spark?

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10 top tips to getting the sparkle back to life.

1) Watch a TED talk first thing; let great speakers inspire you to begin your day.

2) (My least favourite) Do some exercise; drag a friend out for a walk if you dislike it as much as I do, or give Youtube a go, there’s loads of exercise videos on there. Whatever you do, find a way to elevate your heart to elevate your spirits.

3) Consider the worst things that could happen during the day, and at the end of the day notice how many of the worst things didn’t actually happen. Start mentally collecting the results.

4) Give self hypnosis or guided meditation a go, there’s loads of stuff on Youtube. If you haven’t tried Hypnosis or Hypnotherapy, it would be a great start.

5) Do something different, whether that’s (4) or in my case, (2), just give even the tiniest different thing a go.

6) MUSIC! Play those tracks LOUD!

7) DANCE! Remember when the songs sang to you? Feel their joy again, and remember change happens instantly sometimes, this too will pass.

Edwin Starr, Contact is one of my get up and dance favs! (Mind you my boys cringe at my taste!)

8) Give yourself the opportunity to “just do” one or some of those things on your list: Just do 5 minutes on something, whether you do it right or wrong, good or bad, doesn’t matter, just do.

9) Go through your things and chuck some stuff out! Yay! Enjoy the liberating feeling of shedding your old skin, whether its the wardrobe, the kitchen cupboard, the paperwork, Chuck Chuck CHUCK!

10) Talk to the right someone, It does help you know. :)

IF you are constantly giving yourself a hard time, so much so that you have extinguished your own spark, go and find someone that you can work with to find the spark and help to silence that unhelpful critic.

Life is hard enough out there, without it being hard inside your head.

Love is blind and dating should be hard.

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There are so many reasons why I feel passionate about writing this blog.

The first and foremost being ‘Reality living’. In all areas of life we are taught to compromise, to listen to our thoughts, to plan, to be reasonable, to be logical; expecting the results that come from hard work, patience and compromise.

And then there’s LOVE.

There’s meeting someone.

A client sent me a youtube video, that says it all, how we worked in our sessions; what we need our goals to be to work within a realistic format and how we could learn to better understand ourselves and our love choices.

The Youtube also mentions DIsney! Hoorah! Of all the things that has corrupted our relationships, Disney and your fairytales, I hold you largely accountable!

When we hold in our emotional space, the fairy tale, we alter our reality expectations and shift our responsibility- Magical things should happen to us.

-Our expectations increase, we expect the ‘prince’ or ‘princess’ and anything short of that isn’t good enough- and soon enough we start searching for the ideal and casting aside anything that doesn’t meet the fairytale expectation. Becoming more and more hopeless or continuing with the same search with no new caveats, no re-think, just the same formula. Until we do eventually become hopeless and eventually angry that anger either turned in on ourselves or the outside world.

And yes, fairytale things can happen to us if we look for them, but to expect the entire story can only lead to huge disappointment.

In all things, behaviour = outcome, in ALL things.

And yes, there is a slither, a variation on the basic rule, some people CAN live on cake and not get fat, but most of us cannot, we find balance and compromise; cake on Fridays (perhaps).

The point is the ‘slither’ it is Possible we can live the fairytale, is it probable?

So what to do?

In the fairytale:

-We don’t expect ourselves to behave like the prince or the princess.

(in the loving, altruistic sense of the labels)

-We don’t expect to do much work, put in much effort

(things should happen TO us)

-We don’t review and re-address, think that we may need to do some work on ourselves

In reality:

(In almost every other thing we do)

We take responsibility where we can;

We work harder for a promotion

We compromise;

We consider that travel may be shit, but we want to do the job

We know sometimes our friends can be arses, but we love them and it’s worth it in the main

We don’t expect to have our needs met incessantly and people around us to mind read, we learn to self soothe and be understanding

We don’t expect perfection and if we do, we know we have to work and work really hard for it.

https://youtu.be/DCS6t6NUAGQ

Reality bite.

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I was told a story but a friend the other day….

There was a woman who went to her king and pleaded, “My house is too small! I need a bigger house, there just isn’t enough space!”

So he gave her a cow, slightly confused she took her home. This happened three times over, she pleaded, she got given another cow, she took each cow home until there was just no more room in her house. Tired of squeezing past the cows, she returned once again to the King, and this time he gave her a goose, then another goose, until once again, she couldn’t move for the animals. Really angry she went back to the King- he gave her a chicken, and another and another, all for her to take home. She was grateful for his generosity but despaired at his lack of understanding, her house was too small!

At her wits end, she had just had enough! - Enough of squeezing through the tiny gaps milking the cows, storing the milk, then collecting the eggs, clambering in and out of the spaces, carefully so they didn’t break, then there was the cleaning up the poo.! -This was just NOT ON! SHe was going to confront him no matter what!

So she went back to the king and seeing her desperation, he went with her to look at the house and requested his guards removed the all the hens, all the geese, and finally, all the cows. Once all the creatures had been removed, they walked in together and he said, “Better now?”

In a round about way this is how hypnosis and reframing can work, it gives us space without giving us any more space. When we suffer with anxiety it can feel like life is crowding in, that everything is too much. What we need is the space and the time and resolve to collect ourselves, that’s what I love about hypnotherapy; not only does it give us ways to become more resilient, it also gives us a window to let go and take time away, so that when we are ready to face life once more, we feel like all the cows, the geese and the hens are gone.

Being With An Emotionally Unavailable Man: Guest Blog

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Being With An Emotionally Unavailable Man

Imagine your partner is highly intelligent and you know there is a good heart there. He shows his love by holding doors open for you, giving you all the material things he thinks you might ever need. He shows that he cares by making the effort of joining you on your visits to family every so often. He fixes things for you around the house out of love and he tells funny anecdotes during dinner parties. These are some of the ways he shows his devotion.

Now… does this scenario below sound remotely familiar, at least in tone?

Question to my partner: “Do you want to go to the park and feed the ducks?”

Response: “We could go to the park and feed the ducks.”

One might think this is a positive response but really, has the actual question been answered? What if this is most often the type of response you receive? Would you feel you are making your partner happy? Or do you find yourself wondering if your partner is even permitting you to get to know them, to allow you to take a part in making them happy?

So, instead do you liken ‘conversations’ to parallel monologues? Often my partner does this is by keeping all his thought processes inside and a final decision is expressed verbally with virtually no discussion. Moreover, the result can still give no clue as to their personal preferences! It doesn’t just happen with the little things but also more important matters.

Try these other scenarios:

What if you ask your partner why they enjoy a particular sport, which they play several times a week, but they seem unable to express why, they ‘just do’?

Imagine you’ve just taken a week off work to go on holiday and you are looking forward finally to spend some quality time with your other half. You are both on the plane when your parter tells you that he will go play squash every other day during the vacation, several hours at a time with friends, and when he says this he has absolutely no idea he has just hurt you and doesn’t understand why you are upset.

Now imagine trying to discuss your future together, anything which would involve expressing how you feel. In particular you are particularly concerned about trying to determine how your partner feels on topics that are important to you, in order to work things through and reach an agreement or happy compromise. What if, almost always, your partner takes most of what you say as personal criticism and turns into a ball of agitated anxiety, starts fidgeting, edges towards the door and exits, ending the discussion before it had even got going?

The result is the feeling that you’ve never had a deep conversation with your other half. All these basic important matters feel forever unresolved and you cannot recall a time when a plan has ever been mutually agreed (without a painful, annoying bust up).

Whenever it is obvious you are upset and angry with these unsatisfactory exchanges his response in order to make you happy again is to take you out for dinner because he does not know what else to do. He does not know what to say. He keeps his mouth shut for fear of upsetting you further, and you are flabbergasted that he just doesn’t engage in a proper conversation or say the most obvious things that would help. 

You try to explain everything from your point of view in simple honest terms in every which way possible. Explanations which everyone else you are acquainted with would understand. Instead his response betrays the fact he still does not get where you are coming from or what you are getting at and you are left wondering does he even know me?

You may at some point tell him to leave you alone, though you stand there in the hope he will see that you just want a hug but he misses the cue completely, leaves you alone as requested and of course does not understand why you are upset thereafter.

Despite all this, you know he is trying his best.

It can take literally years to identity these patterns of behaviour and oddities. If you can relate, perhaps like me you have wondered if your partner is on the autistic spectrum. That might be true to some extent. What is less well known but definitely worth considering is a personality construct or trait, which comes with varying degrees of severity, called Alexithymia, the Greek for ‘no words for emotions’. A person with the condition is called an Alexithymic or Alexithymiac and will experience difficulty identifying and describing emotions in the self and in others. Despite experts saying it affects about 1 in 10 people, there is remarkably little information available about the trait.

However, besides Wikipedia, a particularly good detailed description of Alexithymia posted by an alexithymic can be found on You Tube:

What is Alexithymia? Do I Have Feelings? by Runaway Germ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN5bagmADe4

I believe Alexithymia impacts me, through my partner, by presenting as insensitivity, his inability to ‘see’ me and an inability to understand how I feel. This can translate to a near total lack of emotional support.

It all sounds rather gloomy but one must remember that Alexithymia does not mean not having emotions, just difficulty deciphering them or ‘connecting the dots’ and therefore it is much harder knowing what to do (including how not to upset other people).

When trying to have difficult conversations, what I have found surprisingly useful is to use ‘I’ statements rather than ‘you’ ones. Also helpful is the use of positive reinforcement.

Lastly, how can I personally tell that my partner loves me? I see it in the way he looks at me; in our joint photos it’s a look often captured on camera! I acknowledge his efforts and limitations. I take note and appreciate the things he does for me and no-one else.

The Closer.

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I’ve been compelled To write something for a long time, but, you know, busy lives n all…
My name is Tracey and (Cough), I’m a hypnotherapist


For me, saying I’m a hypnotherapist makes me squirm a little, because either people think I’m a bit spooky or they think, Oooo! Can you cure phobias?! (They obviously don’t ask about weight loss as I like to carry my cake around on my body).

Hypnotherapy is somewhat misunderstood, as something that happens to you, a magic pill and therefore cannot be trusted. Sometimes it can be a magic pill for people but like any plaster over an untreated wound, if the wound isn’t treated it just takes longer to heal.

Work gets done by us, the wound treated, by you.

I suppose before I begin my ‘rant’ firstly I’d like to caveat, that I think counselling and psychotherapy and all the listening arts are fantastic for the right people at the right time, my difficulty is with years of ongoing therapy where the relationship lacks comfort and support but each week an hour is spent, pulling up all the things that could have been done better. I’m not one for spending time reinforcing the many ways I fail.

In the same way that baths are fantastic; there is something lovely about a bath, when you have time for a bath and when you’re in the mood for a bath, and the bath can be so much more than just washing, it is a whole experience. The only thing with Bathing, is more often than not you never feel quite clean, swilling around in your dirty water and if its too hot you come out all sweaty and pulpy and sometimes the water can get too cold and you never quite warm up the water enough, or come out feeling a bit more chilled than when you started. That said, sometimes you have THE perfect bath, making it totally worth it.

The thing with Hypnotherapy (and I liken this to all my clients) is that it’s like a damn fine power - shower; it does the job its intended to do, especially if you don’t have time on your side, you want results; quick and simple. You jump in and out of the shower, sometimes take your time and enjoy the experience, other times just a quickie. No matter what, you are not hanging out being cosseted by your dirty water, you are washing the dirt away, scrubbing the dirt, if need be, and if you need that extra time and warmth, its new and fresh water that cossets.

Both do clean you but in far different ways.

The reason that I’m writing this blog is that whenever I had counselling in the past or whenever I see clients have had counselling, more often than not the counsellors never ‘close the deal’, rarely finish the project and yes we’re not ever ‘finished’ but we do have chapters in our lives and sometimes those chapters need to be closed with the efficiency of having quick shower. I think we have a belief sometimes, that we have a beginning an end, that we become a finished project. Ticking the box for self actualisation; “Tick” I have reached the top of my peak! -Forgetting the peak is just one of many mountain tops in the range, there is no beginning nor end, just different times with different people, and hopefully a bit of self learning along the way so we don’t keep walking up the same mountain.


My learning may not be great and maybe quite ordinary and usual. When I trained to be a counsellor, I knew I wanted to learn how to help people, probably because I have had so many times in my own life when I was crippled by loneliness or fearful of new things and needing some support away from family and friends. But through finding help, I discovered that I too wanted to help, to be there for people and give them tools for not just survival, victory!

Counselling wasn’t for me, because when I needed help; I wanted answers, solutions, more than understanding, my life was a Rubix cube that I wanted to solve, not by pulling it apart and sticking it back together; by ability, by understanding what to do, but sitting in counselling (for me) felt like some riddle where the therapist knew the answers and I didn’t.

If I had a leak in my sink, I I would call a plumber in and I would ask and expect the plumber to fix it.
I wouldn’t expect the plumber to stand at the bathroom door and watch me trying to fix the leak, saying, “oooo! warmer” “Nearly there” -maybe giving me pointers on what to do. I don’t expect that in any other industry and the same goes for counselling/ psychotherapy. Counsellors have had all this knowledge, training and understanding and they observe their clients fumbling around deconstructing their lives in a desperate attempt to fix their immediate problems.

Yes, there is room for taking things steady and gently, but there is more room for cracking on and fixing the problem.

I am all for autonomy and being self-sufficient as a client, and I believe that as clients we need more from our therapists.

We can choose to take onboard the therapists’ learning, and choose to filter, accept or reject what is suggested, as therapists who have spent years in training, this is the least we owe to our practice: Autonomy through respecting that people know what’s right or wrong for them. When we go to therapy, we already know something is ‘wrong’ and we are ready to change. We need answers, solutions, the “how’ to do it and someone to help us close the deal so we can tackle the whole mountain range.

For me, Hypnotherapy is not just about the magic pill, it’s about finding answers; walking away with the tools to get the job done and knowing exactly how to do it.



A-Mazing!

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Honestly?

There's no real magic in Hypnotherapy, (although it is magical).

Hypnotherapy is the wonderful and effective combination of both psychotherapy and hypnosis, at the right point, the right time.

We are all stuck within our life mazes, all of us, and like any maze, when you're in it, it's hard sometimes to know which way to turn, or which way is the right way to go.

The great thing about hypnotherapy is that you have someone there for you- that can see into your life maze; that can help you with the twists and turns.

We aren't invested in your outcome other than we want what is best for you.

Of course you can talk with family and friends but there will always be an investment in their opinion because they are family or friends; there will always be influence. The great thing about the therapeutic hour (before even discussing Hypnosis), is that you can say whatever you like, worry free. We don't get offended, nor judge- we are just there for you and your well being. To help make things better.

How liberating and cathartic can that be?

THEN... The hypnosis part, once you can see your maze from this new perspective, the hypnosis can get in 'there' and really make some changes, as it engages your subconscious mind and invites it to change, knowing that change is the best thing for you to do. After all, that's why you are here.

Right down deep in our core, we want to survive, and sometimes, somewhere along the line, that message has got lost or misinterpreted. So once the subconscious mind comes on board, well, then, lets face it, in todays' age, anything is possible.

Meditation on survival: Guest Blog

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Sometimes, I have the privilege to work with incredibly bright, articulate and responsive clients to whom creativity heals. It is with honour and gratitude that I have been invited to post this beautiful piece.

 

Meditation on survival

Let my scars stay with me from the small to the ugly and jagged. Although I wear the type that can’t be easily seen or felt, they are still mine to own. I will display them proudly because I know that none were a mortal wound. I am still here. The years will fade and so will they. Yet I will keep them close to me as a memento of lessons learn’t. It will be with life’s battles that I shall have a high head and a full heart. For I know that my victories depend on failure. A new set of scars to display.

 

I am reminded of just how lucky I am, that through pain I too have found what gives me peace, and discovered ways to allow my creativity to heal through the work I do.... When I say work, I mean the joy of being able to do what I love.

Narcissism.  The truth about cats and dogs.

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How the heck does it all work?

At the moment “Narcissists” / “Narcissism” seems to be rather in fashion, thanks probably due to our visual networking era, and no doubt Trump has championed one of the viler ends of the scale, bringing the sheer disbelief that can be attached to Narcissistic behaviour to the fore- and yes, at the Psychotic end of the scale Narcissists and their acts are really unbelievable.

Of course, there is a scale; from the out and out Psychopaths to the, put bluntly,  f@*king selfish.

And of course there is the ‘nature’ aspect of our history to consider, when back in ye olde days, hunters had to have focus and single mindedness to hunt prey, and others needed the unity, sharing and supporting each other skills for survival, really important for those who weren’t the hunters of the communities.

 

So lets think about it in terms of the careless cat and doting dog.

 

The BASIC measures of what makes a Narcissist a Narcissist are;

They lack empathy, which inhibits their capacity to love and care, in addition, 

They are the centre of their own universe, 

They deep down believe they are more special, the chosen ones, 

All those traits together mean they have a drive, an aim; to be adored and desired and get as much attention as they can….. Any attention. So they are constantly prowling for the best attention givers that suit their individual needs that they can find.

 

This creates a magnetic, almost magical draw for Empaths, people pleasers, and those of us who don't feel 'good enough'- as the Narcissist always wants to be pleased and people pleasers always want to please, and the, not good enoughs will always keep trying… An all this works until one of them gets tired, exhausted by trying or by keeping the mask up.

Because a Narcissist feels little to no empathy, love to them is foreign, love to us, (those of us with empathy) is endless, bigger than the universe, unquantifiable, abundant…. All those glorious terms that come with love. 

But to the Narcissist what they believe to be ‘love’ is limited… Because without empathy, love is, well, different.

Love to a Narcissist is solid and objectified, it has a limit, it is attention based, so the common label for what Narcissists feel as ‘love’ is, ‘supply’- ‘What can you give ME?’

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A cat will leave you if you don’t give to it what it wants, a cat will find prey just to play, hungry or not.

To gain their supply, (love)  the Narcissist subconsciously (and consciously) tests through expectation; 

The first item on their relationship check list is-

Do you adore them, will you adore them?

and secondly,

Will you be able to supply and cater to their needs? 

If you can't or don’t you’re out, if you can and do, you’re…milked.

OR..... You may be a slow burner and kept in the background until they think you’re ready.

Rarely does a Narcissist go without supply.

What are your warning signs?

How dog are you?

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Have you:

A strong desire to help people, (you may have grown up being rewarded for making your family happy).

More patience than most?

More tolerant than most?

More acceptant than most?

More empathy than most; an Empath?

A career with glamour; be it physical, intellectual or indeed, spiritual?

Glamorous friends and contacts?

Earning potential?

Have a helpful social standing for their needs?

Most importantly

Do you give unconditional love?

Do you put other people’s needs before your own?

Do you believe the good will come if you try harder?

Do you tirelessly really work at things?

If so, you may need:

More protection,

More boundaries,

More strength, 

More of those things that 'regular' people take for granted, You need to create more to protect yourself from Narcissistic influencers.

If you have a snippet of doubt that something feels off, any doubt at all, check your boundaries;

Compare- think about how much you have done for this one person that perhaps you don’t do for other people,

Listen, really listen to what your friends say, because you are more dog, chances are your friends will be really solid.

Consider- have you made more exceptions to accommodate the cat in your life?

If so, then,

Strengthen your boundaries and see if they get pushed, and if they do, make your boundaries firmer, practice the art of ‘NO’ by saying 'yes' and slowly distance yourself as much as you can, and work on YOU. Slowly build up your confidence, your strength, your resolve to get away.

The distance will give you strength, getting to know yourself and your vulnerabilities will make you stronger. Learn to trust your instincts and not your grooming.

It’s hard, but you can do it, little by little. 

Just my small thoughts with love.

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Jingle hells, Jingle hells

It's not you, you know.

It's not you, you know.

This time of year can be hellish, for a gazillion reasons.

If you suffer from anxiety, low self esteem, dodgy self worth, certain phobias, performance dread..... For all sorts of reasons you may feel overwhelmed this month.

Everything becomes MORE, more sound more vision stresses more excitable people, more everything. If you have a sensitive system (and many of us do) this can easily get drained quickly with everything being so temporarily different

-Not forgetting the, I should be happy because it's Christmas, a recipe for even more anxiety, the self questioning, what's wrong with me? Why aren't I more happy?!

What about being single at this hideously romantic time, or knowing you don't have that family squeezed on the sofa, something that you would really want, not just for Christmas, for life? Dreading that, "So what are you doing for Christmas?" question.

Yeah, nothing is wrong with you, it's just THAT time of year.

That's all very well I hear you think, but what can you do ?!

OK so, 5 tips........

1. Get the present buying DONE- One less stress.

If people love or like you then they should love / like the gift, because it's from you. Put in some thought of how you know them and what you think they may like, and remember, you're not a mind reader, you can only do what you can do.

2. Breathe.

Breathe into your tummy- when we're anxious our breathing becomes shallow, so take time to breathe several times into your tummy, you can add a mantra if you like, I find something like, "this hell will be over soon enough and I can go to bed and be happy"- it's not conventional, but it works.

3. Joyful Hell

Fake it 'till you make it- If you can. Pretend to have fun, until the hell is over- you've got to be there anyway. It IS hell, find solace in the fact that humans are designed to adapt, we have the ability to feel many things at once so why not try to feel two things, joy that it's soon over and the hell of the time..... Just don't pretend too much, you don't want people to invite you again next year.

4. REST

Take time in between the Christmas busy to recharge, if you have to make sacrifices- Make them. Better to enjoy a few things than be miserable in everything....Surely?

So do the usual, the regular- eat well, sleep, meditate if you like that, find some quiet space or a fab piece of music. Theres a great app called 'Relax melodies' where you can create your own sounds, if that type of thing works for you.

5. Remember, It's not you, it's your environment. 

Once we know the anxiety is heightened, figure out why, from family members and crowded rooms to crowds in the street and flashing Christmas decorations, it can even be just feeling uncomfortable, once you know it's your environment, you know- IT WILL SOON BE OVER!