I’m sitting here on the third consecutive day of rain here in glorious Berwick upon Tweed. According to the weather app on my phone it’s not going to stop any time soon. I haven’t walked the dogs – they’re not keen and neither am I – and the three of us are holed up in the spare bedroom/office.
Days like this have the potential to be dull and depressing. It’s very tempting to just drift around doing nothing in particular while moaning about the weather. It’s easy to waste hours watching YouTube videos or catch-up TV. Not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with these activities, but it’s too easy for them to fill time that I might later wish I’d spent doing something more constructive. I’m guessing no-one’s list of deathbed regrets will ever include “I wish I’d watched more cute cat videos”.
So I’ve told myself I’m going to make the most of a miserable, wet day by indulging in one my favourite activities – making a list.
I like lists. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that I love them. A good list is a thing of great beauty. And I am clearly not alone in my appreciation of the list as an artform. In the 1970s, there was a book published called “The Book of Lists” which was, quite simply, a thick book containing lots of lists. It had an index – a list of lists if you like. It became a bestseller and spawned a sequel, “The Book of Lists 2”.
So today I’m going to make a list of useful things I can do in a spare few minutes/hours/days. Then I can spend the next wet, miserable day editing it, prioritising items, planning how to do them. I can make further lists of all the steps I need to take to achieve each thing on the first list. I can makes lists of information I need, equipment I’ll use, the people who can help me.
Then maybe I’ll make a start.
But lists can also be helpful in building your self-esteem. You can make lists of things you’re grateful for, or things you’re proud of, or of compliments people give you. Try to add at least one thing to each list every day. And when you’re feeling a bit down about yourself, get those lists out and read through them to remind yourself of how good you really are.
The lovely Sarah Baker, who I mentioned in a previous post, recently introduced me to the website www.canva.com. This is a brilliant resource for creating social media posts, fancy documents, e-book covers, you name it. I’ve been using it a lot on my Facebook page and have had a good response to the posts I’ve used it to create.
Last week, I attempted to post the following quote from Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest” on Facebook :-
I used it to illustrate the point that in striving for perfection we deny ourselves happiness. I thought it was rather neat – you may feel differently.
People seemed to like the post. I had a few positive reactions and someone even shared it. So it was with a degree of horror that I looked at it later and noticed that it wasn’t quite right. Instead of the words “by Oscar Wilde” shown in the version above, it actually said “Add subheading”.
I was not happy. My carefully created Facebook post had a mistake in it. I had to correct it. Except I couldn’t. As far as I could see, the only way I could rectify my error was by deleting the post then replacing it with the correct version. Could I do that? Would it confuse people if it disappeared temporarily? Would someone notice a new post from me that looked very similar to a previous one and think I’d lost the plot? Possibly. But I couldn’t leave it there, looking like that. Could I?
I suddenly found myself laughing out loud as the irony struck me. My Facebook post about not trying to be perfect wasn’t perfect. And as such it was, in fact, closer to perfection than I ever imagined. I didn’t need to change it, just to accept it.
Just as we should all accept our own imperfections.
A while ago I created a fun poll on Facebook about rice pudding. Did people prefer it with or without jam? I was very quick to make it clear that I was talking about real homemade rice pudding here, not that awful stuff that comes in tins. I also said, employing a bit of hypnotherapist’s humour, that I could help anyone traumatised by memories of school rice pudding.
I’m pleased to report that sanity prevailed and the vote was 67% in favour of rice pudding without jam. This, in my opinion, is the only way to eat it. And I am right!
One person reported that she’d been served rice pudding with prunes while at school and had never been able to face it since. This is understandable. For the benefit of this poor unfortunate, anyone else who has been put off by previous bad experiences, and those who persist in eating Ambrosia Creamed Rice (especially those who eat it cold, straight from the tin), I offer my recipe for Coconut Rice Pudding.
(A word of warning. This is not health food. If you want to substitute semi-skimmed milk and light coconut milk that is entirely up to you but please don’t then tell me that my recipe doesn’t work. Vegans may be able to use some sort of non-animal milk – I honestly don’t know but would be interested to hear about the results.)
- 2½oz (60g) butter
- 2½oz (60g) caster sugar
- 1 pt (570ml) full fat milk
- 14 fl oz (400ml) tin coconut milk
- Pinch of salt
- 3½oz (100g) pudding rice
- Preheat the oven to 140ºC/275ºF/Gas 1.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat.
- Add the sugar, heating gently.
- Stir in the milk, coconut milk, salt and rice.
- Bring to the boil.
- Transfer to an ovenproof dish, cover, and place in the oven for an hour.
- If it starts to dry out, stir in a bit more milk. Or cream.
- Enjoy. Without jam.
Cooking for family and friends is something that I enjoy. It gives me pleasure, and the positive feedback I get is good for my personal self-esteem. That aside, a good rice pudding is like love in a bowl, the ultimate comfort food when things aren’t quite right in the world.
Younger readers may need to ask a parent (or even a grandparent) to explain the title of this post and why there’s unlikely to be a “Reasons To Be Cheerful Part Two”.
I work with a lot of people who suffer from low self-esteem and the depression that so often results from that. Something I find helpful in alleviating these problems, on a day to day basis, is taking a few minutes to think about the things that make you feel happy, or grateful or proud. They might be simple things like being alive and having a roof over your head. Personal things like the love of your partner, children or dog. Or professional achievements like that Oscar you were awarded at the last ceremony.
I’m not suggesting, by the way, that counting your blessings and thinking positively is some kind of magical cure. But if you do suffer from low moods or feeling you’re not good enough it can help, at least a little bit.
On a good day, just thinking of three or four positive things in your life can help maintain that feeling that life’s actually okay. On a less good day, it might be enough to give you a lift, or at least stop things spiralling out of control. And on a bad day, when you can’t manage to find even one thing to be cheerful about, that’s a really good early warning that maybe you need to get some help.
I was going to end this blog post by making my own list of positive things in my life, but I thought that might make me look a bit smug. So instead, I’m extending an invitation to you, my lovely readers (who make me happy, grateful and proud). Tell me your own reasons to be cheerful, and maybe you can inspire each other.
Well it looks like the snow’s back!
I don’t know what it looks like where you are but as I look out of my window, close to Berwick town centre, there’s a thin white covering but nothing to cause undue concern. However, I suspect things are rather worse in some of the more rural areas of North Northumberland.
And would you credit it, tomorrow I have to drive to Wooler for my other job, a journey that saw me rescued by the snow plough last time I made it.
At times like this, the police and motoring organisations are always quick to advise us against traveling unless it’s essential. This is good advice, but is getting to work an essential journey?
For many people, that question is an economic one. If they don’t report for work they don’t get paid and they have to decide whether they can afford that. For others, myself included, the decision must also be based on the service we provide and the needs of the users of that service.
In my other job I spend a few days a month working as the pharmacist in charge of the only pharmacy in Wooler. If I’m not there, prescriptions can’t be dispensed or handed out, over the counter medicines can’t be sold, and the excellent staff might as well just go home. And if I can’t get there because of snow, anyone needing medication almost certainly can’t get to an alternative pharmacy.
So whatever the weather, I have to do my utmost to get to work. But having done that recently, in the worst driving conditions I have ever experienced, I now feel a great sense of achievement. I tackled a situation that I could easily have decided was just too hard and came through it successfully.
How many times do we tell ourselves that we can’t do something so it’s not worth trying? Maybe the lesson I can take from my journey through the snow is that it’s always worth trying.
I set up my website about nine months ago and at the time I was quite pleased with it. However, it doesn’t hurt to get an outside opinion so I recently had it reviewed by a lady called Sarah Baker. Sarah is a working mum, a therapy business coach and all-round lovely person. Although that’s not what I called her when I first saw her review!
Just kidding – as she herself said, her comments and criticisms were made in a spirit of loving support, and I had to admit she was right about a lot of things.
As a result, you’re likely to see a lot of changes to the site over the next few weeks. It’s going to be much more personal, almost like you and me sitting and having a chat over a coffee. With biscuits. I want you to get a better idea of who I am, what I can help you with, and how much better I can make you feel about yourself.
I’ll try to answer all your questions about what it’s like to work with me. My aim is that by the time you decide to book some sessions you’ll feel like you know me. That way you won’t feel nervous or apprehensive and we’ll already be starting to build up a good relationship.
But if you have any questions you want to ask before you pick up the phone to talk to me, feel free to email me. You can either use the “Contact Me” button on the site or email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can also arrange sessions by email if you’re a bit shy about phoning me.
In the future I’m planning to set up online booking to make things even easier for you but I’m no tech whizz-kid so that might take a while! In the meantime, keep popping back to keep an eye on the changes. And don’t miss my freebie that will be coming soon.
The website is about to get wicked!
It’s all very well me telling you about my qualifications and how wonderful I am. That’s true by the way – I really am. But what you really want to know is how hypnotherapy can help you. And when I’m talking about this, it isn’t necessarily a sales pitch for me – I’m not just pushing my services. I want you to really understand why you might benefit from seeing a hypnotherapist.
Basically, if you feel like you’re stuck in some aspect of your life, hypnotherapy could help you. I like working with people who have problems with confidence or self-esteem, but hypnotherapy can help with much more.
So maybe you’re stuck trying to cope with depression or anxiety, feeling like life’s just too hard. Hypnotherapy can help you to move on and start to enjoy living again.
Perhaps you’re stuck with a bad habit – maybe smoking or drinking too much or biting your nails. If you really want to change that and feel better about yourself, hypnotherapy can help you.
If you’re stuck with chronic pain from fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue syndrome, or maybe from an old injury – hypnotherapy can help you.
And if you’re stuck weighing a couple of stone more than you know you should, sick of yoyo dieting and being told what you can and can’t eat, hypnotherapy can help you find a new way to manage your weight, a way that seems effortless because it works by changing you, not by forcing you to constantly watch what goes in your mouth.
Hypnotherapy can help you to get out of that place where it feels like you’ve been stuck for ever. It can gently move you in the right direction so you can end up where you really want to be.
So if you feel stuck and you want to move on, do yourself a favour. Have a look on the internet for hypnotherapists in your area and give one of them a call. It could make all the difference.
Before you put your trust in a hypnotherapist you need to be confident that the person you’ve chosen is appropriately trained and qualified. So how do you check a hypnotherapist’s qualifications?
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it may appear. In common with the majority of alternative and complementary therapies, there is no official regulation of hypnotherapy. Legally, anyone can set themselves up as a hypnotherapist. All they need to do is take a short online course or read a book. They could even just copy their own experience of therapy.
But that doesn’t mean you have to trust entirely to luck. There is no official register of hypnotherapists, but there are a several voluntary registers. You can read about them here. The membership criteria for these varies, but they all have the general aim of improving training and professional practice among hypnotherapists. They lay down standards for initial training, continuous professional development and supervision. All their members have to abide by these standards.
I am a member of the General Hypnotherapy Register (GHR) and am also registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). This is a voluntary body which the government set up to ensure standards among complementary health practitioners. I believe this offers potential clients the reassurance they need.
However, I know some excellent therapists who don’t feel the need to register with any external body. This does not mean that they are not qualified. The important thing when considering using an unregistered therapist is to look at their qualifications and the training body that issued them. Initial practitioner training in hypnotherapy should always involve a high level of face to face tuition. Qualified hypnotherapists can then learn specialised techniques and approaches by distance learning if necessary. This is particularly easy now that the internet allows students to interact with their tutors and each other. I studied at Motivation Training in the Scottish Highlands but there are many other excellent training providers and you can easily check your potential therapist’s provider online.
I call it the chicken question. It’s nearly always there in new clients’ minds and I’m not the only one who has to deal with it. I have a friend who practises as a hypnotherapist on the South coast. Stage hypnosis shows are very popular in his area. He experiences a lot of resistance to hypnotherapy from people who have seen them. They genuinely believe that a hypnotherapist will make them cluck like a chicken. Or bark like a dog. Or even burst into song in the middle of Waitrose (I told you he lives on the South coast).
A hypnotherapist will not make you do any of these things. A hypnotherapist cannot make you do any of these things. No-one can make you do anything under hypnosis that you don’t want to do. Read that sentence again – it really does bear repeating. And if you haven’t inwardly digested it then read it one more time.
Stage hypnotists have developed the skill to very cleverly identify those audience members who are happy to make an exhibition of themselves. Under the influence of hypnosis they can easily persuade these people to act the fool for the entertainment of others. They go to see the show in the full knowledge that volunteers will go up on stage and do odd things. Then they volunteer – the hypnotist isn’t going to have a lot of difficulty getting them to bark or cluck or quack.
Hypnotherapists, on the other hand, are skilled at using the hypnotic trance state to help our clients to bring about changes that they desire. We help people who are stuck in some way to change their behaviour and move on. By doing this we help people to build confidence, to change unwanted habits or to handle unpleasant feelings. We aim to make people’s lives better. To do anything else would be morally and ethically unacceptable.
So no – I will NOT make you do anything you don’t want to do. I will not make you cluck like a chicken. Even if you ask me to!