The Gratitude Attitude

A while ago I took on a challenge I saw on Facebook.  Every day I had to list three things I was grateful for.  If I did this for 21 days I would rewire my brain for happiness.

It seemed like a bargain.  Very little effort – I mean, how hard could it be?  And a pretty big reward at the end.  What did I have to lose?

It turned out to be harder than I thought.  Not immediately – it was easy at the start.  But when I’d worked my way through being grateful for my husband, my family members, my friends and my dogs it got a bit more difficult.  I didn’t want to keep repeating myself.

Some days wonderful things would happen.  There’d be brilliant sunshine and bright blue skies in the middle of winter.  Complete strangers would say really nice things to me.  I’d have a lovely meal.

Other days I’d really be scraping the bottom of the barrel.  Or so I thought.  I’d resort to things like “I have clean water” or “I can read” or “I’m alive”.

But then, of course, I realised.  Those things I dragged out when I couldn’t find anything else to be grateful for were really important.

Millions of people around the world walk miles to collect dirty disease-ridden water.  In South Sudan only 27% of people are literate.   Even in the UK, an estimated five million adults have a reading age of 11 or below.   And life is the greatest gift any of us has or ever will have.

When I thought I was scraping the bottom of the barrel for things to be grateful for I was actually finding the huge things.  The things that really matter.

From then on it got a lot easier.  A tiny thing like the beautiful green of a leaf reminded me of huge things like the fact I can see.  The world was full of things to be grateful for.

In the end I carried on the challenge for quite a while after the initial 21 days.  I stopped because I didn’t really feel the need any more.  I got it – there was an infinite number of things in my life I could be grateful for – so there was no need to keep listing them.

Did it rewire my brain for happiness?  I don’t know.  Because at the end of the day I’m not even sure what that means.  But it taught me to appreciate my life more.

So maybe more effort than I first thought.  But still a pretty big reward.

How Does It Feel?

A question I ask clients when they come for their first hypnotherapy session is “Have you ever been hypnotised before?”.  If, as is usual, they haven’t, I go on to explore their ideas of what it might feel like.  Because many people have a very inaccurate perception of what hypnosis feels like.

A lot of the blame for this lies with TV and film.  Most of us have seen footage of a stage hypnotist touching someone on the shoulder, only for the “victim” to slump into a deep sleep.  The subject then does something completely out of character.

How is this different from hypnotherapy?

As a hypnotherapist, I could create this rapid, deep sleep effect, but I wouldn’t want to.  It’s neither helpful nor desirable.

The technique I use is much slower and gentler.  I will talk to you, using the combination of my words and your imagination to put you into a deeply relaxed state.  You may be completely aware of every word I say.  You may find it difficult to keep track.  Or you may find my words are simply washing over you.  None of this matters.

The important thing is that your body and mind are totally relaxed, with your consciousness focused in such a way that the rest of the world seems to fade away.  People often liken it to being completely absorbed in a book or a hobby, so their sense of time is distorted and nothing else seems to matter.

In this state your conscious mind is distracted and I can talk directly to your unconscious.  I can communicate with you using symbolism, metaphor and imagery – all things that your unconscious mind finds it easy to understand.  If necessary, I can even ask you questions without your conscious mind censoring the answers.

So therapeutic hypnosis creates a sensation that is very different from the dramatic effects you might see on TV.  And one that is far more helpful.

Touch Not The Cat

Are you scared of cats? A surprising number of people are.

When my brother was a child he was scratched badly by a cat after he pulled its tail. You might think it served him right, and maybe it did. He didn’t suffer any lasting harm and grew up to be quite happy around cats, but my mother was very wary of them for a long time afterwards.

But some people are terrified of cats for no apparent reason.  Deep down they know that cute little ball of fluff rubbing itself against their is legs is harmless.  But it might as well be a hungry tiger – it has the same effect on them.

Fear of cats is known as ailurophobia and it can be very inconvenient.  After all, cats are pretty common.  Maybe you have friends who own them, or a child who longs for a cute kitten as a pet.  However hard you try to avoid them you’re almost certain to come across a cat fairly frequently.  And cats themselves seem to be strangely fascinated by people who are scared of them.

The good news is that – of course – fear of cats can be overcome.

Beat your fear of cats

There are various approaches to this.

Desensitisation involves gradual exposure to the thing that scares you.  So if you have a really severe phobia of cats you might start by looking at pictures.  You would then move on through holding the pictures, watching videos, being at the opposite end of a room from a cat to eventually being able to have one in your lap.  You’d go through this process very slowly, and learn breathing exercises to help control your anxiety.

Restructuring your thoughts involves changing the way you think about cats.  If you make a list of all the negative thoughts you have about cats, you can start to challenge them.  So if your automatic thought is that a cat will scratch you, reminding yourself that millions of people have cats without ever getting scratched can be helpful.  If you keep doing this you will eventually change the way you think and feel about cats.

You can read more about desensitisation and restructuring your thoughts here.   You can try these approaches yourself if your fear of cats is relatively mild, but if you have a full-blown phobia I advise you to get professional help.

Hypnotherapy can be used on its own or combined with the other two methods I’ve described to help you overcome your fear.  The therapist will guide you into a relaxed hypnotic state before gently helping you change the way you feel about cats.  The exact way they do that will vary depending both on you and the way the therapist works.

So if you’re scared of cats – or anything else – there’s help for you out there.  All you have to do is ask for it.

Fear of Therapy

It’s all very well for me to keep telling you how I can help you overcome your fear, but what if you’re scared to come and see me?  You really want help but you don’t know what to expect.
Just reaching out and asking for help can seem like the scariest thing in the world, especially when that involves phoning a stranger.  Believe me – I really do understand how hard that can be.  That’s why I want to make it as easy as possible for you.
First Contact
Maybe you don’t know where to start or what to say. That’s why all you really have to do is tell me you need help and leave the rest to me. I’ll just ask you a few questions to find out what I need. That way you know exactly what to tell me.
And if talking on the phone to someone you’ve never met is just too scary for you then why not contact me by text or email?  You can tell me everything I need to know and even make an appointment without ever having to speak to me.  You’re completely in control.  You get to decide when to contact me, how much to tell me, and even when you’re ready to come and see me.
First Meeting
But eventually we have to meet – and I’m a stranger.  But I won’t be.  If you at my About Me page on this website, and my Facebook page you can find out loads about me.  By the time you make an appointment to see me I’d like to think you feel like you know me.  I might not seem like an old friend but I won’t be a stranger either.  And it might help you to know that I get a little bit nervous the first time I see a new client so you won’t be alone.
But What’s Going to Happen?
Maybe you’re scared of what might happen during a session.  I get that – you’re taking a step into the unknown.  So let me give you a rough idea.
You’ll sit in a comfortable chair and we’ll talk for a bit.  I’ll probably ask you to go over everything you’ve already told me again, just so I can be sure I’ve got it right.  I might ask you a few extra questions but you don’t have to answer anything you’d prefer not to.
Then we’ll start work.  I’ll talk to you very gently and ease you into a lovely relaxed state.  You might have your own ideas of what a hypnotic trance is like but really it’s just like drifting off into a daydream.  While you’re in that state you’re very receptive to the things I say, so I can talk directly to the part of your mind that’s causing your problem.  But I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to, so you won’t be dancing the funky chicken!
At the end of the session you’ll feel relaxed, refreshed and alert – ready to carry on with your day.  We won’t talk too much about what’s just happened because that can interfere with the work.  But I will make sure that you’re feeling okay before you leave.  We can make another appointment there and then, or you can give me call later if you prefer.
How Much Will It Cost?
But maybe it’s not knowing how much it will cost that scares you.  I know what that’s like too – wondering if you can afford something and being too embarrassed to ask.  That’s why I make my prices very clear on my website.  I charge £50 per session and most people need three or four sessions to achieve lasting change.  If I think you need less than that I promise I won’t try to get you to book more.
So there you are.  I hope I’ve managed to explain away some of your fears about working with me.  If there’s anything else – anything at all – that worries you, just get in touch.