Learn To Accept A Compliment

A compliment is a gift, freely given, from one person to another.  With just a few well-chosen words it’s possible to brighten someone else’s day.

So why do so many of us feel the need to bat compliments away, to thoughtlessly reject a kind gesture?  Maybe we feel we don’t deserve a little bit of praise.  Perhaps we’ve been taught that it’s big-headed to be listen to positive comments about ourselves.  Or could it be that we suspect there’s an ulterior motive behind the compliment?

When my nephew was about four years old he had a lovely new coat.  He loved it, looked very smart in it, and attracted the kind of comments cute children in nice clothes tend to get.  You know the sort of thing I mean.  Elderly ladies would come  up to him saying, “Where did you get that lovely coat from?” or similar.  I thought it would be fun to teach him to respond with a self-deprecating laugh and the words, “This old thing – I’ve had it for years.”

And it was fun – at the time.  My nephew enjoyed saying it, the elderly ladies found it hilarious, and I felt that I’d had a tiny influence on the development of the next generation.

My nephew is now an adult, and fortunately has healthy self-esteem.  He has the fashion-sense and personal style of a typical modern 20-something.  Fortunately he also knows how to accept a compliment.

The trouble is, far too many of us haven’t learned this lesson.  Someone tells us how good we look in something we’re wearing and we grimace while tossing a “Had it ages” back at them.  Or we get excellent feedback on something we’ve done and work and just shrug it off with a “It was okay”.

When we do this, not only are we denying ourselves the pleasure of receiving praise, we’re also rejecting another person’s kindness.  When someone hands you a beautifully wrapped package, do you toss it aside with a few muttered words?  So why do that with the gift of a compliment?

Next time someone takes the trouble to say something nice to you, accept it graciously.  Smile, thank them, and see how much better it makes you feel.  And repay their kind gift by letting them feel good about brightening your day.

Did I mention how great you’re looking?


Winning Isn’t Everything

I had the experience of attending a school morning assembly a few months ago. Things have changed since I was at secondary school – there were no hymns, no prayers, no reading and no litany of misdemeanours.
Instead, the head of the PE department gave the students a lesson on the importance of winning at sport.   There was a subtext that winning, even in individual disciplines, is actually a team effort.  However,  the over-riding message seemed to be that winning is all that matters.
Regular readers of my posts will not be surprised to learn that this did not go down well with me. How do we motivate people to try if we tell them that anything other than winning is a failure?
The teacher illustrated his message by asking who came second in a number of major sporting events and making a big deal of the fact that no-one remembered.
I neither know nor care enough about sport to accurately recall any of the examples given, so I’ll use one of my own to point out the flaw in this argument. When Jessica Ennis won the 2012 Olympic Heptathlon gold medal, Lilli Schwarzkopf of Germany took the silver. Did you remember that? Probably not, but does that make Lilli Schwarzkopf a loser?
Not in my book. I’m guessing a large proportion of the population of Germany remembers her achievement. While she herself was probably devastated to miss out on a gold medal, I’m sure she managed to take pride in the silver she did manage to win. And when she shows her silver medal to her grandchildren, I don’t suppose they’ll say, “Only a silver, Oma? You’re such a loser.”
It’s great to win. It’s something to aspire to and to be proud of. I’ll even accept that it’s important.  But it isn’t the only thing that matters.  When we focus on winning above all else we negate the achievements of all but a tiny minority of the population.
That cannot be conducive to healthy self-esteem.

Be Brave

Don’t worry.  When I say be brave I’m not suggesting you climb a mountain, try base jumping or take up free diving.  But doing something you find a little bit frightening can have an amazing effect on your self-esteem.

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “Do one thing each day that scares you”.  Of course that might have been easy for her to say.  She was First Lady of the USA, married to a very popular President.  So I’m not suggesting you have to do a scary thing every day, every week, every month or even every year.  Just now and again.

It doesn’t have to be a huge thing.  Maybe you can just speak up in a meeting at work and make that suggestion you’ve been sitting on for weeks.  Stand up for someone who you feel has been unfairly treated.  Calmly and politely refuse to take abuse from someone who thinks they have the right to insult you.

Be sensible of course.  Don’t risk losing your job or getting into a fight with a knuckle-dragging thug.  Unless you hate your job or like spending time in Accident and Emergency.  But if you can do it safely, just face a bit of fear.

What happens when you’re a little bit brave, when you do something that scares you?  You feel stronger, you feel more powerful, you feel like you’re a better person than you ever thought you were.

It doesn’t matter if things don’t go quite according to plan.  If you stumble over your words or find yourself going red in that meeting, the likelihood is no-one else will care.  So why should you?  If the bully doling out unfair treatment tells you to mind your own business you can still congratulate yourself for trying and remind yourself that you’re the better person.  If someone carries on trying to insult you when you’ve made it clear you’re not taking it, don’t let it bother you.  They’re wasting their breath.

So every now and again, do something that scares you, even if it’s only a little bit.  Maybe you can make a note of it somewhere – what prompted you to do it, how you felt beforehand, how you felt while you were doing it.  And most importantly, how proud you felt afterwards.

Be brave and see your self-esteem grow.


Look For The Carrot Not The Stick

A carrot will always change behaviour more effectively than a stick.

When you’re trying to make a change in your life it’s important to have the right reasons for that change.  Too often we give ourselves a hard time about the way we are.  We believe this will encourage us to become the way we want to be.

But does that really work?   Is it really helpful to beat ourselves with the stick of negative self-criticism?  Or would it be more effective if we were to look for the carrot, find a positive reason to make a change?

If you want to change something, you’ve probably already worked out that there’s something not right.  You really don’t need that nasty inner voice to start telling you exactly where it thinks you’ve been going wrong.  So whatever it is that’s not quite the way you’d like it to be, find a positive reason to change it.

Maybe you’re carrying a few extra pounds.  The negative voice in your head might be saying, “You’re too fat.  You’re ugly.  Nobody wants to be around someone like you.”  You can turn that around to, “I’ll look and feel a lot better without this excess weight.  And if I feel better about myself I’ll be more attractive to other people.”

Perhaps you tend to procrastinate, putting everything off to the last minute.  You don’t need to listen to the voice that says, “You’re so lazy.  You wouldn’t do anything if you didn’t have to.”  Instead, you can tell yourself, “My life will run so much more smoothly if I just get around to dealing with things in plenty of time.”

Or if you think you should be exercising more, don’t call yourself a lazy couch potato.  Instead, think about how much healthier you’ll feel if you get out and get active.

If you suffer from low self-esteem, the last thing you need in your life is a big stick pushing you on.  Look for the carrot instead, and head towards positive reasons for change.

Stop Your Inner Critic

We all have an inner critic.  You know the kind of thing I mean – that voice inside your head that says stuff like, “You’re ugly” or “you’re not good enough” or “this isn’t going to work” or “everyone can see right through you”.

It can be a whisper, a normal speaking voice, or even a shout.  It might sound like someone you know – maybe a domineering relative or a critical boss.  Or it might sound like someone you’ve seen on TV – Alan Sugar maybe, or Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones.  It might even be your own voice.

You hear it when you’re at work, when you’re trying to do something new, maybe when you’re getting ready to go out on a date.  And when you listen it can really get to you, drag you down so you believe it.  Before you know it you’ve decided it’s right, you really are the biggest waste of space the world has ever known.

But you have a choice.  You don’t have to listen to your inner critic.  You can stop it before it gets the chance to do any damage.  The next time you hear it,  imagine you’re shouting the word “STOP”.  See that word in your mind’s eye in big bright red letters.  Imagine your hand going out, palm to the front, like a policeman stopping traffic.

If you prefer, you can imagine shouting something else to your critic – “leave me alone” or  “I’m not listening to you” or  “you’re wrong”.  You can even use something I’m too polite to write here if it works for you.  Imagine yourself whistling a happy tune or locking your inner critic in a cage.  Try anything that reminds you that you’re in control and an imaginary voice can’t really hurt you.

Then think of something positive, the opposite of whatever the critic was saying.  Something like “I’m beautiful” or “I know I’m good enough” or “I’m confident this will work” or “everyone can see just how good I am”.  You might find this difficult at first but keep trying and it will get easier.

If you keep doing this, you’ll find that critical voice will bother you less frequently, it’ll be quieter, and eventually will just give up altogether because it realises that you’re not listening.

And you will start to feel better about yourself.

Build Your Self-Esteem – Introduction

Earlier this year, I posted a series of little videos on my Facebook page giving tips on how to raise your self-esteem.  I’ve also uploaded them to YouTube so you can catch up with any you missed/want to see again. They were so well-received that I thought it might be a good idea to go into the subject a bit more deeply in blog posts.  So starting next week I’m going to publish a post each week exploring one of these tips.  I won’t be repeating what I’ve said in the videos word for word – that wouldn’t be worth your time.  Instead I’ll be giving you a bit more detail about the things I say in the videos.  I might include some real life examples and the I’ll try to word the whole thing a bit more elegantly.

Before we start, I just want to clarify one thing.  I don’t want to come across as some kind of mad-eyed positive-thinking guru.  I’m not suggesting for one minute that everything will be fine if you never allow yourself a negative thought.  Life isn’t like that, and trying to pretend it is will just give you another thing to feel bad about.  Either you’ll notice negative thoughts starting to creep in so you’ll call yourself a failure for not being able to keep them out.  Or possibly even worse, you’ll keep the negative thoughts at bay but things will still go wrong.  So you’ll think you were being negative all along but were too stupid to notice.

What I’m suggesting is that you accept that things will go wrong but that doesn’t mean your whole life’s a disaster.  You will make mistakes but that doesn’t mean you’re rubbish.  You will fail but that doesn’t make you a failure.

So watch this space and together we can work on your self-esteem.  You can learn to stop putting yourself down and start to recognise your own worth.  And then, perhaps, you’ll fly.

How can you help me?

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.

But will you make me cluck like a chicken?

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!