Hypnotherapy Associates Suffolk

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March - Imposter Syndrome - or a New Start?

Feb 25, 2020

March - Imposter Syndrome - or a new start?

March, to me, by the end of the month at any rate, is the start of Spring, the true New Year.   Yet by this time in the year, having endured the rigours of Winter, with its high winds, dreary rain and grey skies, we can feel  as if our knees are buckling and we have but little energy.   Sometimes, this can result in low self esteem, as we feel we may not have achieved all we want to over the past few months.

Imposter syndrome can be defined as a

"collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. Imposters suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectualfraudulence that override any feelings of success or exernal proof of their competence.'"(stephen-james.co.uk)

My belief is that imposter syndrome, or longstanding low self esteem, can be unconsciously put in place as a protection against possible disappointment.   If someone constantly operates from a position of pessimism they cannot be disappointed when things go wrong, as this is what they have expected to happen all along. It is worth knowing that the deep unconscious drives, driven by the' lizard ', are only interested in survival, not quality of life. These drives will therefore override any feelings of hope, optimism or confidence in the effort to protect a person, thus, it is the belief of that person enabling him or her to survive.

How protection that the unconscious mind, with the  best of intentions, provides, can lead to a more and more limited series of experiences, which can even result in agrophobia, where someone is afraid to even leave the home - or in extreme cases, their bed.   Of course even staying in bed for lengthy periods as that person could end up with bed sores, which can be dangerous, to health as well as extremely unpleasant.

But, here's the good news, once someone can bring to conscious awareness the fact that simply being alive could be dangerous, they can allow themselves to have a wide set of experiences, first venturing out of their door; then going to the shops perhaps, and eventually, driving to another town, sailing on a boat or taking a train or plane to another country for a lovely holiday.....because as we know that simply being alive is dangerous ( for instance, a meteor could crash through our ceiling at any moment) they cease to worry unnecessarily, knowing that to experience Life is to enjoy it, even when things go wrong, as they frequently do.

I knew of a pair who went out for a Valentine's meal in February and, as they leisurely enjoyed their meal, one realised that the car park had already closed at 10 pm! He took the risk of running from the restaurant to the ca rpark, vaulting over the closed barrier and was thankful to find that cars were still driving out of the ca park, so that he could follow and do likewise.   Of course, it could have resulted in the couple having to take an expensive taxi back to their home, as there were no buses or trains going to this small village - and having to somehow get back to the carpark in the morning. But, for all that, they had had a marvellous evening, and taking this small risk, they were were left simply with a funny memory and a good story to tell their friends!

Alternatively, we may know of, some people who veer to the opposite extreme, taking dangerous and unnecessary risks, resulting in real danger to themselves and others. However, this need not happen if one remembers that, taking things on balance, its always possible to take the middle way, enjoy delightful experiences, without over protection and without taking foolish risks.

I have found on many occasions that the hypnotherapy that I have given people has enable them to bring their irrational fears to conscious awareness, so that they can lead the happier and more fulfilling lives with lighter hearts, enjoying testing our inbuilt powers of courage and resilience.

So let us move into Spring and enjoy the coming month of Marc, the flowers emerge from the hard and sleepy soil to delight us with their fragrance and beauty!

February - the month of Romance - and new starts

Feb 04, 2020

I must admit that I've been hibernating where possible in January, in between dealing with the dental floss of life, with some enjoyable interludes in between. However, now its February, time to clear away the dross of old unwanted habits, junk and detritus!

It can be about taking  the First Step on a series of staircases for, as Martin Luther King famously said:

'You don't need to see the end of the staircase, just take the first step.'

Sometimes this can be a very empowering thing to do, on a series of staircases, for, after all, our lives can ascent many different staircases, appropriate for different parts of our lives. By doing this we can reframe our thoughts and misconceptions, to take a wider, more realistic view of our lives in order to release old unwanted patterns of behaviours and make room for new, helpful ways of thinking and behaving.

Here is a poem I wrote this month to encapsulate just these ideas:


How often have I taken the 1st step up a spiral staircase

Where I cannot see the end of it,

Excited, wondering what will be the view

At the top of the castle?

Sometimes, though, the 1st step on a staircase feels trepidatious

as we take it without even knowing how far

Or into what danger it may take us

Just because we feel we must....

But I'm thinking of the steps we take

As part of our Lives

Our Lives which, to me, are a series of stories,

Each story needing a 1st step of its own

Through childhood, adolescence, career and family, and perhaps the bliss and freedom

Of the later stages of Life, where health permits enjoyment...

When many responsibilities may begin to slip away

Sometimes to be replaced by deepening of interests,

Activities, friends and relationships.

Yes, each story has its own 1st step,

And even each chapter of each story;

Sometimes the 1st step of doing my accounts

Rather than having another cup of tea, 

Reading yet another chapter of a book,

Listening to yet another wonderful piece of music

May seem enticing - but spoiled by the weight of procrastination

Until the absolute necessity of taking that 1st step,

Resisted and avoided for so long,

Has been taken.

...and it is true that we do not know the ending of our journey

Along the staircase of Life

But know that, inexorably, that journey must be taken

For the sake of the sate of the World

For the sake of our souls

Both to b.e healed and saved from destruction

So let us simply take the 1st step

And let the journey take us where it may.

This poem may point the way to possible new starts for some of you - which could include Romance, being the month of February! But whatever new starts you make, remember that its the 1st step on the staircase that can  take you where you choose to go.

Relationships at Christmas - How to Keep Expectations Realistic

Dec 02, 2019

Christmas! A time of good cheer, wonderful food, lovely pressies and family time- a time to cherish.....or is it? Because this is where things can go awry, when we have unrealistic expectations about how our family time at Christmas is expected to be. Is it going to be about buying as expensive and numerous gifts as possible, or about doing the things and behaving in ways that can make this special holiday time truly happy and nurturing to ourselves and those around us?

In December we begin to be deluged with adverts and encouragement to buy, buy, buy! This is the time when shops need to make money, the most important time of the year for them - but does succumbing to this pressure sometimes put unwonted strain on our family relationships? After all, the kind of relationships we have with our nearest and dearest, those closest to us, can be more important than the material things that may simply be symbols of how we feel about each other, rather than being of any intrinsic value.

There is a story from Victorian times about a man who wanted to give his loved one a really meaningful present, but couldn't afford very much; so as the story goes, he pawned the only item of value he owned, a silver watch inherited from his father, and bought her a beautiful hair ornament.. What he didn't realise was, his loved one felt the same about him and being also very short of funds, she decided to cut her long hair off and sell it in order to buy him an expensive present, a special watch chain for his silver watch!
As this story continues, the couple laughed ruefully on receiving their gifts from each other on Christmas Day, when they found out that they had each made a sacrifice to please the one they loved - but also realised that were would have been just as happy they each said to each other that even if they had bought each other something inexpensive, like a pocket handkerchief; it was the love they had for each other and how they showed it in ways which cost no money, that really showed how much they valued each other.

So, it can be the things that are free - like a winter walk together, cooking a meal together, or a kiss and a hug - that can nurture our relationships just as much as expensive gifts - and keep us free from the expectations of doing masses of exhausting preparation and buying expensive things at Christmastime, that can put us into debt.

I therefore wish you a happy and stress free run up to Christmas with your friends, family and those dearest to you - and the ability to keep your relationship expectations realistic, and therefore even more wonderful!
Happy Christmas!

PHOBIAS & PANIC ATTACKS - How Hypnotherapy Can Help

Oct 21, 2019
PHOBIAS & PANIC ATTACKS - How Hypnotherapy Can Help
What are the differences between phobias and panic attacks? The word phobia literally means FEAR. A fear that becomes habitual can cause the person exeriencing it to avoid any trigger that causes that fear. A panic attack can feel like acute fear that is overwhelming and this feelng often causes physical reactions that can feel like severe illness - breathlessness, raised temperature, weakness and even pain. It is amazing how a fearful experience or even thought can trigger emotionaland then physical reactions.
Where hypnotherapy helps is that is enables the person experincing the phobia to view the trigger causing the phobia or panic attack in a more detached way. This is because in hypnosis the body and mind becomes calm and relaxed. In a state of hypnosis, the brainwaves slow down
from beta waves to alpha or even theta waves (i.e.fully alert to relaxed and then dreamlike in the theta state). By being
able to view the original experience causing the fear as if looking at a video or film, the phobic person
can feel protected so that the unwanted and dangerous feeling physical reactions are not triggered.    It is then that their life can expand
and, rather than avoiding activities that they want to be able to enjoy instead of avoiding them. This will only work, however, if the desire to engage with 
previously avoided activities is so strong that they are willing to get the help they need to expand their lives again.
Some phobias can become so severe that the people affected become agrophobic which can mean that their lives become so limited that they cannot
even leave their homes and become isolated from friends and even family. This can become far more dangerous
that the situation originallly feared, the fear of which may in any case be irrational as, for example, fear of flying. Although
any kind of journey could be dangerous - even crossing a road - flying is statistically the safest form of travel.
By avoiding flying, travel becomes much more expensive and inconvenient and some people avoid travel so that they are
unable to visit friends and family easily and to conveniently or enjoy recreational and holiday relaxation.
I personally have been able to successfully help many people overcome phobias of all kinds as, for example,  
heights, driving across bridges or spiders - as well as fear of flying -  so that they are gradually able to enjoy activities involving the situations
that were originally feared calmly and enjoyably. Some of the expereinces feared may be a one of, originating from a particular  situation in childhood or indeed in adulthood and unlikely to occur again. It therefore makes sense for these people to seek hypnotherapy of this phobia or set of panic attacks is limiting their lives so that they can enjoy fully engaging in many delightful experiences.

5 Suggestions for Setting Realistic Expectations for Yourself

Oct 08, 2019

By Margarita Tartakovsky

Everyone has expectations for themselves. We often assume these expectations are reasonable. Yet many of them are anything but.

We expect ourselves to work without any breaks. We expect ourselves to have the same level of—high—energy every day. We expect ourselves to experience the same emotions—calm and contentment. We expect ourselves to be fearless.

We expect that we’ll handle difficult times like a to-do list, said Elizabeth Gillette, LCSW, an attachment-focused therapist in Asheville, N.C., who specializes in working with individuals and couples as their families grow. We’ll be quick and efficient with our sadness—like we’d be with replying to email or cleaning the kitchen.

Or we become parents and still cling to the same expectations around work and productivity—except, as Gillette said, now we “are sleep deprived and in survival mode. Even for people without children, there can be an expectation of doing everything well, 100% of the time.”

Or we set expectations based on the lives of others. We compare ourselves not only to other people, but to many other people. Life transition and recovery therapist Jenn Fieldman, LPCS, worked with a client who hyper-focused on all the incredible things people were posting on Facebook. They were getting more work done. They were having amazing dinners with their spouse. They were working out every morning. They seemed like the “perfect” parents.

But Fieldman’s client wasn’t comparing herself to one person—she was comparing herself to the facets in at least five people’s lives.

We set super high expectations because “we idealize the ‘perfect’ outcome,” Gillette said. We assume that in order to feel successful, we need a specific result, she said. We need to get the promotion, or we’ve failed. We need to get an A+ on the paper, or we’re failures.

This is a hard way to live. It’s a lot of needless pressure. Even if we do reach the carrot, there’s always another bigger carrot around the corner. It never stops. We never stop. And it’s utterly exhausting. The tips that follow can help.

Get clear on your values. For instance, Gillette asks parents the following questions to help them identify their values (which you can adapt to your situation and life): “What do you want to show your child? What memories do you want to pass on to them? What are all the ways we can make that happen, without having to be perfect?”

Such questions help parents clarify where they want to place their intention and focus “to create an outcome that feels acceptable, even if it’s not the most ideal.”

Evaluate your expectations. According to Fieldman, also a marriage celebrant in Asheville, N.C., explore these questions on a regular basis: “What has the past proven to me about this expectation: Has it ever worked out? Has it changed over the years? What is sparking this expectation (fear of not being like others? Not being enough?)? If I wasn’t concerned about what other people thought of me, would I still have this expectation of myself? Do I truly believe this expectation is attainable within my time frame, the hours of my day, and the people who I have in my life?”

Quiet your fear. “Often unrealistic expectations are born from fear,” said Fieldman. She works with clients on gaining distance from their fear-based thinking. One technique she does is body scanning. “We hold so much fear in our bodies and we don’t even realize it.” Fieldman asks her clients to breathe in and out slowly while relaxing their bodies from head to toe—doing this every day, two times a day, for two to five minutes.

Specifically, say the words, “I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out” as you relax your body. Pay attention to where you’re holding onto tension. When other thoughts arise, return to your breath. “This trains the body to accept openness and calm rather than making decisions and expectations from a fearful place,” Fieldman said.

Explore your not-enough story. Unrealistic expectations stem from the core belief that we are not enough as we are, Fieldman said. “When we live in this place, we are never truly living in the moments of our lives; we’re living in sadness from what we weren’t and fear that we may never be.”

We can start chipping away at this false belief by realizing that this is not our belief. It may be the belief of a caregiver who was convinced they weren’t good enough, either. It may be the belief of a childhood bully. Fieldman suggested asking yourself: “Whose story is this?”

“Realizing then that it is not our battle to fight, not our story to finish, we get to have our own story,” she said. And then, find a therapist to support you through this process.”

Identify the most realistic takeaway. Gillette encourages clients to consider the question: “If this could go well (with several things not working the way I want it to), how would that feel for me?”

She shared this example: Lots of parents put pressure on themselves for their child’s birthday parties or first day of school. In reality, these are imperfect, often messy moments: Your child’s best friend can’t make it to the party. The bounce house you ordered is suddenly not available. The first day of school is filled with mixed emotions, and various challenges.

So instead of focusing on perfect (i.e., unrealistic expectations), according to Gillette, you reflect on: “What do I want my child to take from this? How can I create an experience that allows for all of these factors to be present, and still consider it a worthwhile experience? Does the fact that it’s not perfect bring value to my life and to my child’s life?”

Sometimes, we worry that if we don’t set high expectations for ourselves, we’re somehow letting ourselves off the hook. We’re being lazy or unambitious. We’re skating through life. We’re not living life fully.

But that’s not true.

Setting realistic expectations actually helps us grow and become more flexible. It helps us savor life and embrace the messy moments, which often hold more meaning anyway. And if you’ve got kids, it saves them from suffering needlessly. Because sky-high expectations are the antithesis of self-compassion.

Originally published on PsychCentral.com on 4 Nov 2017. All rights reserved.

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