Chronic Pain and Beliefs


Pain

Your experience of Chronic Pain is not just about the physical sensations. There are many psychological aspects to pain including what you think about pain, and how you think about it – which I mentioned in my blog – Pain and the Power of Words https://yorkmindmakeover.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/pain-and-the-power-of-words/

The psychological aspect to your experience of pain is based on your own beliefs – the meaning you give to pain.

  • Control

Do you believe you can control your experience of pain and manage how it affects your life? I use hypnotherapy to show people how they can learn to manage their own pain experience and gain control over it using self-hypnosis techniques. This gives you the power to change your perception of pain, lower the intensity of pain and lessen distress and depressive thinking

  • Acceptance

Helping people to explore their pain using mindfulness techniques is the first step in accepting that pain is only one component of your experience. Pain sensations are transient and can change. It is still possible to lead a satisfying life, and practising pain reduction is helpful but not necessarily central to this

  • Disability

When people believe they are disabled by pain they will necessarily behave that way. You need not be disabled by pain. Activity can reduce the experience of some pain (i.e. pain stimulated by physical damage) – despite common thinking that it will make the experience worse. For example, weak muscles are more likely to spasm so limiting activity only makes pain worse long term. Exercise to lengthen and strengthen muscles can stop pain getting worse

  • Fear of Harm

It seems common sense to believe that pain is a signal of physical damage so activity should be limited or avoided altogether. However, when pain becomes chronic, the intensity loses its association with the amount of physical damage. Gentle exercise such as stretching is in fact beneficial rather than causing harm

As you can see, your beliefs about pain guide your behaviour and therefore impact on your long-term health. Your beliefs will determine the strategies you use to cope. Maladaptive coping strategies include guarding yourself, resting and constantly asking for assistance to do things, believing these behaviours will help you avoid further possible harm. This limits your life and can lead to distress, withdrawal from society, anxiety and depression.

Adaptive coping strategies are the answer – including pacing yourself so you never get overwhelmed by pain, learning how to gain control over your perception of pain, learning ways of coping when pain flares, and encouraging regular gentle activity to encourage mobility.

Do you recognise any of your own beliefs about pain? Would you benefit from shifting your thinking?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy practitioner based in York. You can find out more about my work and how I can help you at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

#Confidence – what can I do to get it? Part 6


Confident

Often people tell me they lack confidence because they are scared about making a fool of themselves or looking stupid. When you think like this, those thoughts affect the way you feel and lead to a host of physical symptoms. Perhaps you have experienced some of them – shaking, blushing, feeling sick, tripping over your words. If I asked you to describe a person who lacked confidence, what would you say? Chances are you would notice their closed body language, or how quiet and withdrawn they are.

However, physical symptoms like feeling sick are usually more apparent to the person experiencing them than being outwardly visible. Even blushing or shaking can go unnoticed despite feeling overwhelming to the person who is experiencing the discomfort of a lack of confidence. The point I am making is that other people just don’t notice as much as you think they do. Even if they do, they would just think you were a bit nervous, and reasonable people think that is ok as we all feel like that sometimes. When you lack confidence you can get totally caught up in these sorts of feelings – your focus is directed inwards on yourself – and this makes you feel worse. The trick to feeling confident then is to reverse this focus. You need to focus outwardly on other people and on your immediate purpose.

Remember that young man who lacked the confidence to give a presentation? He discovered that when he shifted his focus outwardly – onto his audience and on what he wanted to tell them about, he stopped dwelling on how unconfident he was feeling inside. When you focus internally on your nervous feelings you are sending a message to your brain that says “I am really nervous about this so it must be something to be worried about” and this in turn makes the symptoms even worse. It sets up a vicious circle. Often people who feel like this and lack confidence will avoid situations that make them fearful – for example phoning in sick on the day of a presentation so they don’t have to go through with it. This either just puts off the inevitable as the presentation may be rescheduled, or it reinforces the learned behaviour – that this is something to be worried about and you must avoid it at all costs if it happens again. If you play the avoidance game all your life then you are missing out on some wonderful opportunities to fulfill your potential. Why not have a go at changing the way you behave – you have nothing to lose but your lack of confidence!

Let’s take our example of giving a presentation at work again. Your instant reaction may be to make an excuse and avoid having to do it, but there is a way to override this feeling if it happens. You can find ways to help overcome any feelings of anxiety. See my previous blogs on #anxiety for how to do this: https://yorkmindmakeover.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/anxiety-what-is-it-and-how-do-i-make-it-go-away-part-7/

When you are able to feel calmer and more relaxed, you can think more clearly. Focus on your purpose for doing the presentation. What message or key points do you want your audience to take away with them? Remember how it felt when you modeled your ideal confident person – how they were standing and the speed of their speech. Mirror that body language and you will e-experience the confidence you felt during your identity merge. Remember that your audience is there to learn from you, not to judge you personally. Most people have had the experience of presenting so they understand it can make you a little nervous – and therefore they will be on your side. Have you ever watched those TV auditions for singing shows? Do you feel yourself willing someone who seems a little nervous to do well? Notice how the audience is on their side and wills them along. Most people are like this and want you to succeed, so they are tolerant of mistakes – you do not have to be perfect. It’s ok to be good enough! Being ok with whatever happens, because you did the best you could do at that particular time, is the key to confidence. It’s amazing that even the most confident performers admit to feeling a bit nervous – but you would never know unless you asked them. Just because you feel this way on the inside it doesn’t mean your audience will notice, so don’t get hung up on it and allow it to take over your thinking. Do the best you can at that time and congratulate yourself for what you did achieve – that is the way to build your confidence. Your own internal voice can be trained to be your fan club rather than your greatest critic!

Reading this series of blogs has already sown the seeds of Confidence in your mind so why not start growing your own Confidence habit today – reinforce it by using regularly and see your Confidence blossom!

I hope that you have found these 6 blogs on #Confidence interesting reading. Perhaps you have learned something, challenged something, or thought about changing something. If you have a different perspective to offer then perhaps you could share your ideas too. If you have been inspired to seek help with building your confidence, then there are many dedicated professionals out there who can help you.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and #Hypnotherapist and I work in #York. I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com/contact.html

 

#Confidence – what can I do to get it? Part 5


Confident

Maybe you are one of those people that feel like you have never, ever been confident? How do you know how to be confident if you have never done it? One of the very useful techniques I use in my therapy room allows people to understand how another person goes about being confident – and then to model themselves on the confident traits they would like to adopt.

Who do you admire for their confidence? I’ve heard various answers to this question ranging from President Obama to Beyonce, Margaret Thatcher, Muhammad Ali and Rihanna. For others it is their husband, mother or a favourite teacher. If you would like to become more confident then in order to have made this judgement, you must have already had a model in mind that you are using as a comparison to yourself.

Get a sense of your admired, confident person and take a good, long look at what it is about them that leads you to admire their confidence. If you find this difficult you can close your eyes to allow you to focus your attention, much as you would do in a #hypnotherapy session. You only need to notice the confident parts of the person that you would like for yourself – not every aspect or things you don’t like about them. Modelling other people in this way is nothing new. Have you ever shadowed an expert at work to see what it is they do to complete their job well? Top sports people are often encouraged to do this same exercise – noticing what it is about the performance of winning athletes or themselves when they are successful, that they can use to improve. Modelling or copying the outwardly evident confident aspects of your ideal will allow you to feel the confidence they experience on the inside.

So you can do this for yourself now. Think about the person you most admire for their confidence, and imagine them in the situation where you would like to be more confident. Close your eyes and see that person in that situation and notice what they look like. You need to pay close attention to their posture and body language, the way and speed they move. Notice their facial expressions, the way they speak – the tone, pitch and speed. Picture how they are dressed. Pay attention to the way they relate to other people in the situation and how others interact with them in return. Spend as long as you need doing this and make it as real as you can. Next, imagine yourself standing next to your model. Gradually you are going to drift into being that person as your identities merge together until you are there actually as that person, seeing through their eyes and standing in their body. If you are doing this in a focused way, you will be able to experience what it is like to be this person and have this amount of confidence. It can take practice to do this and a good #hypnotherapist will help you to do this effectively. Once you have experienced what it feels like on the inside to be this confident, it becomes easier for you to behave this way in your own life.

It is well known that acting ‘as if’ we are confident allows our brain to learn how to do this instinctively. Remember, if you have been training your brain by acting unconfidently for a long time, it will have learned to do this really well. Acting ‘as if’ may seem to be a bit false or fake for you at first, but it is this mental rehearsal that allows you to learn any new behaviour until it becomes an effortless habit. Confidence is something we learn. Often we begin in childhood by modeling a parent or someone close to us. Perhaps you haven’t had the right training so far, but this doesn’t mean you are stuck with a lack of confidence. You can bring your ideal into your imagination and begin to model them whenever you want to. You can learn how to be confident, and this means you have to practice until it becomes your natural way of doing things.

I hope you are enjoying reading these blogs about developing your Confidence and are finding the information helpful. Why not follow my blog and check out whether you have missed anything useful?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and #Hypnotherapist working in private practice in #York. I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

 

#Confidence – what can I do to get it? Part 4


Confident

In Part 3 of this series of blogs on #confidence I talked about a young man who lacked the confidence to give a presentation at work. Although he had prepared the content for this presentation, and was confident he knew his stuff, he was not prepared for it mentally. His imagination was running riot, predicting all sorts of things going wrong and this was sapping his confidence. No-one is a mind reader, so we just can’t say what will happen in any future situation – good or bad. However, we can learn to manage whatever happens in a successful way. This is what gives us confidence – learning to deal with and effectively manage the uncertainties of life, knowing that whatever happens we will be ok. This young man was using his powerful imagination to foresee things going wrong and could even make himself feel sick at the thought of standing up and presenting. Many people do this – perhaps you know someone who avoids meeting new people or is too nervous to go on a date, or someone who dreads holiday times because they aren’t confident flyers – or perhaps you recognize yourself here? What my client didn’t realize is that this powerful imagination is a great gift – he could learn to harness this ability to imagine himself coping well with whatever may happen. Instead of sabotaging himself, he could use his imagination to develop his own confidence.

The easiest and most effective way to do this is using #hypnosis. Did you realize that hypnosis is a natural phenomenon that we all use every day? It is a state of highly focused attention that we have all experienced. This young man had already inadvertently been using negative #self-hypnosis to convince himself that things would go wrong. He was worrying about his presenting style, the obvious physical manifestation of his nervousness and what his colleagues would think of him when he started shaking and his voice faltered. He was using his powerful imagination to scare himself about something that hadn’t even happened!

I talked with him about anxiety and how this affects the way we think and behave. You can find out more about this here: http://www.yorkmindmakeover.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/anxiety-what-is-it-and-how-do-i-make-it-go-away-part-1/

In the therapy room, he learned how to use hypnosis to turn this around. He learned techniques for staying relaxed and calm including using deep abdominal slow breathing or a one minute meditation to feel instantly a little better. Using hypnosis, I encouraged him to travel forward in time and imagine himself really there on the day of his presentation. He pictured himself getting up in the morning feeling relaxed and calm, going to work and leading up to the time before his presentation slot. He experienced all of this whilst remaining calm – just as he had told me he wanted to feel on this day. I then helped him imagine his presentation going really well, remaining in control of his body, standing steady, even to see himself handling challenging questions from his colleagues, remaining calm and his voice staying steady and clear, and then to feel the sensations of pride and achievement in a job well done. He imagined and experienced a wonderful feeling of confidence. This happens because your brain doesn’t differentiate between what is real and what is imagined – the feelings are the same. If you doubt this just watch a scary movie or a weepy movie – it’s not real but you still have the same emotional reaction as if it was really happening. He finished the session with a huge smile on his face. He was encouraged to go through this exercise again and again at home to strengthen the new neural pathways he had established. Building confidence needs practice and reinforcement, just as in building any new habit.

I wonder if you are now becoming aware of the way you may be using negative self-hypnosis to sabotage yourself? We are all guilty of this from time to time and usually completely unaware of it. However, the good news is, in the same way, you can use positive self-hypnosis to develop your confidence. Why not give it a try? Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and allow yourself to become calm and relaxed by slowing your breathing and relaxing any tension in your body. Imagine yourself in a situation where you would like to have more confidence. Make the scene as real as you can – bring it to life and picture yourself there feeling calm and optimistic, expecting success in whatever it is you are doing. Remember, confidence is all about feeling that whatever happens you will be ok. Picture yourself coping well and feeling confident – allow that feeling to grow and develop. Just experiencing this sets up new pathways in your brain and the more you practice, the more you reinforce this new behaviour. After all – hasn’t your unwanted behaviour developed in the same way? When your new confident behaviour becomes a habit, the old unwanted behaviour will fade and disappear. Eventually this decay means you will find it difficult to remember how it used to be.

In the final 2 blogs in this series I will be talking more about Confidence and what you can do to encourage it to grow and develop. Why not follow my blog and check out whether you can learn anything useful?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and #Hypnotherapist working in private practice in #York. I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

 

#Confidence – what can I do to get it? Part 3


Confident

If you are reading this blog then perhaps you are interested in developing your own confidence and or perhaps you feel that you are a really unconfident person? Well what if I was to tell you that you already have all the resources you need to allow that confidence to grow? I have worked with many people who tell me that they have no confidence, they have never been confident, or that they used to be confident and they have somehow lost it. All of these people have a very narrow focus. They are so busy finding evidence for their lack of confidence that they are ignoring evidence to the contrary.

It can be very helpful to turn this sort of thinking around by looking at what you have already achieved. For some of my clients this has been very difficult but all of them have managed to get themselves to my therapy room. I remind them that meeting a stranger and finding an unfamiliar place all take confidence on their part. Before that, they had the confidence the pick up the phone and call me or write me an email. All of these things take confidence. I wonder what you have achieved that takes a degree of confidence? Perhaps you can include large things like getting an education, or finding a job, or maintaining a relationship or raising a child. Perhaps you can include smaller things like doing something unfamiliar such as taking a different bus or visiting somewhere previously unknown. Perhaps you can include learning the skills which have enabled you to access this blog on-line.

Despite having the confidence to do all these sorts of things, some people still feel they lack confidence. Are you one of those people who feel you are inadequate and not as good as other people so you lack the confidence to do something? In my previous blog I talked about a young man I worked with who was unable to even think about giving a presentation at work without shaking and feeling sick. He was so nervous that he made himself physically ill. We set about finding evidence to build his confidence in this situation:

  • Had he completed all the education and training he needed to do his job well?
  • Did he have the experience he needed for doing the job well?
  • Had he thoroughly researched, prepared and planned his presentation?

We established that he had all the necessary knowledge and experience to successfully present his work to his colleagues. He had spent days planning and preparing his presentation content, slides and handouts. He had done the best he could with what was available to him. He was considered the expert in the team in his particular area and that was why he was the one asked to give the presentation. He knew more about the subject than anyone else in the room. His colleagues were there to learn from him, not to pick fault or judge him. Going through this evidence helped him to see that his feelings of inadequacy were unfounded. Removing this aspect of his self doubt gave the first boost to his confidence.

Over the next 3 blogs I will be talking more about Confidence and what you can do to encourage it to grow and develop. Why not follow my blog and check out whether you can learn anything useful?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and #Hypnotherapist working in private practice in #York. I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

 

#Confidence – what can I do to get it? Part 2


Confident

I have worked with many people seeking help to build their confidence. Sometimes they find a lack of confidence is impacting on their career progression, sometimes they are struggling to form personal relationships and sometimes they are feeling so socially anxious and shy that they are limiting their lives immeasurably. When we start to work together, most of these people tell me they want to behave with an assured assertiveness but are very concerned about coming across as arrogant and cocky when their confidence develops. I’m sure we have all experienced being in the company of people like this, arrogant people who hold court over others, and it is usually unpleasant.

Being confident does not mean you have to be arrogant, loud or annoying. People who behave in an arrogant way may appear confident on the outside but actually lack self-esteem on the inside – and therefore feel a constant need to present themselves as superior to others by bigging themselves up and putting other people down. Arrogance then, is rooted in insecurity and this type of person will blame others or circumstances if things do not work out as they expected, rather than blame themselves. You can see how this way of thinking and behaving can lead to strained relationships, and problems with long term professional success as there is a lack of ability to accept and learn from mistakes.

Truly confident people, on the other hand, are happy and content that their life is enough and don’t need to prove their value by measuring themselves against others. Confidence then is not a belief that you are always right or that you are unable to fail. It is about being willing to acknowledge you can be wrong but knowing that you are ok anyway. Confident people recognize their own strengths but are also able to recognize and praise the strengths and abilities of others, whereas arrogant people can only see their own and often make sure everyone else knows about them!

One of the first things I do when working with people to build confidence is to ask them what will be different when they have it. For example, one young man wanted to be able to stand up in front of his colleagues at work and give a presentation without physically shaking and feeling sick. He was very certain about what he didn’t want but hadn’t really thought about what he specifically wanted instead. His mind was so focused on the shaking and the nausea that this is what happened every time he even thought about giving the presentation. We started by getting a very clear, specific definition of the behaviour he wanted. “When I stand up to give the presentation at work I want to be able to stand still and feel calm inside so I look relaxed. I want to speak in a clear voice, slowly and steadily.” Contrast this with statements such as, “I want to be less nervous and I don’t want to shake. I don’t want to trip over my words when I’m speaking”. Can you see how the first statements are like giving your mind a particular plan to follow to guide your behaviour by telling it exactly what you want? The latter statements give no indication of what is wanted so your mind has no direction and flounders instead, before falling back on old unwanted habits.

If you want to start building your own confidence then this is a useful exercise. Spend some time formulating your own guidance statements and give your mind some clear direction. Once your mind knows where you are heading, it will be easier to develop the desired behaviour.

Over the next 4 blogs I will be talking more about Confidence and what you can do to encourage it to grow and develop. Why not follow my blog and check out whether you can learn anything useful?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and #Hypnotherapist working in private practice in #York. I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

 

#Confidence – what can I do to get it? Part 1


Confident

Sometimes it seems that every novel we read or movie we see has a hero or heroine brimming with #confidence. TV shows bombard us with confident presenters or protagonists who exude that sense of laid back, easy confidence. How many newspaper or magazine articles have you read that tell you how attractive it is to be confident! When you are truly confident, most things in life become easy and more enjoyable. Confidence allows us to pursue and reach our goals whether in our careers, our relationships, in sport or being satisfied with our lives generally – confidence helps us to achieve our full potential. So if this confidence is something we aspire to, how do we go about getting more of it?

Perhaps this all depends on your own understanding of what being confident means. Do you see it as an attitude, a personality trait you inherit at birth, or a set of behaviours? Take a minute to think about that. Which makes sense to you at the moment? What is your own definition of confidence – perhaps take a moment to write it down now so that you can compare it with the definition I am about to introduce. This is important because your beliefs about what confidence is, impact on the way you see yourself, and what you think you can or cannot do about getting more of it!

So, what did you come up with? Here is what I wrote down: I believe that confidence is about being fully comfortable with yourself wherever you may be and whatever you may be doing. It is based on an underlying belief that you have the necessary resources to successfully cope with the challenges life presents to you.

This sense of confidence is different to self-esteem, which is more about underlying beliefs of self-worth. I believe confidence is about how we interact with the external world whereas self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves internally.

Now we all accept that we are not experts at everything, but this has nothing to do with being or feeling confident – confident people can feel awkward or nervous in certain situations, or not very good at some things – it is just that they are at peace with the way they are in those situations! They are just completely comfortable with it. What if I was to tell you that confidence is not something you are born with or without, it is a set of behaviours that can be learned and developed with practice? Even if you have had your confidence shaken, you can learn to rebuild it and make it stronger and more resilient. You can approach novel situations or unfamiliar people knowing that whatever happens you will act confidently and cope well. A fear of failure stops us from doing so many things we wish we could do. We all feel nervous or anxious sometimes but a confident person doesn’t let that stop them. I hope you are beginning to see that the way you conceptualise confidence determines how open you are to believing that you can develop confident behaviour.

The way you think affects the way you feel and the way you behave. The more you learn to behave in a confident way, the more your confidence grows. When you allow yourself to try something new or different, the next time round you feel a little bit easier about trying it again. Even if things don’t go as well as you expected, you have given yourself the opportunity to learn something valuable – that taking the risk wasn’t the worst thing in the world – you tolerated the uncertainty and came through alive! – and that is useful, confidence building knowledge.

In this series of 6 blogs I will be talking more about Confidence and what you can do to encourage it to grow and develop. Why not follow my blog and check out whether you can learn anything useful?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and #Hypnotherapist working in private practice in #York. I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

 

Depression – why do I feel so bad? Part 3


Depression

An important aspect to understanding #depression is the function of sleep and dreaming. We naturally dream for about two hours each night, even though we may not be aware of the dreams when we awaken. Dreaming usually occurs during REM sleep (about 25% of the sleep cycle) and it allows the metaphorical acting out of unexpressed, emotionally arousing thoughts. The remaining 75% of the sleep cycle (slow wave sleep) boosts the energy levels in the brain. Dreaming allows emotional arousal to be discharged, and frees up the brain’s resources ready for the following day.

However, when you are depressed this process is out of balance. Slow wave sleep is reduced, as periods of REM sleep increase dramatically. The constant rumination and introspection that characterizes depression creates high levels of emotional arousal, which takes much more time to discharge by dreaming, and this exhausts the brain. People who have been depressed tell me they feel exhausted on waking and lack the motivation to get up and get moving. The mornings are often the hardest part of the day.

When you spend all your time worrying and ruminating, your levels of emotional arousal are extremely high. Thinking like this, using your emotional brain, inhibits your thinking brain so you are unable to think rationally or objectively about your experiences. Have you ever tried to rationalise with a depressed person? It is virtually impossible to get them to see beyond their emotional thinking – everything is seen in extremes: black or white; right or wrong; good or bad; all or nothing. They are unable to see any shades of grey from this very constrained viewpoint. I explain this to my clients as negative #self-hypnosis. Just as we can use our imaginations to help us in a positive way using #hypnotherapy, we spontaneously and unintentionally use negative self-hypnosis to keep us stuck in unhelpful states of mind. Do you constantly find yourself analysing the negative aspects of your life? Do you catastrophise things making everything that happens seem overwhelming? Do you always jump to conclusions? Do you worry all the time about what other people think about you? If so, then you are already an expert in spontaneous and unintentional negative self-hypnosis!

It is also helpful to consider the insights provided by the Human Givens approach to depression, which states that when you are getting your needs met in a balanced way it is impossible to have any form of mental illness. As well as having physical needs that you are driven to satisfy such as hunger, thirst and sex, you also have natural emotional needs. When these emotional needs or ‘human givens’ are not met, you experience considerable mental distress — most commonly anxiety and/or depression.

To be emotionally healthy you need:

  • to feel safe and secure
  • to regularly give and receive love and attention
  • to feel a sense of influence or control over your life
  • to feel part of a wider community
  • to enjoy friendship, love and fun with significant people
  • to feel a sense of status – have a role in life – sense of achievement
  • to feel stretched but not stressed to alleviate boredom and enhance self esteem

Depression happens when you negatively ruminate on what is lacking in your life. What do you need to make your life easier, more enjoyable, or give it meaning?

In Part 4 of this blog you can read about some of the things I do to help people start to feel better and help you to recognize some of the unhelpful thinking styles you may use when you are depressed. If you are suffering with depression, please consider getting professional help.

If you are in the UK and need to talk to somebody as soon as possible:

Samaritans UK – 08457 90 90 90

Samaritans ROI – 1850 60 90 90

Your doctor can help refer you to a therapist or you can seek help directly. I specialize in working to help people overcome depression and anxiety and I’m based in #York. If you need some help I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com/contact.html

 

#Anxiety – what is it and how do I make it go away? Part 5


Image

Have you noticed the sorts of thoughts you experience when you are particularly stressed or anxious? We all have unhelpful thoughts but when you are feeling anxious or worried these thoughts seem to occur much more often. If you are feeling anxious now then stop for a moment and notice the sorts of thoughts that are going on in your mind. There are some typically unhelpful ones to watch out for:

  • Thinking about things in all or nothing terms, such as “ I am useless”
  • Blaming yourself for things which may have nothing to do with you, such as “The computer is going wrong – I must have broken it”
  • Seeing everything in catastrophic terms, such as “If I go out today I might have an accident”
  • Mind-reading what other people think about you, such as “They think I am stupid”
  • Focusing on any negative aspects, such as “I messed up that bit” rather then seeing the whole picture
  • Thinking in extremes and strict rules, such as “I always get it wrong” or “I must look perfect”

When you think like this all the time, even the simplest things can become daunting because you are automatically setting off the threat activation system in your mind. When you are constantly on high alert, those symptoms of anxiety never calm down, and to make it worse you begin to interpret everything that happens through this negative filter – constantly on the look out for what could go wrong.

One of the biggest challenges in overcoming your anxiety is to learn to tolerate uncertainty. When you are anxious, you are not focused on the here and now, you are focused on the future – what might or might not happen. You don’t know yet what that might be, but you are on high alert, and predicting events in your mind, using all those unhelpful thoughts. When you are prone to thinking like this, constantly trying to predict the future, and unable to tolerate uncertainty, #mindfulness techniques can be very beneficial. #Mindfulness teaches you to shift your focus into the present moment. It helps you to notice that what you are worrying about is not what is happening in the here and now, but something that may or may not happen later on. In the here and now, you are probably ok and there is no immediate threat to your safety. Being grounded in the here and now allows your mind to relax and experience calmness. Once your emotional mind is calm, your rational thinking mind has better clarity and can weigh up the evidence and facts pertaining to a situation. In this way you can often gain a fresh perspective on what is going on, and on your own thinking.

You may also have noticed that when you are anxious you tend to focus on yourself and what’s going on inside your own body. Many years ago, despite being outwardly confident, I began to notice a feeling of flushing red in the face and neck when speaking in public. Eventually I became so focused on going red that I realized I was anxious about the flushing rather than the public speaking itself. The solution was to stop focusing so much on the bodily reaction and instead to focus outwardly on the audience and the information I wanted to share. #Self-hypnosis is a great way to train your mind to work in this way for you.

Overcoming your anxiety is achievable but it does take some effort on your part. Remember that anxiety is a natural reaction and it’s quite normal to feel a little anxious in new situations or doing things that seem a bit frightening. It is when that anxiety becomes more extreme and starts to impact on your everyday life that you should seek some professional help. Sometimes people go along for therapy thinking a therapist will just sort out their problems for them. No therapist can wave a magic wand and make things change for you. A good therapist will work in partnership with you to help you achieve your goals. Therapists are skilled at helping people change their faulty thoughts and behaviour and if you see your doctor for help with anxiety you will probably be referred for CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy. CBT recognizes that our thoughts, feelings and behaviour all work together. When you learn to change the way you think about things and the way you act in certain situations then it is inevitable that your feelings or emotions will change too. Over a number of weeks you will be given help to challenge your negative thoughts and subsequently change the way you act and behave, following a plan.

Therapists working in the private sector have the freedom to use a variety of psychotherapeutic techniques to help you overcome your anxiety. I personally use a combination of #CBT ideas, #Hypnotherapy and sometimes #EMDR Eye Movement Densensitisation and Reprocessing, depending of the needs of the particular client. The therapeutic plan is always designed to fit you, based on your needs and goals, rather than you having to fit any prescribed plan.

I specialize in hypnotherapeutic techniques for overcoming anxiety and I work in #York. I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com/contact.html

In my next blog you can read about techniques you can use to effectively deal with anxious thoughts and feelings.