The modern world is fraught with what the philosopher Pascal called "Divertissement", which we can roughly translate as "diversion" or "distraction"or "entertainment". Although it may be fun to watch a movie or go to a show when we are constantly distracted it is very hard to focus and see things clearly. When we don't look inward in a state of calm we cannot see things in their true perspective.
Both anxiety and depression stem from seeing the world from a distorted perspective. When we are anxious we look at the world from the perspective of someone who is only anticipating catastrophes. When we are depressed we mainly experience the negative aspects of life.
If you feel unclear, unfocused, or even worse, anxious, low or overwhelmed this article is for you. By shifting the way you look at things you can shift the way you think. When your mindset changes you can feel happier and more satisfied. If you want to feel more empowered and positive start by developing a simple practice and applying the exercises I will suggest to you in this article.
You probably have heard how important it is to be grateful. But what is gratitude? And how can you stop thinking: how do I get over the mindset of thinking the practice of gratitude as a mushy act?
If you are like me you may find it hard to even think about things to be grateful for. Especially when you are not in a good place it may seem like the hardest thing to do to find something to be thankful for. People may suggest you reflect on how privileged you are because if you are reading this you have a computer, a house, running water and food on your table and many don't. But feeling guilty for not being already happy when you have so much more than others won't help you.
What you need to do is shift your perspective completely, so read on to find out where to start.
Fear of public speaking is also known as "Glossophobia", which is Greek for 'fear of words'. Obviously, speech anxiety does not mean you are afraid of words! What it means is that you are suffering from performance anxiety, which is a form of social anxiety. Also known as stage fright, speaking fear happens when you find yourself in front of an audience giving a speech or presentation while in a fight or flight or freeze state of mind.
When you are in this state the amygdala, which is the alarm center of the brain, has flagged up your current situation as dangerous and as a result, the panic button has been triggered. If you stay in this mode for long enough, you may start hyperventilating and may end up having a full blown panic attack.
Whether you only panic before a presentation or a speech or you get nervous while it's happening or you beat yourself up for making mistakes afterward, public speaking anxiety can have a severe disruptive effect on your life.
Your mind's job is to keep you take your away from pain and drive you towards pleasure. If public speaking has been encoded as a danger by your amygdala, then you most likely will avoid it. Unfortunately, avoidance reinforces the problem so nervousness can quickly escalate into a full-blown phobia.
The consequences can be very distressing:
The problem with the word ‘hypnosis’ is that it’s often used to point to both the way in which the process is induced and its results and methods.
To make matters complicated there’s the fact that all hypnosis is ultimately self-hypnosis. This is because it is the individual who is making hypnosis happen, whether a hypnotist is actually guiding the process or not.
Let’s start by explaining what a typical hypnotherapy session consists of. Here follows the main stages of a session:
The Induction is the way hypnosis is created. These can vary greatly. Some hypnotherapists think of the induction as the very beginning of a session when a client is induced into a very light hypnotic state followed by the deepening.
The deepening is often seen as the time when a deeper state of hypnosis is reached.
Other hypnotherapists think of the induction as the part of the session during which a medium state of hypnosis is facilitated in the client and the deepening is either seen as simply part of it or as an optional element that allows the client to enter a deeper state of hypnotic ‘trance’.
I don’t think it is particularly important which way we interpret it, as both understandings produce the same effect.
VARIOUS TECHNIQUES TO ACHIEVE PRE-DECIDED GOALS
After the induction / deepening phase comes the interesting part. This is when various techniques are used to achieve the goals that are pre-determined by the client.
The general public may assume that suggestions are all that is used in this part of the session but this would be a gross oversimplification.
There are a plethora of techniques skilled hypnotherapists use to create change in clients which are more or less interactive.
Hypnotherapy is less a science and more of an art, because each client is different and a good therapist will use specific techniques for specific clients at specific times even if the general procedure might be very similar for similar ailments.
This is to ensure the therapy is well timed and fits the client’s specific personality and needs.
After this part is over the client is guided back to ‘normal conscious awareness’ and helped to transition smoothly to everyday external reality.
This structure is always used in any type of hypnosis although the length of each phase may differ.e that suggestions are all that is used in this part of the session but this would be a gross oversimplification.
The next most useful way I can categorise hypnosis is to divide it into ‘guided’ and ‘unguided’ . Let us look at ‘guided’ hypnosis first.
What is most commonly referred as meditation is unguided meditation, which is what I will explore in this article.
However, there’s a plethora of books and audios out there that offer ‘guided meditations’ or ‘guided visualisations’. Most of these actually fall into the category of informal self hypnosis sessions created by non hypnotists.
Although those authors would never call such material hypnosis, they are for all intents and purposes just that. The only reasons they are often termed "meditations" is because that term is more widely accepted by the general public and has less negative connotations than hypnosis.
The difference between 'guided meditations' and proper self hypnosis is that most of the time the induction is shortened to a few minutes of deep breaths and only a few suggestions are included to induce relaxation. The actual content of the visualisation is usually a multi sensory journey that may or may not follow important rules that only good hypnotherapists know.
If you are serious about working on yourself I would recommend you stay away from these type of ‘meditations’ as they are neither written by professional hypnotherapists nor by experienced meditators.
What I would call a proper guided meditation is simply a meditation that is guided by either a teacher in person or pre recorded on an audio recording or even an app.
These meditations instruct you on how to practice in a similar way a guided self hypnosis recordings would, except the content of the meditation greatly differs from a hypnotic audio. Now let’s now have a look at the different types of unguided meditation techniques that exist.
If you want to succeed in anything in life you need to know how to influence your mind. You need to know how to make your mind do what you want it to do, not what you don’t.
Have you ever noticed how we are surrounded by messages like 'Don't drink and drive' 'Don't forget your passport' 'Don't touch the button! 'Don't eat junk!' And how many times have you have ended up doing the very thing you were told not to? Why is that? The answer lies in understanding how the mind processes information.
For many years I have tried to explain to my clients how to successfully influence their mind but only recently I have come across an explanation that is both simple and accurate. I will borrow and adapt Marisa Peer's framework to make it very clear how to effectively communicate with your own mind.
If you are depressed chances are you have been told at least one of the following:
Your mother or father might have been depressed, your antidepressants may not be working, you may have been told you just have a chemical imbalance and there is nothing you can do to help yourself. I have encountered many people with depression in both my practice and in my personal life and having suffered from it myself and having been close to suicide at one point, I know what it is like to feel trapped in a nightmare with no end in sight.
The good new is it is possible to overcome depression, no matter how long you've had it or what anybody else has said to you about it. Although depression causes a chemical imbalance, that is the consequence and not the cause of it. Although it is more likely that you will suffer from it if someone close to you has had it that is not because it is a genetic disease but because you have learnt how to think in a depressive way from those who are close to you.
The truth about depression is that you can beat it. It may not be an easy peasy process but it is most certainly possible and the first step is to choose to believe that you can.
You care. And yet sometimes it doesn't seem like people know that. You don't want to feel alone and isolated but that's how you end up feeling a little too often. You don't understand how it seems to easy for some to make friends and have great relationships and so hard for you. Do they know something you don't or are they simply born that way?
It may be easier for some to forge new relationships than for others. Perhaps they are less shy and more extroverted. However this does not predict whether those relationships will last long term or whether they would be truly satisfying to those involved. The quality of your relationships in the long run is more important than their quantity. And the quality of a relationship is measured by the quality of the connection you have together.
A true connection with someone is a vital experience that you feel in your whole being. Cultivating connection takes skill, and skills take time effort and commitment to develop. Let's have a look at what gets in the way of true connection and what enhances it.
Perhaps you have a habit of going in one direction only to give up halfway and try something else or maybe you stay put and don't venture into the new because you're not sure if it'd be the right thing for you. You wish you were like those people that knew what they wanted to do in life since childhood. You wonder if perhaps you are just different from everyone else and there is no point in even trying but you don't want to give up just yet.
You are aware that it's important to set goals but the idea of doing that makes you feel anxious or perhaps even angry. How do you set a goal if you haven't got a clue what you want? Goals may seem arbitrary or superficial or you worry you would get it wrong and then find yourself hating the direction you've chosen. Maybe you want to have no doubts before you start so you risk failure less. If only there was something you could do to clear the brain fog and actually be sure of yourself...
You may think you are alone in this but the truth is a lot of people go through this before finding clarity. So how did they find the answer that allowed them to move on? They stopped trying to find their direction in a rational way and instead connected to their heart's desire. Here's how.
Do you set goals but give up as soon as the going gets tough? Do you find it difficult to stay motivated and give up on yourself as soon as you hit an obstacle?
Perhaps you have decided to learn a language or maybe you want to lose weight or you want to save money for a trip. Maybe you want to write a book or kick a bad habit or have a better social life. No matter what your goal is though, as soon as you encounter a difficulty you feel deflated and find it hard to stay the course.
Maybe you are excited about finally writing that book but when you look at the blank page nothing seems to come out and you feel deflated. Or maybe you want to get fit but you haven't been to the gym for so long that the exercises seem way too hard so you never go back. Or maybe you decide to learn to play guitar but after the first few lessons you realise there is so much more to learn than you expected and it feels just too overwhelming to continue.
It doesn't matter what the goal is. Sometimes you take a few steps forward but end up stalling. Other times you don't start at all. You say to yourself: "maybe I just don't have what it takes... I am too lazy, old, unfit, stupid etc. Other people seem to have it so much easier than you and you don't know why. You wish there was an easy way to just skip ahead and get it done but you don't know how.
After a few times of going through this pattern you start to feel nervous about trying something new, worrying that you might fail again. If you soon don't stick to your goals you will never achieve anything of value - you say to yourself. You will never be able to learn French, run that marathon, start your own business, ask a woman out. You are afraid you might never make that dream come true and that just feels depressing.
You know what? You aren't alone. Believe me, I have been there, plenty of times. The good news is there is a way to get past your struggle. Your goal may at times feel like an unattainable dream but they may be closer than you think. Let me show you how to stick to your decisions and overcome challenges even when it feels like an impossible feat.
Have you ever thought: "if I stop comparing myself to others then I'll never improve?" Me too. It makes sense right? The problem with this line of reasoning is that when you try to better yourself by comparing yourself to others, you will always end up finding an area in which you fall short. We tend to see what we are looking for and even if you didn't fall in the trap of assuming others are better than you without checking there's bound to be something another is better than you at.
As a result, you can feel deflated, demotivated and even give up before trying. Even in the best case scenario, you will spend the energy you could have put to good use by improving your skills feeling sorry for yourself instead. It sounds like a losing game doesn't it?
So do yourself a favor: only compare yourself to yourself yesterday, a week ago, last year. And here's the trick: focus on where you have improved, not where you fall short.