Friday, 5 February 2021

10 ways to untwist your thinking

Have you found yourself having negative thoughts about yourself on a regular basis? It may not be obvious to you to begin with, but these thoughts may be twisted thinking about a situation which is not actually 100% accurate. Bad things happen, no one can deny that. We all make mistakes. We all misunderstand things sometimes. That's life and it's ok! What is not ok is to have continual negative thoughts about yourself which become automatic, to the point where we take them as totally and 100% true.

Below are 10 things you can do immediately to begin to 'untwist' your thinking and start thinking more helpfully about yourself and/or a situation

1.      Identify the Distortions

A distortion is something which you may have exaggerated out of proportion from reality. Try to find at least one distortion for each negative automatic thought you have. 

2.      Examine the evidence

Write down your negative thoughts and also any distortions you may have made. Then ask yourself “What is the evidence for this thought?” Examine the facts.

Ask yourself “Is it really true that….?”

Instead of assuming that your negative thought is true, examine the actual evidence for it. For example if you feel that you never do anything right, you could list several things you have done successfully.

3.      The Double-Standard method

Instead of putting yourself down in a harsh, condemning way, talk to yourself in the same compassionate way you would talk to a friend with a similar problem.

When you have a self-critical thought, ask yourself “Would I say this to a close friend who was very much like me and had a similar problem?”

Learn how to treat ALL people, including yourself, with one standard that’s both helpful and realistic. Give yourself the same encouraging messages you’d give a friend.

4.      The Experimental Technique

When you have a negative thought, ask yourself if there is any way to test it to find out if it’s really true. Sometimes an experiment will help you get to the truth about things.

For example, start to break down a task into small steps and see how difficult it actually is to do…

Try to do an experiment to test the validity of your negative thought.

5.      Thinking in shades of grey

When you have a negative thought, ask yourself “Am I looking at things in an either-or, black-or-white fashion? Am I thinking of myself as a total success or a total failure? This is all or nothing thinking.

Remind yourself that things are usually somewhere between 0 and 100 percent instead of insisting that they’re all one way or the other. Evaluate yourself on a range of 0 – 100.

For example, when things don’t work out as planned or as well as you’d hoped, think about the experience as a partial success rather than a complete failure.

6.      The Survey Method

Ask yourself “Would other people agree that this thought is valid?” You can often perform a survey to find out.

Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and attitudes are realistic.

For example, if you believe that public speaking anxiety is abnormal and shameful, ask several friends if they ever felt nervous before they gave a talk.

7.      Define Terms

When you have a negative thought, ask yourself “How am I defining terms? What do I mean by this? Am I using vague labels that have no meaning?”

For example, if you are calling yourself a “loser” or a “failure”, try to define what you mean by this and you will usually see that your definition is meaningless or that is doesn’t apply to you. If you think you are a fool for doing something, ask whether anyone has ever before done the same thing. If the answer is yes, you must either concede all people are fools or realise that you just did something foolish.

Ask yourself “What is the definition of a …..?”

Usually there will be no such thing.

8.      The Semantic Method

The method is simply substituting language that is less colourful and emotionally loaded.

When you feel upset, ask yourself if you’re telling yourself “I should do this” or “I shouldn’t do that”…

Instead substitute a phrase like “it would be nice” or “it would be preferable” in place of “I should”.

9.      Re-attribution

If you find you are putting yourself down or blaming yourself for a problem, you are applying a distortion of “Personalisation” or self-blame. The antidote to this is “re-attribution” where you attribute the cause of the problem to something other than your “badness”.

Ask yourself “what other factors may have contributed to this problem?” Develop a list of possibilities.

The aim here is not to deny mistakes you may have made, rather to assess the causes of a problem more objectively. If you did contribute to the situation, accept this and learn from the experience instead of wallowing in self-loathing.

10.  Cost-Benefit Analysis

Ask yourself “How will it help me to believe this negative thought and how will it hurt me?”

List the advantages and disadvantages of a feeling (like getting angry) or a thought (like “I always screw up”) or a behaviour pattern (like overeating).

If it turns out the disadvantages are greater, you will find it easier to talk back to the thought. When the disadvantages of an attitude are greater than the advantages, try to revise it with a belief that will be more realistic.

For example, the attitude or belief I want to change: “I must always be perfect”

List the advantages of believing this and the disadvantages of believing this and then rate the % of each one. Once you have done this, see if you can revise your original attitude.

SUMMARY

If you are having persistent negative thoughts, looking through this list may seem a little overwhelming in itself. THAT IS FINE! Take one or two points and give them a go to see what happens. If it doesn't work for you, no problem, just give something else a go. So take this list, dip in and out as you need and watch your attitude slowly but surely shift.

Well done :-)


Monday, 9 November 2020

"You'll make yourself ill..."

 Have you known someone who was so stressed out that you said to them something like "you need to relax or you'll make yourself ill"?

Many a loving and well meaning person has issued this type of warning to a stressed out friend or family member, but perhaps they've not realised quite how scientifically accurate they were actually being?

Back in the 1970's a Dr Ader make a breakthrough in research which provided an insight into this already obvious, well-meant warning. Then in 1991 further studies concluded (something perhaps we all suspected) that there is a direct and replicable relationship between stress and infections such as colds and flu.

Dr Ader demonstrated scientifically that stress worsens severity of illness, sometimes even triggering it. There is a relatively new field of research which is known as PNI or Psychoneuroimmunology which looks at the interaction between psychological processes (how you think) and the nervous and immune systems in the body. In short, it looks at the effects of how you think on your health and general resistance to disease. So basically if a person is very stressed and has negative feelings, this can cause a physical change in the body.

Some people may say "well no surprises there then" however it's amazing how we seem to ignore this previously assumed, and now scientifically proven fact - we carry on with our stressful lives and more people than ever before are being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It would seem us humans are literally making ourselves sick!

This mind/body immunity link is now more relevant than ever in these times with a global pandemic. It is already being shown that those people who have weakened immune systems (through disease or vulnerability) are less able to fight the virus so it should be a warning sign to us all that we might be inadvertently weakening our otherwise strong immune systems, purely with the way we are thinking. One could argue it's more difficult to remain positive with news of crashing economies, job losses and family break ups and these things should not be "brushed under the carpet" as not important. these things might just be the key to humanities long term immunity over this, and other viruses in the future. Whether you believe in vaccination or not, it's clear there ARE things we can do to help ourselves beyond relying on medicine; and that means all taking a look at our mental health, with just as much effort as we do the physical. Really they are one and the same.

The good news? Even if you should find yourself testing positive with Covid (or other) viruses this winter, if you focus on keeping your mental processes healthy, you have a much better chance of full recovery and as a result, a much stronger immune system. How can do you this? There are many ways, but keeping stress to a minimum and practicing relaxation/meditation techniques, getting good levels of exercise (preferably outdoors), and doing as much as you can to connect with people who can help you relieve stress, will all help boost your body natural immune defences.

Hypnotherapy is also a wonderful way to overcome anxiety, low mood and relieve stress. If you would like to know more, please drop me an email at: christy@christyhypnotherapy.com.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The benefits of a good night's sleep... Hypnotherapy could help you sleep better!

I recently received a newsletter with an article entitled "The benefits of a good night's sleep". Having a new baby (he's now just 9 weeks old!) I was naturally drawn to this article as sleep is something that I've been a little short of recently!

When you feel sleep deprived, do you take time to ensure you get enough zzz'ds or do you reach for that third energy drink or double espresso? This article and video talks specifically about the effect of sleep on our ability to perform at our best, may it be a test, exam, important presentation or even playing sport so I thought it would be of interest to a very wide audience. After all, we ALL need sleep to function!

So have a watch of this interesting TED Ed lesson and see how sleep (or lack of!) is affecting your life.

http://ed.ted.com/lessons/the-benefits-of-a-good-night-s-sleep-shai-marcu?utm_source=TED-Ed+Subscribers&utm_campaign=ecd56a0428-2013_09_219_19_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1aaccced48-ecd56a0428-47133361

If you feel that you aren't getting enough sleep or your quality of sleep is not allowing you to wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead, hypnotherapy might help you discover techniques that ensure you can drop off into a silent slumber, and stay asleep. If you have any questions about sleep, please contact Christy for a telephone consultation about how hypnotherapy could help you.

Email me at christy@christyhypnotherapy.com or call 01252 334377.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Purpose vs Pleasure - Do you actually enjoy your sport?

This month my blog is all about the topic of enjoyment of sport... mainly due to the fact that so many of the clients who come to see me for help with improving their sporting performance all admit that they have 'lost the love' of whatever sport it is they play!

Does this sound familiar to you?
Many people can tell me what it was about golf, football, swimming, tennis, martial arts etc that they were drawn to when they first began to play / took up their sport. However over the years, the pressure of wanting to get better, improve and beat personal bests can sometimes end up overshadowing the very thing that attracted them to that sport in the first place. I call this the "purpose vs pleasure" effect, which basically means that for some people, their sport becomes ALL about a specific purpose (running faster, jumping higher, lowering handicap etc)

One example of this was a golfer who came to see me for help as he felt every round of golf was full of making mistakes and then "beating himself up over it". He spoke all about the endless lessons to improve his swing and the hours spent on the range or green practising his technique; to no avail. It was only when I asked him to tell me what it was he loved about golf that he was suddenly silent! This question alone made him realise his passion in life had become something he didn't really look forward to anymore as he knew each visit to the course would leave him feeling frustrated and depressed. When we began to speak about what it was that attracted him to the game in the first place, he was able to reconnect with these positive thoughts and feelings and, in a short time, was able to rekindle his enjoyment of each round - regardless of how he played. The extra bonus of course is that when he began to enjoy it again, he actually played much better!

I must of course stress at this point... there is NOTHING wrong with having a purpose in sport (whether you are an amateur or professional) and for a lot of people, they need a goal, motivator or purpose to get them out onto the field or pitch. The problems arise when this becomes the ONLY reason why someone does a sport. Like my golfing client, the purpose of reducing his handicap became so all encompassing that he forgot about the reasons why he started to play in the first place.

So if you are struggling with motivation or feel it has become "all work and no play", remind yourself about what it is about your sport that you actually love. You never know in the process you might actually let some of the pressure off which will actually help you perform better!

If you are interested in finding out more about how hypnosis could help YOU, please get in touch with Christy for a FREE telephone consultation on 01252 334377 or email: christy@christyhypnotherapy.com

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

What can hypnosis be used for?

I'm often asked by potential clients what hypnosis can be used to help with. This is actually quite a dififcult question to answer as there are so MANY situations in which hypnosis can be a wonderful form of therapy. There are of course, some situations where hypnosis may not be the most useful or effective way to deal with something, but in this blog I wanted to try to set out some kind of list of things where hypnosis is very likely to be at the very least, helpful and best case, perhaps help overcome completely.

Hypnosis is used in a variety of settings - from emergency rooms to dental offices. But what is the evidence in favour of using it? Clinical studies suggest that hypnosis may improve immune function, increase relaxation, decrease stress, and ease pain and feelings of anxiety. Hypnotherapy can also reduce the fear and anxiety that some people feel before medical or dental procedures. For example, studies show that dental patients who underwent hypnosis had a significantly higher threshold for pain than those who were not using hypnosis. Hypnosis may also improve recovery time and reduce anxiety and pain following surgery. Clinical trials on burn patients suggest that hypnosis decreases pain (enough to even replace pain medication in some cases) and speeds healing. Generally, clinical studies show that using hypnosis may reduce your need for medication, improve your mental and physical condition before an operation, and reduce the time it takes to recover

Visiting a hypnotherapist can also help you learn self regulation skills. For instance, someone with arthritis may learn to turn down pain like the volume on a radio. Hypnotherapy can also be used to help manage chronic illness as it can be used to enhance a sense of control, which is often lacking when someone has a chronic illness.

I promised you a list, so here are a few other problems or conditions that may respond to hypnotherapy:
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Tension headaches
  • Alopecia areata
  • Asthma
  • Phobias
  • Insomnia
  • Addictions
  • Bedwetting
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Phobias
  • Pregnancy anxiety, labour pain and birth
  • Skin disorders (such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema)
  • Stress
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Cancer related pain
  • Weight loss
  • Eating disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia) 
Aside from these medical conditions, hypnotherapy is also hugely beneficial for people who are suffering from anxiety about giving presentations / public speaking, driving test nerves, to stop smoking and one area I particularly specialise in, enhancing sports performance.

If you would like to find out more about how hypnotherapy could help you, please contact Christy for a free telephone consultation on 01252 334377 or email: Christy@christyhypnotherapy.com.

(This blog was inspired by and uses information presented in an article appearing in the Hypnotherapy Training International publication.)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Are you getting enough sleep?

Most of us know that skimping on sleep wears down your body in so many ways. The power of sleep should not be underestimated and if you are not getting enough sleep you will know that it can have a detrimental impact on your ability to concentrate, to learn new skills or at least complete a full a day in the office!

All this is bad enough without piiling on the results of a recent study published in Psychological Science which found that sleep deprivation is actually linked to false memories. Among the 193 people tested, those who got 5 or fewer hours of sleep for just ONE night were significantly more likely to say they'd seen a news video when actually they hadn't. The authors of this study also noted that false memories in the form of eyewitness misidentifications are thought to be the number one cause of wrongful convictions in the USA. Clearly the consequences of sleep deprivation are far reaching!

This study also discovered that students were more prone to the researchers' false suggestions when they hadn't slept more than 5 hours. The authors of the study suggest that this is due to the fact that sleep deprivation leads to problems encoding new information.

So if you are looking to embark on learning something new, to be able to give a reliable account of something that happened or even look after your own health at the very least, make sure you are getting at LEAST 5 hours of sleep every night.

If you have trouble getting to sleep or if you suffer with distrubed sleep in the night, having a course of hypnotherapy could help you improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep. Find out how by calling Christy on 07527 567245 or email: christy@christyhypnotherapy.com.

Friday, 5 September 2014

What is the difference between hypnosis and meditation?

I am often asked by prospective clients who have never experienced hypnosis before, "what is the difference between hypnosis and meditation?".

There is no simple answer to this question as there are actually many different types of meditation and so it is used for a variety of reasons, in the same way that hypnosis is used to help people in a number of ways.

Firstly, there are actually some similarities between hypnosis and meditation. They are both used very often for relaxation and both can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and the amount of stress hormones in the body. Another similarity is that both states involve brain waves changing from the alert state (beta waves) down to alpha brain waves, which indicate deep relaxation. Neither however take brain waves down to full delta brain waves, which is when we are asleep. Another similarity is that both hypnosis and mediatation also usually begin with some form of deep breathing and/or muscle relaxation exercise in order to relax the body and begin to quieten the mind.

The main difference between hypnosis and meditation is the outcome which is desired in many ways. Meditation is usually practiced with the intention of 'clearing' the mind completely from thought and the focus of meditation is the absence of any kind of stimulus. Hypnosis in contrast is usually focused on directing a person's thought toward a specific thing. So for example, when hypnosis is used to help people stop smoking, the focus will be on directing the person to think about all the bad consequences of smoking and/or how their life will be better as a non-smoker. Hypnosis can be used for general stress reduction/relaxation however even then, it will be more intentional and directive than meditation and involves accessing the unconscious part of the mind to bring forth certain bits of information that will be useful to the person in the present moment.

In summary, both hypnosis and meditation are excellent ways to access the mind's ability to overcome stress and be calm. However the difference is that meditation is generally used as a form of 'downtime' for the mind where it can be totally free from conscious thought, whereas hypnosis is used to change a specific behaviour pattern, whether it be over-eating, smoking or even having a phobic response to something. Hypnosis is therefore used more as a form of 'correction' or making a positive change in a person's life.

If you would like to find out how hypnotherapy might benefit you, please contact Christy for a free telephone consultation on 07527 576245 or email: christy@christyhypnotherapy.com