Deborah Pearce Hypnotherapy Deborah Pearce

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy online via Zoom

07939 840 788

Welcome to my blog

News and thoughts about hypnotherapy, neuroscience and the power of the subconscious

Slow the Pace to Minimise Anxiety

This month's blog explores the benefits of slowing down as a way of reducing anxiety.

You can read it on my Calm Mind Courses website:

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Happy New Year! 2024 here we come!

This month's blog reviews the changes 2023 delivered and looks forward positively to 2024.

You can read it on my Calm Mind Courses website:

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What are you doing differently?

You’d think I’d know that, ‘if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got’, wouldn’t you? I discuss this with my clients all the time, and I hear myself saying, ‘If you want a different outcome, you need to do something different.’


But it’s a weird thing that we can hear something over and over again, and yet the message still doesn’t sink in. Until one day the penny drops.


Something similar happened to me late last year. I’d been unhappy with my weight for some time. According to the NHS BMI calculator I was borderline overweight and I felt dumpy. I was fit enough, but knew I could feel more energetic if I lost some of the excess pounds.


I was mindful of portion sizes and cut back on snacks, but didn’t really apply myself to the business of managing my weight properly.


Then one day it dawned on me. When getting off the scales and noticing nothing had changed, I asked myself, ‘What have you actually done this week that would have made a difference to your weight?’ And of course the answer was, ‘Not much.’


So there I was, doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different outcome. Doh!


As is the way of the Universe, later that day a promotion popped up in my Facebook feed for Michael Mosley’s Fast 800 plan. The underlying premise of this weight management regime is that you restrict your calories for two days a week. I knew it worked because a colleague had successfully lost several stone a few years before following his plan. It’s also known as the 5:2 diet.


I signed up for his emails and followed the plan and pretty soon the pounds started to fall away. It’s been so easy to do and I’m pleased to say I’ve lost over a stone and a half. I’m feeling much better for it, not only because I have more energy, but because I have found a way of taking control of this aspect of my wellbeing in a way that’s easy and sustainable.


So, by taking different actions, I’m enjoying a different outcome.


I said at the beginning, you’d think I’d know this stuff. But such is the power of habits, it can be difficult to spot when we’ve fallen into an unhelpful routine. Half the battle in improving the quality of our lives is noticing that something is out of kilter in the first place. Our brains are designed to be efficient by keeping us doing things on autopilot. That way we don’t expend unnecessary energy questioning every action we perform.


So recognising that our current habits are not serving us well isn’t always easy. But, the great news is, once we have noticed that something we routinely do is not in our best interests, then we can do something about it.


And that’s when the fun starts. Once I’d realised that I wasn’t applying myself to the issue, I was able to make a decision. I could continue as is and resign myself to being heavier than was comfortable. Or I could do something tangible to shed some pounds.


I decided on the latter and was lucky to find a diet regime that works well for me. But I wouldn’t have done that unless I’d woken up to the fact that my weight is in my control. I was choosing my reality.


So, it’s worth thinking, is there anything in your life that you’d like to experience differently? Is there anything you’re doing out of habit that is no longer serving you well?


If so, remember to do something different, and then, for sure, you’ll get a different outcome.


What to do if you feel stuck

It happens to us all from time to time. We get into a routine of doing things, life flows along smoothly and we accept that this is how things are. All well and good if we’re feeling nicely satisfied with life. But often what happens is, significant events crop up unexpectedly, job roles evolve, people around us change, and before we know it, life becomes a bit more stressful.


If we continue to do what we’ve always done, the stress is unlikely to go away and could even get worse unless we take remedial action. We need to overcome that feeling of being trapped in a situation that’s no longer working.


So, here are my top 5 tips for what to do if you feel stuck:


1. Recognise that something’s not quite right

Sometimes you’re not always aware when things are out of kilter. You may notice some physical discomfort, say a tightness in your chest or you catch yourself clenching your teeth. It may be that you’re not sleeping so well, or that you’re irritable for no good reason. A sure sign is if people keep telling you that you look tired, or keep asking you if you’re OK.


2. Acknowledge that you are in control

It’s important to realise that you’re not stuck. You got to where you are because of decisions you made in the past, which means you can create a different future by making different decisions right now. You’re not at the mercy of stuff that happens to you. But you are totally responsible for how you respond to that stuff. Acknowledging that you are in control of your response is a huge step towards moving forward positively.


3. Let go of redundant activities

One of the ways we can end up stuck is by continually doing things because we’ve always done them. Our brains do not like change, so doing something different is bound to feel uncomfortable for a while. Our primitive minds will try to keep us stuck in unhelpful behaviours because it fears the consequences of doing something different. It will tell you not to jinx things by changing your existing habits. But if you want a different experience of life, it’s time to let go of activities that are no longer serving you well.


4. Imagine your preferred future

Here’s where many people, go wrong. They spend endless hours analysing what’s wrong, wondering how they ended up in such an unhelpful situation. Perhaps ruminating about past hurts or beating themselves up for past decisions that didn’t turn out so well. And that’s not in the slightest bit helpful. Now is the time to begin imagining how you want things to be. Do you want to be calmer, more motivated, fitter, slimmer or more sociable? What does your preferred future look like? That’s the only thing that matters. What’s done is done, so don’t waste time fretting about the past, instead focus on a brighter future.


5. Take the first step towards that future

Once you’ve got a clear image in your mind of how you want things to be, think about what steps you need to take to bring that change about. I remember some time ago feeling disappointed that I wasn’t losing weight. Then I realised that I wasn’t actually doing much about changing my diet. I wanted a different outcome but hadn’t taken any steps to achieve it. By taking responsibility and making a firm decision to take positive steps, I’m now close to my target weight. So, what would you like to be different in your life? What small steps do you need to take to achieve your preferred future?


Remember, you are absolutely not stuck. You are in control.

The link between mind-reading and anxiety

When I was training to be a hypnotherapist, my wise and experienced lecturer used to challenge us whenever we tried to second-guess why our clients were behaving in a certain way.


We might say, ‘They’re anxious because their kids have all left home and they feel redundant.’ or ‘They’re depressed because they’re having money problems.’


He would reply, ‘You’re hallucinating,’ and then go on to say something like, ‘Those may or may not be the reasons they’re anxious or depressed, but it could be a whole host of other reasons.’ And, of course, in our Solution Focused world, it’s not our job to work out why someone is feeling like they’re feeling. Our job is to help them move forward from where they are towards a future that works better for them.


So, when in the therapy room, I’m always careful not to assume what’s going on in someone’s mind.


I read an article recently about how difficult it is to interpret body language or facial expressions. When we’re watching TV dramas, especially soaps or comedies, the actors often overemphasise their gestures, posture or the look on their face. The article pointed out that, in extreme cases, it’s entirely possible to work out the plot with the sound turned down, simply by observing the characters’ actions, reactions and expressions.


In real life, though, things are rarely that obvious. A case in point arose when Mr P and I went to a concert recently. We were killing time until the band came on and were observing the people around us. We noticed a very tall man arrive alone and stand by some seats several rows in front of us. He remained standing and was looking around anxiously, obviously looking out for a late-arriving companion. I speculated that he was worried he’d been stood up. Mr P was much more down to earth and speculated that the chap was simply waiting for his friend and didn’t want them to miss them. We’ll never know, of course, but the point is, we both had different interpretations of the same behaviour.


That example is of someone showing outward signs of being hyper-alert. But not everyone wears their heart on their sleeve. Many people who are anxious, depressed or angry put on a brave face. You’d never know there was turmoil below their calm demeanour, unless you happened to know them well and could spot subtle signs that all is not well.


When I was a hypnotherapy trainer, I could tell when my co-lecturers were feeling nervous, and they could tell when I was on edge. But because we’d become adept at appearing calm and in control, and because the students hadn’t known us for long, the chances are that they wouldn’t have noticed our discomfort.


So, it’s really important to recognise that we can’t actually mind-read. Unless we know someone really well, we can’t actually tell what they’re thinking, and even then, we can only make a best guess. If someone is short-tempered with you, it would be easy to think that you’ve done something wrong, or they don’t like you. The reality is, you may have caught them at the end of a really frustrating day, or they may have just received some worrying news, or they may be exhausted, unwell or in pain.


Their behaviour could be nothing to do with you, but if you interpret it that way, the chances are you’re going to get anxious. Here it’s useful to stop and think of alternative explanations for someone’s unhelpful behaviour. Remember to avoid hallucinating, you can’t possibly know why they’re behaving like they’re behaving. You’re not a mind-reader.


And once you can see others in a more detached light you can learn to remain nicely calm, and maybe even a bit curious, when their behaviour is out of kilter.