Spring is nearly sprung!

At this time of year, in the depths of February, it’s easy to feel despondent. But on yet another dog walk, I looked around me and saw the snowdrops pushing up through the ground and I’ve even got sparrows starting to nest in the birdbox above the door! So spring is not quite sprung, but I can definitely feel that it’s on its way.

Talking of optimism and new starts, how many of you have kept to those New Year’s Resolutions that you made with such enthusiasm at the start of the year?! Go on…be honest! It can be so tempting to make potentially life-changing resolutions on 1 January, but the problem is that we sometimes set the bar so high for ourselves that we can send our primitive brain into panic mode.

For those of you familiar with Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, you’ll know that when we’re operating in our intellectual mind, we tend to think rationally and calmly and therefore make sensible decisions based on a proper assessment of the situation.  However, when we try to make major changes in our lives, our primitive brain senses danger because it prefers us to follow previous patterns of behaviour, even if they’re not necessarily good for us. Plus, when we operate from our primitive brain, we don’t think so clearly and are more likely to respond emotionally and succumb to that biscuit or cadge that cigarette and then think ‘Well that’s it, I’ve failed so I may as well have another one!’ This kind of black and white thinking is definitely the primitive brain in action – it doesn’t think things through but tends to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ (we love a metaphor in the solution focused world!). And sadly this often leads us to feeling like we’ve ‘failed’ and to a downward spiral of negative thinking.

So how can we set ourselves up with more chance of success when we’re trying to make positive changes in our lives whether it be physical habits like losing weight or creating more positive ways of thinking? Here are some ideas:

  • Just make a start..don’t wait until you feel motivated to do it – sometimes we just have to get on and do it because once we get started, we create lovely feel good chemicals like serotonin which help to motivate us and keep us going. Even Joe Wicks says ‘I always say you have to remember that the motivation comes from the end of the workout.. I know when I get up and do 20 minutes of exercise, I feel better for it’. If even Joe Wicks doesn’t feel motivated to make a start, don’t have too high expectations of yourself!

  • Take small steps – you’re more likely to make changes if you’re kind to yourself and commit to making small changes at the beginning which you’re more likely to achieve. It also means you’re less likely to trigger the primitive brain into sensing danger and sabotaging your best hopes by giving up at the first setback. I’ve started Couch to 5k three times now because of various challenges eg dodgy knee, long Covid, golfer’s elbow (I don’t even play golf!), but each time I feel up to it again, I have another go and here I am yet again at week 5, but I’m still going..yay! Plus, the beauty of this approach is that by achieving those small steps, you’ll also create lots of small bursts of dopamine in your body which will in turn motivate you to keep going. Definitely a win win situation!!

  • Be consistent and patient – new habits should feel easy, especially in the beginning and this will make it easier for you to stick to them and even feel that you can begin to increase things a little every day or every week as you see results. Remember the saying that ‘cells that fire together, wire together’. This just means that the more you repeat an activity (good or bad!), the more likely it is that you’ll create a new neural pathway in the brain which leads to the creation of a new habit. It’s a bit like when we first walk through a field of long grass, it’s hard to see where we’ve walked, but the more we walk the same way, we create a new pathway through. Creating habits of new ways of thinking and behaving is literally rewiring our brains!

  • Get the support of a buddy – we’re social creatures and we often find things easier if we have someone by our side either metaphorically or in reality. And remember to be your own cheerleader too – encourage yourself, recognise your achievements along the way and keep telling yourself that you CAN do this!

  • Picture the end result – Our minds are incredibly powerful and if we focus on what we want to achieve, then we’re more likely to get there. As the wonderful Andy Workman said, ‘when we learn to ride a bike, if we keep looking down at the pedals, we’re more likely to lose our balance and fall off. But if we look up and keep our eyes focused on the way ahead, then before we know it, we’ll be cruising along no problem!’ You can use a range of strategies to help keep on track eg affirmations, vision boards with photos of how you want your life to be or maybe the promise of a special reward when you’ve achieved your goal – the carrot is definitely mightier than the stick!

  • If you need more help, reach out and try the solution focused approach – sometimes we need a bit more support to make big changes in our lives. You may have read on my Facebook page that one of my recent clients, Margaret decided that after more than 50 years of smoking, she finally wanted to stop. But not surprisingly she was worried that she wouldn’t be able to do it, so reached out for help. We had just one session together plus a few follow up texts and phone calls and she’s now gone for more than a month without a cigarette and is quite rightly feeling very proud of herself…so massive congratulations to her!! It’s all about changing our mindset because if we believe we can, we can.

Solution focused hypnotherapy can help with so many challenges in life including losing weight, improving self-esteem and even phobias and the best thing is that it usually takes only a few sessions or even just one as with stopping smoking. Sometimes we find that just a few sessions of emptying our Stress Bucket help us reduce our levels of anxiety enough to get us back into our intellectual mind where we find it easier to make changes because our head is clearer and so we can see a way forward to a happier future.

If you would like to discuss how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help you, please call me on 07790 683403 or click on the contact button.