Time to put my slippers on!

A friend of mine really made me laugh the other week.  We were having a cup of tea via Zoom, she lives up in Scotland, so it’s a bit of a way to go just for a cuppa.  Anyway, she’s a hypnotherapist like me and we were chatting about the advantages and disadvantages of seeing clients online versus face-to-face in a clinic.

One of the advantages about online work is that you can keep your slippers on and no-one is any the wiser!  RelaxWhat made me laugh was when my friend told me about going in for her first clinic session. She’d put her high heeled shoes on and within five minutes she’d taken them off and got her flat-heeled shoes out.  She went on to tell me how she’d been ‘wobbling about all over the place’ and felt she’d never be able to walk in a straight line again wearing anything more than ½” heels.

We went on to talk about how we must have learned to walk in heels at one stage, so it was just a matter of practice.  But did we want to practice feeling uncomfortable?

Now, what’s all this got to do with mental wellbeing and my job as a hypnotherapist, as that’s what I normally ramble on about in these articles?  Well, feet can be a bit like the brain.  Feet will become uncomfortable if we shove them into ill-fitting shoes for the day.  Fashion trends can dictate that some of us shove our poor feet into high heels that can be highly uncomfortable?

Bizarrely, our brain can be the same as our feet.  We can follow trends or do things that hurt our brain.  For instance, we can take our brain for a walk down a negative pathway by negatively forecasting the future or negatively reflecting on the past.  We can watch negativity on TV or on the internet and be negatively influenced by it. Come to that, we can overwork our brains, similar to taking our feet on a 10-mile hike, without giving it a rest.

Yet, when we turn our attention to happy thoughts or watch something that makes us laugh or smile, then we feel better.  Negative thoughts are like ill-fitting shoes whilst positive thoughts are like comfy slippers! The only difference is that by taking our shoes off after a long day we get instant relief, whereas positive thoughts and actions take a little bit longer to have positive relief on the brain.

I’m a bit repetitive on this next bit, but I make no apology because it’s important and it works.  If you’re feeling negative, anxious or simply downright miserable, start training your mind to look out for the good things.  These can be small things, but good nonetheless.  Whatever rocks your boat.  It doesn’t need to be something you’ve actually done; it might be something you’ve seen or heard.  We do have a certain amount of choice about what we ‘tune into’ on the TV, radio or computer, but make a conscious note of it.

Making more of a mental note of what has been good can really start to balance the chemicals in the brain and offset the negative chemicals that are produced by so much bad news around us.

A lot of clients will respond to my question of “What’s been good” with “The sun came out on Tuesday” or “I went for a walk” or even “I turned off my computer at 6pm”.

I was working with a lovely chap recently who had been suffering from depression.  He followed a trend that quite a few clients pick up on, he found himself a notebook and each day he’d jot down what had been good.  Sometimes that list was very short, other days it was longer.  However, he waved the book at me one day on a Zoom session and said “Hey, this works”!

Welcome to happier days then.



The Happiness Quiz

The happiness Quiz

Hands up those of you who think winning the lottery will make you happier? Happiness

Hands up those who think becoming a paraplegic will make you happier?

If you’re thinking the former will make you happier then you’re possibly wrong.

Apparently, one year after these events, research has shown the person who won the lottery was equally as happy as the person who lost the use of their legs.  Bizarre eh?

Why would that be?

Well, if you win the lottery, everything changes.  If you think about it, people tend to stop working in their jobs so there’s no need to go to work.  Unless they’re careful, the focus of their lives changes and there’s the potential for ‘emptiness’ that needs to be filled.


Then there is the lack of commonality that links people together; friends are now doing different things.  Even their children can become aware that all of a sudden everyone wants to be their best friend, and even children know there’s something not quite right about that.

Not all of this becomes apparent immediately, but over a year research has shown that it’s not all as sunny side up as you might think.


Researchers looked at those who became paraplegic to see why they could become as happier.

Depending on their attitude, they might create a common bond with others in the same situation.  They can get a great sense of achievement out of very small accomplishments.  Their need to keep earning money and get to work is still there.  Friends can become closer as a supportive network. All this can have a positive effect on someone who’s been through a trauma, if the mindset is right!

So, what determines happiness after either of the above events?  Apparently, it’s down to how you were before the event, your attitude to life.

It’s been discovered that if you have a major life trauma more than three months ago, then it probably won’t be affecting your happiness today (in the majority of cases).  Whether that’s true or not again tends to depend on your mindset or, in other words, back to that word ‘attitude’.

There’s a chap called Charles Swindoll, who famously said:

“I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” 

I was talking to a client the other day and we were musing on the fact that so many people were now going round in a negative state at the moment.  I relayed the thoughts of my Mother’s memories of WW2 – that it could bring people together.  However, one of the big differences was that back then she’d go to the cinema once a week to watch the news reel and, as she recalls, although there would be bad news, there would be a ‘rallying of the troops’ feel about some of the news items.  There was a positive attitude intertwined with the bad news.

Nowadays, we can be swamped with a constant flow of bad news.  The television and radio can have a constant flow of ‘news’ but it’s rarely good – is it?  Then there’s the negative folk on social media!  But we can do something about it, we can limit our exposure (should we wish to).

It basically all comes back to us and our attitude.  Do we want to switch on the news automatically and feed our minds with the latest horror story?  Or, do we want to make ourselves happier and watch something amusing – by the way, have you seen Michael McIntyre’s dentist sketch?  We can still keep up to speed with what’s going on in the world by reading the internet headlines without immersing ourselves in the guts of the story, or by researching for ourselves the facts as opposed to a fair bit of fiction!

As Charles Swindoll says, it’s 10% the situation and 90% about us.  If I were to ask you ‘What has been good about your day so far’, I know that you will move into the positive intellectual part of your brain as it goes off to trawl through the events of the day.  This will be much more beneficial to our happiness than if we say ‘Oh my goodness, what a nightmare, when is this ever going to end!’

So, in these interesting times, what has been good about your day?  I don’t mean big stuff (remember, the lottery win rarely makes anyone happier), I mean the small stuff, really small.  The more you focus on that, the happier you will be.

I’ll leave you with a final comment from Mr Swindoll:

“And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”


What is Hypnotherapy?

For this exercise, you will need:

  • 1 fob watch
  • 1 clucking chicken
  • 1 active imagination

For many, hypnosis conjures up images of stage entertainment and the words ‘loss of control’. It should therefore come as no surprise that the public’s perception of hypnosis is flawed and that a general response would be ‘I’ll end up clucking like a chicken’!

The interesting fact about hypnosis is that it will change a person only to the degree they want to be changed. It will enable people to achieve things they want to achieve, so if they want to cluck like a chicken (and possibly would do so anyway after 6 pints or the equivalent) then hypnosis can help them! However, if a person in an hypnotic trance were asked to go and rob a bank, and this wasn’t in character, then they’d simply open their eyes and ask if the hypnotherapist was mad?

Modern advancements in diagnostic aids, such as electroencephalograph (EEG) machines have enabled researchers to record various patterns of electrical activity during sleep. These brainwave traces add further intrigue into the brain’s physical responses to hypnosis, by noting that subjects do not enter the delta wave patterns of deep sleep, instead there is a distinct similarity with brainwave activity of normal consciousness or alpha rhythms – these are characteristic of an awake but relaxed person.

So a hypnotised person is not asleep, they are fully conscious and aware of their surroundings. Able to react if a fire alarm were to go off by possibly being the first out of the door! In a more relaxed state however, they are more able to focus and accept suggestions put to them. Hypnosis is the natural harnessing of focused thought.

We all naturally enter a state of hypnosis every day, for instance an episode of day dreaming; driving the car down a road we know very well and realising we don’t recall the last 5 minutes of the journey; when time becomes distorted, i.e. when playing computer games or watching a gripping film. Possibly as we go through everyday tasks, we don’t have to consciously concentrate when we tie our shoe laces, we can free our mind up from the task in hand to consider whether or not to take the umbrella with us (I’d suggest you do!).

At no point will a person say something they don’t want to when in an hypnotic trance, they maintain full control over what they say and do. Nor can people become ‘stuck’ in trance, if anything they may drift off to sleep simply to wake a few minutes later. There is nothing magical about hypnotherapy; it’s simply a natural trance like state. When working with a clinical Hypnotherapist, they simply guide you into that relaxed state by focusing your mind and allowing you to consider the benefits of change.

What is so powerful about hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy enables a state of creative focus in order to promote change in a currently held belief. By using positive imagery and suggestion, a therapist encourages the client to concentrate on and consider alternative outcomes or emotions to any given event.

  • “What would happen now I don’t smoke”?
  • “How do I feel now I’ve got rid of that phobia”?
  • “Now I’m confident, what else can I do”?

We all have within us a conscious critical facility (CCF). This is the automatic sensor that monitors all new information received. If a contradiction should arise between new and currently held beliefs then the CCF will filter out the new information and won’t allow it to be accepted. Any information not consistent with the opinions already held in our data base will be rejected. The purpose of the CCF is to provide a stable sense of understanding about ourselves and the world in which we live. It aims to keep us safe by not allowing us to do anything which may cause us harm, encouraging us to only believe or act upon tried and tested information.

Hypnosis bypasses this filter system, allowing those new positive ideas and suggestions to take hold without being blocked by any feelings of threat or danger.

When relaxed, the barriers are dropped, new approaches to learning can be considered. In this relaxed state we can access the subconscious – that part of us that drives our responses and causes us to do such things as look both ways before crossing a road, or to scream when we see a spider! By accessing this part of the mind we can calmly look at those responses and decide which are necessary and which are now obsolete, making new informed decisions as to how to react.

The applications for hypnosis are varied. Anytime someone needs help to focus on achieving something different or to change the way they think in order to feel better, more confident and more in control, then hypnosis can help. From fears and phobias to breaking unwanted habits, to general anxiety, hypnosis has been shown to help when applied correctly, with an understanding of how suggestion works and a belief system within the client that will allow it to do so.

What is Solution Focused Therapy?

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is a future focused, goal directed approach to ‘brief’ therapy. Developed in the early 1980’s, it is a highly disciplined pragmatic approach to change. Early roots leading to modern day SFBT can be seen in the work of Milton Erickson and in the early work of the Mental Research Institution in Palo Alto.

Aspects of SFBT and CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) overlap; both focus on thoughts and actions and both can be used to good effect in conjunction with many other approaches. Combining SFBT with Hypnotherapy results in a powerful therapy that enables the client to make changes and achieve their goals in a relaxed way.

Milton Erickson told the very simple story of a client who was totally unable to solve a particular problem. Erickson guided the client into a trance and then invited him to imagine travelling forward in time, actually six months into the future, to a point where the problem no longer existed. He then asked the client to remind himself (at that future point in time) of how he had solved that former problem. When the client emerged from trance he announced he had a solution. The client’s subconscious mind had generated a solution even though the client had consciously been unable to find one. The same happens when a person has forgotten a name, say of an actor, and some hours later that name will just appear in the mind without consciously thinking about it. It’s the subconscious that has found the answer.

Erickson was very fond of saying “You are all capable of far more than you think you are. You have all the answers to all the questions you will ever ask, already inside you”.

No problem happens all the time

This tenet, following the notion of problem transience, reflects the major intervention that can be used continuously; that people always display exceptions to their problems albeit sometimes only for a short period of time. Utilising the client’s feelings from this time frame enables positive feelings to be captured and built upon.

This helps reinforce to the client what will be different when the problem is resolved. It enables the client to vocalise on how they want to feel and this helps construct small manageable steps towards change.

The future is both created and negotiable

Knowing that a person’s future can be created and changed, or negotiated, offers a powerful basis for the practice of SFBT. People are not seen as locked into a set of behaviours based on history, a social stratum or a psychological past. It suggests that the future is a hopeful place where people are architects of their own destiny and realising this enables a person to take control.

In working with SFBT, it is the therapist’s role to know where the client wants to get to and discover their motivation. Attempting to understand the cause of a problem is not necessary, or particularly useful in some cases. Discussing the problem can be actively unhelpful as it takes the client into the negative part of the brain rather than the solution focused area. It is often the case that the person simply wants to do without the problem and move forward.

Jonathan Cohen pioneered ‘neuro-economics’; considering the neural forces that drive both rational and irrational forces – often the conflict between the high road and the low road’s activity. Cohen’s brain scans show that the more powerful the low road’s activity, the less rational the reactions, the more active the high road is, (the prefrontal cortex) the more balanced the outcome.

Taking the client into a positive frame of mind allows change and motivation.

The brain is plastic!

When we are cheerful the left prefrontal cortex lights up, when we are distressed the right prefrontal cortex is at work. Even when we are in a neutral mood the ratio of background activity in our right and left prefrontal areas is a remarkably accurate gauge of the range of emotions typically experienced. People with more right side activity are particularly prone to ‘down’ or upsetting moments while those with more left side activity generally have happier days. But this is not fixed, each of us has an innate temperament, but the set point is not fixed because the brain is like plastic. In fact, Neuroscience now talks about how Neuroplasticity has replaced the formerly-held position that the brain is a physiologically static organ, and explores how the brain changes throughout our lives!

There have been experiments at the University of California with depressed patients being taught to view their own thoughts in a positive and different way, with positive results.

This suggests that the positive state is a skill that can be trained.

Cluck like a chicken!

Hypnotherapy is sometimes feared, exploited and under-estimated. We have all seen stage hypnotists hypnotise people and make them do just about anything they ask them to and we all say “I’m not doing that”! But Hypnotherapy has helped many people in many ways, so it may be worth while reading on to see what it could do for you!

What is it?

Hypnosis is usually induced by the use of the therapist’s voice and focusing the mind on something specific. There is no form of unconsciousness and nobody can be made to do anything they don’t want to – if you run round clucking like a chicken then that’s because you want to – possibly having drunk six pints of beer or the equivalent!

A person in hypnosis is aware of everything happening and retains a full and accurate memory of everything afterwards. It’s simply a very comfortable relaxed state and everyone enters a similar state every day simply by day dreaming – when driving a car in a trance; when playing computer games; whenever you have time distortion i.e. when watching an enthralling film. Everyone can be hypnotised, with the exceptions of the truly mentally subnormal, very young children, and anybody under the influence of hard drugs or large quantities of alcohol.

Hypnosis is about working together so that the client can be empowered to create change in his or her life. Nobody can be forced to do anything against their will. So if your partner wants you to give up smoking, but you don’t, then hypnotherapy won’t work. However, it can be a very effective tool for a great many problems where psychological factors are involved.

What can’t it do?

It is generally accepted that all hypnosis is ultimately self-hypnosis. A hypnotherapist merely helps to facilitate your experience – hypnotherapy is not about being made to do things, in fact it is the opposite, it is about empowerment. If someone tells you they can hypnotise you to do something, ask them to hypnotise you to run naked down the high street, and when they can’t, ask them to stop making ridiculous claims!

What can it do?

Hypnotherapy in its clinical use is quite simply one of the most powerful devices for personal development and positive change. Why? Because it utilises the most powerful part of our creative potential – our imagination.

The mind controls our thoughts – good and bad – but can sometimes be tricked into believing things that are “not quite right” which then signals other parts of the body to react accordingly.

Hypnotherapy allows the hypnotherapist to ‘suggest’ positive thoughts to the mind to allay the negative thoughts that ‘creep in and take over’ or to provide motivation where the mind has put in blocks, i.e. lack of will power for weight loss or suddenly not being able to run that marathon quite as quickly.

Some people state how they have a feeling of having an inner fight, one half of them wanting one thing, i.e. to diet, and the other half of them wanting to eat compulsively. By relaxing the mind, it enables suggestion to be accepted by the subconscious so that it brings it in line with the conscious so both aspects of the mind are wishing to achieve the same objective.

The Fear of Flying

Fear of flying is a surprisingly common problem. Before I became a Clinical Hypnotherapist I actually suffered with it myself, so I have a huge amount of sympathy for clients who arrive at my clinic with this phobia.

It can severely limit our horizons, be it for business or pleasure. However, hypnosis can tackle the fear of flying psychologically, and quickly and easily help you overcome your fear by helping you to become more confident about flying.

Air travel has become an everyday means of travel for many, and an essential part of our work and personal lives. But it is estimated that up to one in ten people suffer from a fear of flying. That fear can be generated for various reasons, with myself it was claustrophobia – so sealing me up in a plane and hurtling me into the air wasn’t my idea of fun at all! It can also be caused by a feeling of loss of control.

The subconscious part of your mind is responsible for your survival, generating ‘fight or flight’ responses, so the fear of flying is caused by the unconscious part of your mind warning you that it’s dangerous to get on a plane. Now if the plane was obviously not in a condition to fly then fine, your subconscious is doing a grand job. However, in the case of a flying phobia, that protection mechanism, which is meant to keep you safe, has become over-sensitive and is now a problem.

The client is asked how they would like to feel when they fly, then hypnosis is used to relay this message to the subconscious, alleviating the need for it to become over-protective and generate negative feelings.

Over the years, many people have used hypnosis to not only overcome their fear of flying, but learned to look forward to flying and to enjoy it!

Consider the good in life!

I made a decision sometime ago to stop following the news in detail, with its constant offerings of murder, despair, injustice and disaster I found myself really beginning to wonder what life was all about.

Now I keep tabs of what’s happening, with a fleeting glance at headlines, reading up on what’s relevant and possibly more importantly considering where I can make a difference. For instance, when yet another birthday loomed – 21 again – I let certain people know that they could donate to the World Wildlife Fund instead of spending £2 or £3 on a birthday card (or maybe even more if they really like me!).

Okay, it’s good to have a row of cards on my dusty old piano and I do recycle them afterwards, but I would prefer to take some control and actually HELP make a change rather than watch the TV headlines with a glum face.

As a Clinical Hypnotherapist I know that people often get stuck because of fixed ideas and limiting beliefs: the way a person perceives the world is heavily influenced by their beliefs about the world, and these beliefs in turn are strengthened by these filtered perceptions. Vicious circle. Consider the media, stories need to be informative (translate to read: sensational) and readers absorb that viewpoint of the world, thus creating more demand for that viewpoint.

Studies show that our minds pay more attention to the emotional impact of something than the probability of it occurring – so our minds fixate on the emotional aspect and our cognition is skewed as a result and because our subconscious mind struggles to differentiate between what’s happening on the TV and what’s actually happening to us as an individual, we absorb this negative information and start going into a negative state.

Consider: Plane crashes played endlessly in ‘breaking news’. Flying phobics freak out, even though statistically a person is FIVE TIMES more likely to die falling out of bed than of dying in an aeroplane crash. It seems you are even safer if your pilot is called Chesley B Sullenberger III and that the landing strip is the Hudson River! A truly inspirational story……….however………….to flying phobics it’s just another good example of why flying is so awful!

The point I’m making is that events are neither good nor bad; it’s the personal meaning we attach to them which informs our perspective, and every cloud has a silver lining, if only we care to look.

So, take a moment to consider this:

  • What do you have in life that’s good?
  • What’s your favourite day of the week and why?
  • Who is your best friend and what’s the best times you’ve had together, possibly the funniest?
  • When was the last time you laughed so much you thought you’d split your sides?

In reading these questions, have you started to smile or has your mood lifted just a bit? (I recall when Dave, my husband, rubbed his eye after rubbing deep heat into a bad back – and he hadn’t washed his hands. I promise he didn’t do himself an injury, but my warped sense of humour really saw the funny side of it, as did his once he’d stopped crying).

We all have choices to some extent. It’s how we decide to walk through life and what we decide to notice as we do that tends to depict our moods.


Motivation is pretty key in our lives don’t you think? Without it life can become problematic, dull and we can lack that inspiration. Motivation helps us working harder, can enable us to have a healthy relationship and makes us happy.

When we’re motivated we can become healthier, wealthier and wiser.

So how is it sometimes we lack that motivation, or possibly we lose it somewhere along the way? I see a lot of people where this can really cause problems. It can cause frustration and problems in relationships, it can undermine a teenager’s confidence or cause an athlete to miss training sessions, a mother can become disillusioned as her children leave the nest (even if it’s just for a few hours to go to school).

However, if you understand how to intercept this lack of motivation it’s amazing the results that can be achieved.

From motivation in your personal, business or sports life to quitting smoking or losing weight, motivation is key. In order to successfully motivate yourself it’s important to work out exactly what inspires you, what your goals are. This in itself may not be easy, I sometimes find myself working with clients to find out what it is they want before we can proceed with motivating them. Identification of goals is very necessary before you can start to motivate yourself.

Confidence building and motivation is all about helping you understand that you can actually do what you want to do, sometimes this means changing the beliefs built up over our lifetime – maybe we’ve been told that ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘that’s not achievable’ etc etc, so we may need some confidence building before we believe we can live the dream.

So let’s keep it simple, start by writing a list. I’m a great believer in lists, I use them constantly, in fact I sometimes have lists of my lists (okay, I’m kidding here!). I’d like you to write a list of everything you’d like to do before you leap into your coffin thinking ‘wow, what a wild ride that was’. And be brave, come on, what would you REALLY like to do. Give it some proper thought, not over a few minutes, but over a few days, possibly weeks, and gradually formulate that list. Then split it into two, the things that you’d like to achieve this year and then the rest. Now prioritise each item on both lists in the order you’d like to achieve them.

Now consider the first thing on list number 1 (this year’s list) and with your eyes closed, really imagine that it’s already been done – then move to the top of list 2 and again close your eyes, imagine what it would feel like to have actually achieved it. How do you feel? Then repeat this over a few days, really start believing you have already achieved – let me know what happens.

Hypnotherapy is based on the formula of auto suggestion, and it works on deeper levels than one can imagine. Hypnotherapy for motivation converses with your subconscious mind, and urges it to alter self-perception and self-image. Our subconscious is largely responsible for the way we think and react; so if we continually tell it that we can’t do something then we’re training it to accept the fact we can’t do something – simple. So think differently, what if – no really, WHAT IF you actually did something you’ve always wanted to do? Simply supply that thought to your subconscious as a done deal, imagine that you’ve actually done it and done it well.

Your subconscious mind understands the true potential that lies within us, and hypnotherapy and positive thinking taps into this potential. Through gentle affirmations such as “I can” will retrain your mind into believing that nothing is impossible.

The underlying theory of hypnotherapy is based on motivation, and we need it in every walk of life. However, we need to have our goals clear in our minds for the hypnotherapy to be successful. Hypnotherapy for motivation lets you focus on the particular task at hand, however if the task is undefined, hypnotherapy will be rendered ineffective.

Once you started this journey, you can see the changes in a short time through altering self-perception and self-image. Additionally, hypnotherapy gives you a whole new view of the world, from being a procrastinating person, you can become a self starter, from a couch potato you can run a marathon, from an under-confident person to doing whatever you want to do. So define your goals now, and dive into the vast sea of your subconscious mind through hypnotherapy and discover the possibility of life.

SMILE!!! Yes, I do mean now!

What happens when you smile? If you’ve hit a problem and you simply sit back and smile, what difference does it make?

When you smile two different things happen.

The first is that your body is tricked into thinking that you are happy and guess what – that makes you happier. This is proven fact. The muscles in your face move in a certain way as you smile, this transmits a smilie signal up to your brain. Your brain, not knowing any different because it’s easily confused (believe me on this one) recognises the signs and then believes you’re happy – and so you are! The brain might wonder “am I happy because I’m smiling or am I smiling because I’m happy” but who cares by this stage?

The second thing to change when you smile is that life recognises you’re happy, something changes for the better. People around you twig you’re smiling so they become happier and then smile back. You get a better feeling from the people around you because your smile is bouncing back all the time.

Obviously if you wander round like Mr Bean with a smile plastered all over your face constantly, there is a slight chance you might get locked up so let’s be sensible about it, but you see where I’m going with this.

So when I couldn’t find the right photo for this article, a simple black and white illustration depicting a VERY broad smile, I smiled. Then I thought of my dog, Millicent, who always makes me smile and I recalled a picture of her where she looked as though she were laughing. Bingo, I had my picture – and all because I smiled!

So have a smilie day and see what difference it makes, to your work, your family and your friends.

Take a word, any word… and change your mind!

In fact, don’t just take one word, take a pile of words. What I’d like you to do, right now is simply imagine a pile of words on the floor to your left. I’d like you to consider words such as winter, miserable, cold, sleet, hail, shivering, damp. Okay? Done it?

Now imagine another pile of words but to your right. In this pile imagine words such as suntan lotion, sunglasses, summer, beach, bucket & spade, smiles. Get the picture?

So which pile do you prefer? Am I safe to lay money on the second pile on the right?

What we sometimes take for granted is the power of words. In certain situations they can provide a catalyst for change. Imagine going in for an interview or to make a presentation whilst repeating within your own mind the simple word YES!! Or, perhaps going for a driving test or exam whilst thinking the word Succeed.

Close your eyes, yes actually close your eyes and think of a word that would encourage you to move forward. But don’t just think of that word, picture it, imagine if it has a sound connected to it, how does that individual word actually feel? The more you tune into positive words the better you can feel if you apply yourself.

It’s like if I were to ask you how many bright yellow cars are there around? You may say one or two, depending on where you live. But now I’ve focused your attention on bright yellow cars I wonder how many more you’ll see when you’re out and about next?

If you choose to focus on something POSITIVE, whether it’s a word or an image, you start re training your brain to automatically lean towards the POSITIVE! It’s rather like thinking about the first record you ever bought – remember that? I vaguely recall my first record being Herman’s Hermits (now I’m showing my age). As I recall the track “I’m into something good” from 1960 something, it takes me right back in time and changes how I’m feeling. I get a sort of mushy nice feeling!

Now, there’s some technical stuff behind all this and it’s not only how you operate your mind, but where you cast your eyes. The human eye is a fascinating thing you know and our pair of eyes help us to perceive the world in which we live. It’s only when something happens that affects your vision that you pay closer attention to it, and it permeates through into your awareness. A great deal of what we see and understand relates to the way we move our eyes to navigate, which helps us to understand and appreciate what we are seeing.

Research shows us that even the direction of which we look can impact on our thoughts too. When there is dark and miserable weather in winter, people tend to look down and reflect on feelings which are usually about the past and that glum feeling that matches the weather becomes repeated. However research has shown that when we look up we change our physiological state and this can positively affect our mental state. Things in life can look up too so it’s not just when the sun shines. Research also shows us that the orientation of our eyes played a central role in our survival. In primitive times we would have been hyper vigilant and switched on to a constant alert state so as to be watchful for any signs of danger of a sabre tooth tiger in close proximity.

In those days we had to use our eyes, as well as the rest of our senses, to attend to a hostile world. Research shows our brains are still wired to avoid predators we no longer encounter, so our adrenal system responds to modern daily stresses as if they were mortal threats.

In a recent new study researchers have known that the brain is constantly changing as it perceives the outside world, processing and learning about everything it encounters. Researchers now understand how the brain changes when confronted with various situations. Every moment our eyes are open our brains are changing in some very sophisticated ways.

Many people today are held back from achieving their potential by propagating fears and limitations and focusing on the negative … and then looking for more of the same or spend time trying to understand why they feel so depressed, analysing the problem.

Too much anxiety causes a neural hijacking that ‘overrides the thinking brain’ and sometimes our mind can become an incubator of anxiety, anger, depression and fear.

But here’s some good news!

We possess something rather remarkable called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). This can bring about change when we know what we want and we are focused on the desired result. You’ve no doubt heard many times, ‘the brain has to know what it wants’?

The RAS is the area that notices things that we focus our attention on. For instance, if you decide that you need a new car and you like a particular make and model in a certain shade of red, after you decided what you wanted your RAS would draw your attention to all those red cars that ‘matched’, whereas previously your attention would have been elsewhere and essentially filtered them out so you wouldn’t have noticed them so much.

For those people who have high anxiety or negativity their RAS becomes temporarily distorted and tends to focus on the same and then pattern matches to look for other high anxieties or negativities by association and conditioning. But if we focus on relaxation or positive thoughts, words and images, then the same RAS activates we feel more in control.

Our happiness and our ability to cope increases when we notice and focus on the good things. Primarily what we focus on then increases as the RAS can find those previously elusive solutions – because we have changed from a problem focus to a solutions focus. When we change our filters our viewfinder gets modified so we can see things differently. When we are positive we become more attuned to noticing opportunities and we cope better with setbacks and remove obstacles.

So now my clients who know me well understand why my first question every sessions is…. “And now, what’s been good about your week then”? Now it’s up to you to look out for what’s good in your life, or possibly more importantly, what would you like to change for the positive in your life?

My thanks go to Michael Hughes for his contribution to this article!