How Solution Focused Hypnotherapy Changed My Life

About a decade ago, I went for a walk along the beach with my family. I live in Devon and am really lucky to be right by the sea. The day was warm, perfect for T-shirts, and thinking back to it now, the blue sea would have been sparkling. The sand would have been soft, and there would have been a gentle sound of the waves lapping up against the shore. Seagulls might well have flown overhead, and a gentle breeze probably brushed my skin, but I can’t say for sure. I was too caught up in my thoughts to notice or appreciate any of these things.

At this time in my life, I was spending a LOT of time overthinking, worrying about what other people thought of me, analysing conversations I’d had, essentially trying to be a mind reader! I was constantly comparing myself to others too, and feeling like I was never quite good enough. It felt like I had a natural talent for focusing on all my flaws! And to top it all off, I felt stressed out by every work email appearing in my inbox.

And I felt guilty too! Guilty because I had a lovely husband, amazing children, a comfortable home, and a fulfilling job as a teacher (although it may be more accurate to replace ‘fulfilling’ with ‘stressful’). I basically had everything that I’d ever really wanted. But I was struggling to actually enjoy this ‘happy’ life I’d worked so hard to create!

I felt SO frustrated with myself, because I didn’t know how to change the way I was feeling, and it felt like life was passing me by in a bit of a haze. I couldn’t shake off the stress, the self-doubt and overthinking. I couldn’t fully enjoy my life. And that was all I actually wanted. To enjoy my life. To enjoy my family. To be fully present for them, to be there for them. To stop overthinking. To stop letting all the negative thoughts get the better of me. Ultimately, we only get one life, and I’d always fully intended to enjoy mine!

I don’t think anyone outside of my inner circle of family or friends would have had any idea how I was feeling. We can all be so good at keeping up appearances! You never really know for sure what’s going on in someone else’s mind. But actually, I felt pretty rubbish.

Up until this point, I’d always been quite dismissive of anything that was meant to help me. I believed that I should be able to manage on my own. However, my desire to feel better than I did began to outweigh my desire to be seen as ‘fine.’ So, when my mum suggested that I go see a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, I think I was probably so worn out by all the overthinking that I didn’t even try to argue or make excuses about why I didn’t need to.

And so, I committed to having a few sessions of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. I really had no idea what to expect, but I really, really wanted to feel better than I did. The sessions with my hypnotherapist, were actually really pleasant. In the first part of each session, we talked, but only about nice things. I didn’t have to analyse myself or talk about negatives—we focused on what had been good about my week, what I wanted to feel like moving forward, and what difference it would make to my life. The second part of each session was the hypnosis part, which it turned out was basically just me sitting in a comfy chair, closing my eyes and relaxing while my hypnotherapist talked for a while, and my mind wandered and sometimes I was focused on what he was saying and sometimes I wasn’t listening at all. But I really enjoyed the experience. And my goodness, the difference it  made! After only seven or eight sessions, I felt so much happier, so much better able to handle stressful things. I felt excited by my life again. I felt really present! And my family undoubtedly benefited too.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy changed my life, but the reality was that my circumstances hadn’t needed to change in order for me to feel so much better.  Family life was still a juggling act, and work remained challenging at times. What HAD changed was my experience of it. My thoughts and feelings had transformed. There’s so much in the world that we can’t control, but we can change how we respond to it. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy had helped me to change the way I felt, and I was able to truly enjoy my life again.

And the reason I wanted to share this with you is that I want you to know if you feel stressed and overwhelmed, you are not alone. If you are struggling with anxiety or low mood, you are not the only one. But I also really want you to know that change is possible when you really want it and when you are ready. When we realise that about 95% of our thoughts and feelings come from our subconscious mind, it makes sense that we haven’t been able to alter the way we think and feel by conscious will alone. Using hypnosis to access the subconscious offers a much better chance of making positive shifts. If you would like to find out more about how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy could help you achieve the changes that you would like, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Getting the Right End of the Stick: Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and Anxiety Relief

In today’s fast-paced world, anxiety has become an unwelcome companion for many. The constant demands and pressures of life can leave us feeling overwhelmed and trapped in a cycle of stress. Recognising that you are struggling with anxiety may be difficult, especially if you are not someone who sees yourself as ‘anxious’. You can be a confident person and yet have to deal with anxiety. A person might be considered to be highly successful and yet still have to wrestle with anxiety. It is possible to be happy in so many areas of life and yet be weighed down by anxiety. Each individual’s experience with anxiety is unique, and it can manifest in many ways, such as overthinking, intrusive negative thoughts, persistent fear, catastrophising, and even physical symptoms like restlessness, chest pressure, sensations in the stomach, increased heart rate or muscle tension and poor sleep.  

Anxiety is actually a natural protective response designed to keep us safe. Every single human being on the planet will experience elements of anxiety to some degree at some point in their lives. The part of our brain responsible for anxiety is deeply subconscious, and its only real purpose is to keep us alive. This part of the brain isn’t concerned about the quality of our life, just that we are still breathing! The problem is that it can overreact and distort our perceptions of the world around us, which can negatively impact our ability to enjoy life.

The human brain has evolved so much in the past million or so years; we can now do all kinds of things that would have been way beyond human ability several millennia ago. But, the instinctive, protective and very primitive part of the brain that our ancient cave-dwelling ancestors used to survive their daily lives still exists and will happily step in to ‘help’ in any situation it sees fit. The kind of ‘help’ it provides is far more suited in most cases to the lives of those ancestors, which were very different from our lives today. This primitive part of the brain is responsible for the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response, which aided our ancestors’ by helping them hide from, fight off, or run away from danger. It tends to be less helpful when dealing with a work email or when we are concerned about a loved one, but that doesn’t stop it from trying to ‘assist’.

Anxiety encourages us to think negatively and to assume the worst (best to be prepared!); it can make us obsessive and vigilant (best not to forget the threat exists!). It will also pump us full of the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol in quantities that would enable us to run from a sizeable vicious animal, such as a polar bear, in the improbable event that one escaped from a local zoo. You can see how, in the case of a giant polar bear on the loose, negativity, vigilance and a load of stress hormones to help you fight or run away would be really quite beneficial. It would be best to assume that the bear was hungry. It would be sensible to keep checking where it was and to stay on high alert. But the thing is that this protective part of our brain is not very good at judging the criteria for ‘actual threat to life’, and it can get triggered by all sorts of other things! 

Any situation in which we feel worried/threatened/unsafe in any way can trigger this primitive protective part of the brain. We may be very aware of some of the things that raise our anxiety on a conscious level, but it can also be triggered on a subconscious level by all sorts of things going on in the world around us. Even things we feel we are coping with well can contribute to our overall stress levels. 

This primitive part of the brain can easily get the wrong end of the stick and confuse all sorts of things as a ‘threat’. Remember, I am not saying that YOU are mistakenly assessing situations, but that your subconscious might be, without you even being aware. A disagreement with a friend, financial worries, the news, or even someone rude in the supermarket can register with the subconscious as a threat in some way and prompt this primitive part of our brain to act. The primitive part of the brain can flash into action in an instant and then stand back down shortly after (often when we cringe and wish we had reacted slightly differently). It can also gradually get more reactive and responsive over time. How many of us can identify things that ‘never used to bother us’ but do now? Another spanner it throws into the works is that it’s not very good at differentiating between the present, the past and the future. So, suppose you are thinking about difficult events in our past or negatively forecasting what might happen in the future. In that case, this subconscious part of your brain can trigger responses like it is happening now. So, even though we can’t change the past or accurately foresee the future, such thoughts can contribute to an increase in anxiety.

As humans, we have a fantastic ability to think logically and rationally and solve problems using our brain’s incredible intellectual parts. The problem is, however, that the protective primitive part of our brain can trump rational thought, and it will do its utmost to shut down the logical part of our brain before we get a chance to think of all the possible (and more positive) options. The intellectual part of our brain gets shut down by our responsive, emotional, primitive brain in order to keep us alive in the face of imminent danger (or what it has interpreted as such). We don’t want to spend too much time thinking- we must act! IF we were dealing with an escaped Polar Bear.

 It can just get out of control. And unfortunately, in this case, practice makes perfect; It thinks it’s doing a great job protecting us because we are still alive, so it just keeps on doing what it’s doing, and we have to keep dealing with the anxiety it creates.

So, what we need to do is to calm this primitive part of our brain—handing back power and control to our intellectual brain, which is FAR better equipped to deal with the trials and tribulations of modern day life and to make rational, logical assessments of situations.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy offers a unique and effective strategy to calm anxiety. Unlike some therapeutic approaches that delve extensively into the roots of a problem, Solution-Focused Hypnotherapy emphasises solutions rather than dwelling on the issues. It encourages clients to envision a future where their concerns have diminished and fosters a positive and forward-looking mindset. This shift in focus plays a pivotal role in breaking the cycle of anxiety.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy blends traditional psychotherapy (talking therapy) with hypnosis, which induces a relaxed state in which we can access the subconscious, where so many of our unwanted negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours originate. Ultimately, we cannot control much of what goes on in the world around us, but we can learn to gain control over how we respond to it. By using hypnosis, we can influence our thought patterns and change how we think and feel. 

Developments in neuroscience in the past few decades mean that we now recognise that the brain can change. Neuroplasticity means we can alter how the neurons in our brain fire and change the messages they deliver. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy works to rewire ingrained subconscious thought patterns that lean toward the negative by introducing positive suggestions during the relaxed hypnotic state. Over time, this helps reshape the way we perceive and respond to stressors, fostering a more resilient mindset so that we can deal with anything we need to. Combining the power of relaxing hypnosis with a powerful solution-focused approach means we can gain the necessary tools to navigate life’s challenges with newfound resilience and positivity. In a world where anxiety can feel like an insurmountable mountain, Solution-Focused Hypnotherapy can offer a trail of stepping stones toward a calmer mind and a brighter future.

Hypnotherapy for Weight Management …Can Hypnotherapy Really Help You to Lose Weight?

If you spend any time on social media, you may well have seen adverts for Hypnotherapy Weigh-Loss apps or downloads, and you’ve probably seen people like Paul McKenna promise to ‘make you thin’.  I’m sure that many of you will be wondering what it’s all about and how it could possibly work. I can’t speak for these apps, and I certainly can’t speak for Mr McKenna, but I can tell you a little bit more about Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and how it could benefit you.

Now, a very long time ago, I worked in sales. Straight out of University but still unsure what I wanted to do, I got a job selling newspaper advertising space.  I didn’t work in sales for very long! Mainly because I was absolutely terrible at it! I couldn’t sell a woolly jumper in the Arctic! My point is that I am not trying to persuade you that Hypnotherapy for Weightloss is a miraculous solution to getting the body that you want.  If you are hoping to have hypnotherapy and then be able to sit on the sofa watching Netflix and eating chocolates and crisps while the pounds just melt away, I am afraid that I’m going to have to disappoint you. It is not a magic wand.  What it is, however, is a great way to help you to make changes in the way you think, feel and act that can be really helpful in achieving your goals.

We all know the basic premise of how to lose weight.  Eat less and move more.  So simple.  So why don’t we all do just that and have the bodies that we desire? It can be so frustrating when we have consciously decided that we are going to eat well and do some exercise. We know what we need to do, and there doesn’t SEEM to be anything standing in our way from achieving it.  We might even stick at it for six months…one month…two weeks…or maybe just three days.  We might lose some weight in that time if we are lucky.  But then it all goes to s**t, and we strayed from the plan, and we might as well just give up, if only for the rest of the day, and we will get right back on it tomorrow…or Monday…or after the party in two weeks time… Oh, the party! We wanted to lose weight for the party! Now we won’t, and that means we won’t fit into the new dress that we bought in the size we wanted to be, as opposed to the size we really needed (maybe that’s just me!?).  So basically, we’ve just ruined everything AGAIN.  Although, of course, we haven’t, not really. But that is what our negative inner voice will tell us.  Again and again. And often, the only antidote to a negative inner voice is to feed it biscuits.  Even though, like the film The Gremlins, it’s generally not a great idea to feed such things after midnight, or any time of day for that matter!  How is it that our own negative inner voice can be so harsh and cruel? It only serves to make us feel worse, and then we are probably more likely to – you guessed it – EAT! That same negative inner voice can also do a great job of dissuading us from being more active.  It can be really beneficial to consider how we would talk to a friend or family member, someone we really care about, if they were us.  There’s so much to say about that; I think I’ll save it for another blog post, but do take the time to consider how you are talking to yourself internally and if you could be just a little bit kinder and more supportive.

It is crucial to understand how the brain works both on a conscious and subconscious level because we often have the most fantastic conscious intentions, which somehow seem to fail to materialise. Unfortunately, these plans and promises can easily be derailed entirely by our mighty subconscious brains. This is because our subconscious mind controls over 90% of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours!  Hypnotherapy has the benefit of allowing us to access this vast unconscious resource and can help us to change our relationship with food, exercise and our self-image.  Hypnotherapy can help YOU to access YOUR subconscious.  YOUR subconscious brain will work with the suggestions made in both the talking part and the hypnosis (aka trance) part of hypnotherapy sessions.  As a hypnotherapist, I can support you in the process, but I can’t reprogramme YOUR brain.  If I could, I would have reprogrammed my husband’s brain to buy me flowers every week instead of once a millennium, and I would not have to remind my children 38 billion times to brush their teeth! Your brain will take on suggestions that align with your wishes, and change will happen because you want it to happen.  It is what happens after hypnotherapy sessions that will ultimately help you achieve your goals. 

As a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, I don’t fit people with imaginary gastric bands or use food aversion techniques. In sessions we don’t focus on ‘the problem’ but rather on feeling good and how to achieve that. When we feel good, we make better choices and feel motivated. The thoughts you allow inside your mind are as important as what you put inside your body.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is firmly rooted in neuroscience, so there is much to consider regarding the neurotransmitters and hormones produced by our brains and bodies.  Stress and sleep can have a considerable impact on these chemical messengers. When we feel frustrated and bad about ourselves, we produce fewer lovely feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.  This is a real shame because a good flow of dopamine and serotonin makes us happier, more motivated and more likely to do things we should.  When we are down on ourselves and feel negative about our bodies, we are likely to produce more cortisol, one of the most influential stress hormones.  Cortisol encourages both fat storage and the desire to eat sugary high fat foods.  Stress can also significantly impact the production of Ghrelin and Lepin, the hormones responsible for appetite and feeling full.  Sleep also has a massive impact on these hormones, our insulin levels AND our metabolism. A lack of sleep can make our metabolism sluggish because it’s trying to conserve energy, and a slower metabolism results in the body releasing cortisol, the stress hormone.  So, in a nutshell, stress can affect our hormones and neurotransmitters, which affect our weight, which can affect our stress levels, which can affect our sleep, which can affect our weight, which can affect… On and on, round and round, a carousel that none of us want to be on! YIKES!

Is this all a bit disheartening? Thankfully it needn’t be. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a great way to reduce stress and its associated hormones.  It’s also beneficial in encouraging more of the lovely, natural, feel-good neurotransmitters, and it can improve the quality of your sleep too. Allowing you to focus on feeling good about yourself and work towards your goals.  Ultimately, losing weight doesn’t make you happy, but being happy makes it possible to lose weight!

If you have any further questions, or you want to find out about one-to-one sessions or online small group classes, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!


Managing the Menopause…How Solution Focused Hypnotherapy Can Support You During the Menopause.

I recently signed up for a continuous professional development course (CPD) on Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and the Menopause. The objective of the course was to teach curious therapists, like myself, how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy could be of benefit to women going though this transitional period in their lives.  I have to confess I signed up for the course because I thought that I should.  If I’m brutally honest not many things have excited me less than the prospect of talking about the menopause for four hours on a Saturday morning.  However the menopause is pretty high on the agenda right now both nationally (symptoms including ‘flushing’ seems to be an increasingly ‘hot’ topic of discussion on television and in the press. Sorry I couldn’t resist then pun) but also personally; Having not long ago celebrated my forty-fifth birthday I am most likely in, or rapidly approaching the peri-menopause. 

So I settled myself down for the morning on front of my computer, Zoom meeting links at the ready, and armed with coffee, anticipating drudgery and tales of an unavoidable and slightly negative reality (I’m referring to the online training…although I have to acknowledge that the negativity was linked to thoughts of my own menopausal journey too).  The course was in fact incredibly interesting.  It challenged my own assumptions and actually inspired and excited me (menopause geek?).  No, I wasn’t on the wrong course, and we did of course look at the plethora of possible symptoms that women can experience during any point of the peri-menopause, menopause (did you know this is just the one single day that marks one year since your last period!) and post-menopause. The list of symptoms can be described as long, slightly eye watering and certainly unenviable. However, it turns out that although the menopause is universal to women around the world, the symptoms are not.  Google it and you’ll see for yourself!  

There seems to be a trend that countries such as the UK, the US, Australia and Canada, where the ageing process for women is seen as a negative, women often struggle with symptoms, are sometimes embarrassed by them, and also avoid discussing them.  In these countries where there is a plight amongst many for a kind of eternal youth, women seem to be far more likely to have negative experiences of the menopause.   

Some other countries and cultures, view this transitional period in a women’s life more positively.  In Japan the word for menopause ‘konenki’, means ‘renewal of life’ and energy and it is thought that it can be ‘the best time of your life yet’.  In India it may be seen as a time of liberation.  Indeed in countries where women are seen to have a positive change of status at this time in their lives, it seems that women may also have a different and more positive experience of the menopause.

That is not to say that women do not experience symptoms such as hot flushes and mood swings (in Japan women are more likely to report feeling ‘chilli’), but they often appear to struggle with them to a lesser degree. So it seems that ingrained cultural attitude can have a significant impact on women’s menopause experience, psychologically and quite possibly physically too. 

Some of this may be down to diet and lifestyle.  If this is the case then perhaps we can take heed and strive for an active lifestyle with a diet rich in soy products. Soy is rich in  oestrogen, one of the hormones that naturally declines during the menopause.  Don’t worry, dictating diet and exercise is not part of my role as a Solution Focuses Hypnotherapist- you can decide if you want to look into it…But…while we are on the subject of oestrogen… did you know that cortisol practically eats oestrogen!!!?  Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones, and has all sorts of less than desirable effects when we have too much of it in our bodies.  It encourages fat storage, interferes with our immune system, and can disrupt our sleep.  So all of that, on top of the fact that it is negatively effecting our already decreasing oestrogen levels, is enough to persuade me that we really want to manage and decrease our cortisol levels.  So as a ‘stress hormone’ we produce cortisol when we are stressed and anxious.  In theory it is actually there to help us; If you were in immediate danger, lets say that an unexpected polar bear strayed into your path, your body would pump you full of adrenaline so you could fight the polar bear (I’m not taking that option) or run away (definitely my preferred option even though I don’t like running).  It would then raise your cortisol levels so that you would continue to stay on high alert in case the danger (Polar Bear) was to return.  So if we are feeling anxious and stressed we will be producing extra cortisol.  I have to say that the list of possible menopausal symptoms is pretty anxiety provoking. Combine that with the unconscious negative perceptions and fears of aging and negative connotations of menopause.  Then add into the mix any other anxieties and stresses we might also be in our lives, and you could end up with a pretty full stress bucket! And a full stress bucket means that we are more likely to think negatively, fuelling cortisol, further reducing oestrogen and exacerbating any menopausal symptoms that we are experiencing.  When our stress buckets have capacity in them, we have the capacity to deal with anything, including frustrating symptoms.  When our stress buckets have capacity we are able to think rationally and logically.  When our stress buckets have capacity we are far more likely to be able to think positively about ourselves, or work towards small goals that will help us to feel better about ourselves. When our stress buckets have capacity we have a much better chance of getting a good nights sleep, which will in tern empty our stress bucket still further.   If you would like to find out more about how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy could help you to empty your stress bucket, reduce stress and anxiety both in general and related to the menopause, and cope with any symptoms that you may have, and feel good about yourself and the future please get in touch to arrange a FREE initial consultation.  That Saturday morning training course has completely changed the way that I will now view the menopause.  Learning about the menopause, talking about the menopause, and updating and overriding some of my subconscious negativity about it has left me feeling completely different about this transitional stage in women’s lives.  I look forward to supporting clients on their own journeys to a better, easier, and more manageable, menopause experience.

Three, That’s the Magic Number. How We Can Create Our Own Happiness Naturally.

Three, That’s the Magic Number.

How We Can Create Our Own Happiness Naturally. 

I thoroughly enjoyed training to become a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist.  I chose to train in Bristol, which involved very early Saturday morning starts and a ninety mile journey in a northerly direction (remember practically everything is north when you live in Devon!).   This also cunningly meant that I got a night away in a hotel once a month.  A whole night, in a big bed, alone.  Bliss!  I’m not sure that I would have felt able to do that a few years ago when my sons were smaller but it felt like the right time so off I went, and I am pretty sure that I deserve those precious uninterrupted nights sleep after a long decade of musical beds whilst trying to get children to actually go to sleep/sleep all night/sleep in their own bed.   I’m not sure why I’m trying to justify my hotel stay- It’s not like you were judging!  Anyway, as I was saying, I thoroughly enjoyed my training, and one of the parts that I found most enlightening and valuable was learning about the brain.  Developing an understanding of neuroscience and learning about brain anatomy and physiology was fascinating.  It helped me to understand how the brain reacts and responds to stressors on an unconscious level and why it creates the symptoms of anxiety, depression and anger.  I found this both empowering and reassuring because it means that we can understand how and why as humans, we can end up feeling down, anxious or overwhelmed, and importantly what we can do to help.

By this point anyone who likes the band De La Soul will be wondering why on earth the title of this article was a nod to their classic track “The Magic Number”….bear with me…I’m getting to it.  Our brains produce neurotransmitters. Natural chemicals released as messengers in our brains and body.  So our brains produce these chemicals naturally, but our MINDS and the way we think can have a major influence on quantities of the chemicals produced.  If we have high levels of anxiety it is likely that we will produce far more adrenaline than is of any use to us unless we are about to unexpectedly meet a polar bear wandering the local streets. If we are struggling with low mood, we will be lacking the desired quantities of feel good motivational chemicals and most certainly won’t be auditioning for a remake of the music video of the Pharrell Williams song ‘Happy’.  Both those scenarios, or a combination of the two, will leave us feeling FAR from great. Now it’s definitely worth acknowledging at this point that as human beings we are not designed to feel happy ALL the time.  It is perfectly normal to feel sad at times, it is also normal to have a few worries, it is, indeed, completely normal to have a bad day. But these bad days shouldn’t be the norm.  You should feel good. You can feel good.  You deserve to feel good. 

Let’s focus now on the happy ‘feel good’ chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine (as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist I like to focus on the positives!). The production of these rather lovely and beneficial chemicals can be significantly increased by what can be referred to as the THREE P’s (a tenuous link to the song ‘Three’ maybe, but I do like De La Soul).  Positive actions, positive interactions and positive thoughts.  Doing things that we enjoy, or that give us a feeling of purpose, boost the production of those lovely feel good chemicals.  Interacting with others, spending time with people we love or care about also give us a natural chemical boost.  Even thinking about things that make us happy and feel good produce more of the amazing natural resource of those wonderful positive neurotransmitters.  

The great thing is about neurotransmitters is that it is entirely possible to influence the production of the ones we desire, such as serotonin and dopamine.  In the same way that we can influence a reduction in the ones that we don’t desire.  Almost like a chemical game of Rock Paper Scissors, but where serotonin and dopamine (in this case our heroes) can beat both anxiety and depression.  The more that we are able to incorporate positive actions, positive interactions and positive thoughts into our daily lives the more wonderful natural free feel good chemicals we will produce.  So you see three really is the magic number!  

If you are feeling stuck, finding it hard to think positively, or feel that you need motivation or confidence in order to take positive actions or have positive interactions then Solution Focused Hypnotherapy could be very beneficial to you.  You will learn more about how the mind works and will be supported to move forward, leaving low mood and anxiety in the past, producing more of your own super neurotransmitters, so that you can enjoy your future just as you would like to.

If you would like to find out more about boosting your natural feel good neurotransmitters, or support in achieving your goals, please get in touch to find out how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy could help you!  0734 2338284

Now go and listen to De La Soul, or your favourite song… It’ll boost your serotonin!


BW x

Are New Year’s Resolutions Effective? New Year New You or a Dose of Dopamine

Are New Year’s Resolutions Effective?

New Year New You? Or a Dose of Dopamine

With New Year on the horizon, I have been pondering…. I ponder quite a lot! Anyway my pondering has been- what will my New Year’s resolution be? Which became a slightly sheepish…What on earth was it last year?…which then turned (rather quickly after reflecting on last years lack of success) into…shall I bother making a New Year’s Resolution at all?

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever actually stuck to any New Year’s Resolution that I’ve made.  Such resolutions for me have usually been things like ‘To stop biting my nails and to actually grow them… To stop stuffing my face with junk food… To remember to take my vitamins…The theme seems to generally be to actually remember to do the self care that I know would be really beneficial.  That is not to say that I never do any of these things, or that I never meet a goal, but rarely do they actually happen as a result of me deciding that I would like them to happen as a New Year’s resolution as we leave one year and move into the next. 

Maybe I’m alone here, maybe you are reading this while smugly thinking about your long list of New-Year’s-resolutions-that-have-of-course-been-achieved, but if you’re not, or your smug list is very short, hear me out…What IF the actual benefit of making promises to ourselves in January, is not the completion of the goals themselves but the anticipation of achieving them- the process of visualising the positive result that we hope to get when we stick to our resolutions, and looking forward to it.  It’s always the benefits of my resolution that I look forward to, how I will enjoy admiring my nails when I’ve they are beautifully manicured (not happened yet- maybe I need to REALLY concentrate on this one this year- it sounds so nice!).  Or, how good it will feel when my jeans are less snug as a result of flippantly saying ‘no thanks’ to anything other than fresh unprocessed ‘clean’ food (That one never makes it to January 2nd! And I obviously don’t even start until the 2nd because it would be ridiculous to attempt such things on New Year’s Day ). 

So it’s the benefits that I look forward to, not the actual act of abstaining from nibbling either my nails or Maccies plant burgers.  So maybe, as I think I said before I was distracted by shiny nails and fast food, the benefit comes the anticipation of the results we will get when we make these promises to ourselves and not the reality of whether or not we actually achieve them.  It would of course be great to succeed and do these things, but what if we don’t. Is the whole thing a complete waste of our brain power or is it actually serving a purpose regardless of the results.  Is the actual benefit, the dose of dopamine that we get from setting resolutions, imagining them being achieved, and looking forward to it during those gloomy January months? Are they actually useful in getting us through the post Christmas slump, without dragging our heels too much, until we can catch the first hopeful glimpses of spring?

For those of you that haven’t heard of dopamine, a dose of it will not require a visit to any kind of special clinic.  In fact a dose of dopamine is a great thing to have because dopamine is a highly beneficial neurotransmitter. A natural chemical released by the brain, it basically makes us feel really good.  It used to be thought that it was produced when the brain registered receiving a reward- when we reached that goal, or got ‘that thing’ that we wanted.  It turns out however that dopamine is released in anticipation of a reward.  That’s not to say that you might not get even more if this super stuff if you did keep your promises to yourself, but dopamine is a reward we get for just looking forward in anticipation of something that we want for ourselves.  You know how sometimes Christmas Day can be a little bit of an anti-climax? (Maybe I’m wrong and you all live Christmas day exactly like an M&S advert, and you now think that I am the actual Grinch who evidently steals her own Christmas) Half the fun, half the pleasure, was looking forward to it! See? Dopamine!

Anyway, maybe I sit here, alone in my pondering’s, and am doubly wrong; not only do you spend the whole of Christmas Day day in a frenzy of joy and constant goodwill, but you also stick to your resolutions, and I’m going to mutter under my breath when you post on Instagram in early February, or beyond, about how you’ve kept all the resolutions that you made (I would never really mutter… and of course I would really be happy for you!). Or, maybe, I’m just a little bit right …and we should just recognise the benefits of anticipation, of looking forward to something, and really enjoy the reward of dopamine that we get from these positive projections.  So if like me you find that you’ve kind-of-forgotten all about that resolution you set, don’t be down on yourself, don’t give yourself a hard time about it!  Setting your resolution served a purpose! Don’t lace your dopamine dose with negativity.  Be kind to yourself and move on.

In answer to the question ‘are New Year’s resolutions effective? I think (as a result of my wondering combined with pondering) that yes they are.  Just maybe not in the way that we might have intended. So do set resolutions! Do set goals and targets and imagine achieving them! Make things to look forward to (realistic things- we’d all love a world cruise in August but maybe a cuppa in a nice cafe at the weekend would do just as well in terms of boosting your posItive neurotransmitters!).  Enjoy anticipating whatever you choose to anticipate, enjoy that lovely dose of dopamine.  

If you would like to find out more about boosting your natural feel good neurotransmitters, or support in achieving your goals, please get in touch to find out how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy could help you!  0734 2338284

Happy New Year!

BW x