Tipping? Where’s the point?

A lot of time and effort has gone into getting us to where we are, most of it unintended and unasked for but then that’s part of being alive, I guess. Life has a tendency to throw up situations you’d much rather not be in and leaving you no way of avoiding them. You just have to knuckle down and deal with them, eventually; after a lot of procrastination, unhappiness and sending up messages to the superior being of your choice asking them to make-it-not-be-happening, please. They rarely listen.

At some stage, it dawns on you that the only way to deal with it is to do something about it. Sometimes that is all it takes and off you go and duly deal with it. Move on.

Often, though, the situations have worn you down so much during your uphill struggle that you just can’t see how on earth you’ll make it, even if you do try. Enter stage left family, friends and neighbours if you have the sort of family friends and neighbours who are of the ilk, (we’ve done that pun before so I’ll leave it this time), that are in the habit of entering on cue. And if they’re not, you may find that the best approach is seeking professional help of one sort or another.

On our journey we’ve tried many and various versions, some more successful than others. For some reason, the one that sticks in my mind is a nutritionist, (I use the term extremely loosely), whose cure-all of preference turned out to be none other than essence-of-cat, although quite how you go about getting essence of cat in a bottle doesn’t really bear thinking about. Oh, and I was also supposed to be a shaman of the bird people, re-incarnated after multiple thousands of years in order to reconnect with my murdered victim of a bird-spouse and lead the world to safety. For some reason, this particular alternative-healer never came back. Shame. I fancied doing a bit of leading the world.

Anyway, this is the point where we start to, well get to the point. Here goes;

It’s physically impossible for something to go uphill for ever. I mean actual physics, like you learn in the classroom, lecture room or real life, depending on how well you get along with physics, of course. As long as you don’t get into quantum or calculus. Once you hit those, you can do pretty much anything, so for the purposes of this post, I’m referring to Newtonian physics. Of course I am.

This is about as far as the sciency references go for today, so if you have science phobia, for which there is apparently no name and unless you count the extremely unimaginative Scienceophobia, the nearest you get to it is Epistemophobia, the fear of knowledge but that’s too generalist for our purposes, then you have nothing to fear except perhaps regret that I didn’t delve deeper into the physics of the universe for this week’s diatribe.

So, unless you get into infinitely-small-hairpin-bends, (calculus), or we-don’t-actually-know-where-anything-is-at-any-point-in-either-time-or-space because they’re probably the same thing anyway, (quantum), then at some point, uphill absolutely must level out and go back down again. Unless of course, you know different in which case please leave me a comment showing me the error of my metaphor. I don’t have Epistemophobia. I like to learn.

Gravity is the key. What goes up must come down. Unless it has escape velocity which could be enough to ruin a writer’s metaphor so I’ll ring-fence that aspect of gravitational pull on the grounds that humans in everyday life don’t, unless being shot from a circus cannon has become much more technologically advanced since my childhood.

Think more of a see-saw. If you walk up a see-saw it’s uphill all the way, right from the bottom to the far off top way up in the air. The further you go, the higher off the ground you get with nothing but yet more up to go. But if you edge your way far enough up, you reach the fulcrum. The point of balance. After all that effort, suddenly the next few steps work magic. The hill disappears and you reach an unstable stability. If you walk forwards, up becomes down.Steps become easier and closer to the ground. Less and less scary. More and more back down to earth.

Here’s the interesting point to this metaphor. If you bottle out at the fulcrum and decide you can’t carry on up, what do you do? You turn around and guess what? The see-saw is still going downwards. So once you hit the tipping point, whichever way you go the going is getting easier.

Somewhere out there is a tipping point waiting to be reached and duly tipped. It’s looking more and more as though my particular point has been passed and is living up to its name by tipping more stuff into the positive rather than consistently thumping great chunks of nastiness in the negative receptacle of your choice. In essence, just when it looked as though this journey of mine was starting to go well…

It went and got better. Let me explain.

Latterly the path to where we are now has involved, amongst other things, my being made redundant, which turned out to be quite a liberating experience, (I’d heartily recommend it if it lands at the right time, although to be fair you can never be sure it’s the right time until some while later). As Shia was wont to say at the opportune moment, ‘Fifty years from now don’t you want to be able to say you had the guts to get in the car?’ I got in the car. I started that walk towards the tipping point.

It also turned out to have the spin-off effect that I needed to find an alternative to earning a living in that universally respected world of financial services. The right time turned up the right opportunity and yet another vehicular metaphor that I eagerly jumped into, wondering where the hell it would take me. Cognitive Hypnotherapy is looking more and more like that rare and beautiful manifestation; the thing you were really meant to be doing with your life.

Here’s how it went. The soft launch launched softly. Volunteer clients gave way to real ones. Cheques began to find their way into business bank accounts. Not many but then we are intentionally in small acorn territory here. Clients, both real and volunteer began to refer others. Family skills are being utilised to address advertising, marketing, and websites. I’ve even broken the habit of a lifetime and properly kept in touch with my new-found colleagues which provides a brilliant source of brains to bounce ideas off. Social media is enabling me to mediate socially with ever-increasing circles, not least of which is this very blog and its ever-increasing following, for which I am eternally grateful by the way. As I indicated earlier, it is starting to go well.

So how did it get better? As it turns out, technology has just made our therapy world much smaller and easier to navigate.

I’ve been toying with the idea of giving potential clients a bite-sized chunk of therapy, for those that want to do something but aren’t yet ready to work to the full degree of potential that is Cognitive Hypnotherapy. As it happens, several of my colleagues and I were discussing the possibility of using Skype to conduct a focussed therapy consultation and then write a highly tailored hypnotherapy download specifically for that individual client, targeted to provide as much relief for their issues as is possible in one download. Basically, it’s a one-hit virtual therapy session. The client can come back as much or as little as they wish.

This also removes the downside of face to face therapy: geography. If you happen to live within travelling distance of Peterborough UK, then all’s well and good. But if you don’t and let’s face it, most readers of WordPress blogs don’t live in Peterborough, then it’s pretty difficult to get to see me, private jets and all-expenses-paid business trips notwithstanding.

Then we had a weekend at Quest. Well, to be specific a post training course seminar where sharing of ideas between like-minded Cognitive Hypnotherapists is the key. I chanced to speak to Russell about this blog and how it had generated a couple of client enquiries only to find that their potential lay out there in impractical geography land. Russell neatly pulled all the threads together and simply suggested that I provide Cognitive Hypnotherapy via Skype. Anywhere. Everywhere. The only proviso is that my insurers are comfortable that my Professional Indemnity Insurance applies for Skype overseas. Guess what? It does! Hooray.

This puts me in the happy situation of being able to offer my therapeutic skills and services to anyone, anywhere who has Skype. Oh yes, and speaks English. Unfortunately my multilingual talents leave a lot to be desired.

This is the real point of my post. Not that I can offer therapy world-wide from the UK but that I have fought for a long time to get where I am and it really does appear that I’ve just reached that all important tipping point. Whichever way I turn from here, it will work in my favour and not against me.

Therapy is the same. You’ll find that there comes a point in your progress when you can’t help but improve. Where the therapy becomes self-sustaining, self-improving. You have become your own master or mistress, in charge, in control. No matter what your original issue, whether it be pain, stress, fertility, anything, you have regained control and whatever happens your original issue no longer defines your life. You do.

Things, as they say, can only get better.

So here’s my message; If you’re struggling uphill and it feels as though it’ll go on for ever, maybe it’s time to search out your own tipping point.

And if you’d like some help…

…there’s always Skype.

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it's even higher © Tony Burkinshaw 2013

it’s even higher
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

and it may not be until the third or fourth time

This is the metaphoric story I refer to in the previous post.

What’s a metaphoric story? It’s like a simile for life.

I first went on holiday with Gill to Ibiza, back in the days when San Antonio wasn’t yet a 24 hour party town, just a beach resort with some good bars and only a few late night clubs. We were in our early twenties and spent much of our mornings sleeping off the night before and we’d always end up on the beach mid-afternoon and stay there until most people had gone back to their hotels for dinner. It was really peaceful by then.

After three or four days, we noticed a little Spanish man was teaching holidaymakers to windsurf. The bay is very sheltered so there’s not a lot wind but it still looked really hard. The first lesson seemed to consist of falling off a surf board and entertaining everyone else. Mind you, by the third lesson they were standing on the board, setting the sail and actually moving off into the harbour. At the end of the first week, Gill had persuaded me that it would be really good for me to try it out and provide her with a few laughs along the way. It was a disaster. The little Spanish man was very friendly and keen but I couldn’t hear what he was saying and his strong accent made it even harder.

Try as I might, his instructions were drowned out in the background noise of the beach-volleyball and jet skis. I looked like a complete fool. To make it worse, by lesson four when most people were already off into the harbour, I found myself on the board with the sail up, watching the chap who had started the day after me. He pulled up the sail, positioned his board just-so, and leant into the wind. I swear to this day that I mirrored his every move. He moved off gracefully into the harbour and I drifted sideways into the beach and fell off yet again. I sat back on the beach feeling really dejected. It seemed to work for everyone else, except me. I kept trying but it always seemed that I had to do it on my own. I could never quite catch what the little Spanish man was saying. The beach was just too noisy.

The last time I had felt that bad was when I was at school. I used to play the trombone in the school orchestra. Unusually for a school orchestra we were actually quite good and I’d just been promoted to first trombone but this was only because the previous chap had left and gone to university. We used to perform in Cathedrals a couple of times a year. It was quite fun really because the acoustics were usually good for big echoes which suits a trombone, although it can play havoc with the music as a whole as the echoes resonate differently for the different instruments.

This year everyone was really excited as we were going to play in Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, the piece that had been chosen was really complicated and the harmonies were crazy. The conductor was unfazed by our apparently poor practices, which was unusual – he was normally very serious about poor performance. He even tried to calm us down, “Just you wait” he’d say, “you’ll see”.

I was really scared because I had to start and end the whole performance on my own. Just me, with everyone listening able to hear even the slightest mistake, knowing it was me.

The big day arrived and I was petrified. In the back of my mind I kept hearing my music teacher trying to calm me down. He was always telling me stories about his daughter and how she became a famous singer. He seemed to think that tales of perseverance would help. I’ve no idea why. Apparently she had been trying to get to sing professionally for a long time but was always the one who didn’t quite get the main part in the show. She practiced and practiced and practiced. My music teacher would take her to audition after audition and she’d keep being the one who came second, well actually third, behind the understudy. He couldn’t understand it, as she really was very good.

One day he sneaked in with her and secretly filmed her audition. When they watched it back, they saw that she was being put off by the acoustics. The problem was that as always with auditions, the theatre is empty. Theatre acoustics rely on the audience dampening sound so in auditions, any external sudden noises feel really loud and distract you from what you want to feel. The effect on her was subtle but just enough to alter her posture so that her voice couldn’t project as purely as she knew how. (At this point, someone smiled). All she had to do was listen beyond the noise to hear the sounds that told her what she needed to hear and feel, that everything was back in balance. She never looked back.

My mouth was dry, the first notes somehow came out cleanly but as the piece progressed, the complex harmonies sounded even odder than when we had practiced. I don’t how but we kept going, mostly because our conductor was calmly encouraging us and was looking really pleased. I tried to listen what was making him smile and began to catch tiny echoes of harmonies I’d never noticed when we had practiced. The last five bars approached and I steeled myself for the end where I had to play the last six notes entirely on my own. This was proper scary. In practice it had always sounded out of place and incongruous and I was as nervous as ever.Then something extraordinary happened. The music began to swell as the Cathedral itself joined in. Echoes played notes we’d never heard, the deepest resonances playing along with the lightest, most delicate sounds.

To my everlasting wonder, Westminster Abbey and I played the last six notes together in complete harmony. The audience loved it. It wasn’t until later that I found out the piece had been written specifically for the Abbey. It didn’t work anywhere else.

Somehow, I knew that all I had to do was listen beyond the noise on the beach and trust that everything would come together as I had hoped. Sometimes noise is there for a reason. It distracts you so that you learn in your own time and work it out for yourself Sometimes it joins in and enhances the magic. It’s all about balance.

On Sunday we got to the beach a little earlier as it was my last session windsurfing, we were going home the next day. The breeze was up and I knew it would be a challenge. Using my new found insights, I stepped onto the board, leant myself against the wind, allowed the board to turn itself and trusted my balance as I hauled up the sail and pulled it into position. Somehow my body knew just how to keep it all in harmony, feeling the changes in the wind and the pull of the board. I sped out into the harbour, the sail singing to me and the board skimming across the waves. I was as happy as I’d been for ages. Although I had to concentrate hard, everything was working together and all I had to do was keep myself at the centre and direct all the energy taking me wherever I wanted to go

All too soon I was returning to the beach, coming in at speed and at the last minute brought the surfboard round so that it curved beautifully to a halt in a spray of sea water. I stepped lightly off it and strolled up the beach, almost ignoring the looks of the other holidaymakers whose partners were trying to persuade them that it looked like fun!

I lay down exhilarated and excited at what I might be able to accomplish next. Gill grinned at me. “I told you it would work out in the end” she said, glancing at her watch. “Come on. Let’s go for a beer and celebrate”. We sat in our favourite bar looking out to sea. It was perfect, a moment I’ll never forget. As the waiter brought our drinks, I caught sight of the clock on the wall. It was a quarter past two.