Confused? Perhaps not.

How do you know that you know what you know is something that you know and yet you can be just as certain that you know that you know what you don’t know is, well, something that you don’t?

There must be something about the essence of recall that enables you to recognise that it is either certain or uncertain, otherwise you’d have to cross check every memory every time you recalled it in order to determine whether it is something you’ve recalled correctly or not.

As it turns out, it has a lot to do with how you decide to store information in the first place so that the qualities of know and don’t know, certain and uncertain, are encoded into the memory itself.

Once you recognise this and learn how you personally encode known information for quick and easy recall, you can encode brand new information in the same manner as everything else you absolutely know.

Done properly, your brain can’t tell the difference and stores this new knowledge in the same manner as all other information that you already know that you know and therefore can easily recall.


I’m learning how to spread the word.

This just might turn out to have been one of the most useful skills I learned for my hybridised career.

Want to know more?

Click here for my therapy website


Up or down? Are you sure?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Looking back, it just might have been relaxing…

Just when I thought I’d missed the boat, it turned out I was waiting for the bus. All those things that I had so carefully allowed my unconscious mind to deliver with poorly timed delays which built up and left me wondering if I would ever have that digit sufficiently extracted to get this thing off the ground, to continue the locomotive metaphorical referencing, several of those self-same things have all turned up and are hammering my door down.

Well to be fair, they’re not so much hammering as knocking politely to see if I’m ready to let them join the party which, with later hindsight will turn out to have been quite some bash if I’m not mistaken.

All of a sudden there are actual leaflets to deliver, ; there will shortly be a downloads page together with some bone-fide eponymice designed to alleviate and offer remedy and solace as appropriate. Sounds good so far to me but it gets better.

I have for some time now been pondering the merits of combining my careers of Cognitive Hypnotherapy (which I love by the way) and Chartered Financial Planning, (which, whilst the fire of love has long since died down, I am still very fond of). It seemed a long shot but in my Sky Bird kind of way I was certain that there was a path into the future which would bring the best of both into sharp communion and offer an offering which was not currently being, for want of a better word, offered.

It turns out that one of my key decisions in this Quest was, with that aforementioned hindsight, pretty much 20/20 although at the time I was very concerned it may drive a myopic wedge through my Financial Planning contract work. You see, there are a lot more of us pitching for work than there is work to be pitched for especially as I’m aiming at ad-hoc days rather than the chunkier multi-week affairs which are more prevalent (or at least were in the pre yet-another-regulation-changeover days).

I debated the merits of keeping my two careers separate. You know, two LinkedIn profiles, two set of CV, two Facebook pages, twinned Twitter accounts and so on. Instead, as is becoming mildly habitual, I took the risk of combining them. My LinkedIn profile , whilst majoring on my financial services credentials nonetheless declares to the world, at that part of it which decides to look, that I am not only Chartered but a Cognitive Hypnotherapist. My CV proudly declares that I offer the above and am also an NLP practitioner. Twitter, Facebook and this blog pay tribute to both sides of my split working personalities.

It seems that this is the week when the coming together begins.

I’m now in contact with two Financial Services groups specifically because I am qualified in Cognitive Hypnotherapy. This is not, I hasten to add at this juncture just in case any of the regulatory persuasion are amongst the blogging community who drop in for a read every now and then, to add a layer of hypnotic persuasion to the meticulously crafted advice being offered to members of the general public but rather because my unique perspective might deliver some sideways, upside-down and occasionally just plain unexpected views of how certain problems might get solved.

The horizon has opened up to reveal a potential, (a lovely word which loosely translates into ‘maybe/maybe not, we’ll just wait and see what you come up with, OK?’) for developing training modules to help candidates undertake their study, learning, course-work and the like to suit how they, as individuals, learn best rather than depending on the design of the various study materials and generic learning styles on offer.

There’s a move to understanding the hugely overlooked importance of the advisers themselves in the advice transaction leading to an inevitable misalignment with the client because our wonderful, (honestly?), UK regulator insists on communicating written detail to one and all which leaves no room for a client’s particular view of the world and how they make important decisions. The more astute are understanding that to some extent successful advice relies on an element of client-life-coaching as part of the advice process. So who shows them how to accomplish that one in a way that takes a leap ahead of most life-coaching models? I might just put my hand up and offer my services.

Now that the doors have opened, it is my firm intention to thrust a wedge in between them and ensure they don’t shut. I am fully aware that these particular seeds of hopefulness may not bear fruit. But there is at least some evidence of fertile ground on which to cast whatever further seeds float, drop or spiral their way past me. Regulars amongst you will also know that I am not one for touching wood or worrying about Fate being unduly tempted and all that Melarkey (a pleasant woman who, strangely, worked for me once upon a time). What will be, will only have been once the what-will-be has done its doings and I take a long hard look in the rearview mirror, (Fate and Lee Remick notwithstanding). Weirdly, the plot synopsis for Rearview Mirror reads; ‘The plot synopsis is empty’. They’ve obviously seen the film.

And now to business: I have a question.

When my download page is live, (hopefully within a couple of weeks), I’d like to offer a pretty chunky discount every now and then to you guys, (‘guys’ is of course a unisex term, referring to readers of this blog) and I’d really value your feedback.

Would this be something you’d like me to offer or should I just leave all that download stuff for my website only?

To help you decide, (just for you stressed-out, adrenaline-fuelled, sleep-deprived blog-reading fans), here is a taste of things to come…click on the link below to listen to (or download) my example Relaxation recording. This one is an exclusive and won’t be up for sale.

Gentle Relaxation

And to add to the sense of doing the right thing at the right time, I find that I’ve been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award (twice) in the last 7 days! Needless to say, I’m doubly flattered but more of that mid-week.

For now, have a relaxing time on me…

Not a care... © Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Not a care…
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013


Brick Walls, Brighton and Poang Chairs

As Friday’s go that was an interesting one. Pointless but interesting.

Well, maybe pointless. It all depends on how you feel about limiting beliefs. Which is of course, where Helen comes in. If you live on the South coast of England, within reach of Brighton, you’re future’s looking bright. You’re within easy access of Helen and her new therapy room. More on that to come. Helen was one of the first people I talked to when I began my Cognitive Hypnotherapy journey all  those months ago. She’s even the reason that this blog exists, or at the very least the reason that it began when it did. If you’re interested, click here and read these two posts, it’ll explain it.

Anyway, we learn quite a bit about limiting beliefs as Cognitive Hypnotherapists and more to the point, we learn how to find them and what to do with them when you’ve brought them out into the daylight to see how powerful they are.

I already knew a fair bit about them anyway from my days as a sales manager having spent many hours on courses and many more using them to encourage members of my various teams to reach their ‘full potential’, which I’m pretty sure is going to become a topic for a whole post if its own fairly soon. What exactly is Full Potential? I mean how do you know when you’ve reached it. What if you’re already there. And what if you don’t want to reach that particular pinnacle? Does that make you a failure or just someone with a different sense of what’s important to you than whoever it is encouraging to reach higher than before for whatever it is they’ve managed to convince you is important enough to need to be reached. Usually via a book they wrote specifically for the purpose, signed copies available at the back of the room.

Get off the soap box and stop the mini-rant… Sorry.

However, during our time at The Quest Institute we spent time uncovering each other’s beliefs of the limiting variety, working out what they meant and trying to swap their underlying pressures for a more positive and beneficial drive into our respective futures. Mine, not unusually, revolved around my not being my father, as you may recall from earlier ramblings. Thanks to the helpful and really rather skilled guidance of my stand in course tutor Sarah, (Muriel wasn’t around at that particular point), and later on for more of the same with Katy, I am happily convinced these days that I am indeed not my father.

Thanks to the miracle of Facebook, (don’t forget I am a relative latecomer to social media and to this day remain surprised that Facebook, Twitter et al do actually contribute something helpful rather than simply being a repository for angst of the teenage variety), I picked up a multi-friend message from Helen that she needed a colleague to practice on prior to a client meeting. The particular practice she had in mind was values elicitation. Now this is a relatively simple concept but quite difficult to execute well so practice seemed like a good idea and always being one to step up to the mark when it suits me, I did indeed do that very thing in the style of Mr Omally from previous posts, seeing as it did. Suit me, that is. Keep up.

For those who read my last post, (a prescient phrase, if ever I heard one), you’ll be aware that whilst not becoming a Buddhist monk and divesting myself of all things material, I am attempting to find a less accumulative path into my future by downsizing my expectations whilst upgrading my personal satisfaction of life experience. Basically, do less but do it well. Expect less but enjoy it more.

The fly in this potentially relaxing ointment is that I seem to be doing a certain amount of self sabotage. I have a natural procrastination, as you know, which I find works well and means that I do what needs to be done by the time it needs to be done, to the standard it needs to be done but I do it as late as is possible because my best work is when done in when I’m really focussed which I find difficult to achieve if there is plenty of time between now and the end goal. My plan is to fill up that spare time with fulfilling things, even if sometimes those fulfilling things turnout to be rather trivial. So far so good. This part is working well.

My particular difficulty is that I seem to be becoming more and more inefficient. Work is spreading out to fill up those times when I had thought I would be fulfilling trivialities from going to the gym in the middle of the day, through re-decorating the hallway, all the way up to staring blankly at scenery simply because it makes me feel good. Try as I might, I seem to be doing everything I can to ensure that I don’t get to enjoy the slowing down, even though that slowing down is actually happening pretty much according to plan and duly slowing down nicely thank you.

Enter stage left Helen’s request for a guinea pig to practice on.

In yet another nod towards modern communications which I’ve been assiduously ignoring, this practice took place via Skype, being my second ever Skype call, (the first being my interview with Bex to get accepted for Quest in the first place). After the obligatory pleasantries and catching up as is necessary on these occasions, including a Skype-eye view of Helen’s new therapy room complete with obligatory Poang chair, (I use one as well which is now some 25 years old, on its 4th cover and as comfortable as ever. I heartily recommend them in a blatant attempt to see if anyone with the remotest connection to Ikea’s product placement budget is reading this), Helen slickly kept me on track and proceeded to, I have to say really rather skilfully, elicit some values out of me. It was relatively painless.

As a well trained AD, (Audio Digital, which now I come to think about it I’m not entirely sure I’ve explained properly anywhere on this blog even though it crops up quite frequently, so if you think that I should dedicate a post to a more detailed explanation of preferred representational systems, leave a comment below and I’ll see what I can do), I don’t do emotions very well. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel them. I do. It’s more of a superhero version of boys don’t cry although to be fair as it’s not gender sensitive, many find themselves living in a girls don’t cry world as well. Appropriately for this blog, hands up if you noticed the cure…

One of the ways I know when something is accurately near the mark is when my AD tendencies go on high alert and I find myself ‘not emoting’. I don’t mean just not showing emotion, more of an absolutely not showing this particular emotion that’s threatening to break through and destroy my world. As any AD knows, if an emotion does escape and leak through the protective barrier, all manner of world ending scenarios ensue.

Meanwhile back in the land of desperately trying not to get to the point, we got to the point. No matter how I clothed it, disguised it, wrapped it up in camouflaged weasel words, Helen kept teasing the same underlying beliefs from pretty much all of my work related values which she had so adeptly got me to tell her.

Now, beliefs come in two flavours. Towards flavours and away-from flavours. Towards beliefs are great. Really healthy. If your life is based on towards beliefs, everything you do is moving you into growth. The garden is rosy. It’s wholesome, rewarding, life affirming and all those other platitudes you hear but which in this instance aren’t platitudes at all. They’re the real thing. Not like Coke.

Away-from beliefs are something that most of us suffer with. Away-from beliefs are beliefs of the limiting kind where you spend your life trying not to be something. Or someone. In time honoured fashion, if you try to avoid something it can never leave your field of view, (after all, how else would you know you were avoiding it), and more often than not, in a don’t hit that tree style, you trundle off into the future, dutifully hit the tree  thereby becoming the very thing you wanted to avoid. Limiting beliefs drive you into protection mode. Not good. Not good at all.

So. Helen derived all my values into one underlying belief. Almost inevitably it was away-from. Limiting.

I have to say, this surprised me. Especially as I thought that I had put that earlier revelation that I really am not my Dad to bed in reversal of roles I’d not expected. I don’t even think about that one any more. I’m happily treading my own path. Or so I thought. It turns out that there is one more demon to put to bed. And it makes me sad.

My father died in the late Eighties, a long time ago now. I have very fond memories of him and there have been many times when it would have been great to still have him around. I was 27 when he died. He was 57.

I’m 53 this year. Guess what my limiting belief has turned out to be.

Pretty much everything I value about the work life balance I’m trying hard to carve out of my past and into my future is based on dying at 57. As limiting beliefs go, that’s quite a limit. If I look out into my future, there’s a great big brick wall not very far away. And it’s getting closer. Oh dear.

All my life people have told me that I am like my father. In many ways and hopefully the good ones, although that might be a little conceited, I suppose I am. Having been through this in some depth with Sarah, (no not my sister, the other one), and Katy I am really quite at ease with that now. But it turns out that the prospect of dying at 57 is chuntering away underneath everything I’m doing.

I’ve rationalised my drive to work less now but to do it for longer in a retirement planning argument that goes something like this. Being a retirement specialist, my alter ego knows that my pension is unlikely to be enough for me to fully retire at 66. That means I’ll have to work part time for a while after I do retire. So if I have to do that, why not start doing it now? In many ways, my reduced expectations and consequently reduced work load are a form of early semi-retirement. I quite like that.

However, if my core driver is that I am living with this like-father-like-son narrative causality, then what’s the point? Why bother? What’s the point in trying to semi-retire now in exchange for a fulfilling part time career running into my late 60’s and 70’s if it all grinds to a halt in four years time anyway?

And that’s the key to all this. Now it’s been uncovered I’ve got the opportunity to re-evaluate it and flip it on its head. Reverse the polarity so to speak. Here’s what I really believe. In essence, I’ll die when I die and there’s nothing I can do about it. It absolutely will happen. Life’s only certainty is that it will end. In many ways that’s kind of liberating.

Instead of living with the cloud of something that has nothing to do with my reality, I can just be. Do what I want to do because it’s the right thing for me to do and not because I’m worried that what happened in someone else’s past must therefore happen to me. No matter how close they were.

So here I am. For now. And hopefully for a very long time to come. Time will tell. Nothing else.

Knowledge is a powerful thing. Naming the beast can indeed slay the beast and given time, not only slay the beast but make it so that the beast never even appeared. Change the story. Rewrite it. It’s never too late.

On the off chance that your future exists as a client of mine, or indeed of Helen’s, what does this have to do with fertility issues and pain management? As it happens, potentially quite a lot. If your core beliefs are limiting, then you’re driving yourself into protection not growth. Your mind and body are hunkering down and concentrating on keeping you safe just in case the bad thing happens. There’s no point in growing. Growth takes energy and if you’re in protection mode, you just might need every ounce of energy you have to survive. At least, that’s what your limiting beliefs are telling you. Down at your core, where it really counts.

If this is where you are, then discovering and dealing with core limiting beliefs can flip you from protection into growth and release the energy you do have. Whilst that may not solve the particular difficulties you face, (although in many cases it can), it absolutely has to help. If your core belief is positive when it used to be negative, you are back in control of you.

And that means that you have become the driver of you. So even if your issues remain, you are now the focus, the key, the centre of your own life. You’ve just given yourself the opportunity to grow.

In the meantime, I’ve got a wall to dismantle. Does anyone need some second hand bricks?

that's been there a while© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

that’s been there a while
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Over 1000 views from the UK !

I’ve just reached over 1000 views from the UK alone

Many Thanks, I’m really pleased and grateful for your support! It feels like an early Xmas present and it’s good to get there before the Mayan calendar runs out!

Just so you are up to date:

  • 1712 views in total
  • 38 countries
  • 115 WordPress followers
  • over 200 likes
1712 views38 countries

38 countries

Dissolving Ceilings and the six Balloons of Pooh

Sometimes you surprise yourself. Faced with difficult situations and seemingly nowhere to go, somehow you make that intuitive leap and it all works out.

Of course if you’re dedicated follower of fashion, (yes I know another music reference but it’s too obvious to warrant comment), then you’ll be well aware that successful intuition is simply a bespoke combination of trance phenomena and skilful priming, (thanks Trevor), that creates the illusion of a successful leap of faith.

In reality it is fruit born of hard work, preparation and a willingness to put yourself in the firing line, hazarding a guess at a potential solution. Oh yes, and when you get it right you instantly delete or ignore the times when it didn’t quite work out, or indeed failed quite spectacularly in accordance with the philosophy of creativity.

Aside from that, I passed my NLP practitioner exam yesterday. I’m pleased because I dislike failing, (maybe I should see a therapist), but all in all this was a co-incidental byproduct of the Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy course. It had initial appeal, a b.o.g.o.f. deal and such like but it didn’t set my world alight. Apologies to those for whom this is important and I do get it but for me, the NLP movement is too rooted in the Eighties.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, NLP is derived from detailed analysis of some extremely highly skilled therapists and so it delivers some great results for clients. I’ve experienced some of this first hand and I’m not at all dismissive of the techniques NLP has devised. It’s just that, typical of the times, it’s findings were wrapped up and packaged in pseudo science-speak, avoiding peer scrutiny, which was most likely a calculated gesture to seriously annoy any potential scientific approval. Science is all about peer scrutiny, (until it gets into the hands of multi-large conglomerates but then that’s a whole other debate). On top of that, the prime business motivation of the NLP industry seemed to be to generate income, (and in some cases substantial wealth), through training other people to train other people to become NLP trainers. Coming from a highly regulated industry as I do, this looks too much like a tiered selling scheme for my taste, hiding from external scrutiny and become a money-making machine for those who survived into its higher ranks.

It really is a crying shame that this is how the NLP ‘industry’ made, (and still makes), its money because at its core, NLP is about codifying the deep level skills of acknowledged experts in the field of therapy and distilling them down to provide simple, easy access techniques to both understand and help individuals in their quest for self-betterment. I aim to use a core premise of Cognitive Hypnotherapy in that whilst a technique delivers benefit then it forms a legitimate part of the therapeutic process. Until I find that a particular NLP technique doesn’t work, I’ll use it and so far all the techniques have worked a treat.

My mini-rant boils down to this. Any school that elects to call a question a ‘Conversational Postulate’ is setting itself up to be shot down in flurry of fuliguline feathers.

I’m happy to use the techniques because they work and of course I’ll accept the NLP Practitioner Certificate. I did sit the exam after all. It’s not like I’m religious about this or anything, it’s just a gripe and if that philosophy was good enough for Gil Boyne, it’s surely good enough for me.

Mini-rant over. Thanks for listening. Feel free to re-rant at me in the comment box below.

Today was a very good day. I am several steps closer to gaining my Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma. I handed in the diploma as predicted, two days before the deadline and with 16754 words carefully scripted into hopefully meaningful answers and essays. I satiated my hunger for learning and feasted upon that metaphoric pachyderm delivering a substantial electronic tome ready to be assessed and if necessary, criticised. To be fair, I’m expecting a certain degree of feedback. I like to think I’m getting the hang of all this after eight months but I’m not delusional. I remain a relative novice.

As with any highly practical skill, especially if it involves other people, it’s always a good idea to build an element of realism to the training. Today that realism rose up and thwacked me right between the eyes. Gone were those nice gentle follow-the-outline-and-it’ll-work role plays of previous weekends. Today was: “you know all those clients who don’t know the script, the ones who’ll inadvertently lob spanners at your best laid plans? Well today is all about them”.

Why? So that when I meet them for real, I know that I’ve already dealt with them right here, right now (and yes I know young Norm, ex of the Housemartins, has made an appearance before but talent will keep on barging its way in).

All this brings me to awkward spiders and their role-playing counterparts. The counterpart was really good. She played her spanner-lobbing role pretty damn convincingly. As It turned out, she played her role as convincingly as someone who really had experienced the spider as the embodiment of other angst.

So how do you help someone who is playing a phobic role that sits uncomfortably close to their own, whereby they find themselves trapped in the scripted bedroom of their youth whilst fighting off echoes of the shed they couldn’t escape in the reality of their past?

Well, start simple and follow the rules, although to be fair they’re more like guidelines (answers on a postcard or in the comment box below as to from whence that reference derives).

So I started simple and followed the rules. It didn’t work. My semi-skilful probes and re-frames were rebuffed. My co-pilots on my adventure into the unknown were partially flummoxed and they’d read the script! I was entirely unsure where to go. As my client appeared to have broken the rules and associated into the metaphor, finding herself actually being in the room with the spider rather than remaining detached, above looking down, I asked her to ‘float back up to a comfortable distance and look down at the imaginary scene from above’. She just bumped gently on the ceiling. (Of the imaginary room, not the training room that is. That would involve inventing an anti-gravity trance and I don’t think Quest have worked that one out yet).

As she couldn’t get out of the room I wondered whether she could move through the ceiling. As it turned out, all you need is a working knowledge of Inception to solve the conundrum and as it was her dream but with me in control, I got her to dissolve the ceiling.  It worked a treat and up she came. Game over. Or so I thought.

Equally Inception inspired, she found that her dream within a dream, (alright, trance within a trance, but the metaphor still works), weighted her down and dragged her across into the nightmare of her real life arachnophobia. Down she came, sinking firmly back towards that trauma-shed of the past duly filled, as narrative causality demands, with the spider guarding the shed-door and preventing her exit. Always one to accept a challenge, I proposed that we work through this one too. Most important was to keep her dissociated and away from the first hand emotion of that initial fear-generating arachnid. From somewhere in my past, a fair while away as I now sit in my fifties, I dragged up inspiration from Pooh, that master of oddball problem solving.

It seems that all you need to escape a spider filled shed trap is half a dozen Pooh balloons, those ones used by that bear of little brain whilst disguised as a cloud and hunting for hunny in the hunny tree. Safely elevated, my role-playing colleague was able to work through her first encounter and, touch wood, (albeit that that can be the beginning of superstition and a potential OCD), she reported feeling more relaxed about our eight legged friends. Time will tell.

I suppose the upshot of all this is that what seems to matter is finding a path where it’s possible to work the problem, utilising whatever resources you and your client may have to hand, wherever they may come from. And when you’re backed into a corner, trust in those sparks of inspiration , those leaps of imagination which let you slide a metaphoric solution into view. In trance or in dreams, reality and memory are plastic.

And if I live by this, I can’t help but wonder whether my future will contain blockbuster science fiction films or more clients holding Pooh balloons. What do you think?


Obvious Really
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012