Having stoked up the fat reserves in preparation for the end of the world just in case it didn’t actually end but simply became a little more difficult to find adequate calorific resource and then of course as none of that happened, having to continue with the traditional Christmas over indulgence and not being one to flout tradition, I dutifully over indulged, now find myself sat at my laptop once more, overfull and under-creative.
Not in the least concerned as I’ve been in this position before at the start of one or two prior posts, I’ll let my mind wander and it’s good to wonder for those of you in the know, and type whilst the inspiration recovers from its festive pickling and wrests some semblance of continuity from the flow of words. Sometimes all you need is to warm up the ideas and let them flow.
The trick is to allow the creative mind to take over, welcome the ideas, give them space to grow and evolve and then once they’re fully in play, sit back and enter scalpel mode, poking, prodding and generally beating them into a pulp, subjecting them to the harsh conditions of re-readership to see how they stand up to the reality of providing a coherent communication of whatever it is that’s grabbed the current most-important-idea position to whoever it is that you want to believe the current importance you’re trying to communicate.
As this is now the fifth edition of that last sentence, I hope the tactic worked.
And here comes the thought. Every now and then you come across something that lets you know how far you’ve come along a road that you once thought difficult, if not impossible, to travel. As this is that somewhat nowhere-land space between the rush to Christmas and the re-start of the New Year, it’s as good a time as any to post about such reflective things. I’ve been lucky enough to have three of these float themselves past me over the last twelve months.
Important but in 3rd place:
One of few pinnacles in the Financial Services Industry, which as many of you know is the dwelling place of my alter ego, is the status of Chartered Financial Planner. It takes many years and more than a few exams. Including, which is rare these days, exams involving actual writing at a fairly high level of knowledge, (UK QCF level 6, whatever that actually is). Many professional exams, particularly of the continuing professional development kind, employ that famously U.S. armed forces tactic of checking knowledge by multiple choice questions à la WWI Army Alpha tests. Whilst acceptable, they rely on your ability to recognise the correct answer amongst a set of similar distractor answers, although to be fair many of the distractor answers are either ambiguous or just plain daft, making the written reworking of actual application of deep knowledge quite important in the pursuit of the old Chartered watsit.
Just before Christmas, I received my invitation to the Graduation Ceremony in London for 2012 Chartered Financial Planners. As I have only ever taken professional exams that were necessary for my career, rather than just badge collecting as it were, I’m really rather pleased as I never thought that it was something that I’d end up achieving. Having taken my first professional exams in 1993, it’s been a long journey.
A comfortable 2nd:
Then again, whilst wondering what I was going to write about this week, I did re-read a couple of my first ever posts from eighteen weeks ago on this, my first ever blog. I’m averaging 7.5 new followers and 117 views each week from 41 countries. Now I know that many blogs are doing much better than this especially as I’m following some of them. Nevertheless this is far better than I’d believed possible when I started.
Other than a short story in a school magazine which was no more than a paper pamphlet in reality when I was thirteen and again at seventeen, this is the first time I’ve written anything that anyone else had the chance to read. One of these posts even managed to get itself published in Perception the Cognitive Hypnotherapy quarterly e-zine that I mentioned in the last post. Check it out by the way, it really is quite good – the magazine, that is; you’ve already read the article, (said he hopefully).
So, anyway, when I re-read these earlier posts, I was quite impressed with what I’d written and can even begin to see how I’m gradually developing a consistent, if somewhat unique, (according to Tina Shaw, the Perception editor), writing style. As far as I can see, I’m taking a little bit of my experiences, overlaying some hypnotherapeutic philosophy, mixing in a little science and subjecting them to the Hadron Collider that is my imagination.
However, when my over-confidence subsides, it all feels like it’s just vaguely relevant waffle. Ah well.
Without a doubt No. 1:
The realisation which strikes chords that resonate right down to the core, where it really matters and ceases to be vague or waffle, is a dramatic improvement in my skills. As you know I’m aiming to specialise in both fertility issues and chronic pain management. Now the fertility aspect is just plain fascinating and appeals to the part of me that left biology behind at school and pursued engineering instead of medicine. If you’re going to help with something, I’m not sure how it gets more important than helping couples fulfil one of natures most basic drives. Apart from anything else, it means that I might spend the rest of my life helping people get pregnant. Nice.
However it was the other side which grabbed me and allowed me to realise how far I’ve come along this long and winding metaphor of choice, (well it was time for the next music reference wasn’t it?).
One of the reasons that pain management is particularly important to me is that my daughter has a condition which means she suffers repeated bouts of severe abdominal pain. Until two years ago we had no idea she was even ill although looking back now it’s a little more obvious. Gill and I were called back from my pre-redundancy holiday within twelve hours of landing as Rachael was taken seriously ill and was in hospital under threat of emergency major abdominal surgery. She’s been learning how to cope ever since.
It won’t go away. If the prognosis is correct, this is a life-long deal. Bernie Siegel‘s famous quote rings in my ears ‘accept the diagnosis, not the prognosis’ although somewhere deep down I find to hard to do either. Whatever the deal, however long it’s going to last, my daughter is in pain and there’s nothing I can do about it.
At least, that’s where I stood two years ago.
As is always the way when you think you know something new, what you actually know is only the surface. A little knowledge which appears to go a long way. A total ignorance of just how much you don’t yet know for the simple reason that you don’t yet know enough to recognise that you don’t yet know what you don’t yet know. Unconscious incompetence.
Partly because of this and partly because Rachael is holding on so tight to her hard-won control, she is reluctant to let me do anything that might upset her balance and it has been very difficult to practice my new skills with her.
There have been a couple of occasions where she was willing to let me work with her. When she was last on high doses of steroids, I wrote a carefully worded intervention tailored for her counteracting the effects of Cushing’s Syndrome, (not named after our dearly departed Peter but rather Harvey who as far as I know is no relative). Whether it worked or not is up for debate but the side-effects of the steroids were markedly less than before.
Unfortunately, working with her pain less successful. Back in module four we learnt some amazing techniques to manage pain and I did manage to persuade Rachael to let me work with her. The problem was that the more we worked the greater the pain became and the less she could cope. Overlaid onto this is that one of the few symptoms which let her know if her condition has worsened and needs attention, is the pain itself. It is a vital warning sign. Without it she may suffer harm. This makes managing her own pain relief a tricky topic.
She needs the confidence to know she can switch any pain relief on or off when she needs and that she won’t inadvertently mask underlying and important symptoms. As her medication does no more than mask the pain, she can rely on this to fulfil the task in the way she needs. Because of all this and my own inexperience, I left the next move entirely up to her as she needs to make the decision herself as to whether to use hypnotherapy for pain relief.
That was then.
Two days ago she had another bout of severe pain. The usual tactics, including her opioid analgesics weren’t working and Gill tried persuading her to let me work with her. At this point I was going through my usual internal conflict of wishing I could step in whilst also giving her the space she needs, standing apart and trying to engross myself in whatever else was going on at the time. This time the whatever else was Knight and Day, a movie I had yet to watch which is quite unusual for once, so there was definitely a small part of me assuming that Rachael wouldn’t be up for it and I’d finally get to watch a movie that had been on my watch list but had never got high enough up for me to want to part with actual cash for the privilege. As I said, trivial but distracting.
Then Rachael decided that now was indeed the time.
Everything changed. I was working with a confidence that came from having had success managing chronic pain with my volunteer clients. She was still very sceptical but at least she was willing to try.
Hypnotic trance comes with a fixation on a particular thought or sensation. A focus that blurs the link between the conscious and the unconscious, removing the filtering of input and allowing a more direct communication. The trance doesn’t need to be deep, just deep enough.
Rachael’s fixation, her point of focus was, of course, her pain.
Make the pain the centre. That must mean that everything which isn’t the centre, isn’t the pain. If it isn’t the pain, it can relax without affecting the pain. If the pain isn’t under threat, it doesn’t fight back, get worse. It just is. Eventually, all that is left is the centre of the centre. Drop through that and there’s nothing. A kind of truce.
With nothing left, her body decided that it needed rest. She fell asleep before I’d finished. I let her quietly sleep for two hours and then, at midnight, we got her up and into bed. She remembered nothing at all until she woke later.
Of course, for Rachael the hypnotherapy was now cast as just plain weird. The apparent loss of control was too much, falling asleep recalling nothing. I pointed out that her meds would have kicked at that point and that I nothing I had done had hypnotised her into memory loss. Of course again, this just meant that it must have been the meds and not the hypnotherapy which had done all the work. We’ll never know which was more potent or effective.
For me, whether the hypnotherapy was the cause of the relief or not is irrelevant. All I care about is that she was hurting and her meds hadn’t worked. I talked to her for twenty minutes and she slept comfortably right through the night.
With sufficient practice, she could replicate this at will for herself.
I’m intending to replicate it at will for a living.
Bring on 2013.
and the clouds parted
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012