The Certificated Wizard

Maybe the tides have turned. For the first time in many weeks, we had a day in the same city. The hospital visit was only 15 minutes away and we even had the space to walk into town for a well-earned coffee/Panini. The sun was shining.

Not only that, since 9.30 there’s only been us in the house. We might even make it to the pub this evening.

On a different note, I’m considering a re-think on the Slight Edge habits. It’s come to my attention that I’m not feeding my Humour & Playfulness key character strength sufficiently well.

Jan, god love her, sent my Master Practitioner Certificate with a fun twist playing on my daughter’s conviction that I’m now officially a wizard. It exercised my playful instincts as I sadly realised that I’m not the kind of therapist who’d have a Wizard Certificate on his wall. Not in this universe anyway.

With the limits of playfulness duly stretched and tested, it occurs to me that I’ve stopped listening to music. So I’m writing this post listening to Uptown Special at reasonable volume on the Mac. I forget how much difference it can make.

So if I decide to switch one of my Slight Edge habits for listening to out-loud music, which should it be? In no particular order, here they are. One of them has to make room:

  • Read 10 pages of something interesting
  • Meditate for at least 10 minutes
  • Exercise: raised heart rate for at least 5 minutes (I’m starting from a low base again)
  • Write 100 words or more
  • Keep a list of the day’s positive events

Which one gets shouldered out of the way so I can get to the front once more?

My life needs more noise.

stress anxiety depression

just waiting for the Pizza
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Gill just came up and closed the door…

Kindness, Chaos & Satchmo

This could be good. Not only will you get the eponymous mash up triple bill, you’ll be thrown into the phenomenon of Origami Space Travel. Intrigued? Read on…

As you know, I write the random Acts of Kindness column for Perception, the Cognitive Hypnotherapy ezine and this particular missive was fun. I trust you’ll enjoy the ride.

Let’s kick off with a cliché.

When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.

Clichés have cropped up more than once in this section and for good reason. Clichés become clichés because they’re phrases that somehow repeatedly best capture the moment and it’s rather pleasing to find out just how much this seems to be true out there in the land of reciprocating kindnesses and ever widening smiles.

This particular cliché comes from the classic song, ‘When You’re Smiling, (The Whole World Smiles With You)’. Apparently we have that renowned trio of songwriters Clay, Fisher & Goodwin to thank for penning this great piece of musicality. Of course without Louis Armstrong’s unique voice making it famous we may never have heard of it. He even managed to keep in line with our cliché theme because it was so good he did it twice. But then of course, as all Armstrong fans will know he went and recorded it again in 1959, so actually it was so good he did it thrice.

Whatever the case, this started me thinking and lead my tangential creativity to wander, (and it’s good to wonder, as all you Cog-Hyppies know). Just to make sure that this was absolutely going to happen, Editor Tina checked in and nudged me in the direction of Butterfly Effects and Chaos Theory.

So here we go: Chaos, Kindness and Satchmo. I did warn you…”

 

You can read the full article on page 14 of the following link: Perception ezine

Just in case you’re interested, you can jump straight to Origami Space Travel here: Click to Jump!

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Calmly chaotic
© Tony Burkinshaw 2014

Tasting the future?

I think there may be a need to re-assert some control. The last time I had a full week off, an entire week with no work, was September last year. I checked. That surprised me.

Now don’t get me wrong, several of the intervening weeks were by no means full and there have been plenty of days which have been entirely empty; some planned, some not. But I think the point is that if I am living and earning the way that I do in order to reap the rewards of partial working, then perhaps my work-life balance isn’t.

There’s too much randomness in the sections that ought to provide that balance and now that there are more consistencies in the success that’s bringing home the bacon, perhaps there needs to be a more deliberate part of my life which isn’t out there constantly hunting slices of cured ungulate, metaphorically speaking.

Perhaps my mind is wandering over these issues because today is the end of my third year of running my life as a business, encompassing therapy, learning and training. Another vaguely inspiring thought is that this phase represents 10% of my entire working life. That surprised me too. In a good way.

I’m also about to add Mind Coaching  to my skill set and I’m looking forward to it immensely. It should help to embed the three disciplines I currently embrace and weld them together into a more or less cohesive whole. Onwards and ever upwards, perhaps.

I find myself looking for a counterbalance and so am currently embracing more mindfulness in my daily routines. It appears to be paying off, although I’m still too close to it to be able to properly articulate how. Suffice it to say that sleep (which was generally good, though occasionally disturbed at peak workflow) is now a calmer and smoother pastime. I’m also more able to insert myself in that tiny sliver of time that exists between stimulus and response. Life is becoming a smoother and calmer pastime too. Mostly this was successfully addressed as part of my transition from full time financial services professional to my part time therapeutic self. Somehow though, I lost the focus on the slice of time which is the only bit that’s real. The Here and the Now. (Notice how I deftly avoided having to mention the FatBoy again)

So here I am.

Given that I intend to go and collect some Elder Flowers to convert into wine for later this year, I may just have to pause and leave you to ponder on what might be around the corner. I feel that there are some perspectives about to shift. The paradigms will just have to take their chances.

Time, subject of many such chance or deliberate distortion, is finding that I’ve become less its slave and more its coach, so there’s always the possibility of more being done in less which is helpful if you’re trying to get the balance restored. On the subject of more to do, the website is up for a revamp over the next few months and I may even have to review the how and the why of downloads. They are still being bought but I can’t help wondering how to encourage more people to use them. Those that do, really seem to find benefit. I just haven’t found the way to expand. Yet.

Technology could well have more of a part to play and I definitely get the feeling that Skype and Facetime have more ability to expand the quest for well-being than they are letting on to me at present.

Anyway, whether these changes that may or may not happen actually do or don’t, there’s an important job to be done the end result of which means that there’s a future me out there toasting your health and well-being with an aromatic semi-sweet swirling around a glass. It might or might not be Christmas. The vagaries of sugar and yeast lend an imprecise end to my alcohol based venture but time dictates that the start is pretty imminent, especially due to the inclement weather. So, being ever more mindful, it’s time to begin.

And there’s no time like the present.

 

An Alternative View © Tony Burkinshaw 2014

An Alternative View
© Tony Burkinshaw 2014

 

The Turn of the Century? A bit of a pain…

Unless WordPress is very much mistaken, this is my 100th post so maybe it’s time to begin to accept that blogging has become more than just a passing fancy.

If all is indeed as it seems then on average, every time I post, twenty people make the decision to follow this blog, so by the time you get to read this one, there should be over 2000 followers. Check out the stats to see if I’m right – I know I will. After a comment like that, I have to make sure, really.

It all started off for me with a couple of long term marketing objectives in mind, prompted by the training I was undertaking and in particular, the use of looped metaphors, which as time has gone on you might find I’ve woven into the fabric of one or two posts you might have read previously. Check them out, they can be quite powerful because you lose track of what’s on the surface and hidden meanings somehow emerge without you really even thinking about them.

Given that pain management has turned up a few times in these one hundred posts, I figured it was about time I put some of the pain management techniques to a proper test and volunteer myself to myself as it were, as a guinea pig. As if on cue a great opportunity presented itself when one of my molars broke on New Year’s Eve.

We went out for a meal and the very first bite came with an unexpected crunch, as it does sometimes. So, to ensure that the rest of the evening wasn’t spoilt in any way by sensitive teeth, I quickly went through a couple of rounds of dissociation, and Escudero, as you do and duly spent the remainder of the evening eating, drinking and generally making merry.

As is always the case, my dentist couldn’t see me for three weeks, unless it was an emergency and as I was happily controlling cold and pressure sensitivity, I booked in and waited. Of course, by now, my cynical inner voice was telling me that the pain control techniques I was using were only being effective because the tooth didn’t actually hurt anyway. A bit of a Catch 22 seeing I wasn’t going to stop using them because I really didn’t want to risk proper tooth-ache either. So I carried on and periodically argued with myself about whether I was being effectively skillful or plainly self-delusional.

Anyway, off I went to dentist, practising pain relief techniques so that I could truly test them out and found myself following habit and protocol and quietly going along with the dentist’s “OK, let’s numb it up then shall we?”. I felt a bit of a fraud.

Mind you, being no stranger to fillings, I can honestly say that every single filling I have ever had, ever, has been pretty painful even with injections. There have always been those moments when I find myself groaning as drill bites harder and wishing it would all finish ten minutes ago please.

This time, I genuinely felt nothing at all. It was almost pleasant. I’ve never had that before. But then again, as Gill said afterwards, maybe this dentist is particularly good.

Obviously this left me with no option but to test it out for real. So I did.

As is appropriate with these things, I started with the easier option, stole a pin from the sewing basket, sterilised it and, yes, pushed it slowly through the back of my hand.

I have to say it was odd. Three things stick in my mind.

1. It didn’t hurt. Really. Not at all.

2. Watching the point of the pin reappear was fascinating.

3. It was surprisingly hard to pull it out again. And it didn’t bleed. Not one drop.

Now in the scheme of things, especially in the era of YouTube videos of well known people pushing skewers through their arms, this is small time stuff. But it’s my small time stuff. And when I can figure out the best way to do it, I think it might make a really good video convincer about the power of the mind. Maybe even help potential clients make up their minds about just how powerful hypnotherapy really is and perhaps help persuade them to get in touch.

On the other hand it might put them off. I’d love to know what you think.

Oh, and I took a picture of it on my phone. I didn’t post it with this as I’m not sure this is the right forum. Good call? Or would you like to see it?

Anyways, the longer this ride goes on, the more pleased I am that I made the decision to get on the Cognitive Hypnotherapy train and follow the tracks on the slightly weirder side of life.

I have no idea how far it might take me but I keep meeting fantastic people, helping a few others along the way and more and more folks seem to want to talk to me about it.

Long may it continue.

pain relief mp3

Somewhat Zen
© Tony Burkinshaw 2014

Related:

Pain relief mp3: Click Here

Resolving to change. Better?

Its appears that all the work I’ve been doing these last many months in order to create an effective background awareness is beginning to bear fruit. The balance is shifting.

New clients are finding out about me and more importantly, getting in touch. Training is beginning to shift towards Learning: Who you are affects how you Learn. It seems obvious when you think about it but until you think about it isn’t. People are beginning to think. I’m even coaching and therapising (made up word) via Skype as I have long hoped to do. It really is coming together.

There have been some really tricky issues to help client find their solution to. It’s challenging and very rewarding.

And sometimes amusing. The capacity of the human brain to find sideways metaphors to communicate with itself is astounding. Imagine sitting in the therapist chair as a client opens their eyes and smiling hugely, declares:

‘You will NEVER guess where I’ve just been! I’ve just been in a wheel-barrow, being pushed across a high-wire strung perilously above Niagara Falls by a world-famous hire-wire dare-devil!’ [With kind permission of the client]

Why? To learn trust, apparently.

And who was the world-famous hire-wire chappie? Jesus! Well why not? After all, He’s probably got a great sense of balance and a head for heights. And not a bad teacher, by all accounts.

And the truly astounding part? The client came up with the imagery entirely unprompted. That’s the fascination with non proscriptive hypnotic language. It frees the client to work with their own imagination. It’s incredibly powerful. All it takes is a carefully crafted and somewhat skilfully applied nudge in the right direction. Nudge theory? Maybe.

You’ll no doubt be aware that a slice of the work to create fertile ground to enable clients to think of me when they need help is my monthly mental-health well-being column in one of our city magazines, ‘Only Peterborough’.

January’s article focussed, a little traditionally perhaps, on that phenomenon of New Year Resolutions and why some work and others don’t, sometimes because the timing is wrong or the resolution is just too big. Sometimes they fail because of a lack of support through the inevitable self-sabotage that goes hand in hand with best intentions.

Here’s what I had to say:

Changing for the Better               

It’s that time of year again. Christmas and New Year have been and gone, the fun and festivities are over and the world is full of opportunity. It’s the traditional time to start afresh with life-changing resolutions, which some go on to achieve with envy-inducing ease.

But for many of us, New Year’s Resolutions fade away into best intentions and we carry on just as we were before. So why are some New Year Resolutions successful whilst others fail?

Perhaps it’s the type of resolution you choose. Adding good habits can succeed more often than stopping bad ones. Maybe this is why the most popular 2013 Resolution was reading more books but stopping smoking was only 26th.

Another trick is sharing the effort. To change a habit, your free-will has to wrestle your Unconscious mind. Given that your Unconscious controls your habitual decisions, this is a tough fight! Exercising with a friend or taking that lunchtime walk with a colleague can make all the difference, sharing the mental effort as well as the Resolution.

Be precise. If you want to ‘lose weight’, how much do you need to lose? By deciding to ‘lose 10 lbs in 4 weeks’ you can measure your success. If you only manage 7 lbs, that’s success too. Think of it like passing with 70%. All progress is positive.

The key point is this: Your Unconscious uses habits to keep you safe or bring you comfort and it really doesn’t want to change. So if you don’t keep your New Year Resolution, it’s just that your Unconscious stills needs to be convinced that you’re right. If this you, then the support of someone trained to help is invaluable.

And once you look, you might be surprised at the help you can find.

See you soon?

RELATED

Only Peterborough magazine: website

Tony Burkinshaw Cognitive Hypnotherapy: website

Learning Coaching: What’s it all about?

Hypnotherapy MP3 Downloads: Pain Relief; Migraine Relief; Healing; Relaxation; Mindfulness

If you want to talk to me or ask any questions about what I do, please feel free to email me at: tony@tonyburkinshaw.co.uk

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Next Steps?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2014

False Hope: Is it really possible?

Hope.

Hope that Springs Eternal, to misquote a pope which, if you’ve read Dan Brown, is misleading.

It occurred to me today in between the coughs that are all that remain of the second-hand cold I’ve been fighting off since my wife caught it from my sister on Boxing Day, (a sort of genetically modified, festively duplicated cold-in-law perhaps?), that there oughtn’t to be any such thing as a false hope.

It’s a criticism levied at those of us who look positively at negative situations by those chappies who’s own particular stance and opinion is negatively tuned, often by the potential for litigious back-lash. For some, it is apparently better to accept that the worst is reality and that entertaining the slightest optimism for a better outcome isn’t worth the risk of massive potential disappointment if the worst then duly turns up and kicks you right in the teeth.

I get it.

But surely this is simply not hoping; actively deciding that Hope is not worth the risk of Hope being dashed.

This is not false hope nor is it actually making a case for hope to be ignored. It is simply weighing up the pros and cons of entertaining hope and opting for the downside of life as either it is pretty likely to turn up anyway, or grinding your way through yet another disappointment is more than you can bear.

This is not a nice place to be. Life throws some horrible things at us sometimes. Sometimes Hope can feel too big.

But my point I suppose, is that taking the risk of hoping for a better outcome is more than simply ignoring the obvious truth of your situation, as some naysayers would have it.

Taking the risk of hoping can bring some immensely powerful guns to bear on an otherwise hope-less situation. Not least of these is that by truly opting for hope; opting to believe that there just might be way beyond the apparent certainty you’ve been expecting; that one of the most complex and least understood mechanisms in western culture can finally fire up and weigh in on your side.

Those of your that follow me regularly will probably have guessed that I’m alluding to that not-so-mythical mind-body connection. That aspect of eastern philosophy that is being slowly uncovered and accepted as our sciences become more adept at measuring such ephemerous concepts.

Maybe there’s a reason that hope springs eternal. Maybe Alexander was simply expressing a deeply ingrained feature of our human make-up that is designed to get us to stoke up the fires of the mind-body connection and generate every last vestige of opportunity for the bad thing, whatever it that bad thing might be, to be overcome.

Hope really can change your destiny.

But what if it didn’t.

What if, despite Hope, the bad thing happened. Your illness didn’t go away? The pain didn’t recede? It really did turn out to be the death that comes to us all, scythe in bony hand depending on your local anthropomorph?

Does this mean that the hope was false?

Not at all. Hope is just that. Hope. Nothing more.

My point is that by hoping, you bring every last possibility to bear on the side of your own victory. By hoping, every last possible chance and opportunity has been taken.

And if hope doesn’t work, what’s the consequence?

Well, for the time that you were hoping, life had a more positive feel. You did what you could. You felt as if you were in control. You were in charge of your destiny, not the bad thing.

The disappointment of losing your personal battle is no more disappointing because you hoped.

The hope wasn’t false. It was just hope.

If you look at Hope and you decide that it is not for you, then I’d ask that you consider your decision having thought and felt a little more about what Hope might bring, if only you dared to entertain it. It brings so much more than wishful thinking. It just might turn the tide.

One of the key aspects of my therapy practice is enabling clients to find Hope in what they had previously considered to be hope-less situations.

It’s one of the key turning points in therapy.

Once that fire of Hope is lit, we’re homeward bound.

RELATED:

Hypnotherapy Website:

Hypnotherapy downloads: (Pain, Migraine, Healing, Mindfulness Meditation, Relaxation)

 

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They hope it reflects progress
© Tony Burkinshaw 2014

Effectively Challenging: The Future?

Of course the downside is Cognitive Hypnotherapy is way too effective.

It may sound a little weird coming from a therapist but from a purely business perspective, clients do tend to get well pretty quickly which means that I need to find a constant stream of new clients with new problems.

As a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, I’m delighted that the techniques I use with my clients can make profound differences to their lives in a such short space of time. However, as someone trying to earn a living, there is the occasional pang of jealousy for other therapies where a client may keep coming back to you many months, sometimes even years.

There are a couple of things which have brought this to mind over the Festive Season, which has done its usual trick of disappearing too quickly and returning to normal again? Must be something to do with it being Twelfth night, (depending on which definition of twelfth you plump for).

I’ve started trialling AdWords, which I’ve had in mind for some time but have never quite been prepared to risk actual budget on, so Google came to my aid and offered me a pretty decent voucher to try it out. So I’ve ventured out into the world of AdWords Express, the delightfully easy version which is incredibly easy to set up and which, if you don’t keep a close eye on it, eats into said budget like a ravenously hungry eating thing.

That said, it has delivered a couple of prime client enquiries and many multiples of views of my AdWords ad. It’s definitely been worth it for name awareness and probably for return on investment, especially because so far, there hasn’t been any.

I’ve put it temporarily on hold whilst I explore taking my new-found AdWords Express know-how and see if I can apply it more cost effectively to the grown-up AdWords proper version before my voucher completely runs out. That’s part of next week’s work. With luck it’ll deliver more control of the context that the ad’s words turns up in & so makes the C.P.C., (for those in the know), less costly per click, (which gives away the esoteric knowledge needed for the previous TLA which is a throwback to previous posts).

So there I’ve been, advertising my services alongside the usual possibility that my website might actually turn up in its own right, (not that I’ve noticed it doing so thus far), and the occasional view that it gets from the Hypnotherapy Directory, which has also paid its way, by the way, and beginning to find that I was getting some new clients from other than word of mouth (hooray) only to find that my current clients all went and got better, (double Hooray) except that this means that the boost in client bookings pre-Christmas wasn’t a boost so much as a replacement.

Ah well.

Then I find that my carefully crafted triple-checked ad that I’m trialling in the local villages, (yes, all six of them: villages that is, not magazines), magazine ‘The Village Tribune’, which has its own website, (take a look if you like), didn’t actually say that I’m local which was kind of the whole point. That’ll need updating for the next edition in March, I suppose.

It’s all a learning experience and leads unfortunately for you readers of this blog post, into a rambling discourse on advertising and client flow. Nonetheless, if you’ve got this far, your finding at least some entertainment value, so keep up – here we go again.

In short (not really) this is where I find myself at the beginning of 2014’s adventure.

I’ve been able to significantly help my most challenging clients and, again significantly, they fell within the expected 3 – 7 therapy session range. They’ve involved anxieties, migraines & pain, depression, PTSD, stress triggered epilepsy amongst other interesting conditions. It’s kept me on my toes and 2014 is shaping up to continue in this vein.

My dalliances with advertising, (more toe dipping than anything else, really), will almost certainly turn into something more ongoing. Allied with my mental-health well-being column, this should provide pretty reasonable background awareness with the intention that when a prospective new client finds themselves prospecting, so-to-speak, about who to approach, Tony Burkinshaw Cognitive Hypnotherapy should have passed the number-of-times convincer test.

In essence, if they’ve seen my name around, consciously or unconsciously, more than 3 times in different environments, this lends a level of validity that wouldn’t exist if they had only come across me for the first time. That’s the theory.

I’m also about to run the very first Unlock Your Learning Potential course for the Chartered Insurance Institute. It’s a course I’ve designed from scratch specifically for them, following a series of conversations with them last year. I’m pretty damned excited about it too, which is probably why it has the least space in this post.

Odd.

On top of this I’m seeking to do a revamp of my website, possibly moving it over to WordPress.org so I can SEO the hell out of it, to borrow a phrase from Victoria, (another excellent Cognitive Hypnotherapist of my close acquaintance). I might also rework the Facebook page associated with this blog and change its name & purpose so it links more cleanly between blogging and the business of actually providing therapy. This all needs some proper thinking through and whatever suggestions you might have would be welcome.

There are, as with any future, potentially good outcomes and quite a few potentially challenging ones. The point is in my line of work, an important skill I teach to others is how to focus on the potentially good outcomes. It makes the future much brighter, (although perhaps no longer Orange, following their multiple mergers). After all, challenges are simply what they say they are. Challenges. They’ll either be met and over-come, met but not over-come or completely ignored in the hope they’ll go away.

Whatever the outcome, challenges eventually disappear into the past, leaving the bright future to get even brighter whilst you enjoy now. Mindfulness.

All in all it’s shaping up to be a good year.

Even though we’re only a few days in, I have a good feeling about what lies ahead.

See you there?

Related

Random Acts of Kindness: a new slant on Twitter… follow me here

Tony Burkinshaw Cognitive Hypnotherapy: click here

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Out of the past & into the future
© Tony Burkinshaw 2014

Isn’t it Grand!

Many Thanks to all those who helped this arrive today!
1,000 Followers!

Congratulations on getting 1,000 total follows on Posts of Hypnotic Suggestion.

Your current tally is 1,001.

3-2-1: The Launch – A traditional offering…

Exciting Times! 

I suppose it’s been building up to this for a while and I almost can’t believe that the day has actually arrived. My website, (thanks to the sterling efforts of my web-building daughter, Katherine), now sports a brand new, spankingly-good Shop, containing brand new destruct-tested hypnotherapy recordings for you to download at your leisure… if you’re prepared to part with a modest sum for the privilege, of course. Distributor of words of almost-wisdom I may be but I can’t yet run to full-blown charitable works. Mouths to feed and all that.

As with all such enterprises, there are a multitude of people to thank and seeing as the most multitudinous of these multi-whatsits are those of you who are actually reading this post right now, here goes:

THANK YOU

This blog has been invaluable in honing my thoughts and skills to the point where people I’ve never met in person were happy to trial these downloads for me and provide me with the feedback I needed to refine them to the point of, in my own modest way, perfection. Well, pretty close, anyway. You know who you are, all you trialling people and believe me it has been a pleasure to work with you. Thank you all extremely much.

Here are some snippets of feedback so far;

I have used the recording nonstop daily. It is now at the top of my list of things that work for controlling my degenerative disc disease, permanent nerve damage and chronic pain. I owe you so much!”

“For me personally the audio has been a blessing. Changes are happening (& being noticed by others) & it’s having a positive effect on me. I’d like to say a really big thank you.”

“The surgeon and nurses couldn’t believe how quickly the bruising disappeared after my operation”

Now, I know the how and why of all of this but I’m still in awe of the realisation that what I’ve learned might enable you to re-engage with such immense natural healing ability. The recordings are all based on what I’ve learned from helping my face to face clients which means that they cover chronic pain conditions, migraines, and healing after undergoing medical procedures.

So here’s where I really can give something back at last…

In recognition of all the help and inspiration I’ve had from everyone here on WordPress, I’d like to give you all access to a special discount just for you.

Until 31st August 2013, anyone who reads this post can get 40% discount on any of the Hypnotherapy downloads on my site.

Here’s what to do to:

  • Simply click on this link Tony Burkinshaw Cognitive Hypnotherapy Shop …
  • ‘add to cart’ whichever download or downloads you would like to have
  • enter the code PHSBF13 before you pay
  • and get a massive 40% off the price.
  • Download your chosen MP3s
  • Relax and give yourself the chance to heal

If you think any of your own blog-readers might benefit, all you need to do is re-blog this post and the same code will be available for all your readers as well, right up to 31st August this year.

Given the positive feedback I’ve had so far, you might be surprised at just how glad you are that you read this.

I know I am.

Over the next weeks and months I’ll be designing, writing and recording more downloads and gradually adding them to the Shop once they’ve been tested and refined.

As always, I welcome feedback. Especially on these.

Once again, many thanks and welcome to my brave new world.

Hypnotherapy MP3 Downloads

If only you could hear
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

What makes you so Special, anyway?

I had an article about USPs published recently, (on my birthday, as it happens), in the Summer Issue of Perception, the Cognitive Hypnotherapy E-zine. I thought you might like to see it.

The E-zine is published every quarter and is really easy to subscribe to. I’ve included a link at the bottom of this post. Best of all, it is free.

There’s a full copy of the Summer Issue at the bottom of this post. I suspect you’ll find it really interesting.

Anyway, appetite duly whetted; read on…

_________________________________________________________________________

What makes you so Special, anyway?

Someone somewhere is always trying to convince you that what they’ve got is so good that you can’t live without it. Whether it’s home insulation, life assurance that comes with a pen, (thanks Michael, that’ll really sway my decision), or even claiming compensation for buying something that turned out not be quite as good as you were led to believe at the time. And we don’t just do this with the things we buy. We do it with people.

We live with a tacit pressure to identify what’s known as a USP, your Unique Selling Proposition. We’re driven to find what it is that’s going to make you, your product, your company or your service not just more appealing than the competition but entirely different from and better than the competition. Given that this concept originated back in the USA in the early 1940s, it’s probably a pressure that owes its roots to living in a capitalist economy where bigger, faster, higher, quicker was the order of the day. In a competitive environment, you need something that makes you stand out, something that makes you different.

A quick Google into USPs, (other good search engines are available), and you find that even the term USP isn’t unique. From the United Steel Products company in Minnesota to the United States Pharmacopeal Convention and even as far afield as the University of the South Pacific, all these claim the epithet USP. Obviously the University of the South Pacific holds most attraction, so I’m off to Tonga to study Geospatial Science at the USP at my earliest opportunity. Well, maybe later. In another life, perhaps.

Despite this minor sub-tropical digression, where does the acceptance of USP as a key idea really come from? The first thing to understand is that this is now quite an old concept invented, if that’s the right word, by good old Rosser Reeves during the 1940s. He analysed a variety of successful advertising campaigns looking for the common theme that made them so. According to Rosser, what made them successful, what convinced customers to switch brands, was that each campaign had been able to deliver what he termed a ‘Unique Selling Proposition’.  His criteria were quite stringent. These are the three qualities a Rosser-style USP must have;

  • The advertisement must make a specific proposition: ‘Buy this product and you will get this specific benefit’.
  • The proposition must be unique: something that the competition cannot or does not offer.
  • It must be strong enough to pull customers over to your product.

If you run a business, he demanded, what is your USP? Why on earth should a customer come to you when there are so many similar businesses out there each vying for the rapidly shrinking pound-in-your-pocket? It worked really well back then.

So here we are, some 50 years later still living with its influence. But there are so many businesses and so many people out there, that there is little specific uniqueness left.

Personally, I’m not really worried. Let me tell you why.

When I set up my business as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, I went through the process of trying to discover my Unique Selling Point because it seemed that everyone was doing it. It was one of the expected steps in what is known as creating your business proposition. What would differentiate my business from all those other Hypnotherapists around me? No matter how hard I looked at it, whatever I came up with, it looked very much like everyone else’s Hypnotherapy business. Uniqueness was proving extremely elusive.

I firmly believe that Cognitive Hypnotherapy is a much more profoundly useful tool than any other form of hypnotherapy, so in a way that could be my USP. But all those other Hypnotherapists believe that they’re good too, (well some of them do anyway), so even being a Cognitive Hypnotherapist isn’t enough to distinguish me uniquely from the competition. I’ve decided to focus on fertility and pain relief which helps but that’s not unique either. Others out there do the same.

So, after much thought and internal debate, I brought myself to this conclusion. My particular USP is me. There is no other Hypnotherapist out there, Cognitive or otherwise, who is or ever will be, me. That’s kind of reassuring.

And if I am me, then you are you. There is nobody like you. Anywhere. You are indeed one of a kind. Physically and mentally, (which is more of the same thing than you might imagine), no-one else will ever be you. So forget all the pressure of being the best you can be, striving for ultimate self-improvement, learning to be a winner.

Your biggest and most unique, (if you’ll pardon the unnecessary superlative), selling point is that nobody else in the entire world is you. This puts you in pole position and gives you an unfair advantage, (honestly, bear with me).  Nobody else does what you do, thinks the way you do, behaves or feels or sees the world exactly as you do. Now this can seem a little overwhelming and scary at first because for most of us, we never really learn to appreciate just what these things are or how they really seem to those around us.

We are taught from a very early age how to think, how to behave, what we should or shouldn’t say, which rules we should follow, how we should dress, what food we should eat. The point is that we’re taught those things by people who aren’t us. The best they can do is to try to mold us into a better version of them, after all that’s what happened when they grew up. We learn to take on other people’s values and ideas. This can cause deeply embedded internal confusion as effectively we’ve learned to live our lives as if we were someone else. Who we really are, what we really believe gets buried and we forget how to value our individuality, our true identity. We end up not appreciating our own self for what it is. Special.

Fortunately, there are ways to get back to the centre of who you are. Cognitive Hypnotherapy really can separate out those aspects of you which are you and those which you’ve taken on and learnt from others as you grew up and life threw its various experiences at you. For many of us, we spend our lives trying not to be something, trying to keep away from ideas, values, identities that we unconsciously know are not us. But as these values are tucked away out of sight and out of mind, we rarely if ever become fully aware of them. It just feels, well, wrong.

Imagine how fantastic must it be to uncover the true you in a way that enables you to fully appreciate who you are. Once you become the centre of you, your life becomes congruent. You make decisions that are good for you, help you to grow. You learn how to feed the aspects of your personality that keep you healthy, strong, happy and content.

And there’s more. Once you’ve found what’s important, your underlying values, your true identity, you will find that you have uncovered your own Unique Selling Point and buffed it to such a glorious shine that it can’t help but be noticed. You have become you.

So now that you know who you are and what is fundamentally important to you, you’ll discover some strange things. There will be people, places, jobs, ideas, passions that absolutely fit like a glove. You may never even have noticed them before. Equally there will be people, places, jobs and ideas that you have put up with, simply because you couldn’t see any alternative or were too afraid to let go. Knowing who you are gives you the strength either to move on or to change these relationships into ones that are healthy for you. You become so centred that change is truly an opportunity and no longer a fear.

It isn’t the skills, qualifications or knowledge you hold which enable you to succeed; it is the passion that comes with being centred, being you, living without any inner conflict, confusion or deeply embedded self-doubt. In life and in business, knowing who you are is such a rare asset that the passion and self-belief it brings are a magnet to those with whom you’ll fit.

My advice is simply this. Do whatever you need to do to make sure that you live the life that you truly want, not the life that you find yourself putting up with.

So if something is holding you back or if you’re living a life that just doesn’t fit, why not get in touch with your nearest Cognitive Hypnotherapist? You’ll find one via the ‘find a Cognitive Hypnotherapist near you’ button on the Cognitive Hypnotherapy website.

It’s time to uncover that unique someone who is, quite simply, you.

Perception_Summer_2013_Issue_3

Perception E-zine Free Subsription

The only one? ©Tony Burkinshaw 2013

The only one?
©Tony Burkinshaw 2013