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

 

Embracing the word of work?

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then this is destined to become my most popular post, although there’s always the possibility that you’ve moved on because I’ve not been around for some considerable time and it is time, as the saying has it, which will tell.

Oh and trust me with the title. I know what I mean. Read on.

As with most events there have been reasons, some of them good, some of them not so good. It boils down to this: I got busy. Far busier than I had anticipated, so that by the time I thought about laying my next diatribe out in front of you, it was too late in the day. Habit took over from habit and I lost momentum.

Apologies, one and all.

On the other hand… I have been much busier than I had anticipated! Things seem to have come together this year so that I now find myself having to set aside time when I don’t work, rather than being content to let work happen in its own time. It’s lead to some interesting revelations.

One my initial tenets when I opted to accept redundancy and forge my own path was not to work for a living, rather I would do certain things with my life, some of which gave financial reward, others which gave other rewards. This was fine whilst I was under utilised. The problems came with increasing numbers of clients seeking therapy. I found that I was no longer getting time to rebalance. Whilst I’ve been reasonably skilful in keeping myself separated from clients’ concerns, I have nevertheless discovered that old joy (not) of an overactive nighttime mind.

In the past this familiar beast has been active in times of stress and anxiety, one of those work-related side-effects I had hoped to put firmly behind me with my new way of relating to the provision of income. I absolutely was not expecting insomnia to turn up when I was neither stressed nor anxious.

But turn up it did.

Over the last few weeks, I have been increasingly prone to waking up with my mind buzzing quietly over inconsequential nonsenses. I know well enough what the stresses and strains of employed sales management can bring and this wasn’t it. This was a new-fond version of lying-awakeness and I found myself at a bit of a loss.

It is especially odd and slightly galling because I’ve been successfully helping a number of individuals overcome their own insomnias whilst gradually succumbing to my own. Weird and confusing? It is to my befuddled senses, which even managed to consider for a short period whether I was becoming successful in this particular therapy by transferring the clients’ various insomnias into my own head and living it for them.

There seems to be a mismatch somewhere. An imbalance.

And then a thought occurred. I have many a client who want to achieve a particular goal but keep sabotaging themselves. Oftentimes with this there are underlying stresses and anxieties, patterns of behaviour learned long ago and thrown up on auto-pilot by the ever watchful unconscious mind. Standard therapy fare. Familiar territory.

Occasionally, though, this is not the case.

Occasionally, there is minimal stress or anxiety. Behaviour patterns are under conscious control. No comfort eating, no outburst of anger or embarrassment, no demons shouting to be heard over the metaphorical chocolate and slices of toast. Just behaviour which the client would like to guide elsewhere. There is,  as far as you can tell, nothing preventing the habit from breaking, it’s just that the toast tastes nice and the client likes eating the way that they do. Yet they genuinely want to be slimmer/calmer/happier/more outgoing.

Or so they think. Which is a clue, to those with an AD sensitive outlook.

It is very difficult to uncover your own deeply held beliefs. It’s akin to opening the box with the key that’s locked safely inside so no-one can open the box without permission. Including you. There are techniques which can help, deriving those beliefs from other sources, behaviours and feelings.

Occasionally you get to x-ray the box & make a copy of the key when no-one’s looking. When it works, it’s a real Houdini moment.

In my experience, such clients as these have been trying to achieve the wrong goal or have been trying to achieve the right goal for entirely the wrong reason. Trying to become slimmer and fit into clothes you used to be able to wear won’t work if what you really want is a future you that is healthy and fit and you don’t really care one jot what size or shape you are.

Getting yourself properly aligned can work miracles.

Which is where my sights are currently set. I’ve spent nearly three years trying to avoid work: (the word not the task).

I’ve been attempting to forge a lifestyle which involves doing some things that provide income and doing other things that don’t. A lifestyle where both carry equal validity in the scheme of, well, things.

I’ve been living in dream world. (Well, it is time Morpheus made another appearance and as I’ve been exchanging comments with someone who’s considering going a Quest, (Hi again, Sarah!), he’s fresh on my mind once more).

I find that avoiding work carries pitfalls. Work, it turns out, is not a dirty word. By avoiding ‘work’ I’ve also been avoiding the necessity of allowing myself the opportunity to recuperate from the intense interactions that occur with clients. Therapy is hard work and this needs to be acknowledged. If I don’t, the next stage on from casual insomnia beckons and to be honest, I don’t want to go there again.

So I’ve reinstated time-off. Days where I don’t ‘work’. I’m gently increasing the import of exercise. I may even practice what I preach and get some refuelling therapy as a part of routine maintenance, so to speak. I also need some time to let my mind assimilate and address all that I’ve experienced during the day. I’m mindful of the benefits of meditation so might even instigate some routine quiet time.

I did so tonight, for the first time in a while.

And for the first time in a while…

…I’m back.

hypnosis mp3

No more work…
© Tony Burkinshaw 2014

 

Related Links to interesting things…

Cognitive Hypnotherapy & Quest

Tony Burkinshaw Cognitive Hypnotherapy

 A damn fine meditation mp3…

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

hypnotherapy. hypnosis mp3

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

2013: Life according to WordPress

hypnotherapy, pain relief mp3, relaxation mp3

So that was 2013?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2104

According to WordPress.com this is the 2013 annual report for this blog.

It looks quite good to me but then, I am biased. It’s way more important what you think.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Click here to visit tonyburkinshaw.co.uk

The space between. A time of promise.

There’s a lull between Christmas and the New Year, when you’ve sufficed sufficiently but can’t yet relax your guard because there’s one more day of celebration ahead and depending on your heritage this could be a really big day.

Whilst I’m partly descended from those lads north of the border, the bloodline is thin enough for me not to feel the compulsion of first-footing and all that downing of multiple not-so-wee drams. That’s not to say I’m planning to abstain nor that I won’t partake of another drop or two from that freshly opened bottle of Talisker, more that I’m hopeful that I’ll surface sometime before mid-day on Wednesday with a more or less intact inner constitution.

Given that I’m booked in to the local pub New Year’s bash from 7.30, that could be a bit of a tall order.

Then again, 2013 has been a year of expanding horizons and honing new talents so you never know. As this will be my first New Year’s Eve as a published columnist and hypnotherapist, anything is possible. I’ll be starting the New Year with clients booked in for exam-anxiety & learning coaching, stress and anxiety management, pain & illness hyper-sensitivity,  PTSD, and weight loss.

I’m advertising through Adwords & our local village magazine and the next column is out in early January. Although website views are increasing, it’s time to begin the first proper website overhaul and maybe transfer it over to WordPress.org so I can SEO the hell out it. Time will tell.

On top of that, my Financial Services consulting career has taken a turn for the complicated and is bearing fruit with high-level competence assessments and some learning coaching courses booked in already. It’ll be an interesting first quarter. Not only that. I find myself in a better place than I’ve been personally for some while.

This is in part because as my Cognitive Hypnotherapy career progresses, I’ve become adept at identifying and dealing with issues that I’ve either long-ignored or taken for granted. It’s also in no small measure because a beneficial side effect of a career in Cognitive Hypnotherapy, is that you spend your working life eliciting trance phenomena in others in a calm and gentle manner which you have no choice but to listen to as well. I find that I leave most sessions having received therapy by proxy. In some measure, the all hypnosis is self-hypnosis philosophy applies even for the therapist.

Whatever the reason, I find the end of 2013 to be a pretty chilled affair.

People are even downloading and benefiting from my mp3 recordings. I spent some considerable time deciding how long these should be. If you search out there in Google & Bing land, you’ll find a whole host of hypnotherapy mp3s & CDs.

I wanted mine to be long enough to provide serious help but short enough to be something you can pick up and put down when you find yourself in whatever form your own ‘bit-of-a-pickle’ might be. It is a strange truth but if you are for example, extremely stressed, it is nigh on impossible to find 20 minutes to listen to something which will relax you. People in pain quite simply hurt too much to be able to spend time listening for half an hour to something which may relieve that pain.

In the end I settled on 10 minutes. This seems to be long enough to make a difference and short enough, in most cases, to allow the listener to find the mental effort needed to sit down and listen. I wrote and recorded them through they year to cover areas I found clients needed most:

Relief from Chronic Pain Conditions

Pre & Post Surgery Healing

Relief from Breakthrough Pain

Migraine Relief

Mindfulness Meditation

and just for Christmas,

Deep Relaxation

And they’re all designed so that the effect builds with each listen, achieving best results after about 4 weeks according to feedback so far. If you could benefit too, why not try them. They work. And if you’d like to know more or if you want book in to see me, (face to face or through Skype), I’m always pleased to talk and offer advice. Keep in touch. 2014 is full of untapped promise.

hypnosis mp3, pain releif

The colouring bin
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Dancing to someone else’s tune

I love my job.
That’s something I feel very fortunate to be able to say and in no small part that’s down to leaping that leap of faith and trusting there was a path out there. Somewhere.
It took a bit of finding but thanks to multiple strands weaving their magic carpet threads, I found the right combination of both circumstance and people.
Here I am.
I’m on a train returning from the City, with a day of one to one coaching successfully done and more to come tomorrow. There’s a lot to cover in 2 days and the material’s dry enough at the best of times. So with an exam to top it all off on Wednesday, the pressure is firmly on my client. Top bloke by the way.
According to those in the know, including him, I’ve done well to keep him engaged for the full day. Apparently that’s a pretty difficult task. It’s a good job no-one told me, I might have found it difficult too, just to carry on the tradition.
The trick is to provide as much of that engagement in a language that reflects the soundtrack of his world, not mine. After all, I already know it, so what’s the point of regurgitating tricky information in a way that only makes sense to me?
The clues were everywhere. Office decor, his demeanor, the way he spoke, the language he used. The signed music posters, guitar cases and desktop PC speakers were the final  confirmation, as if confirmation were needed.
Introduce the source material so the theme plays out loud and clear. One sound bite at a time. Check that he hears what’s said and it sounds OK to him. Does it ring true? Can he replay it back to me? Only bring in the new layers of information when he can work it in harmony with what he’s already heard.
In short, whereas I would have painted the detail that fits into the picture, (if you see what I mean), I listened to what he was hearing and once I’d found the right notes, we danced the day to his tune.

Learning to Reduce Stress

You know how I write a monthly column for ‘Only Peterborough’ magazine? It’s the Understanding You, mental-health well-being column. Well, this is the article I wrote for the November edition. I thought you might like it.

It’s about my other interest in life, helping people learn how to learn.

These days, qualification never ceases and people have to take  professional qualifications for much of their career.

All of a sudden, you find yourself trying to use the same study methods you used at school or University except this time you’re also trying to hold down a career, keep a family happy, not to mention earn a living and desperately search for that mythical work-life balance.

Strangely enough, almost no-one gets taught how to learn.

How to use the way you, as an individual, relate to the world and other people. Take the way you do the things you love. You just do them. It just happens. It flows. And all the effort is worthwhile.

What I do is uncover these aspects of you and show you how to use them to learn everything in that same way. Learning becomes fun again – no matter what the subject matter.

Anyway. Here’s a high-level version of that other side of what I do.

Learning to Reduce Stress

Have you ever seen a toddler achieve some mighty task such as saying a new word, taking their first steps, kicking a ball. Notice that immense concentration followed by the pure joy and delight at learning something new. The human brain is designed for learning and not just in early childhood. Constant challenge can keep it functioning at is best.

So why as we settle into the new academic year or undertake professional qualifications can learning become such a challenge, filling so many of us with anxiety and self-doubt?

Given the choice we’d rather find something that grabs our attention and feeds our preference for mastering things we enjoy. Think about the huge variation in what people choose to learn. Some learn a sport, others become XBox experts, yet more will learn to cook, surf, speak another language, make clothes, take photos, design apps for iPads (other good tablets are available); the list is endless.

But when we’re required to learn, we revert back to our early days of homework and find ourselves trying to learn in that same way again. Without meaning to, we end up recreating a classroom every time we have to ‘study’ whether it suits our learning style or not.  Add in the expectation of having to pass and it’s no wonder that taking exams becomes one of the most stressful things you can do.

So what is the alternative? Uncover what you do when you’re learning something you enjoy and then learn everything else in that same way. If you delight in being with others, then learn in groups or with friends; if you love to sing or play guitar, put it to music. Colours, movement, sounds or shapes, even textures and smells can all be built in to help you learn the way your brain prefers to learn.

It can take a little time and may need some guidance. But once you’ve found your way, learning ceases to be a chore and you just might feel that burst of pure delight at achieving something new once more.

Related:

Only Peterborough Magazine: website

Tony Burkinshaw Cognitive Hypnotherapy: Learning & Memory Coach

…and if it’s all too much: Mindfulness Meditation mp3

Memory, learning, mindfulness, stress

Mindful of the Stress

Fibromyalgia. It won’t hurt to take a look.

Let’s face it. It’s about time I wrote specifically about Fibromyalgia.

Its been hovering around the edges of my posts for some time and there are quite a few people following this blog who suffer.

According to NHS Choices in UK;

Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome, is a long-term condition which causes pain all over the body. Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and extreme tiredness.

Depending on who you talk to and which research you read, the debate is wide open about whether Fibromyalgia is a condition which causes pain or whether it is a syndrome which describes the pain but the cause is unknown. There is apparently no definitively accepted test for it. It is often a diagnosis of last resort when all others have been eliminated.

Needless to say being diagnosed with this condition can be pretty traumatic. Because Fibro is defined as a long term chronic pain condition affecting the whole body the diagnosis can feel like a life sentence. With no remission or time off for good behaviour. Not even the itself pain is consistent. As a neuropathic condition, the sensations can turn up as anything from uncomfortable tingles to serious aches, cramping muscles, burning or stabbing pains; You know, pretty much anything that’s unpleasant.

From a hypnotherapy point of view, Fibromyalgia is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Because of the way Fibromyalgia is defined, by accepting the diagnosis, you also implicitly have to accept that the pain will not go away. So in essence, if you have Fibromyalgia, then you expect it to last for a long time, that it will be painful, that it will affect the whole body and that nobody knows what it is or how to fix it. You are also tacitly accepting that the medical and pharmaceutical profession/industry have nothing which can relieve it. If they did, then you wouldn’t be told you’re going to face long term pain, you’d be given the treatment to cure it.

In asking you to accept a Fibromyalgia diagnosis, the medical community are asking you to accept their unpleasant truth. It won’t get better, it won’t go away and nothing can cure it. That’s a big ask.

So, if you do have Fibromyalgia, what can you do about it? This is where Cognitive Hypnotherapy can step up to the mark.

If pain is an alarm (which it is) and that alarm can misfire (which it can) then being put in a position where you expect continuing pain, the alarm cannot reset itself because there is nothing to reset it to. All pain you feel is expected, and all you expect to feel is pain. It is an exceptionally vicious circle.

For my part, I seek to re-open that door between the mind and body. A door which in many philosophies doesn’t even exist. It is a western invention. It is perhaps time to re-engage the connections. At least allow for the possibility that the mind has substantial influence over the body and vice versa.

Cognitive Hypnotherapy carries with it some amazingly powerful techniques.

Hypnotherapy can be and is used as anaesthesia, removing acute pain completely or reducing it to easily tolerated levels. Patients have been operated on with only hypnosis as the anaesthetic. click here for just one example…

Anaesthetic hypnosis is sometimes used for chronic pain but in my opinion is not ideal. As pain is an absolutely vital protection alarm, it is essential it isn’t switched off except in controlled circumstances when that safety function is taken on by someone else (the surgical team, for example).

Treating conditions like Fibromyalgia with hypnotherapy requires more subtlety and takes a little longer. In essence the techniques, gradually educate your unconscious mind, (that part of ‘you’ which drives almost 90% of what you do), to recognise that you are increasingly safe. In turn this leads to less and less need to be warned of potential damage (the function of pain) which in turn leads to less and less pain.

Often these techniques have beneficial side-effects. For example, many users of my hypnotherapy mp3 report that they also get immediate pain relief or that the recording is extremely relaxing even though this is not what is primarily going on.

So as a final point, I would encourage anyone who is diagnosed with a long term pain condition: by all means, accept the diagnosis but you don’t have to accept the prognosis as well. The condition you experience can progress differently for you than it does for others. Your doctor’s expectations might be wrong. Search out and find your own path.

And if you’d like me to join you for part of your journey, you only have to ask.

Related:

Hypnosurgery Live : Live TV broadcast in the UK (YouTube video)

Tony Burkinshaw Cognitive Hypnotherapy website: tonyburkinshaw.co.uk

To purchase a Pain Management mp3 click here

fibromyalgia, hypnosis mp3, pain relief

It looks cluttered, but it’s very restful
© Tony Burkinshaw 2103

Pain & Hypnotherapy. What’s the answer?

I’ve been having long distance virtual conversations again. People have started asking me interesting and searching questions. I like it. It keeps me on my toes. Grounded.

Occasionally stops me waffling.

Dawn, of Finding My Inner Courage fame, asked one which cut straight to the heart of what I do. It sounded so simple…

“Could you please explain to me how hypnosis works with chronic pain?”

‘Ah, one of the difficult ones’, I thought, paraphrasing Wen, enlightened figment of Terry Pratchett’s fertile imagination.

This was either going to involve writing my first book, (quite a good idea actually but perhaps not just yet), or would really test my ability to be succinct. You may have gathered that I tend to pad my prose with sideways off-shoots as they arrive in my head whilst I type. What I sent her was quite a good summary of this complex subject and I thought it might be worth sharing.

So here is my bite-sized reduction of the totality of the Chronic Pain Experience and how Hypnotherapy addresses it:

There are two parts to this: How does ‘pain’ happen and How does Hypnotherapy address this?

How does Pain  happen?

In essence, pain is the result of lightning fast calculations that your brain makes as a result of the totality of the many sensory inputs it has. This includes your nerve impulses, hormonal communications, emotional state, and your unconscious thoughts/feeling/beliefs (which are internally created sensory inputs).

Your brain uses these to assess your current situation and various potential future situations and makes decisions about your current and future safety, particularly with regard to the potential for physical damage.

Pain is an alarm which your brain can choose to trigger (PLEASE NOTE: this is not a conscious decision or choice – it is automatic. You can’t consciously choose not to feel pain!). Your brain will only decide to trigger pain if it assesses that you are in danger AND that pain is the most appropriate alarm to use. (Think about soldiers in mid-battle, athletes in competition, parents whose children are in danger – all have been known to suffer major injury and still function without pain – The pain comes later, if at all).

Pain is essentially an attention-grabbing alarm. It stops you in your tracks and insists, (very loudly), that you do something to protect yourself.It is vital to survival.

When you feel pain, your brain increases the sensitivity of the nerves which indicated the damage. It wants to know as much as it can, quickly.

It triggers healing & protection responses (inflammation, muscle tension etc.). These in turn can trigger increases in sensitivity.

Important: You should always seek medical advice if you have persistent or unexpected pain

The pain alarm can misfire in two ways:

  1. The sensitivity fails to reduce when the healing process has completed. The brain misinterprets increased sensitivity as increased damage and increases the sensitivity yet again to be sure it knows as much as it can about the damage. Instead of gradually lowering the threat level, the alarm hyper-sensitises itself and sets up a vicious circle. You keep feeling pain because you keep feeling pain because you keep feeling pain…
  2. If your environment is threatening, your brain’s base level for alarms is set very high anyway. You are constantly on high-alert. You get very jumpy about injury and so feel pain much more quickly than ‘normal’. A key point here is that your ‘environment’ includes how you feel, so if you feel bad about yourself. (limiting beliefs, self-loathing, lack of self-worth, lack of love etc.), your brain treats this in the same way as a physically threatening environment.

How does Hypnotherapy help?

Essentially hypnotherapy works in 3 ways.

  1. It uses hypnotic trance to temporarily convince the brain that it is safe. As an example, ‘Dissociative Trance States’ dissociate ‘you’ from your entire ‘body’ or just the ‘part’ of your body which hurts. This convinces your brain that the threat is longer relevant to ‘you’. You now feel no pain. This is really effective for hypnotic anaesthesia. It can be dangerous to use these techniques in isolation because pain is an essential warning tool. 
  2. Hypnotherapy can be effective in the longer term by addressing the perceived level of threat in your environment. This can be either by helping you discover resources which give you perceived control in a physically threatening environment or by addressing any deeply embedded underlying personal issues as discussed above. This reduces the environmental threat level and ‘resets’ the sensitivity of your pain alarm to normal levels.
  3. Hypnotherapy can re-connect the mind and body, which Western Society believes to be separate. This allows you to bring some control and guidance to your natural healing ability and to focus this healing on those areas which have been injured or damaged. This is effective in long term pain relief because healing actually does improve AND increases your unconscious’ sense of control, reducing the need for a pain alarm to be triggered. Essentially, if you are already dealing with the threat, your unconscious doesn’t need to remind you of that threat. (This is one of the reasons that toot-ache often stops once you sit down in the dentist’s waiting room – you have already taken the action needed, so the alarm stops).

I thought this worked quite well as a high-level walk down the road I travel and it’s a different style of post than I usually do, although as you can tell, I couldn’t completely resist the chatter.

Let me know what you think. I

It might be worth writing some more of these.

Related:

Hypnotherapy mp3 for Relief for Chronic Pain Conditions

Hypnotherapy mp3 for Migraine Relief

Hypnotherapy mp3 for Healing & Relief Pre & Post Surgery

Hypnotherapy mp3 chronic pain migraine

You say that’s safe?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

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