False Hope: Is it really possible?


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.


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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.


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?


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

2013: Life according to WordPress

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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

Dog-fights, hypnotherapy and MP3s

Why is it that every time I sit down to record a carefully designed and well-thought out therapy MP3, the good-old Royal Air Force decide that it is also exactly the right time for their Typhoons to practice dog-fights above my house? And just in case you haven’t been fortunate enough to be subjected to this display of technological military might, those buggers are really loud when they get going; I mean proper loud. I understand that practice makes perfect and all that but why is it every time I sit down and switch on my digital recorder the air becomes a pilot’s playground?

The more astute ones amongst you may have noticed a certain use of language in that little rant of mine because obviously it’s not every  time I try, otherwise I’d never get anything recorded at all, would I? And I have, obviously. There’s four of them sat in my shop, not to mention all those bespoke ones I’ve sent off to clients following their therapy sessions. Although, now I mention it, on those rare occasions when combat isn’t the order of the day, children play outside the house or the neighbour’s decide to start the car and leave it running whilst discussing whatever it is loudly enough to be picked up on the recording. Strangely though, the birds go quiet. The one noise that actually works quite well, birdsong, becomes mysteriously absent.

It’s strange just how much something turns up when you get tuned into it. Once something is on life’s sonar, it keeps on pinging its presence no matter how much you try to ignore it. This only becomes a big issue if your personal sonar keeps alerting you to the fact that everything around you is negative and out to disrupt your plans. Therein lies stress and anxiety, phobia and pain, throwing your life into protection mode. After all if everything around you is negative, priority needs to be given to staying safe.

Once that switch gets flipped, the spiral twirls its way firmly downwards. Being on high-alert is more effective. It means you get to know about dangers sooner. So you go ahead and get your alarms set on extra-sensitive and guess what? All of a sudden, you notice even more of those negative whatsits which in an odd way is strangely reassuring because it would be quite unsettling to feel as though everything were going wrong but when you looked you couldn’t see anything bad at all.

If you look at life through alarm filters designed to spot bad things, that my friend, is exactly what you’re going to see. It makes perfect sense. Alarm filters are absolutely not going to alert you to life’s little wonders now are they? It would be crazy to want to need to know when something bad was about to happen if all your alarm system wanted to tell you was that the wild-flowers are looking particularly lovely today. It’d be like something out the HitchHiker’s Guide, good book(s) though it (they) may have been in its (their) day. Douglas was definitely odd in his outlook on writing which was after all his appeal. It’s a real shame he didn’t stay around to do even more. I particularly liked the free-fall whale and the petunias. Not to mention cricket.

We could, of course, now choose to spin off into all sorts of geopolitical equivalence and how the powers that be may not actually be the powers that we elect, for those of us with the apparent ability to actually vote for those we are told hold the power. But conspiracy theory and purple lizards aside, I think we’ll stay in the realm of the individual.

One of the keys to successful therapy is to retune those high-alert alarms so they return to their correct role of letting you know when something actually harmful is on its way, whether this be the physical modern-day equivalent of the toothéd beastie or indeed that all-consuming issue of any creature living amongst its kin, the social faux pas. What alarms ought to do is to protect you when there really could be some harm coming your way, not spook you with every single negatively nuanced interpretation of anything at all that could possibly be construed as not quite as good as you might have wanted and then clothe it as truly villainous.

As well as retuning the alarm system, the other delightful focus of therapy is to show you how, without even really being aware of how you do it, to start to notice all those things which really do begin to show you that the world which has been scaring you to death, almost literally, really does hold increasing volumes of worthwhile stuff (sorry for the highly technical terminology) and despite your best efforts, once you start to notice it, worthwhile stuff turns up all over the place.

Pretty soon, without knowing quite how, you aren’t under such constant threat any more. Without knowing quite how, you begin to realise that you’ve been noticing things that keep hinting to you that you’re actually feeling little bit better. Without knowing quite how, you went for that interview and something tells you did well. Without knowing quite how, the pain well, isn’t. And without knowing quite how, you revised successfully for that exam in half the time and with none of the stress.

And the truly weird thing is, you do it all by yourself. All the therapy does is show you what you’re already capable of doing. And once you’ve seen it, or to be exact, once your unconscious mind has seen, heard, felt, understood or other mode of representational filter, it, a sentence which does work, re-read it if you don’t believe me, you just can’t help but go right ahead and do it, like those mythical sisters of old, for yourself.

And if you’re still not convinced, it’s just possible that quite soon, looking back and thinking about it, you’ll realise that you noticed a few things which let you know you felt a little better. And later on, you might find that without really meaning to look, there were even more that you could have noticed but didn’t at the time…

I just thought of one. It made me smile.

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Art or eyesore?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

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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 IMDb.com 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


The G8: Depression, Anxiety and Pain

There are clear blue skies with a scattering of little fluffy clouds, if you remember the lyric. I’m on my way to London and I’m on a Quest. Not to join in with the G8 protests that are rumoured to be taking place later on I hasten to add, although to be fair those at the protesting end of disaffection may have a point.

Any system which allows one aspect of its whole to dominate is likely to run out of balance and ignore the more subtle insidious effects. Current westernised systems predicate success on producing and consuming more this year than last and will find it hard, in my opinion to carry on forever unchanged. There are some (many) entities, be they people, corporations or governments whose sole raison d’être appears to be generating vast wealth and concentrating the benefits in the hands of their chosen few.

Sure there are some in times of plenty, who appear to have a genuine concern for the society they inhabit and do to some extent at least attempt to spread the benefits. Unfortunately we aren’t living in times of plenty.

Let’s face it, survival of the fattest dictates that every now and then the system requires a readjustment so that smaller less wealthy individuals and businesses fail and make room for the others to take up more space. Even banks like a severe market downturn. Think it through, the best time to buy into investments is after a crash when the best thing to do is mortgage everything to the hilt and bet everything on Red at rock bottom prices. After the bottom, the only way is up. Isn’t it?

You’d think they’d seen it often enough to know. Good times don’t last and the re-adjustment comes.That’s what went wrong last time. The boys and girls at the top had seen the good times for so long that they began to believe young Gordon with his end of boom and bust rhetoric. By the time the downturn came and it was time to place those well-timed bets, they’d already mortgaged the world and were standing on massive losses.

We suffer the consequence. The news alarms scream Recession Recession Recession and we all feel the fear. Jobs are lost and services cut. Only the vital ones stay intact and even they’re threatened. Recession. Feel the fear. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t take risks. Stay the course. Central control knows best. Feel the fear and protect what you have. Hunker down until it’s all over. If it’s all over.

Have you noticed that more recently,  every time there’s any bad news whatsoever the alarms go off again? They don’t even wait for a Recession this time. They just scream (There Might Be Another) Recession. They don’t wait to find out if we are in danger again, they just shout anyway. Just in case. The economic alarm sensitivity has been turned up higher and higher, so high that pretty much any negative news sets them all off again. Keep feeling the fear.

We stop spending because we might lose our jobs. We allow our pay to be cut and hours extended because we need the security. Banks won’t lend money in case it’s lost. Businesses fold because the banks won’t lend enough. We lose our jobs anyway.

The economy needs money flowing through it to survive but we hoard ours under beds and in banks and banks hoard theirs because central banks tell them they need enough to survive the next crisis. The banks don’t lend enough. Meanwhile, those betting boys and girls at the top have made more fortunes while the market recovered and are happily awaiting the next downturn so they can make more. The system is still unstable and the alarms keep going off. No-one really understands what happened and no-one really knows what to do. No-one can be sure it will get fixed. The alarms keep going off.

If only we really knew what was going on. Maybe we wouldn’t need to feel the fear.

Maybe we could turn off the alarm.

There are striking parallels with what goes on inside our body/mind. We are a delicately complex balance of systems all interlaced and running for Growth or Protection depending on our current environment. We evolved to gather and hunt. Our Growth and Protection systems, miraculous though they are, are behind the times. Evolution hasn’t evolved to keep up. Events in the past as well as the here-and-now determine which systems predominate. If you’re lucky, the predominating systems keep you in physical, mental and personal growth. More often than not, it’s the reverse and the trigger is for Protection.

Remember, our environment includes what’s going on in our bodies. We treat social danger with the same safety systems we do a physical attack although we miss out the part where we actually flee or fight. The adrenalin stays and drips fear into our lives.

Feeding the stronger, more demanding aspect of our bodies, especially the key Protection mechanisms leaves the less vocal but nonetheless vital aspects of our internal selves starved. They kick along well enough in the good times but when the going gets tough, they give in and scream their alarms. Your life hits the stress buffers and dives into panic, depression or pain. Without attending to the whole, the system crashes and screams its alarm to get your attention.

If you’re in the right place at the right time all you have to do is re-assess what you see in your life and flick the switch to reset the alarms. If it’s safe, you jump back into back into growth as soon as the debris has been cleared.

Sometimes though, it’s so confusing you can’t see what you’re looking at, can’t hear yourself think. The alarms are set so high that absolutely anything sets them off. The reset fails and sensitivity stays high. Panic, Depression, Pain. It just doesn’t seem to stop. You can’t see through the fog that’s filling your thoughts.

You might find you need someone who knows how. Someone who can show you how to reset the system; how to unbar the windows and unlock the doors; re-wire the alarms so that the sensitivity drops to normal and you can finally see what’s going on out there.

Show you that you’re back and in control.

Show you how to heal.

They need alarms...? © Tony Burkinshaw 2013

They need alarms…?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

I say tomato…

I’ve come to the conclusion that the Airport trances you get these days aren’t as entertaining as the Airport trances we used to get when I was younger.

It’s possibly because they’re actually of a better quality than the good old bad old days of routine delays and lost luggage. Not that the age-old art of random air-transport delays has been completely lost because Mykonos was still good enough to subject us to that old fashioned routine of getting us to accept a short thirty minute hold up which then gently eked itself out into a whole hour by the time we’d managed to actually board the plane.

The pilot, who had apparently been too busy to introduce himself in that customary EasyJet style eventually threw the real delay at us once everyone was safely strapped down into their seats and we were patiently waiting for take off. He even went so far as to thank us for our patience with the delay we’d just experienced before casually lobbing a further ‘We’ve just been informed that due to the delayed departure our next available  take-off slot is just over an hour from now’. Why did they have to wait until we were safely locked on board the fully fuelled aircraft? Ah well; extra helping of boredom here we come.

It turned out though, that the tactics being used were really to lull us into a false sense of the inevitable. I was waiting to use the toilet, as you do when trying to fill a random hour with nothing to do aboard a sealed Airbus 320, listening to the cabin-crew manager not-so-gently quoting rules at one of the cabin staff who’d been collared by an angry American lad concerned about missing his connecting flight to Scotland from Luton.

I’d happened to chat to the same lad in the departure lounge as the first delay was being re-announced in order to clarify the actual time of postponed take-off. The announcement was in crystal clear Greek-English right up until the bit which mentioned the new departure time which appeared to be at ‘tri-tompty’. Needless to say we were slightly confused. Especially him as he was really trying to work out whether he’d miss his connecting flight with which he had carefully crafted a very neat and somewhat tight ninety minutes from an on-time landing.

He was trying to keep the delay as low-key as he could so as not wind up his partner even further, seeing as he’d already quite successfully embarrassed her by having his cabin baggage thoroughly searched at Security by forgetting he had a litre of Ouzo stashed in one of the inner pockets thereby mildly breaching the 200 ml maximum fluid limit. The last thing he wanted to do was let onto to her that any substantial delay would bring about an unscheduled overnighter in Luton airport by this disruption to his delicately balanced connection plans.

As I was learning during my lavatorial queuing, EasyJet small print recommends an absolute minimum of three hours between scheduled landing and connecting departure times or they happily, and by the sound of it, gleefully, wash their hands of your problem.

As his luck would have it, this was the point where new style delay tactics met old and the captain happily announced that he’d secured an immediate slot for us and would everyone return to their seats. Time for me to hold on, if you get my drift. The relief belonged to my American acquaintance and I’d just have to wait a little longer. In the bad old days, we’d probably have sat through the full hour, had another delay slide itself in and probably a failure of the cabin air-conditioning to add sweltering heat just for good measure. But that was then. This is now.

These days with advanced computing and corporate fear of fines and squeezed profit margins, aircraft slot manipulation generally copes with everything except terminally bad weather. You just can’t beat the wrong sort of snow to bring an airport to its knees, can you? (That was a tag-question, just in case you’re interested). These days, airport trance generally seems to err on the side of good-natured boredom rather than the angrily stressed out multi-delayed trances of yesteryear’s holidays with small children.

Mind you, come to think about it, Gill and I now have the luxury of being able to choose our holiday dates more or less as we please and therefore have tended to choose flights which are less likely to have children on board. Don’t get me wrong here, I like children. I’m even told I behave like one every now and then but there is a time and a place and cooped up on a small aircraft is not a child’s natural Habitat, (a store which I think has lost its touch by the way, the designs seem to be trying too hard, if you know what I mean).

So perhaps airport trances haven’t changed after all, although I suspect the quantity of mega-delays we’re subjected to has tended to diminish over the years, unless of course you’re an avid watcher of any of the many flies-on-wall docu-dramas which thrive on passenger-airline conflicts.

The thing is, I think I’m experiencing the same airport lounge scenes as everyone else. I use the same language, the same descriptions, quite likely some of the same airports and airlines but the same words are being used here to describe different personal experiences. I say what I mean but this gets heard very differently because my co-conversationalist uses a different frame of reference to decode my meaning into their version of the reality.

We got know a couple who were holidaying in the same place as us in the last week. Nice people. We were staying in the same hotel over the same week, having travelled, as it turned out on the same flight, so part of what we discussed in our trivial holiday-maker way was our return trip home. Same airport; same airline; same destination. I thought we were on the same wavelength until I realised that they were going to leave the hotel a whole hour before we did, just to make sure.

They’d been talking about the small local airport and its small check-in area, small security and small departure lounge, as had we. It turned out that to them, this meant it would extremely congested because of its lack of space, so making check-in delays inevitable. I’d been talking about exactly the same words but thinking that we would be through check-in really quickly as there wouldn’t be the usual hustle and bustle of more active and sizeable airports.

Same language, different meanings.

This phenomenon threads its way into many therapy scenarios and is one that I’m constantly on the alert for in the conversation between my clients and I. I’d just taken my eye off the conversational ball, so to speak because I was on holiday.

This phenomenon is why Cognitive Hypnotherapy takes such care in uncovering not only the client’s underlying issues and solution states but also and in some ways more importantly, the actual words that each client uses to describe those states. After all, it’s irrelevant which words I’d choose to use and if I want to be able to talk meaningfully with a client’s unconscious mind, it will have a far more precise understanding of what I’m talking about if I use its very own programming language. This is why a thorough Consultation is such a key part of accurate therapy.

This is just one reason why Cognitive Hypnotherapy can be such a brief therapy in comparison to others, some of which apparently expect clients to buy into many months, if not years of working towards a solution.

This is why, if an interim recording would prove beneficial for a client, each one gets a specifically written bespoke download, tailored to each individual, using their words. No two clients would get the same.

This is why some chronic pain sufferers may hear ‘Cognitive-based pain-management’ as simply dismissing their pain as ‘its-all-in-your-mind’. Indeed, I’ve come across practitioners who’ve misunderstood their own training in the same way. To me it simply means this; Pain is very real but the mind is very powerful. Perception can be manipulated. Pain can be relieved.

This is also why some relationships founder, despite both partners trying really hard to understand each other. The same words are being said but different personal reality decodes the meaning into something else.

And this is especially why so many issues have their roots in childhood. Not only is language and experience drastically different between a child and an adult, (particularly a parent; I recall leaving hospital as a first time father feeling completely different to the man I had been when I entered many hours earlier), but children also perceive the world in very dualistic terms. Things are either right or wrong, good or bad, on top of which evolution has  programmed them to believe that the world revolves around them. It’s how evolution ensures they survive such a long period of parental dependency. It’s why children can seem so demanding. They are. Pretty much everything a child sees or hears or experiences is in their mind entirely to do with them. This is why seemingly innocent comments or incidents can have such long-lasting effects.

This is why Cognitive Hypnotherapy can be so very effective and it’s why I’m choosing to spend the rest of my life using it to help clients.

And this is why, if your life is telling you that somehow, somewhere, something’s wrong, you just might find that Cognitive Hypnotherapy is exactly what you’re looking for, (but in your own words, of course). 

Why not get in touch? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Mum's not in... © Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Mum’s not in…
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Screeching brakes and Bradley. Fighting the tide.

It’s bugged me for a while now and I’m not sure whether it even really matters. Still, I thought I’d share it with you and you can decide whether I’ve got a point or whether I should just leave it alone and worry about something way more worthwhile. Which as it happens, I  am.

Over the years I’ve done my fair share of business miles from traffic-jam commute, country road grind or intercity motorway boredom, driving to earn a crust and keep the proverbial snarling canine from the door. And over those same years, I’ve become a relatively accomplished overtaker of slower traffic. After all, appointments need to be kept when you’re managing sales.

This might be as good a time as any to let you know that whilst being in front is key, safety is foremost and the driving licence remains clean to this day, just so as you know that I’m not some sort of road-hogging nutter who believes that all asphalt belongs to him. I’ve been a passenger with those that do and it makes for a few grey hairs, let me tell you.

Meanwhile back on topic so that we can march ever onwards to the keynote link towards the end of the post. It may just be my paranoia but why is it that the majority of cars that I overtake decide to speed up just whilst I’m sliding my carefully planned manoeuvre past them?

You see, I know I’m not imagining it because on occasion, being used to the phenomenon of accelerating overtakees, I’ve paced the car I’m overtaking both before and after to see what happens. Try it. What you’ll find is this. Most often, any car you overtake is travelling faster after you’ve passed it than it was before. Weird.

Whilst this usually makes no never-mind, other than the uttering of choice words as befits such incidents, there have been one or two memorable occasions when the rapidly oncoming articulated multi-wheeler tightened the old whatsits before I managed to dive back in front and regain road safety once again. There have even been a couple of times when anchors were slammed on and I had to squeal my smoking-tyred way back behind the once again decelerated car in front.

Surely they can’t all know that it’s me that’s behind them as they deliberately make my progress way more eventful than needs be? Therein lies the way of that aforesaid paranoid future, good track though it may be.

So what the hell is going on? As you would expect, I have a theory and it’s this.


Most of the time, human perception is relativistic. We gauge what we’re doing, how we’re behaving, by whatever the local environment is and what it is that’s going on around us at the time.

Even in physics everything is relative. They have an entire theory built around it. Where you observe something from in your white-coated scientific manner, affects how and what you can measure and this affects how it appears and can even affect the properties the it that you’re observing may possess. Just ask Schrödinger’s cat, although in order to do so you’d have to open the box thereby resolving the conundrum that’s fixated physicists and philosophers for some time.

Think about it. (Your personal environment that is, not scientific felines). You behave differently depending on where you are, what you’re doing, who you’re with and most importantly what the who you’re with is doing. Shoppers shop; sports fans get, well, fanatical; commuters switch off and commute; crowds have a mind if their own as each individual surrenders higher function to the greater mass of humanity.

And car drivers, sitting as they do in car-driver trance, drive relative to local environment which is, of course, the cars around them. And what’s the most local of the local environment? The car that’s right next to them, overtaking them. All of a sudden, their unconscious takes over and tries to maintain balance, to keep pace. Without even knowing, their car speeds up in an entirely un-intentioned attempt to preserve the local norm and annoy me.

Preserving the local norm is something we’re built to do, it’s a social thing. It belongs with any creature that lives in a structured society. It’s well known that it’s easier to persuade a crowd than a group of individuals. It’s no coincidence that most dictators were and are accomplished orators; or commanded armies of course, but that’s a minor digression and takes us neatly into the realm of how everyday people can function in life-and-death violence, turning heroics into someone who was just doing their job at the time, helping their mates survive, taking breathtakingly dangerous actions simply because that’s what needed to be done. It was normal at the time.

It’s where war crimes can get committed or condoned by the likes of you and me simply because at the time it seemed to fit in with the world of normality that is modern warfare. It’s why PTSD strikes after the event and rarely during it, sometimes weeks or months later when the local normality has returned to the relative quiet of the everyday and the true scope of what was experienced gets measured against peaceful existence and the ability to accept it as normal runs off the scale.

It is thought that flashbacks are the unconscious mind desperately trying to make sense of whatever was experienced by re-running bite-sized snapshots over and over again in an endless attempt to rationalise events into what is supposed to be normal life.

Occasionally someone stands firm and refuses to accept that what they see happening is actually acceptable. Geneva Conventions and International Law demand that oath and allegiance play second fiddle. Taking such a stand invariably risks life and freedom. After all, it can be a fine line between acceptable levels of violence and war-crime, often taking years of high-powered legal deliberation and political manoeuvring to finally reach a conclusion which the individual often had no choice but to take in a single moment.

Bear with me on this next bit. It’s challenging. You may well have an opinion and if so, it’s probably very firmly held, which I respect.

The latest headline hitter in the tightrope walking world that is whistle-blowing or ultimate treachery depending on your viewpoint, is Bradley Manning.

Such is the dilemma over his heroic stand or oath-breaching guilt, that even San Fransisco’s finest, the organisers of Gay Pride have found themselves in a media battle over whether they were right to refuse to accept this man as a figurehead for this year’s marching season.

Such is the dilemma that even whilst he’s subject to US military trial and facing life imprisonment, he’s got serious nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Whatever the truth, which for those who believe in the military justice system will eventually come to light some many months ahead, this young man saw something he absolutely disagreed with to such an extent that he risked his freedom to bring it to light. And if justice decides that he was wilfully aiding and abetting the enemy, he’ll probably never see freedom again.

Either way and whatever the truth is decided to be, this a classic example of how hard it is to swim the other way when the tide of your locality is washing full flow in a direction you absolutely don’t want to go. Most of us don’t have the strength of will to challenge the norm. Perceived wisdom wins the day. Fortunately, the vast majority of us never have to make such momentous decisions, although once in a while it may just feel that way.

Sometimes the local environment we’re struggling against is the one we’ve built up inside our own heads. Our own battlefield is sat squarely in our unconscious. After all, everything that’s going on out there in Reality-land, (unless you want to get all existential about it), simply boils down to electrical signals interpreted by your brain, to quote Morpheus.

Sometimes the tide you’re trying find the strength to resist and navigate is the emotional confusion thrown up and consolidated by your own life-experiences, whether consciously remembered or not.

Sometimes there’s no way around it, through it, not matter how hard you try. The tide streaming through your personal reality tunnel is just too strong.

Sometimes, you need someone who can read the currents, teach you how to navigate the sand bars in this stretch of your river.

Sometimes you need a guide. There really are people out there who can help.

I hope I’m one of them.

time and tide © Tony Burkinshaw 2013

time and tide
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Look what happened!

I was very surprised to find that I’d been nominated for this Award by Dawn @ http://findingmyinnercourage.wordpress.com. I’ve not been nominated for any blogging awards before so I’m kind of new to all this.

Thank you Dawn. By the way, if you’ve not read Dawns’ blog yet, I’d highly recommend it.

However, there are some things I have to do to properly receive this: there are rules…

The rules for receiving the SUNSHINE AWARD:

  • Include the award’s logo in a post or on your Blog. (done)
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself. (see below)
  • Nominate 10 Bloggers. (also below)
  • Link your nominees to the post and comment on their Blogs, letting them know they have been nominated. (done)
  • Link the person who nominated you. (absolutely done!)

Ten Questions: 

  1. Favourite colour: Blue
  2. Favourite animal: Barn Owl
  3. Favourite number:  don’t have one
  4. Favourite non-alcoholic drink:  Water
  5. Prefer Facebook or Twitter?  Twitter
  6. My passion:  Cognitive Hypnotherapy
  7. Prefer getting or giving presents:  Getting. I’m a small child at heart (and at Xmas)
  8. Favourite pattern:  refracted light in random places
  9. Favourite day of the week: this one
  10. Favourite flower: the ones Gill picked from the garden

I now Nominate 10 bloggers

1. FEC-THis @ http://fecthis.wordpress.com/

2. They Say It’s In the Genes @ http://avgenes.wordpress.com/

3. Scott Williams @ http://scott-williams.ca/

4. Art of Stumbling @ http://artofstumbling.wordpress.com/

5. Feisty Blue Gecko @ http://feistybluegeckofightsback.wordpress.com/

6. Adopting James @ http://adoptingjames.wordpress.com/

7. Fibromyalgia: The diary of a pain warrior @ http://fibromyalgiathis.wordpress.com/

8. Raison D’etre @ http://oneraisondetre.wordpress.com/

9. Mirrors of Encounters @ http://julienmatei.com/

10. Life Lived Now @ http://buddhasalblog.com/


Tipping? Where’s the point?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It went and got better. Let me explain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things, as they say, can only get better.

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

And if you’d like some help…

…there’s always Skype.

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it's even higher © Tony Burkinshaw 2013

it’s even higher
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013