Effectively Challenging: The Future?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odd.

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

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

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

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

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

See you there?

Related

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

Tony Burkinshaw Cognitive Hypnotherapy: click here

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

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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

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.

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The colouring bin
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Isn’t it Grand!

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

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

Your current tally is 1,001.

What makes you so Special, anyway?

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

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

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

Anyway, appetite duly whetted; read on…

_________________________________________________________________________

What makes you so Special, anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perception_Summer_2013_Issue_3

Perception E-zine Free Subsription

The only one? ©Tony Burkinshaw 2013

The only one?
©Tony Burkinshaw 2013

 

What a week that was !

I just had to let you all know. That was the BEST blogging week EVER

Just look at what I saw:

Best ever day for views: 186

Best ever day for visitors: 119

Over 5,000 views since launch on 28th August last year

I also got my 300th follower, Suburban Queen who blogs at loveleanne

Many thanks to all of you.

Best day ever!

Networking with the other Plan B

It’s getting to the point where I need to step up the pace some more. If you’ve followed the story so far then you’ll be aware that I’d intended all along for this to be a slow burner. One where the momentum is gained gently but securely until it becomes self sustaining and with luck, which you’ll also know by now I don’t believe in so that means my start must by definition be unbelievable, unstoppable. That does scan. Honest.

I was thinking about the invisible trees, woods and which forest comment of my last post. It’s always a bit of a paradigm shift when you realise that the direction you’ve been heading in isn’t taking you quite where you thought. Slow burns are fine, especially if you really are developing a quality approach which will generate a flow of business in the future. But as is often the case, a couple of other seemingly disconnected paradigms went and drifted their shifty way across my path this week determined to make me include the word serendipity in this week’s musings. Apologies.

I came across an article, well not so much came across as got sent as a consequence of the marketing planners at my web-hosting web-hosts, about networks. It’s something I’ve been aware of for quite a while and as Albert-Laszlo what’s-his-face was integral to one of my Quest weekends last year, I suppose it’s more in the territory of my mindset than I realised at the time. The basic principle of the aforementioned A-L, (Barabasi), is that nodes in any network are by nature interdependent and the stability of a network when subject to attack or breakdown is based on the degree of randomness in its nodal connectivity.

In essence, if the nodes are evenly spread, with relatively even numbers of connections between them then whilst a breakage in one or two nodes may be overcome simply via bypassing even though there may be some overload to nearby links, if multiple nodes are affected then the percolation of overload from one to another reaches a critical level and can cause a cascade of overload to disrupt the flow. The overload becomes self-sustaining and Hey Presto! blackouts follow swiftly and we all end up without light and heating even though no further pressure is applied.

Interestingly, if nodes are concentrated in hubs where most nodes have few connections and a few nodes have many connections, then it is difficult for attack or breakdown to affect the the overall system unduly. As long a a signal reaches a hub, then the system will stay up because that hub passes the signal on to significantly large sections of the network and as the hub by definition takes a high load, temporary overload is more easily accommodated. This is why the original design of the World Wide Web was indeed the original design, and is still the basis of its current configuration, albeit quite a it larger in the nodal department if you get my drift. It ensured that global military and intelligence communication could continue throughout the network, even if multiple hubs were destroyed.

One of my strategies in developing my business along slow-but-certain burn lines, my aim is to find clients who are hubs. Clients who are willing and in a position to influence other potential clients into considering that I may be someone who can help. And my skills from my alter-ego world are invaluable here both in recruiting, in the nicest sense of the word, (though obviously that means grave-turning witch-finders are brought to the fore once more), them to the task and alerting them that they are both in the position and have the contacts to be those aforesaid hubs.

Bear with me, the relevance will turn up soon (ish).

The third idea to flutter past was in Skype conversation with Helen. We were talking about strategies, or ‘stradgies’ as an ex-exec of my acquaintance used to call them, (and presumably still does come to think of it), to build a successful practice and obviously a part of that is what actually determines whether you have indeed reached success.

One of my core drivers to achieve this success is not, as some would propose, continuous focus on my goal and working ever harder in longer and longer hours with my eyes never off the prize on a style beloved of purveyors of the 37-habits-of-successful-people-who-I’ve-met-personally and the like. I have to admit that at this point I went all Zen but then I suppose that’s bound to happen at a certain stage of working in any mind-based therapy so perhaps there’s some justification, however, the point I was making was that, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, success is pretty much ending up by ‘having’ more than I ‘want’. I am a firm believer and level one exponent of the art of reaching the goal of having more than I want by teaching myself to want less than I already have. It does seem to be working although it makes it more difficult when it comes to summoning up drive to develop a business. I guess there’s a difference between wanting less and having to put up with less.

And then of course, there’s those emails and tweets you get every now and then that are from those purveyors of habitually successful habit-prone entrepreneurs. The particular tweet that sparked the serendipity flare-up, (that’s twice in one post so I’m genuinely concerned now), appeared to be saying that whatever you do when aiming to be successful, set the bar very high and when you do jump, do it without a safety net or a back up plan of any kind.

For magnificent success, apparently, all or nothing is the order of the day. If you have a back up plan, it seems that you are telling yourself that failure is not only an option but expected.

So where does this paradigm mash-up take us? It’s now taking up residence in my head as a metaphorical explanation of success of the techniques I use and the solutions clients are able to construct for themselves.

Whether we’re talking pain management, stress difficulties or fertility issues, the-wood-for-the-trees and network-hubs are acting as the same thing in reverse. At the centre of these issues there is often a a core idea or nerve gateway or situation that is triggering an overload of perception that results in stress, pain, or body-system levels that are not endurable by the client in a normal healthy mode. We are unconsciously driven to adopt self-preservation strategies which result in stress-breakdown, chronic pain, inabilities to conceive. In this hunkered down protection phase the trees close in and we end up looking at a level of detail which ensures that we can’t navigate our way out of the proverbial wood.

If we reversed this process though, the trees in the wood idea becomes woods in a landscape of forests and clearings, hills, rivers and mountains. With care, you just might find a way of noticing that you aren’t even in the right wood and actually you need to climb a hill just over there and find the woods on the other side. You might not even be a tree dweller and should be living high in the mountains. Or fishing in the seas.

And here comes the back-up-plan idea. There really is no going back once your core idea has been grasped and turned on its head. The point is, once your unconscious is put in a position where it notices not only the wood but the entirety of its landscape, it can never forget. The change is quick. And it’s permanent.

Once you know how to view anew the stress overload, it simply becomes a way of dealing with what you can do and what you can’t do. If a task really is impossible, you now know that it really is impossible. And if it really is possible, then you can now choose the time and effort you are willing to put into it. Until you see this, there is no choice. No way out. That’s what stress does. But once you see it. It isn’t stress. It’s choice.

Oddly, pain follows a similar pattern. Pain is very real. Even though much chronic pain has no apparent medical or physical cause, it is still very real. It, well, hurts. A lot.

Pain follows hubs. Physically, nerves coalesce into bundles and pass through ‘gateways‘ along the spinal cord where the various stimuli are assessed against other stimuli  Stronger pulses get priority. If touch or temperature is stronger than pain, pain is relegated and doesn’t get through. If pain is stronger, pain wins.

Wood for the trees turns up here too. Gateways are not only affected by upward flow but by what is normally expected. If you are constantly in pain, the gateway is set to give priority to pain, even if other stimuli are stronger. This is one theory as to why simple touch can become painful and why chronic pain becomes less responsive to pain killers.

Again, having no Plan B, (which would after all be a pity, musically if nothing else), can be useful here. It is possible to teach your unconscious mind that gateways can be manipulated by downwards regulation. Once this is learned, and let’s face it, if any technique knows about teaching the unconscious, it is Cognitive Hypnotherapy, then you can consciously takes steps to get your unconscious to reset the gateways for you. Without a Plan B, the gateway can’t reset to pain because your unconscious has no doubt that the gateway should be set to give the sensations of touch or hot and cold the priority. If you doubt, it’ll re-open the gateway. Once again, Cognitive Hypnotherapy is adept at giving confidence in techniques you learn. You won’t want a plan b.

Without Plan B and with sufficient training, not only can you downgrade chronic pain, you can effectively anaesthetise the body. You can even carry out operations solely under hypnosis. It’s been undertaken for many years.

The unconscious can re-set how it is running the automatic functions and balances of the body. It can flip the core precept from protection to growth, allowing us to function in a healthier more fulfilling manner, allowing hormonal cycles to flow uninterrupted, increasing the potential to overcome unexplained fertility difficulty, reducing stress hormones and allowing the para-sympathetic nervous system to have a larger role leading to a sense and belief in your well being.

I’m pretty sure these days that I’m heading through my own wood to the mountains beyond. I haven’t quite left the trees behind yet, though. Maybe I need to find a quicker path. That’ll need some thought.

I definitely need to review the plan B situation. I can’t yet tell whether I’m currently running a well thought out exit strategy, or a whether it’s actually unconscious permission to fail. More pondering required.

As for hubs, I’m working on it. Right here, amongst other places. So if you know people who might be interested in reading this blog, why not let them know. And if you write your own blog, feel free to re-blog this one too.

If any of this particular post rings true for you, I’d love to know your thoughts and feelings about it.

And if it’s time to sort out the networks in your own tree laden landscape, you don’t need a Plan B.

Just come and see me.

It's a delicate balance© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

It’s a delicate balance
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Advertising, Pain and Time Travel

I should have known that somewhere along the way bureaucracy would stick its oar in and give it all a good stirring up.

Fortunately my alter ego is extremely well adapted to living in a heavily regulated world so it’s not going to cause me too much hassle. Nevertheless it would have been nice, (cue subterranean groan from erstwhile Witchfinding English teacher), to be able say what I wanted to say simply because I believe it to be true and because I believe it would have encouraged potential clients to call up and seek help. Which I believe I can give, (as in provide, rather than as in gift – I have to earn a living after all).

Of course in our relatively comfortable and over-safe environment, centralised protection and oversight is the order of the day so we have to abide by rules, (if only they were more like guidelines a la Black Pearl), designed to reign in those of an over-persuasive nature and whose primary belief is that your money should only be temporarily described as such whilst sliding gracefully into its rightful place in their pockets.

The downside of all this is that I had, by now, written the drafts for my web pages and have to say, thought that were taking shape pretty well. They said what I wanted them to say, in ways that would encourage potential clients to act but at the same time discourage those who wanted a quick fix whilst someone else solved all their problems for them. Unless of course they realised that this was indeed their problem and it was this belief in dis-empowering externalised solutions which they wanted to solve.

I had deliberately set about writing in a somewhat forward style, telling it how it is so that those who find themselves dealing with the issues I am intending to focus on are encouraged to come along and see me. And then, helpful soul that he is, Sean, (good Cognitive Hypnotherapist by the way), made us aware of the requirements of the ASA, (that’s the Advertising Standards Authority not the Amateur Swimming Association even though they use the same T.L.A. and who may be even more interested in the benefits of cognitive hypnotherapy than those advertising chappies, you never know, call me if you are), as regards what you can and more to the point can’t say about such areas as hypnotherapy. On first reading I was not happy.

So, after a mild bout of swearing, most unlike me, I gave it some thought. And once I’d thought, I realised that I wasn’t actually angry about the restrictive nature of their requirements after all. I was just peeved that my carefully crafted words, whilst saying pretty much exactly what I wanted to say, were not up to standard. Bugger.

I’d have to start again and I wasn’t looking forward to it. First off there’s the need to promote my skills to potential customers, ensuring that this meets with the ethical standards of the National Council for Hypnotherapy, then there’s the need to make sure that the web pages get read at all, (enter good old SEO), and now overlaid onto that is the need to do so both in the letter and spirit of advertising regulation.

At this point my alter ego stepped up to the mark, told me not to be such a child and damn well get on with it. Annoying as it might be, the ASA’s requirements are a flea bite compared with the leviathan that is the soon to metamorph Financial Services Authority in whose delightful shadow (warming glow?) I have basked for many a year.

So I began the task of re crafting my words. Much as I hate to say it, it’s been really useful. I’ve had to call on much of my skill in sales training, coaching, NLP and hypnotherapy. After all, words matter. Ideas and how they are organised allow people to follow your route towards a point where they can make an informed decision about whether they want to get in touch and take steps to improve where they are in life. Equally importantly, those same words and ideas lead those for whom I am less likely to be the best next step to the conclusion that it is best to log off and search elsewhere.

Much as I’d like to be all things to all men, (and women, let’s not be sexist here especially if one of my prime focusses is fertility), I’m not daft enough to believe I can help everyone nor is it likely that I or my style of therapy is going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Web pages can do a great job of helping potential clients work out whether they think there could be a good fit in terms of both style and content. If so, hopefully they’ll get in touch. Equally, if not, then I hope they find someone who’s better positioned to help them.

The basic premise of the ASA position is that if you can’t prove it, you can’t advertise it. And they’re quite rigorous. They even pulled up the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine recently for promoting Hypnotherapy in a leaflet The ASA decided that the hospital’s own evidential studies weren’t robust enough to allow them to make the claims they were making. Interestingly, they did concede that the evidence showed that hypnotherapy can help people cope with the effects of chronic pain. Cool.

So with all this flowing around inside that grey matter that fills my head, I found myself discussing my new hypnotherapy venture with a financial services colleague, sceptic that he is. When I recounted the outcome of a couple of my volunteer clients, (a complete reduction in severe hayfever symptoms and also alleviating chronic back pain to the point where the client no longer uses any pain relief at all), he simply asked how did I know that it was Cognitive Hypnotherapy which did the trick. Couldn’t it just have happened anyway? Could they still have hayfever and a bad back but were effectively just ignoring them? Interesting.

The short answer, I suppose, with my regulatory head in place, is that I don’t know, not for sure. As a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, I’m well versed in the tendency of the human brain to see co-incidence and perceive it as cause and effect. It’s the basis of many a distorted reality tunnel at the end of which lurk phobia, anxiety and all manner of normal everyday terrors. All I know for certain is that clients have come to me, I have treated them, showed them how to treat themselves, and then they have left feeling better.

There’s even another part of me which doesn’t really care how it works. Does it really matter whether there has been substantive change in their physical situation or whether it is simply a change in perception. If you get even vaguely existential about it, what’s the difference? I mean, if you have a bad back and currently need pain medication, does it make any difference whether your back is actually less bad and therefore doesn’t hurt, or whether your back is unchanged but you’ve just stopped thinking it hurts?

Either way, it doesn’t hurt any more, eh Morpheus?

In many ways what I believe is unimportant. In reality, it’s what you believe that matters. I haven’t had anyone come and see me as a volunteer or paying client who has not had some degree of scepticism about the whole hypnotherapy thing. Hell, I was sceptical myself at the start of the course. But if by the time we finish, you find yourself living in a world which you perceive to be better than when we first began working together, then that is a decent enough measure of success to be going on with, isn’t it?

Of course it does help if I really do believe in what I’m doing, otherwise I’d just be a charlatan.

I do believe, by the way. Just for the record.

Here’s the exiting bit. Evidence is being gathered. Proper, scientifically robust, evidence-based research. It takes time to do this well. Time to gather sufficient evidence to be meaningful, whatever the result. Time to get it analysed. Time to get it assessed and published. Time to get it accepted.

Unfortunately, I can’t travel in time to find out how it all went.

But one of the key trance phenomena is Time Distortion. I’ll just have to wait.

After all, I’m a Cognitive Hypnotherapist. Not a Time Lord.

Watch this space.

Who's watching who?© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Who’s watching who?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

1000 Views of the Land of the Free

Today is the day this blog reached over 1,000 views from the USA!

This means that one in three views is from America!

(You’re catching up with my UK audience, by the way: on 12/10 last year, the U.S. had 337 views & the U.K. had 1,005. Today you have 1,024 views but the UK has only 1,448. It’s beginning to feel competitive!)

Many thanks to one and all. It’s really pleasing that my blog is being read around the world only 5 months after it all began and I’m grateful for all your support.

It’s been a great start to the New Year. I think 2013 is going to be a good one.

Here’s the score sheet so far:

  • 3,156 views in total (I’m stunned!)
  • 54 countries (just, Wow..!)
  • 186 WordPress followers, (why not join in the fun?)
  • 164 comments (I love to hear from you!)
  • over 400 likes (maybe you like to hear from me too?)
  • I’m starting to get ‘shares’ as well so feel free to share this blog or any of its posts on Reddit, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter or any of the other share buttons below.The more the merrier.
when as if from nowhere...

let the fun begin…

Fear, Inertia and Manipulation!

Despite my engineering degree and my lifetime encouraging people to do something different, I’m constantly surprised by the sheer power of inertia.

Once you have a body in motion, (actual, physical, or meta-physical), then it will continue in that same motion unless subjected to an opposing force sufficiently great to have a measurable effect. Recall that comment in Armageddon all those years ago, in the NASA debate about wild and wacky ways to deal with the impending end of days meteor strike: ‘…like firing a BB gun at a freight train’. Whilst the effort would have a measurable effect, assuming that measuring instruments sufficiently sensitive could be brought to bear on that life extinguishing lump of rock only six miles wide, (or was that the one that killed the dinosaurs – I forget), then the effect of those Mylar sails of BB gun analogical fame would be so negligible that unless we’re back in the time-scales of that mythical super-sperm then it would have no practical effect whatsoever. What’s needed is an effect akin to that other propositional analogy of ‘having your wife open your ketchup bottles the rest of your life’.

There’s a difference between a measurable change and an effective one.

Which brings me to my dilemma.

It’s all very well embarking on a future career change which is inspiring, meaningful and utilises much, if not all, of your previous life experience. It’s even better when there’s the opportunity to get that change to coincide with a reduction in current career, whether voluntary or imposed. The fundamental issue for me boils down to the difference between natural procrastination, (my ability and preference to work under deadline pressure), and a simple refusal to act based on a lack of self-confidence. Now I realise that my having any such thing as lack of self-confidence may come as a surprise but along with most of the human race it is something I find myself hampered by on fairly frequent occasion.

Now, I know that I’ll be successful in my direction changing intentions and that I’ll find enough work to be able to earn a sufficiently good living at it. I am, as you know, proficient in age-progressing future-me style optimism. Whilst this sits somewhat at odds with lacking in confidence, the difference is in time scale.

I’ve always been pretty sure that things will work out in the end, no matter how bad they may feel in the present. In part at least, that’s down to something in my upbringing that leads me to the conclusion that wherever you are in life if you are actually alive then you will in some measure at least be coping with it and if you’re not, then at some point in the future you will be, so all you have to do is get through the crappy bit you find yourself mired in now.

So I’m doing the things I set out to do. I’ve written the words for a website and even re-drafted them after feedback. The website itself is under construction thanks to Katherine, (thanks Katherine). I’ve bought domain names. I have a logo. I have an existing company into which I can roll this new direction. There was a photographer who I’ve used for new photos which might make it to the website albeit that in most of them I’m sporting that traditional photo-smile favoured by those who find it hard to deliver a genuine smile on demand. There’s even one which would look the part on the inside cover of the book that I haven’t written and don’t have planned but you never know, so I may just store that one away just in case.

I even have clients. I’ve used my businessy skills to work out that if I were able to generate at least one new client every week, then when combined the anticipated reduction in my alter-ego’s career, I should still be able to meet all of our bills and possibly even fund a couple of weekends away. Finding two new clients every week starts to slide me onto the path of proper success with choices as to how I navigate the future. Nice.

Those last two paragraphs were written in the manner of that part of me that knows all will be well. The future’s here. The future’s now. The future may even turn out to be Orange, although judging by the internet connection and lack of mobile coverage round our way, I suspect there’ll be further amalgamations beyond their control and we may regain control of the colour of time.

Let’s suppose for a moment that I let that less self-assured part out to play as I have done in previous posts, (all of which seem to have done better than I expected, so perhaps there is merit in allowing a shade of vulnerability out into the world). I’m fully aware that there is more to providing a way for those in need for whom I’d like to provide a service to find out about me than the simple lobbing out into the inter-web of a site promoting said services in manner designed to appeal to them.

Anyway, I find myself at that point where it might just become necessary to put myself about a bit. Go and stand in those places where opportunity might come a rumbling by. Where I can grab on and promote myself to those who might actually be interested in listening. I know that I can do these things. I’ve done them before. I just find it really hard to take that first step on the road which leads there. At this precise moment in time, I’d be much happier hiding under a rock.

Inertia, contrary to popular opinion isn’t the state of not moving. It’s almost the exact opposite. It’s the state held by objects which move, (it could of course be that the state of motion the object currently holds is one of not moving), and the propensity of that object to resist a change in that state of motion. The more mass the object has and the higher its velocity, the more inertia it has and the higher its resistance to change. I have a lot of it. Resistance to change.

For someone who is constantly trying to do better this year than last, to find out new ideas, look for new ways of being, I hate putting myself out there in order to achieve. I think it’s the same as whatever it was that made me not very good at prospecting when I was selling. I was great in front of customers when I’d found them. I just didn’t enjoy the process of finding them. It felt way too exposed. I don’t know why, although I do now know a whole variety of individuals fully qualified to help me discover that very thing should I wish to do so. Thanks but at the moment, no thanks.

You see, if I did indeed find out why, then I’d have no excuse for not doing it. I’d have go out there and face those very things that I’ve spent a lifetime telling myself that if I am the sort of boy/adolescent/man that I believe myself to be, then this is not the sort of thing that I would do. You see, digging into this past would involve changing a lot of what I believe about myself. And that’s scary.

I thought it would be the thought of changing my beliefs about myself that was scary. Oddly enough it isn’t. It’s that were I to change, then I’d have to do those things that my current belief system doesn’t accommodate well. And that, I think is the problem. If I look to change, then I have to acknowledge that the things I have spent a lifetime telling myself are not the things that people like me do, then in order to consider changing, I have to allow the possible future in which I end up doing things that I currently don’t believe in. This, of course, is the basis of the fear that a lot of clients arrive with.

Sitting in front of someone like me usually involves feelings of ‘what the hell am I doing here anyway’. The unconscious sits up and shouts like hell. It does everything it can reasonably think of to discourage. After all, it sees what you are trying to do as a threat to its ability to keep you safe. If you disrupt that, then your perceived safety is compromised. This is something that your unconscious does not like, not one little bit, eh Dr Seuss?

However, by the time therapy reaches the point where the unconscious can see beneficial light at the end of the reality tunnel, it stops trying to get you the hell out of there in a Private Ryan style, and you actually begin to look forward to the sessions. Once your unconscious is on board, pretty much nothing will get in your way. You can start to live in the world that suits you.

Have you ever come across someone who just seems to have it just right? You know you’d love to have their attitude but you know somehow you could just never do it even if you wanted to? Gill and I watched Searching for Sugarman yesterday. Rodriguez was a huge success in South Africa in the 70’s and 80s, bigger than Elvis and the Stones but he never knew. He was hired labour in the U.S. construction industry and continued to do so for the rest of his life. The docu-film found him again and he has since performed in over 30 sell-out stadium gigs in S.A. He’s still a construction worker, living in the same house he has lived in for 40 years. He gives away most of the money he gets from these gigs. And he seems really happy. If only, eh? Or is that just me?

If you find a way of getting even close to this sense of just being, all of a sudden, those things you were frightened of look like opportunities. Your new world is welcoming in ways you hadn’t really thought of. Now I’m only starting out on this journey, nowhere near the destination, so I still find loads of scary stuff along the way. I spend a lot of time anticipating this very thing and begin to lay down paths into the future before the scary things jumps out and, well, scare me. I take on work that I know intellectually that I can do and once done will enjoy but which will be way too off-putting in the interim period so that if I waited too long to commit I’d never begin. I set myself traps for the future so I end up committed to something ahead of time when it isn’t close enough to scare. By the time it jumps out and says Boo! it’s too late to back out.

This is why I found a way to see volunteer clients before I qualified. People with genuine needs who I’d never met and who had no vested interest in responding well to my therapy at all. This means that at the point of going live, as it were, I have already begun that vital change of inertia. I am already moving off in that new direction. Not quite on the right course yet, not yet moving fast enough to be self-sustaining. But, nevertheless the change is now noticeable if not inevitable. We’re not talking ketchup bottles yet, but we’re way past Mylar sails, BB guns and freight trains.

I’ve taken another step forward in my learning. I’ve found out more about SEO, Search Engine Optimisation, as I’m sure many of you know. Now I have to admit to a certain scepticism here. If it were all about SEO, then surely all anyone would have to do is set up the SEO correctly and then hey presto, everyone would have a successful website. But that’s the point isn’t it. If everyone did it, then all websites would be just as well optimised and so no-one would have an advantage. Just take a look at meta-tags and the way they no longer feature with any weight in search engine searches. And isn’t it odd that all the information that tells you how serious SEO is are all in some way offering you advice at a price? Anyway, when does marketing become manipulation?

However, I do agree that a site needs some sort of labelling which tells search engines what it does. And it would make sense to use tags that are relevant to both your site topics and the people who you would like to find it, yes? Absolutely.

I took steps two weeks ago to be more conscious of the tags I use, many thanks to Rachael for the advice. I now think up tags based on what people might be looking for who would enjoy reading what I’ve written. I then use a search tool to find the most searched-for tag based on the ones I thought up. Oh, and I’m trying to be more provocative in my titles. It seems to be working,although for the life of me I’ve no idea what I’m going to call this one at the moment although by the time you get here, hopefully it’ll all have come together as planned.

Since I started doing this I’ve had my best viewing day, two consecutive best weeks ever, 30 new followers and the blog is less than 30 views off its best ever month with 12 days still to go. The sceptic in me is shouting that this is just natural progression for a new blog. Coincidence. Not Cause and Effect. Maybe. Maybe not. Ah well.

That said, I’ve still got to get out there. Find out who to talk to. Access the people who are communication hubs. People who understand and who will talk about me, spread the word to people who know people who might want to talk to me.

Funnily enough you’re one of them.

And here I am talking to you!

Success.

making tracks© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

making tracks that last…
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013