This needs to be shared

As you all know, sometimes I come across a post which is so good it needs to be shared.

This is one of them.


I thought I’d try that title.


Not “My father”


Because that’s what I have in my life. My dad.

You have no idea how hard it is to type the word. To say the word in my head. It’s like every time I do I get a little stab in my heart.

Click here to read the rest on The Moiderer

Look what happened!

I was very surprised to find that I’d been nominated for this Award by Dawn @ 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 @

2. They Say It’s In the Genes @

3. Scott Williams @

4. Art of Stumbling @

5. Feisty Blue Gecko @

6. Adopting James @

7. Fibromyalgia: The diary of a pain warrior @

8. Raison D’etre @

9. Mirrors of Encounters @

10. Life Lived Now @


New year. New beginnings, (and other clichés)

It’s just a function of timing, nothing else. That said, I’m getting so wrapped up in the minutiae of everything I’ve learned that I keep finding myself cross checking my statements in case there’s more to it because the plain and obvious just feels wrong when you’re so used to peering beneath the surface.

If you’ve been keeping up, not with the Jones’s, good neighbours to have though they are by the way, although to be fair I’m using this as a metaphor for the knowledge my co-hypno-questies have been accumulating rather than the physical possessions of the aforementioned ex-Welsh family with whom as luck would have it, we are pretty much on a par, then you might find yourself recognising that old AD/K rep system mix up we discussed so fully way back in September. Check it out, it might help.

So, traditional digression duly digressed, let’s return to the topic I’ve not really started yet.

I graduate this weekend becoming a fully trained, licensed  insured and practising Cognitive Hypnotherapist.

The not-another-New-Year’s-Resolution aspect of all this is that I intend to earn at least half my income this year via hypnotherapy clinics for fertility difficulties and chronic pain management. Now the AD modal operator, (misnomer but sounds good), of my thinking has picked up that a certain number amongst you know that this is not a particularly smart objective. (Specific, Measurable, etc. feel free to complete the ART of your choice). I could for instance, achieve this imprecise goal simply by matching the remainder of my income to whatever I do end up earning from these clinics and still tick the box of successful goal achievement. However, as the hitherto secondary rep system is Kinaesthetic, even though it operates at exactly the same level as my chattering AD, I really don’t care. I know what I mean and that’s enough, which in itself is an indication of just how much I’ve learned about the mind and more importantly, my own mind.

It’s just possible that as time runs its course this year I may flip, (yes I can see you smiling at the back), dominant rep systems and try out at K/AD instead of AD/K. As far as I can tell there’s little difference except in volume of tissues required and smiles generated and if you sniggered at this point, you’re obviously way too immature, it’s your own time you’re wasting. According to my 2012 guide and mentor, young Mr Silvester, he of Quest and Love Birds fame, (this is a prediction for 2013 by the way), most AD prominence is based on early experience and the decision that it’s better to talk to yourself than risk whatever the younger you might have perceived as risky at the time. Now that I know how to know better than that, I may just do that very thing, to quote John Omally from back in his Brentford days.

But there is another co-incidental timing to add to this. The bulk of my alter ego consulting in the last eighteen months has been in assisting the advising populace to achieve that regulatory goal of arriving in 2013 with QCF level 4 Diploma in hand, hence enabling them continue their aforementioned professional professionings. Despite the best efforts of ancient Mayans, 2013 duly arrived and those that achieved duly achieved and drastically reduced the immediate consulting opportunities presenting themselves in my general direction.

This is one of the twin drivers of my ending up at Quest in the first place. Not being especially prescient but fully able to read writings when they’re daubed colourfully enough on walls, I could see this one coming a mile off. I needed to find further strings for my bow and possibly even other metaphoric earnings weaponry altogether.

The other of the twins who was driving at the time was, (not naked or even a sister, which was possibly the oddest of the internet search terms which have lead readers to find this blog), I wanted to regain that lost aspect of my earlier roles and rediscover the means to help people develop in some way. I have to say that I’ve lost the urge to drive for targets any more which probably explains my less than precise objectivising earlier, so I was looking to find a way to eventually travel the therapy path I’ve been looking at over the years where the lawns look less well manicured but decidedly more replete in chlorophyll.

There will be those who see all this as serendipity, (one of those words which I never really  got on with as, just like paradigm, I find it all too shifty for comfort), but I still maintain that when things just seem to come together it can always be traced back to time, effort and persistence. There’s no such thing as luck. There’s hard work and making sure that you’re always in the right place with your thumb out when opportunity comes driving by. Oh, and if it doesn’t stop, jump on board anyway and risk the bumps and bruises. As they like to say, that which doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger, (thanks to Mr West, lyric reference duly referenced), although there are times to judge just how much you want to risk your future on a random leap into the unknown and as random is something I don’t do, I usually measure my risks.

So I measured this risk. I looked before I leaped. And I leaped. This was indeed the time for action although as a further lyric reference that one really is showing its age, even though it may indeed be time to be free.

So in the end, 2013 is going to be the year when, after many long hours spent in holiday bars wondering whether there was a better way to earn a living, that I do that very thing once more and earn my living in a better way.

As I said, it’s not a resolution. It’s not an intention. There’ really is a future me out there. One that’s had that HPD for some time. One that’s helped countless clients to relieve their pains and potentially many more to find themselves pregnant, as long as that’s OK with Gill of course.

But there is something that I have to do first. I have to travel to London for one final weekend. The boxes that needed ticking have been ticked. The learnings that had to be learnt were absorbed and more to the point put into practice. All that’s left are backs to be patted, hugs to be hugged, Diplomas to be awarded and photos to be taken. And Pizza. You have to celebrate in style and we Cognitive Hypnotherapists, (newly qualified ones, at that), surely know how to eat a celebratory Pizza.

There will no doubt be tears to be shed. Not mine though, that AD/K metamorphosis is planned in for later this year. Honest.

So as my journey draws to a close, I’ll need to find a new focus for this blog, although I may just let it run along under it’s own steam and see where it takes us all. It’s time for the new journey to begin. If you’d like to join in, then stay tuned. I’ll be back, as I’ve said before.

And if you’d like to discuss your own journey, why not get in touch? As from Monday, I’m open for business.

The End.

just waiting for the Pizza © Tony Burkinshaw 2013

just waiting for the Pizza
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013


Dissolving Ceilings and the six Balloons of Pooh

Sometimes you surprise yourself. Faced with difficult situations and seemingly nowhere to go, somehow you make that intuitive leap and it all works out.

Of course if you’re dedicated follower of fashion, (yes I know another music reference but it’s too obvious to warrant comment), then you’ll be well aware that successful intuition is simply a bespoke combination of trance phenomena and skilful priming, (thanks Trevor), that creates the illusion of a successful leap of faith.

In reality it is fruit born of hard work, preparation and a willingness to put yourself in the firing line, hazarding a guess at a potential solution. Oh yes, and when you get it right you instantly delete or ignore the times when it didn’t quite work out, or indeed failed quite spectacularly in accordance with the philosophy of creativity.

Aside from that, I passed my NLP practitioner exam yesterday. I’m pleased because I dislike failing, (maybe I should see a therapist), but all in all this was a co-incidental byproduct of the Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy course. It had initial appeal, a b.o.g.o.f. deal and such like but it didn’t set my world alight. Apologies to those for whom this is important and I do get it but for me, the NLP movement is too rooted in the Eighties.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, NLP is derived from detailed analysis of some extremely highly skilled therapists and so it delivers some great results for clients. I’ve experienced some of this first hand and I’m not at all dismissive of the techniques NLP has devised. It’s just that, typical of the times, it’s findings were wrapped up and packaged in pseudo science-speak, avoiding peer scrutiny, which was most likely a calculated gesture to seriously annoy any potential scientific approval. Science is all about peer scrutiny, (until it gets into the hands of multi-large conglomerates but then that’s a whole other debate). On top of that, the prime business motivation of the NLP industry seemed to be to generate income, (and in some cases substantial wealth), through training other people to train other people to become NLP trainers. Coming from a highly regulated industry as I do, this looks too much like a tiered selling scheme for my taste, hiding from external scrutiny and become a money-making machine for those who survived into its higher ranks.

It really is a crying shame that this is how the NLP ‘industry’ made, (and still makes), its money because at its core, NLP is about codifying the deep level skills of acknowledged experts in the field of therapy and distilling them down to provide simple, easy access techniques to both understand and help individuals in their quest for self-betterment. I aim to use a core premise of Cognitive Hypnotherapy in that whilst a technique delivers benefit then it forms a legitimate part of the therapeutic process. Until I find that a particular NLP technique doesn’t work, I’ll use it and so far all the techniques have worked a treat.

My mini-rant boils down to this. Any school that elects to call a question a ‘Conversational Postulate’ is setting itself up to be shot down in flurry of fuliguline feathers.

I’m happy to use the techniques because they work and of course I’ll accept the NLP Practitioner Certificate. I did sit the exam after all. It’s not like I’m religious about this or anything, it’s just a gripe and if that philosophy was good enough for Gil Boyne, it’s surely good enough for me.

Mini-rant over. Thanks for listening. Feel free to re-rant at me in the comment box below.

Today was a very good day. I am several steps closer to gaining my Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma. I handed in the diploma as predicted, two days before the deadline and with 16754 words carefully scripted into hopefully meaningful answers and essays. I satiated my hunger for learning and feasted upon that metaphoric pachyderm delivering a substantial electronic tome ready to be assessed and if necessary, criticised. To be fair, I’m expecting a certain degree of feedback. I like to think I’m getting the hang of all this after eight months but I’m not delusional. I remain a relative novice.

As with any highly practical skill, especially if it involves other people, it’s always a good idea to build an element of realism to the training. Today that realism rose up and thwacked me right between the eyes. Gone were those nice gentle follow-the-outline-and-it’ll-work role plays of previous weekends. Today was: “you know all those clients who don’t know the script, the ones who’ll inadvertently lob spanners at your best laid plans? Well today is all about them”.

Why? So that when I meet them for real, I know that I’ve already dealt with them right here, right now (and yes I know young Norm, ex of the Housemartins, has made an appearance before but talent will keep on barging its way in).

All this brings me to awkward spiders and their role-playing counterparts. The counterpart was really good. She played her spanner-lobbing role pretty damn convincingly. As It turned out, she played her role as convincingly as someone who really had experienced the spider as the embodiment of other angst.

So how do you help someone who is playing a phobic role that sits uncomfortably close to their own, whereby they find themselves trapped in the scripted bedroom of their youth whilst fighting off echoes of the shed they couldn’t escape in the reality of their past?

Well, start simple and follow the rules, although to be fair they’re more like guidelines (answers on a postcard or in the comment box below as to from whence that reference derives).

So I started simple and followed the rules. It didn’t work. My semi-skilful probes and re-frames were rebuffed. My co-pilots on my adventure into the unknown were partially flummoxed and they’d read the script! I was entirely unsure where to go. As my client appeared to have broken the rules and associated into the metaphor, finding herself actually being in the room with the spider rather than remaining detached, above looking down, I asked her to ‘float back up to a comfortable distance and look down at the imaginary scene from above’. She just bumped gently on the ceiling. (Of the imaginary room, not the training room that is. That would involve inventing an anti-gravity trance and I don’t think Quest have worked that one out yet).

As she couldn’t get out of the room I wondered whether she could move through the ceiling. As it turned out, all you need is a working knowledge of Inception to solve the conundrum and as it was her dream but with me in control, I got her to dissolve the ceiling.  It worked a treat and up she came. Game over. Or so I thought.

Equally Inception inspired, she found that her dream within a dream, (alright, trance within a trance, but the metaphor still works), weighted her down and dragged her across into the nightmare of her real life arachnophobia. Down she came, sinking firmly back towards that trauma-shed of the past duly filled, as narrative causality demands, with the spider guarding the shed-door and preventing her exit. Always one to accept a challenge, I proposed that we work through this one too. Most important was to keep her dissociated and away from the first hand emotion of that initial fear-generating arachnid. From somewhere in my past, a fair while away as I now sit in my fifties, I dragged up inspiration from Pooh, that master of oddball problem solving.

It seems that all you need to escape a spider filled shed trap is half a dozen Pooh balloons, those ones used by that bear of little brain whilst disguised as a cloud and hunting for hunny in the hunny tree. Safely elevated, my role-playing colleague was able to work through her first encounter and, touch wood, (albeit that that can be the beginning of superstition and a potential OCD), she reported feeling more relaxed about our eight legged friends. Time will tell.

I suppose the upshot of all this is that what seems to matter is finding a path where it’s possible to work the problem, utilising whatever resources you and your client may have to hand, wherever they may come from. And when you’re backed into a corner, trust in those sparks of inspiration , those leaps of imagination which let you slide a metaphoric solution into view. In trance or in dreams, reality and memory are plastic.

And if I live by this, I can’t help but wonder whether my future will contain blockbuster science fiction films or more clients holding Pooh balloons. What do you think?


Obvious Really
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012

In the end, it’s all about me (re-published)

Hey there readers of mine! Yet again good old WordPress has posted on a previous day to the one I actually published on. I know this is probably my lack of technical skill as yet but it does mean I need to re-publish this post to make sure it gets in the categories and tags properly.

For those of you who didn’t see this one earlier….Please follow this link :

In the end, it’s all about me

Isn’t it finished yet?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012

In the end, it’s all about me

In a very real sense, it’s all in my own head.

However, as you’ll see if you follow me through this post, this isn’t a self-centric statement because when all’s said and done, what’s valid for me applies equally to you so if it makes you feel any better about the narrative, just think of the you that’s doing the reading as the me I keep referring to. It still works.

Every problem I’ve ever had whether overcome or not, every interaction whether good, bad or inane, only happened inside that part of me that I consider to be me. Everything that’s out there on that external reality that Western civilisation considers to be the real reality but which Eastern philosophical traditions know isn’t actually there at all is, in essence simply how my own mind has interpreted what its sensing equipment has relayed to it. That information is held, sifted prioritised and matched against other prior inputs in order to determine the most appropriate reaction for the preservation or procreation of that previously postulated multi-cellular collective that I’m currently strolling around in.

Strange as it may sound, I’m not reacting to the world outside at all. I’m reacting to the relative urgency of the combined sensory inputs received by the I that is me. I’m reacting to a lightning fast interpretation of the information, not the information itself. I’m two steps removed from what I like to think of as ‘everything that isn’t me’ and weirdly, sometimes everything that isn’t ‘me’ includes the body I’m inhabiting.

If you want to get proper bonkers, then this is the point where you start to debate how we actually know that whatever is out there is actually out there and not simply a metaphoric illusion created by the I that is me in order to manipulate whatever it might be that is the actual source of all that sensory information from ‘out there’. Or maybe even ‘in here’. My brain could just be making all this stuff up. Decidedly possible, considering everything I’ve written previously.

The jump after this, depending on your day job and whether you have a brother with the surname Wachowski, is to go on to create a ground breaking slo-mo camera technique known as bullet-time and surround-freeze the action in a film you decided to call The Matrix. Mind you, you’d need some old fashioned still-camera techniques like time-slice and a techno-creative brain in someone as skilled as John Gaeta to see the potential. So seeing as that’s already been done, at least it has in my reality perception, I’ll content myself with using it simply to illustrate the point rather than develop the teenage-level philosophising any further. I have no way of separating out whether a signal is actually coming from an outside source or is an internal illusion and if it is external, I have no way of proving what’s actually generating it. So without formulating a doom laden hero against machine future, what’s my point?

As it goes, in practical day to day terms none of this matters. Stuff happens. You react to it. It makes no difference whether the external stimuli are actually there, a representational metaphor or even an emergent property of all that is quantum in a world where everything has probability, nothing is certain and matter is just informational potential. Wherever it actually comes from, our bodies and minds develop their individual models of the appropriate way to react and behave based on experiences overlaid onto the preloaded evolutionary software hard-wired into you by the time of your birth. Some of this drives us in a positive direction of growth and some holds us back in a negative fog of limiting beliefs.

If reality, whatever the truth may actually be and as I’m choosing to blog let’s take it for granted that I fully accept the real world is indeed the real world, if it is all down to how I both consciously and unconsciously interpret all the stimuli that come flooding in every minute of every day, then all the control I could possibly need to affect my reaction to the world is inside my head and that’s quite a liberating stance to take. I needn’t rely at all on the outside for solutions because whether anything works or not is down entirely to how that fundamental me interprets it and assimilates it into my model of how to deal with the world. I’m in full control of how I choose to react to the world and all the good and bad it cares to throw at me.

Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that.

You see, the I that I think of as me isn’t the full picture. There’s a lot of evidence that ninety per cent of the decision made by me are actually driven unconsciously and the I that I think of as me, residing in the conscious as it does, that emergent property of multi-cellular collectivism from earlier postings, remains completely unaware of them. My conscious decision-making is limited to how I react to the various aspects of my environment that my unconscious has let me become aware of after it’s done all the checks and balances about keeping me safe.

Now normally this is excellent. It means that if I’m getting stalked by a predatory wolf-pack, (see I told you that famous feline would be retired soon), my unconscious would put me on high alert before I’d consciously become aware of them. Equally, if there were a prospective partner in the vicinity, I’d start strutting around, preening myself in the manner of whatever the locally accepted traditions dictated before I’d actually registered who that he or she might be, setting all the village elders into a giggle of knowing looks and sideways glances at the prospective in-laws.

There is an issue in today’s society, a fly in the proverbial ointment of modernity. Well there must be mustn’t there because it keeps turning up as a recurring theme in these postings of mine. We don’t live in the environment we evolved for. So what’s the issue?

As it happens you’ve all met them. You might even be one of them. Even if you are, everything here applies just the same and the particular effect of the modern environment you experience is this one and yes I realise that I’ve not actually said what it is yet. The issue is, of course, that well-worn phrase, ‘It’s health and safety gone mad’.

Our unconscious safety mechanism is the inner jobs-worth of the soul. It forces you to behave in a way that is socially counter-productive because rules written years ago, for a bygone age, are still the rules. And you know what happens then. Rules is rules, mate. You gotta follow them. They were written for a purpose and if you don’t follow them there’ll be hell to pay. And there’s the rub, as that erstwhile playwright of many centuries past was wont to say.

If you don’t follow the rules, it all goes wrong according to your unconscious, so it forces you to follow the rules before you’ve even realised. Phobia, Stress and Anxiety enter stage left, to continue the theatrical theme. And before you know it, you’re living in your own conscious hell because your unconscious health and safety executive was doing its utmost to stop you breaking a rule which would have put you in danger. Thousands of years ago.

Now, it would be evolutionary suicide to encode specific rules applicable to every situation because this would mean you wouldn’t be able to react appropriately and stay alive in any new situation. So our human evolution-solution was to be able to learn. To assist this process, we all are born with various fundamental ‘programmes’ encoded in our brains. Hard-wired into the very neurons of our brains. Here’s some of them

  • You behave in way that makes your parents keep you safe when you’re too young to defend yourself.
  • Adults are programmed to find a small body, large head and large eyes inexplicably cute.
  • Adults are programmed to be unable to ignore anything that sounds like a baby’s cry. (Co-incidentally, this is why many adults would rather sit next to another animal’s young on a long trip than a human baby. Think about it. If you had the choice of sitting next to a kitten or a baby on an airplane, which would you choose?)
  • When something sudden happens, we jump and flood our bodies with adrenaline and other hormones which get us ready to run, fight or freeze. And your immune system is temporarily boosted to help fight infection from injury. Really.

So our hard-wired programmes give us a basic set of instructions and we overlay our local versions of reality onto it and our unconscious learns from what happens as you grow from baby to child to adult. It writes sub-routines which keep us safe. The difficulty is it lays almost all of these down when you are very small and just don’t understand your complex modern social environment and it uses massively out of date programming language. It’s like trying to fly the Euro-fighter, which needs four computers just to keep it airborne, with a Sega Megadrive.

This where we link back to the beginning.

The fact that it’s all in your head, (and body, don’t forget the mind-body connection), means that you have all the resources inside you that you need to deal with any situation where these sub-routines aren’t working. You can’t change the main ones, they’re properly hard-wired. But you can change any sub-routine.

Sometimes, you’ll find that it’s enough simply to become aware that you’re reacting the wrong way. If you’re lucky, the wrong way hasn’t been too tough. I listened to Geoff Thompson speaking yesterday. If you’d like to know what it was like when these things go properly wrong, he’s a great example. He also had enough courage and strength to put himself back on the right track. You could tell by the weight of his BAFTA that he had recovered somewhat. Gritty? More like being buried under rubble.

Most of us don’t find ourselves in that place with enough strength or resolve to change. Often all we see is that we’re unhappy with life. Sometimes extremely unhappy.

There are many potential routes to help you deal with and manage that unhappiness. To help you get back to a state of normality.

I’m beginning to find, as I near graduation from this course, that much of what I’ve learned helps to re-frame those unhelpful health and safety rules that our unconscious makes us follow with the best of its intentions. The people I’ve worked with as clients, (who kindly volunteered to help me practice my new skills), are getting better. It’s affected how they see and react to the world, they’re beginning to get that sense of well-being that we yearn for. Not only that, they’re experiencing reduced pain, better sleep, fewer migraines, one of them even no longer has hayfever. All because they looked at how the unconscious had framed prior learning experiences and then re-framing those same experiences from an objectively adult perspective. They rewrote their own rules.

So if you want to get that internal health and safety department working to rules of your own choosing, you might find that you’re be beginning to get an idea of what to do about it. That you have everything you need already.

Sometimes it helps to have someone to show you which buttons to push.

Isn’t it finished yet?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012

When the Future-Trap Snaps

So I’ve spent all week waiting for that mythical particle of inspiration to strike a spark in my imagination. It didn’t.

Thanks to Victoria, I have a back-up plan.

Module 7 of my training with Quest dealt with, amongst other issues, performance enhancement which you’ll know, of course, because you’ve read ‘You’ve Got The Power‘. On that particular weekend’s training course I worked with Victoria and the particular performance we worked on was my evolving writing skill. I’m still very new to this, having only really started any form of meaningful writing, (sales reports and technical bulletins don’t count), three months ago with this blog.

However in that short time, I’ve found that there are, on occasion, times when I just start writing with no real idea exactly what I’m going to write other than following that spark of inspiration that fired the post in the first place. I found a place of flow. On occasion.

To be fair, I also spent a lot of time not writing anything and wracking my brains to tease out the best next word for the sentence. There have also been more than enough sentences and, indeed, entire paragraphs that really should never have turned up on the screen in front of me at all.

So the performance enhancement became my Plan B, (yet another great musician – you should check him out but beware Strickland Banks is not representative of young Mr. Drew’s usual work, parental guidance most definitely applies). With Victoria’s help, I worked on being able to re-create that feeling of finding flow in my writing. Of not really knowing what will come next, just starting out and trusting to the knowledge that it’s worked before and will work again. This post will be the test of that. I haven’t a clue where I’m headed and to fair until 20 minutes ago, I didn’t even know that I’d get this far writing about the fact that I didn’t even know that I’d get this far. I’ve even managed to pull another musical reference in.

Moving on.

What is really taking up my attention this week is that HPD. Remember? That source of my mini rant about TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) back at the beginning of September. A major part of my being able to qualify and practice as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist is the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma. I need to gain the qualification and if I want that qualification to be in place by the time I finish my course in January, the HPD must be completed by the 1st December.

I have twelve and a half days to write 12,000 words. I’ve already done about 9,000 but that’s taken me since the beginning of September. Extrapolate that one out and you’ll find that my target completion date is 2nd of March.

I’m on track to miss my deadline by three months.

Fortunately my engineering education, (yes, I qualified as a Chemical Engineer, spent three years as a Brewer of beer, twenty-seven years in Financial Services and am now becoming a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, don’t you just love consistency), allows me to be appropriately disdainful of statistical projection. I’ve also learnt to embrace my innate tendency to procrastinate. After years of trying to manage it, of being told from early school   days through my adolescent and adult life that procrastination is just another version of laziness, I’ve discovered it is actually a talent that allows me to embrace the here and now.

It doesn’t work for everyone and annoys the hell out those who can’t do it. I simply work at my best when something is both important and urgent. If it’s just important, like the HPD, it’s not enough. It needs to be urgent as well in order to get me working at maximum efficiency. The HPD is a classic case in point. I know that I have the skill, knowledge and capacity to pass. I’m not at all worried that I can’t do it. I qualified as a Chartered Financial Planner this year and that took me many years and many exams to complete so the HPD definitely lies within the realms of a do-able thing. It’s taken me 11 weeks to write 9,000 words. I’ve got 12 days left (and a half, don’t forget the half, it’s important). Plenty of time.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

For years, I’ve managed both my propensity to procrastinate and my talent for forgetting anything important, (my most active auto-trance-phenomena is Amnesia), by setting myself traps for the future, to ensure that I really did deal with those important things that are not yet urgent or that I would quite like to avoid but absolutely had to prepare for. I would set up tasks or meetings or presentations which would walk me towards whatever the goal in mind would be. It was the only way I’d ensure that anything actually happened. I’d break down my target event into to trip-over-the-next-important-section style sub-events. Now you might think this sounds quite familiar, good time management practice and project goal setting. You should never forget that I once turned up five hours late for a time management training course. Honestly.

For me, though, what I was doing was setting a trap in the future, a trip wire that’ I’d fall over and fire a shot of deadline adrenalin into my system. I knew that I wouldn’t work towards those goals, I’d forget them secure in the knowledge that at some point in the not too distant, I’d fall flat on my face, pick myself up and deal with it. Efficiently. And always to standard. I’d set the trip wire so that it would give me just and only just enough time to get the whatever it was that had to be done done by the whenever it was it had to done by to whatever the standard was that it needed to be done to and meet the deadline.

Somehow, it turns out, I was aware enough of my trance phenomena preferences to move effectively into the future at my most efficient, even if I did have to do it by repeatedly tripping myself up. In effect, I’d become my own game keeper, trapping my effectiveness at appropriate points to prevent my amnesiac consciousness from wandering off and populating my future with a total lack of achievement.

In a clear demonstration of serendipity, which the more astute among you will recognise as nothing more than negative hallucination allowing me to ignore anything that didn’t fit in with the serendipitous trend, I’ve come across three totally independent rationalisations of why it’s important to embrace procrastination. Two of these were people my alter-ego works with and another was a blog on Psychology Today way back from April 2011. Somehow it turned up on my Twitter feed a couple of weeks ago which is very much a phrase I never thought I’d be using in the middle of a blog that I’d no idea I was going to write.

It talks about active procrastination. I’m an active procrastinator. I have always worked best under pressure, with just enough time to get something done. And I’ve always felt I had to treat this as a negative trait and strive to build in more ongoing work to try to counter act it, to be more ‘in control’. As it happens it didn’t make me feel in control at all. I’m convinced that all I was actually doing was giving a sense of control to my erstwhile elders and betters. Now those are two words should never be used together automatically, only sparingly and when really deserved. I’ve met a few elders who are indeed better and have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.

However, I’ve met many more who don’t. They wallow in their thirty years of experiencing the same thing and mistake it for being truly thirty year’s worth of experiences. They’re wrong. And usually so fixed in their ways and so ingrained in their own world that they cannot see, let alone comprehend, anyone else’s point of view. You’ve probably met them. They are only older. If you suspect you might be one of them, it’s never too late for new experience. Try it. I’m loving it.

As an active procrastinator, I get to spend more time dealing with and enjoying the here and now than if I try to meet a non-procrastinator’s ideal of ongoing, manageable bite sized chunks.

You know that well-worn phrase, (sorry Trevor), about how to eat an elephant? Apparently perceived wisdom is one bite at a time. I prefer a feast. Stuff your face until you’re fit to burst. Accept the burst and feast again. In my mind, if you try to eat an elephant one bite at a time, your future is full of, guess what, elephant flavoured food. Breakfast lunch and dinner. Hey guys, what’s for dinner? Elephant – again. For four months in total, I’ve been avoiding the elephant. I’ve had a taste every now and then but it wasn’t cooked right. Didn’t quite have the right texture.

In the meantime, I got to eat all manner of mental flavours and concoctions. All my meals were and are different. And every now and then… guess what.

Bring on the Elephant feast!

Are they all the same?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012

Why Ten Commandments?

Just when I was thinking that I hadn’t found anything that sparked my off-centre imagination for the second instalment of my well-established 8 day old weekly re-blog, I found fiftyshedsofgraham:  ‘a man, a shed, and way too much spare time’.

With a writing style to keep you entertained and wondering where it all might lead, I have a feeling you’re going to enjoy this one. You might find you’ll end up reading more of his blog.

‘Why Ten Commandments?’ explores the extent to which our fundamental morality is based on nothing more than the evolutionary chance that we are bi-pedal and deca-digital.

As a student of Cognitive Hypnotherapy this leads me to the interesting thought that maybe there’s an unexplored branch of therapy based on clients viewing their issues through the mind of … well, read on.

Why Ten Commandments?

It’s a matter of perspective
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012

Everyone Remembers Amnesia (reblog)

I’m not sure why but when I published this post earlier today it appeared in the WordPress Reader as being published over 3 days ago! I’d hate for you to miss it, so here’s the link!

Everyone Remembers Amnesia

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Let me know what you think.

You might have seen me before!
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012

Everyone Remembers Amnesia

She sounds like a heroine from a 1980’s Victoria Wood sketch, a plain-jane daughter that no-one remembers. You know the line, “Has anyone seen Amnesia? I’m sure I left her here somewhere” and all that slightly too slapstick Young Ones-esque hilarity that I loved at the time. Mind you, of all the alternative comedy from that era, a phrase which makes it sound like it was decades away, (which actually it was – damn I’ve aged), the sketches that survive the test of time best were the ones that relied on clever scripting rather than shock-humour . Blackadder was probably best of all, which now I think about it, rather neatly did both. Ah well.

So where am I going to whisk you off to on this week’s journey of discovery. Well, I’m still managing to avoid working on my Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma, (what, there are only 3 weeks left?), by pretending that improving my media presence will be beneficial when I get my website up and running in the New Year, thanks for helping me by the way, so that when I start my practice next year, there won’t just be me and my new website. The theory is, if prospective clients Google me, (other good search engines are available), then they’ll find a whole host of relevant and beneficial guidance about me which should instil at least some degree of confidence that I’m not a complete novice. So read on dear boys and girls, secure in the knowledge that you’re assisting my future and pleasantly keeping me from the real task at hand which is to actually get my qualification. And if you’ve been here before, you might remember that I’ve already done it. Sort of.

Anyway, all distractions over, we’re off on a whistle-stop journey through hypnotic trance phenomena.  It’ll be good practice for the diploma I’m about to get and I’m pretty sure you’ll find you enjoy it and if you happen to be one of those people who are currently studying for that self-same qualification, how many phenomena were hidden in those first two sentences? There are actually nine trance phenomena in hypnosis and which are used for therapeutic effect. Ask any student of hypnotherapy to name them all and they’ll usually recall 7 or so. They always forget at least one in the pressure of the moment.

Strangely, they’ll always remember Amnesia.

Weird isn’t it. It’s almost as though Amnesia is its own Post Hypnotic Suggestion, which as it turns out is the one most easily confused with Age Progression. In normal-speak that’s the difference between a happy-trap that’s designed to make you to trip over it sometime in the future in a ‘Wow, I didn’t realise it was that good’ kind of way and good old-fashioned daydreaming, that is, if you’re walking on the good side of life’s highway. Alternatively they become self-fulfilling prophecies or anxiety, if you’re veering off into the arena populated by those whose phenomena are conspiring against them.

Somehow, as if by magic, Amnesia comes tagged with, ‘just remember, you won’t forget’!

It’s that blue tree syndrome all over again. You know, whatever you do, don’t think of a blue tree. And what happens? Your unconscious rams an image of a blue tree right into the forefront of your mind so that you have something to compare not thinking of a blue tree with. Otherwise, so the unconscious logic goes, how the hell would you know whether you’re achieving not thinking of a blue tree correctly? It lives for pattern matching. After all that’s what it’s there for. It’s how the unconscious mind keeps us safe. But you know all that already.

‘So what?’, you shout, as you’re so fond of interjecting into my posts. You do, you know. Look, if you don’t believe me , just check back.

What? You’ve checked and it’s only once? Are you sure? It feels like its way more than that. Well, that does surprise me! I must be seeing things. This is starting to sound like a Positive Hallucination. I’ll just have to accept your word for it, I don’t have time to check right now because there’s way too much to do and there’s none spare unless you know how to slow things down, which as I’m sure you’ve guessed would be time-distortion. With all this disruption, I feel as though my mind’s not my own any more. And I don’t like dissociation, so that’s enough!

When I looked back at my career last year after my redundancy, I thought back in age-regression style, over the many occasions I’d found myself on holiday wondering if there wasn’t indeed a better way to earn a living. One which would let me find people as confused about their future as I was and help them point themselves in the direction they truly wanted to go. Many times, I found myself considering training in counselling or personal coaching but over the years the timing or the directions I was considering never came together.

Suddenly timing was on my side and my prompt towards hypnotherapy appeared as a matter of chance and both of them turned up simply because I was made redundant. Whilst I knew my mind was made up about the route I was taking in my Financial Services role, I was still offered redundancy counselling. It was actually really useful, so if you do ever get made redundant and have the chance of redundancy counselling, I’d recommend taking it up. We discussed lots of potential avenues but it always came back to the route I’d already chosen. Financial Services. It was only later in the year that I started to look for ways to help develop others. So was it chance that  I found hypnotherapy, or simply that I was primed to see the opportunity when it came? I just didn’t notice any options unless they fitted in with my unconscious view of my future. Now that’s a powerful negative hallucination for you.

So this leaves us towards the end of this post with one phenomenon left to uncover. I told you we students always forget at least one. This one’s mine. It may take a bit of exploration to find it, so here goes.

You might have noticed that this is a slightly shorter missive than most of my previous posts. This is partly because at some point there has to be shorter one, otherwise logic suggests that I’d end up posting an entire book but also partly because this particular post is being written through a mildly post-viral fog. We’ll get to that in a bit.

Now, as I’ve intimated before, most people use trance phenomena as part of everyday life just to help them get through and most people have their favourites. I don’t mean that they like them, more that they’re good at doing them. My speciality is amnesia, which is why she ended up as the title of this post. I thought you might like to know what reminded me. One of the downsides of doing amnesia well is that you don’t remember that you’re good at it. Unless it comes and bites you in the bottom and makes you feel like a fool.

Gill and the world-renowned Peterborough Peace Campaign have organised a talk in the city library’s John Clare Theatre, (named after a famous local poet, look him up if you like). The talk is on 17th November at 2 o’clock if you fancy turning up. It’s called ‘The Reality of War’ and has a couple of speakers coming in from other cities. One is an ex SAS soldier, Ben Griffin, who founded Veterans for Peace (UK) and Chris Cole who set up the Drone Wars UK blog and who appeared on BBC Radio 4 The Moral Maze last week. Gill met Ben outside the Ecuador Embassy a few months ago and asked him to come to Peterborough as part of the talk the Peace Campaign were organising, so she’s obviously concerned that it goes off well.

Imagine her surprise when, as we were chatting over a cup of coffee in the kitchen last week I very convincingly told her that all her planning was wrong.

She happened to mention that she had arranged to meet someone next Thursday and I asked her, slightly smugly as I do every now and then, how she intended to be in two places at once because, in my amnesiac style, I was absolutely certain that her Reality of War talk was booked on that very same Thursday afternoon. At the moment of our kitchen conversation, I honestly remembered wondering, right back at the start of their planning, why it was being arranged on a Thursday afternoon. Surely no-one would come? I was convinced that I’d said so at the time.

And yet, when I checked my diary, which I’d updated only two days earlier, the talk was booked in on the Saturday. It had always been booked in on the Saturday. I had helped with some of the arrangements – for the Saturday. Interestingly, not only did I forget the correct day, which I do quite often much to Gill’s despair, I had also temporarily invented an entire suite of memories which backed up my mistake. My unconscious was so determined to maintain a congruent reality that it installed fake events to make sense of my incorrectness.

Looking back at it now, I think my capacity for amnesiac tendency was perhaps enhanced by my as yet asymptomatic weekend virus. It’s first indication was my feeling extremely tired on Friday, although as I didn’t feel unwell I still went to the 8th Quest training weekend as planned. We were focussing on the techniques of good old Milton Erickson, he of the gravelly voiced artful vagueness and purple jumpsuit fame, followed by a mild bout of arm levitation, stress and anxiety treatment and assisting with weight loss and an overview of dealing with eating disorders.

It only took fifteen minutes of Trevor’s training and an unfortunate reference to one of the students feeling sick on the previous weekend for my body to recognise that it was indeed unwell and that it was high time for me to experience proper symptoms instead of just a vague and disquieted constitution. Either that or my breakfast was disagreeing with me. Anyway, I must have looked pretty grey because even though I had my back to them, Bex and Chloe, (love you both, thanks for noticing), came and checked I was OK.

Chloe suggested that I try an adapted version of the headache cure we’d learned on that very first weekend back in April to reduce the discomfort, (although in my mind it was called pain not discomfort). It’s a great technique and basically uses submodality manipulation to create a complex equivalence between the sensory difficulty, (headache, pain, itching etc.), and an appropriate metaphor, usually a coloured shape. Done correctly, your body automatically links changes in the shape, (which you simply imagine into being and manipulate at will), and the sensory issue you’re experiencing. In essence, you dissolve the shape and the pain dissolves with it. It works well and, if you’re astute, you’ll have noticed it brings us neatly to Sensory Distortion, that elusive and concluding ninth of the trance phenomenon.

And so ends our tour. I hope you liked it and if so, do tell everyone.

But before you go, here’s something to try. Without reading back over the post, see how many trance phenomena you can name.

If it’s 7 or so, maybe you should study hypnotherapy.

Look into my eyes…
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012