He’s starting to believe

So I’m starting to believe.

Not that I think I’m Neo, for those of you who are fans of the Matrix. (There’s another Matrix reference later, just to keep Trevor happy). It’s that the cynic who keeps me safe and sane is taking a back seat and the adventurer who believes anything is possible is doing more of the driving. I keep seeing and experiencing more things that the cynic can’t explain away as pure coincidence.

It’s not that I’m pessimistic or not open to new ideas, more that I’m a realistic optimist who’s aware that there’s more to achieving goals than just positive thinking. But in the past whenever the adventurer comes out to play and makes decisions, something goes wrong. The cynic sighs quietly in the corner and stands up and takes over. Again.

It’s like living with an excitable teenager inside my own head and the cynic is all parental and picks me up, dusts me off and puts me back on the right path. I suppose the point is, who’s right path is it? It used to think that the cynic inside me was me being my Dad. Partly there to watch over me and keep me safe and partly getting exasperated whenever something went wrong, scolding me and making sure I did the right i.e. ‘sensible’ thing. Take the sensible decision. It keeps you safe.

Over the years the cynic has been the stronger of the two, particularly when I was younger, keeping control of the excitable teenager and only letting him out at party time for a laugh. There have been fewer of those times of late – shame really.

But the more I sit and think about the reality of it, the more I realise that the good decisions have come from the adventurous side of me, not the safe and cynical one. Risks are worth taking. The whole point is that risks don’t always pay off. That’s what makes them risks in the first place. It’s just that when they do pay off, they more than make up for the times when they don’t. Unless you’re taking poorly judged, outrageous risks of course. And the definition of poorly judged and outrageous would depend on where that cynic came from and whose motives he’s being driven by, I suppose.

Anyhow, the upshot is that I think I was wrong about that cynic being my Dad. It’s more like a child’s view of my Dad, a caricature of a parent based on my Dad, not my Dad as the man he really was. That’s important because, strangely, I’ve spent most of my life as an adult and a fair proportion of it as a father too. Although he died half a lifetime ago, it feels as though I know him better now than when he was still around.

I’m pretty sure that all my Dad was actually trying to do was help me keep my options open whenever I truly didn’t know which way to turn and, more importantly, when there was no apparent downside to my decision. That was useful, taking me into Sciences for A-level, (safe decision – options open – no doors closed), Chemical Engineering at University, (another safe decision, lots of open doors), and into my first job as a professional Chemical Engineer. As it turned out, the adventurer won that one.

I couldn’t make up my mind which of the big, (or small), chemical companies I wanted to work for, or indeed be at all sure whether any of them would actually want to take me on. So the adventurer applied for a job at a brewery. Just for a laugh. I ended up working for Ind Coope in Burton-on-Trent as a process engineer, technically known in the vernacular as a Brewer. Now that was a good career move! Whilst in my mid-twenties, I worked in one of the largest breweries in Europe and, on night shift, I was the top man on site. Me, in charge of all that beer. I made more beer than I could possibly imagine – and believe you me, I could imagine a lot of beer!

Look at this way – one brew would last you and 5 hard-drinking friends 10 pints each a day, each and every single day for 10 years, although in reality the beer would have gone off by then, you and your friends would have become alcoholic and died of liver failure and I’d have lost my job for letting you take up the challenge in the first place. Maybe that’s why the brewery was ‘dry’. Absolutely no drinking alcohol on site at all, except for the official Taste-Panel of course and no prizes for guessing who was a dedicated member of that committee. We made one brew an hour, 24 hours a day. I think that qualifies for the phrase ‘a lot of beer’.

Meanwhile, back with the Adventurer/Cynic conflict in my head. There were some definite advantages to the options-open approach, (beer for one), although to be fair that only came about because the adventurer threw in an off the wall back-up at the last minute.

And I think, after all this vaguely relevant waffle, that that’s the whole point. It’s not about whether I should follow the adventurer, throwing caution to the wind or whether I should keep all options open and adhere to the fatherly, parental cynic’s advice, staying safe and secure.

Somewhere out there, there’s a Tony shaped path through it all. Sometimes it’ll be cautious and sometimes a little strange and risky. But after years of recalling all those times when the adventurous choices came undone, I almost always ended up somewhere better. You see, there’s this Trance Phenomenon called Hallucination. Now I realise that this sounds a bit spooky and smacks of stage hypnosis and chickens but actually it’s more subtle and everyone uses it. It’s more about how you choose to mark your day or week or even your whole life.

It comes in positive and negative flavours which unusually aren’t about whether the particular hallucination is good or bad. It’s about what you add or take away from your day-to-day experience. A positive hallucination brings in something or interprets something as something it isn’t. Like seeing your best friend wave to you in the street so you shout hello and it’s actually someone you’ve never met before. You positively hallucinated their face onto the real one. Of course you could go the whole hog and absolutely know that there are hens in the skirting board – hooray for Mrs Overall!

Negative hallucinations, on the other hand aren’t necessarily bad and are the way most of us get through the day. You simply don’t notice things that really are there. It’s usually just a way of filtering out all that irrelevant stuff that goes on around you all day, every day. It also what makes someone unlucky. Or lucky, for that matter. According to research, (a favourite phrase of a certain Cognitive Hypnotherapist I know), there’s no such thing as a lucky or unlucky person. They both pass through the same world. It all boils down to what they remember and more importantly what they don’t remember, at the end of the day.

In general, I count myself as an optimist and a lucky person. I remember the good things that have happened, the people who smile at me, the driver that lets me in at the junction, the fact that I always find a car parking space. Always. I really do. The unlucky person behind me wonders who that weirdo with the smirk was, why did that car push in in front of him and who is that bastard who always parks in the space he had his eye on!

The cynic/adventurer fight, I’m coming to realise, has nothing to do with whether I feel optimistic or not. It’s more about who I am. Over the years, the cynic kept reminding me of the time I left the brewery to become a financial planner, (read door-knocking life insurance salesman), or never sought promotion because then I’d be working for the man and he’d want a slice of my soul – only to end up working so hard that I ground to a halt and became ill.

I deleted the steps that meant I worked from home when my children were small. I could pick them up from school, keep them calm when the school caught fire and they were evacuated to the pub, (yes, really!). It was the adventurer that kept me asking Gill to marry me – she turned me down three times. She eventually gave in, and it was absolutely the best thing I ever did. You’ll have to ask her if you want to know if she feels the same!

It was the adventurer that decided that I should take up the redundancy offer last year instead of redeployment into a safe job that kept the salary coming in. It was the adventurer that put me in front of businesses that mean I’m now working half as hard as before for more money, surrounded by more rewarding people. And it was the adventurer who searched for and found Quest. Cognitive Hypnotherapy is fascinating and very rewarding. It’s almost as though this is what I’ve been searching for but didn’t know it, (nearly the other Matrix reference…be patient).

I didn’t sign up for therapy but we practice everything we learn on each other so I’m damn well getting therapy, whether I want it or not.

I’m starting to believe. It’s becoming an opportunity to bathe the soul. I’m starting to believe…

…there’s a difference between running a bath and taking a bath…

…after the rescue…
© Tony Burkinshaw

The future me with the H.P.D.

I’ve just taken my first proper look at the HPD, (that’s the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma), which I need if I’ve going to register with the NCH, (the National Council for Hypnotherapy). The NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) part is assessed throughout the course.

Why are there always so many TLAs, (that’s Three Letter Acronyms to you and me)? Why do Organisations, Government and Trainers love TLAs? They’re all over the place. Think about it; NHS, GDP, FAQ, BBC, PDQ, JLS (Peterborough reference!), SUD, CIA, FBI, BFG, OMG, WWW, the list goes on. Apparently there are 17,576 possible TLAs.

They came into their own in the 70s with computer science, until by the 80s no self-respecting organisation could have a meeting without at least one TLA appearing on the agenda. They were supposed to make  long and complicated names easier to remember and use. In fact they just create confusion and an odd esoteric internal language that no-one outside the ‘club’ understands. Strangely, probably the  most frequently used TLA ‘www’ is 3 times longer to say than the phrase it replaces!

Anyway, enough of that and back to the HPD (sorry). I’m familiar with tests and exams and questions because my alter ego has been in financial services for years and I’ve passed far more exams than I care to remember. I’m also currently training and assessing the new Regulated Diploma in Financial Services, required by a thing called RDR – see? So this is familiar territory, or so you’d think.

I find myself putting it off. With a deadline of December, it’s just too far away to be scary enough to get the blood racing and the brain in gear.

Now this set me thinking. Somewhere out there, according to Quantum Physics and Hypnotic Trance Phenomena, there’s a future me who has already passed the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma. This is known as Age Progression and if true, then I needn’t worry because I know that my HPD has already been passed by the future me by time it matters.

This is where Age Progression gets a bit weird.

As I’m reasonably confident about exams and essays, then the thought of the future me taking an HPD doesn’t create a hurdle I can’t get past. That’s an aspect of Age Progression that leads to anxiety if the fear of something in the future gets so great that you react as if its happening now AND you can’t cope with it. Fortunately for me this isn’t one of those Age Progressions.  But it is a problem.

If there’s a me out there in the future with the HPD, then do I actually need to start work yet? The other complication is a technique that Cognitive Hypnotherapy uses to connect you with that future you that’s already done what you’re thinking of doing and learn what you’ve found out by then, so you can use what you’ve achieved in the future, now.

So if I do that, then how do I know when I would have started the HPD? If I completely ignore the me in the future with an HPD, then I have to do the work from scratch all on my own without my future me helping and so will need to work harder. So I’d start sooner. Right?

But if I do connect with the future me, then I’ll know that I’ve passed, so I’ll stop feeling as concerned about the HPD, (its only 21,000 words – what’s the big deal…!) and start work later. Now if that future me is really the future me, then that future me would already have connected with his future him at the point when he was sitting where I am now, pondering about whether to time travel in my present mind to have good old chat with the future him about his HPD.

And if he gets to the same conclusion as me, which surely he would because at the point he was here he was actually the present me, then surely he would have started even later than the me that’s sat here now not yet having had that HPD debate with the me that’s sitting smugly in the future gloating about having done all the work and why not just go down the pub anyway.

So if you follow where this leads, (in which case you’re better at this than I am – are you a Questie graduate?), then either me and the future me AND the future him that he connected with when he was the me that’s sitting here now, are going to have a great time just chilling about the HPD and the course and all things vaguely hypnotherapeutic until the HPD magically writes itself, or I’m just going to have to ignore Age Progression as a means of revision and just knuckle down and do the work myself.

On the other hand, I’ve just spent the afternoon bottling last year’s Elderberry Wine, (very reminiscent of a good Port, even if I say so myself), and adding the yeast to this year’s 4 gallon mash. Now this would be good point to engage in some useful Age Progression and compare next year’s brew with year’s to see if was worth the effort. In reality the only way to achieve this is to sample this year’s brew tonight and rely on Time Distortion, otherwise known as alcoholic amnesia, to carry me through to next year and try next year’s vintage then. Or is that now?

Anyone for a glass?

…and it all became clear…
© Tony Burkinshaw