Therapy or Tough Love?

One in 5 Britons has had therapy and the number of qualified counsellors has tripled in the last 10 years to keep up with demand, but does therapy work in the long term?

Hypnotherapy is often used to help obese clients and those with eating disorders, obsessive disorders or generally unhealthy habits such as smoking. This aims to change bad habits for good ones.

With the help of the therapist, a trance-like state alters the state of consciousness in such a way that the analytical left-hand side of the brain is turned off, while the non-analytical right-hand side is made more alert and receptive. The brain is inhibited from using any conscious processes and the subconscious mind is more directly accessible than prior to the hypnotherapy.

During this time under the trance, the therapist can start to suggest ideas and concepts and can add healthier more beneficial adaptations to the client’s lifestyle directly into the long term memory.

The advantage over traditional types of therapy is that hypnotherapy achieves results much faster and avoids the need to explain your life story to the therapist, opening up to them and working backwards to understand what went wrong and how and why.

Traditional therapy attempts to fully understand the conscious mind and delves into deep rooted issues of the past, to shape a new and brighter future. This can be slow and arduous and at times ineffectual as the conscious mind has many barriers. The therapist has to work through various emotions and analyse insights to desensitise the client to making progress.

NLP aims to improve one’s your life by installing positive attitudes to life and uses goal setting. Unlike other approaches to therapy, NLP is a how to technology that tells you how to be what you want to be. Widely used to achieve personal success, it helps you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and enables you to take responsibility for your actions in all areas of your life.

Behavioural therapy aims to change any behaviours that are harmful or not helpful. Various techniques are used such as avoidance and exposure. Using deep breathing techniques the therapist helps you cope and control the anxiety when a feared situation arises.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a mixture of cognitive and behavioural therapies. They are often combined because how we behave often reflects how we think about certain things or situations. Depending on the condition being treated, the particular emphasis on cognitive or behavioural aspects of therapy can vary,

Cognitive therapy can be very useful in dealing with depression, but behavioural therapy is useful where repetitive compulsive actions take place such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

One of the disadvantages of therapy is a feeling of dependency. It may be the first time you have someone to talk to who actually listens without judgment. Finding someone to take over this role once the therapy ceases can be tough but necessary, as long term therapy can actually inhibit a career or lifestyle change.

Long-term psychotherapy may encourage self-absorption and narcissism. Two qualities that make relationships at work and at home very difficult.

There is the possibility that therapy may also rationalize inaction and encourage procrastination. Certain therapists also encourage inaction by resisting giving advice, whether this is due to a conflict of interest or a general unwillingness to be blunt with the client.

Although therapy may bring a new insight into why you do what you do, is your life any better? Has it enabled you to blame your past for your actions and give you a reason to be the way you are today?

Perhaps instead you should try tough love, a method widely used in military forces throughout the world. You may think you need sympathy and support, but in fact being shown that your problems are not life threatening, may actually be relatively insignificant in the complex web of life and being told to “man up” may work much better for certain individuals.

If you are still unsure, ask yourself, are you holding yourself back from achieving your goal? Are you blaming others for your failures? Whether that be your parents, partner or boss, do you find a barrier to changes?

We don’t need to see a therapist to tell us to focus on the positive in life. Mother Teresa always said she was not Anti War, she was Pro Peace, she preferred to focus on the positive rather than the negative, an attitude which stood her in good stead and for which she will be well remembered.

Try writing down your goals in life and in business. Each night take a moment to write down 3 things that you have done during the day to work towards your goals.

When a stressful decision arises, ask yourself which action would be most beneficial to achieving your goal and go do it.

You may just find this approach quite liberating, making you more productive and helping you develop a more positive attitude about yourself and your life.

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Yes I Can

Naturally, most of us hesitate making decisions, independent on what social status we have or what our personal circumstances are. Furthermore, most of us dream about having a different life and make changes which in turn we keep postponing to the next day, then to the next, and eventually we accept things that we could change but simply won’t tackle.

But why do we hesitate?

Many of us make new year resolutions, such as exercising from now on, quit smoking or spend more time with the family. We promise to ourselves to change our style of living by sleeping more or eating healthier food. But often these resolutions are forgotten before we even start employing them.

But why do we hesitate?

The human brain loves habits, and when we do things over and over again and they “work”, the body is naturally in a less stressed state and can reduce adrenalin production. In this homeostasis it is easier for the body to keep the endocrine system in balance and our hormones at a static level. We get “used to things”. Just as we learned how to speak and to walk at a very young age, our brain goes through the same plastic changes when we learn new things and habits and then stick to them.

But what we do is not always good for us. If one is overweight, keeping the same eating habits will not be good for health but the brain can find it hard to adjust to a different style of living.

So we often try to change things and …. why do we hesitate?

This question has been answered now. Our hormonal balance will fight against changing habits.

For example. Cutting sugar from your diet is hard, despite proven scientific evidence that a “sugar addiction” is not an addiction in a classical sense as sugar does not directly alter brain chemistry. But are such statements really true?

Sugar DOES alter brain chemistry. By directly having en effect on the endocrine system and the levels of the hormones adrenalin, noradrenalin and insulin in our blood, it very well alters body and also brain chemistry. True, it does that in an indirect fashion, but withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings due to sugar lows are serious physical consequences.

But there are also decisions that have less severe physical effects and still … we hesitate.

Once a very dear friend of mine told me a story. She was at a very young age and told her mother that taking a decision only takes a split second and that what takes so much time is our pondering about making a decision.

But be assured, things do not change unless facts change and us thinking about taking decisions over and over again is certainly a waste of time at the best of times. Make a decision and stick to it and it will only take you very little time.

And yes, it is as simple as that. YES YOU CAN. YES I CAN. YES WE CAN.

Another very simple piece of information may also help you with this process. There are no right or wrong decisions. Decisions have consequences, but there is no wrong or right. Decisions are by definition neither good or evil.

Consider the consequences, weigh the facts and make the decision in a split second. Do it now rather than later. Our minds are strong and we can overcome hurdles such as brain chemistry with the power of our mind and thought. Do it and don’t look for excuses why you cannot. At the end of the day you just cheat yourself.

Even Barack Obama used this as a simple message in his last electoral campaign. Of course you can and the only thing holding you back is yourself.

Live your life or others will live it for you.

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An Exercise in Being Assertive

I dare you to be assertive. Don’t be aggressive or selfish, just recognise that you should be getting the same respect that you give. You deserve as much recognition as other people do. By asking to be treated in a certain way, by speaking out, you aren’t being unreasonable. You’re just making yourself equal with others. No matter what people say to you or what you think about yourself, you are not worth anything less than the people around you. You deserve respect.

Be assertive and you can send a steak back when it’s overcooked. You can ask a sales assistant for a different sized shoe. More importantly, you can tell friends when they’ve upset you instead of ignoring them. You can stop disrespectful behaviour from your partner before it escalates into something worse. You can stand up for yourself, because you deserve it.

A good way to start being assertive is to figure out where your line is. Where are your boundaries? What is unacceptable behaviour?

This is a simple exercise that will help you figure it out. All you need is a pen and paper.

Think about what you do not want people to do to you. Write down a list of behaviours under this title:

“People are NOT allowed to…”

You can have separate lists for friends and romantic partners, for colleagues or family, as certain behaviour is appropriate from some people in your life and not from others.

Give yourself all the time you need. The things on your list can be tiny, like borrowing your clothes without asking, or big, like unwanted sexual contact. Whatever would make you feel small, upset, angry or embarrassed needs to go on your list.

These are your lines. Now you have a black-and-white list of things that you do NOT want in your relationships. Next time someone crosses the line, tell them! If they continue to break your boundaries, you will be able to clearly see the ways in which they are disrespecting you and do something about it.

This is being assertive: protecting yourself, teaching other people respect and taking an important step to better self-esteem.

 

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A Metaphor for Self-Esteem

Where does your self-image come from?

If your opinion of yourself often comes from what people say to you and how they treat you, then perhaps you will find this idea helpful.

Imagine yourself as a blank canvas. When you hear negative comments, if you take them to heart and start to believe them, you are letting others splash paint on your canvas. They can make of you what they like; your sense of who you are is then defined by other people’s opinions. This is their arrogance winning over your confidence; it leaves you confused, doubting, miserable and self-loathing. You are allowing them to tell you who you are. You have no control and no significance in your own life.

Truthfully, your canvas is not blank. You are covered in complex painted images, accumulated throughout your life. You are a painting, complex and unique in your own way. You are the only one who holds the paintbrush, because your self-esteem is all in your own mind. The only one who is living your life, the only one who has the right to decide what you are is you. People may mistake you for a blank canvas but that simply isn’t true. You are a complete painting already, with your own talents, interests, values and thoughts.

All paintings invite interpretation. That’s as far as others can go; they can interpret you, but they cannot change what’s on your canvas. Art critics are not painters. Some people enjoy portraits, some enjoy nature scenes. Just because someone does not understand or appreciate your personality, they do not change you. You are no less valuable. Some people hate Picasso’s paintings but he is still one of the greatest artists in history. His work speaks for itself.

What’s on your canvas? What do you believe in, what are you good at and what have you done in your life? Nobody can change those things. Frame your painting, study it, and own it. It’s the only one of its kind.

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