The No1 cause of limiting beliefs

The No1 cause of limiting beliefs

‘Why do you always have to be such a diva?’ the mother hissed at her daughter as the little girl, still in her slightly-too-big school uniform, looked down at the floor and cried. Just a little bit harder.

It was early evening on a Friday in my favourite, end of the week pub tea and unwind venue, in our currently quite sleepy seaside town.

I’ve a finely practiced ear for listening in to other people’s conversations; the habits of former newspaper reporters die hard. Pubs are a primary source of what’s going on beneath social surface so I’m frequently doing this without even realising.

And on the surface that’s just a mother losing her temper with a child who’s having a moment. The whole family trailed out the pub, the menus abandoned on the table, because the little girl clearly couldn’t stop crying and the mother wasn’t in a place to manage her child’s distress.

But as a hypnotherapist, I hear more than ‘Why do you always have to be such a diva?’ I hear the seeds of trouble ahead being sown, for a little girl who may well grow up with a diva streak a mile wide and wonder why she can’t form friendships and relationships the way others can.

Here’s the why.

When we ask a child ‘why are you always slow’. ‘why do you have to be so greedy’, ‘you’re no good at maths, why can’t you even add up?’ they can take on these labels and they can stick. Because at the time they’re just a little kid, they don’t know ‘why’ so they assume that’s their identity and they wear it.

‘I don’t know why I can’t keep up, I must be slow’.
‘I don’t know why I want more, I must be greedy.’
‘I must be terrible at maths because I don’t know why I got that sum wrong.’

How many of us can read perfectly well, but will insist we’re not great at spelling? Where did that come from? When you think about it, how can that be true? Doesn’t make sense, does it, when you apply logic… (having a ‘lightbulb’ moment?).

Children don’t think like adults, their minds work differently. A child of six won’t be able to rationalise why she’s having a meltdown at teatime, after a long day at school (although I could hazard a guess) and she will have no idea why she’s being ‘such a diva’.

Children’s minds don’t develop the ability to think critically and consider abstract ideas until they’re past 11. This sort of reasoning is one of the last to develop, as they mature into young adults. And although  the stages of cognitive development in children may be flexible to an extent, I’d be very surprised if our sobbing little girl, who looked about six or seven, could raise her head and say: ‘I’m not being a diva mummy, I’ve had a long day, my blood sugar levels are somewhere on the floor and frankly I’m overwhelmed by the idea of sitting in a crowded pub, when all I want is something to eat and a lie down.’

And so she takes on the shame of the label and it being her fault everyone had to leave. Shaming is very powerful, but it seldom leads to positive outcomes.

Episodes in our childhood where people highly influential in our lives, such as family members, teachers or even other kids, label us and shame us are invariably the root cause of limiting beliefs we hold onto in adulthood.

I don’t work with children, but I do work with adults carrying labels they collected as children. I’m fat; I can’t cope, I’m stupid, I’m unloveable… the power of working with clients in hypnosis is they can see the bigger picture, because now they have the ability to apply logic to the scene that set the stage for living with a label that’s not theirs.

They can take off the label, once and for all.

Mind your language! How to ‘let go’ of weight with more ease

Mind your language! How to ‘let go’ of weight with more ease

If you want something, you have to want it. I mean really want it. In capitals. 

And that means creating new ways of thinking and new habits of action that will take you to your goals.

You know this. You’re bright people, I know that. 

And you’ll know, when the going gets tough; the tough very often get up and stand in front of the fridge or pantry, scanning for what’s got the most carbs in!

Sometimes we can find ourselves in front of that cupboard and we don’t even remember getting up!

Be assured. You are not alone. Because when life gets difficult, your mind will work fiercely to move you away from pleasure and towards pain.

There are ways to make this process a pleasure, not a pain. Tips and tricks which bring your mind on board with the way you want to change so your mind, body and soul are all cheering for you in this journey.

Here’s one – stop equating what you want to stop eating with love.

Anyone who wants to be slim cannot ‘love’ cake. Because here’s what happens every time you have a problem. Your mind starts waving the idea of cake in front of you as a solution.

Because the mind wants you to be happy. If it thinks you love cake, every time someone’s mean to you, every time you feel sad, mind will come up with a solution to make you feel better. It’s called ‘cake’.

If you keep telling yourself ‘food is my best friend’ you will struggle to let go of excess body weight. Every time you say that you are reinforcing your mind’s very literal interpretation of everything you say.

Food is fuel. It is not your best friend. If you don’t have a best friend, if, when you think about it, you feel lonely, that is the emotion that needs your attention. You can call a friend, join a Meetup group if you’re a stranger in town but don’t give food qualities it doesn’t have.

And here’s another. The renown hypnotherapist and author, Marisa Peer, advocates this; don’t say you’re losing weight, say you’re letting go of excess body weight.

They sound similar, but, she argues, the mind associates loss with something bad. We lose money, we lose people, we lose in love… all loss situations are seen by the mind as negatives. But, she says, the mind accepts ‘letting go’ as a liberating and freeing action and so it’s more relaxed and comfortable with that notion.

What do you think? Do you use words around food that hold back your progress?

Do you over eat when you’re sad? How would changing your food associations help you?

A therapist’s top three books for strong mental health

A therapist’s top three books for strong mental health

‘There is no friend as loyal as a book,’ Ernest Hemingway.

Here’s a shocking piece of knowledge for you: you can buy book reviews.

Perhaps you’re not shocked. Perhaps you’re wise to this and you’re rolling your eyes at my apparent naivety.

But for me, this was a ‘have they no shame?’ moment. ‘Books are sacred’, I protest. ‘Don’t pollute the book world. But no, cynical sales leveraging is everywhere.

Apparently, if you look on freelance sourcing sites you can employ people to write reviews for your book. Which they may or may not have read, and flood bookselling sites like Amazon with glittering praise you’ve paid for.

So in the spirit of pushing back the ‘know and trust’ tide, I’m taking a little time to recommend three books I read last year which are worth reading, will give you better insight into mental health and might just change your life for the better.

The Joyous Body: Myths and Stories of the Wise Woman by Clarisa Pinkola Estes

This is the third in the series of four books exploring female archetypes by this extraordinary psychoanalyst who specialises in post-trauma recovery. For any woman past the first flush of womanhood and wise enough to know she’s now being sold a pup by a youth-obsessed culture, this book will be salve to your ears. Masterfully weavng myth, wise words, metaphor and truth into a womanifesto for claiming back power, every woman over 40 should take power from this book.

I have the audio, which is a wonder as the author has a beautifully soothing voice. And she has a podcast, I’ve just discovered. More manna.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Everyone I know who has read this book is a raving fan. If you’re stretched too thin, facing burn out, sick of your own patterns of overwhelm, read this book. It’s a keeper. You’ll come back over and over again. Yes, here are one or two moments when you realise he’s missed the point (the Concorde argument comes to mind) but this book is more than 90 per cent gold.

Conscious Living by Gay Hendricks

I read the Big Leap first, which is really about helping you understand why improving your lot can freak you out and is useful, but Conscious Living is a game changer. Here’s a man unafraid of being authentic. In a filter-obsessed world, Gay Hendricks is an elixir in the 21st century with an easy to digest guide to living life. In this book he tells his own story, his own mistakes and his journey to becoming a counsellor and Stamford professor. 

I’ve read many more books, but these are the best of my 2018 list. Many have been good, but would I, on reflection, pass on the baton? I enjoyed Johann Hari’s Lost Connections, and well written and researched though it may be, controversial and confrontational though it most certainly is, it doesn’t make my top three. Nor does Russell Brand’s Recovery. Maybe I’m just a little long in the tooth for brash young men who can’t resist waving their egos about with a ‘look at me, mummy’ sadness. Maybe you love them, millions do and they undoubtedly have views to add to the mental health debate.

So there are my top three from last year’s book pile. Which are yours? Which books were your rescue? I’d love to hear.