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Blog. Self reflection

The End of the Year: A Time to Reflect

It’s almost the end of the year. Christmas is just days away now and life can feel pretty frantic as we try to get organised for the Big Day!

Thankfully, Christmas can also be a time when life slows down a little, giving us an opportunity to relax. And to reflect on the year gone by and on where we are, before getting ready to start planning for the year ahead. What went well this year?

Self-reflection is one of the best things you can do to create a positive mind-set and to connect with yourself.

Socrates said that in order to live a balanced life one must ‘Know thyself’

Keeping it Positive

Modern research demonstrates that people who are open to new experiences and who use regular reflection on their daily experiences are better able to control their emotional responses. I use this research finding in all my Solution Focused therapy sessions. My opening question is “What’s been good about your week?” This question encourages my clients to reflect on their experiences in a positive way. They start to develop self reflection skills so that they notice positive changes and experiences in their daily lives.

Self-reflection also allows us to look back and see where we have come from. It helps us to see how far we have progressed and what we have achieved.

It is important to understand that self-reflection is not the same as negative introspection. We talk about introspection in our sessions as a stress-bucket filler! Instead self-reflection is a positive state of self-awareness. It is an ability to focus on and to draw on our strengths, skills, values and emotions to achieve our goals.

There are many ways to practise self-reflection. Some people choose to meditate. To dedicate some quiet time without interruption to focus on themselves. Others choose to use reflective diaries or journals to record their journey.

Making Self-Reflection Effective

For self-reflection to be effective, it is important to ask the right questions and to give honest answers. This will then lead to self-awareness and an opportunity for personal growth.

I am always delighted to receive messages from clients who contact me to let me know how they are getting on. It is fantastic to hear how they have achieved new goals since they finished their sessions. Sometimes it’s to let me know that they have passed exams or got a new job or put themselves forward for promotion. Many clients have been able to overcome addictions. They come to realise that their addiction no longer controls them. They are just living their life! Sometimes it’s just a message to say that they feel happier or calmer, or that they are sleeping better.

All these messages demonstrate that an effective process of positive self-reflection enabled them to take note of the changes they had made in their lives.

So What’s Been Good About Your Year?

Perhaps this Christmas when all the rushing around is done and before you start to plan or make resolutions for next year, you could ask yourself this question. What’s been good about your year?

Starting a process of effective self-reflection which could lead to positive changes in your life.


Blog. Brain

Getting the Most from your Brain. It's the Little Things that Matter!

During the October half term break I visited the Natural History Museum with my 4-year old daughter. She wants to become a doctor so, after marvelling at the dinosaurs, we headed to the Human Biology exhibition. It was fascinating and demonstrates how amazing we humans really are!

The section that interested me the most was The Human Brain. Recent advances in neuroscience are truly phenomenal and I’d like to share with you how my work as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist is informed by these advances and our ever-increasing understanding of how the brain works.

How Our Brains Develop

Our brains are not completely formed when we are born. The brain develops based on what we experience in our lives. So, the brain is created not just from our genetic makeup, but from our environment too. Our biology and our life experience work together to create our intelligence, our
emotions, and our outlook on life.

Our experiences physically mould our brain. This means that we can learn and achieve more, and experience greater success and happiness through our own efforts. You just need to understand this to be able to achieve more (Rattan, Good, & Dweck, 2012; Shively & Ryan, 2012).

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body and there is lots for us still to learn about it. The brain produces our every thought, action, memory, feeling and experience - billions of pieces of data. Thankfully, part of the brain is the Reticular Activating System (RAS), a bundle of nerves at our brainstem filters all the sensory information that we receive. The RAS makes decisions about what it’s important to keep and what can be discarded.

Blog. Yellow car

RAS - The Brain's Decision Maker!

The RAS bases its decisions on the things that we focus on most

For example, you buy a new car that is yellow. All of a sudden you see lots of other yellow cars on the roads! It’s not that yellow cars have suddenly become very popular since you got your yellow car! It’s just that you didn’t notice them before. Now that you have a yellow car, yellow cars become relevant to you, and your RAS sends the visual information on yellow cars to your conscious mind.

This means that we can use our RAS to notice more of what we want and less of what we don’t want.

We get what we expect! If we focus on our problems:

  • Feeling anxious
  • Lacking confidence
  • Unable to lose weight
  • Not meeting that special someone

    This is what your RAS will focus on. Your RAS will find ways to reinforce these thoughts and to prove to you that they are true.
    If on the other hand, you want to feel less anxious, be more confident, lose weight, or meet that special someone, your brain needs some details.

    Positive thinking is not enough. Set yourself a clear goal, and flesh it out with specific details to direct your RAS towards that goal. Then your brain will be on your side, finding ways to reinforce that positive message.

  • How to Influence Your Reticular Activating System

    Your Reticular Activating System cannot distinguish between real events and imagined events.

    It will believe whatever message you present to it.

  • Focus on what you want …in detail. The brain needs the detail to create a realistic picture
  • Think about your strengths. And what’s going well for you. Ask yourself “What’s been good about my week?”
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Seeing happiness and positivity in others will create those feelings in ourselves (Giacomo Rizzolatti and Laila Craighero)
  • Prioritise sleep and relaxation. High levels of anxiety or negativity can cause our RAS to become temporarily distorted, and to look for other high anxieties or negativities through association and conditioning. If however, we focus on relaxation, and positive thoughts, words and images, we will feel more calm and in control. Sleep is the most effective way to empty our stress buckets and to start our day positively.

    Solution Focused Hypnotherapy focuses on the solution to a client’s problem, not the problem itself. It encourages the client to create goals, to identify their strengths and to focus on a solution. We are all capable of change, no matter what obstacles we face.

    Hypnotherapy is a highly effective way to encourage your brain’s RAS to move you towards your goals. Hypnosis can empower you to bring about the positive changes and positive outcomes that you desire.

    As you can see, I incorporate the recent findings of brain research into my work as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist so that my clients are able to make effective change in their lives. The research is complex, so the therapy is tailored for each client, to make it easy to follow and manageable for each individual.

    If you are working towards a new challenge or hoping to achieve a specific goal, contact me on 07850 995869 for an initial consultation to find out more about how I could help you.

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