Mental Health Revolution – A Principle Based Approach

Mental Health Revolution – A Principle Based Approach

As the client sat in front of me it dawned on my that we might need a mental health revolution. I heard about the previous therapeutic support they had received. This person had experienced an unpleasant event a few years earlier. The diagnosis they had was PTSD and they had been seeing a therapist for about six sessions. Part of their therapy was to write a script of the unpleasant event and read this on a daily basis for homework! Strange to relate, they had felt worse since the therapy began.

Mental Health Therapy Now

Unfortunately, I was not surprised by this approach to mental health. Revisiting unpleasant events as a treatment for people like this is not uncommon. I have heard many stories of this kind over the last few years.

I am not telling you this story to criticise therapists. Most therapists want to help people. The issue is that they have a misunderstanding of how the mind works. A misunderstanding about where our daily experience of life is coming from. More on that soon!

I am telling this story only as someone who now helps clients improve their mental health. I am telling you this as someone who has been there. In 2015, when I was a headteacher, I burnt out! I experienced stress for such a long time that I managed to wreck my adrenal gland. My diagnosis said depression and I was off work for a year whilst I tried everything to recover.

I spent hours talking about what was wrong with me and where it might have come from. The aim is to find answers (in the past) and move on. But poking and prodding the issue didn’t help. I had talked a lot but didn’t feel any better.

It seems to me now that talking about what is wrong with us, over and over again, doesn’t help. It’s like putting fuel at the bottom of the fire whilst trying to put it out with a hose at the top.

I spent years trying to feel okay. Even after I recovered from burnout, I still felt like there was something not right about me. I engaged in more therapy and also entered the world of self-help. This made me feel like an ongoing project. A to-do list of self-development. Can you relate to this?

Psychological Principles

But then I learnt a set of psychological principles. They have brought me to a place of confidence, clarity and deep inner peace I never realised was possible. What I have learnt has the potential to revolutionise the way we help people improve mental health.

The first principle is that we create 100% of our experience through thought in the moment.

So that’s why the approaches above often don’t help. Because they make us think more about the issue and that makes us feel worse. When you think about something, you will experience feelings associated with that. Your past unpleasant experience cannot exist other than in your thinking. So, if you want to feel better, not thinking about your past experience has to be a step in the right direction; right?

The difference between theory and principle

Psychological theories are many and there has been much research in this arena. The missing link has always been principles of psychology.

Here’s an analogy which might help. Many, many years ago, the medical world did not know about germs. As a result of this, they tried all sorts of things to stop infections in their patients. Some things helped a bit but people still died from infections in their droves.  This was because doctors and surgeons didn’t know about the principle of germs. Once they knew, they cleaned up and changed their practises. A lot less people died and the medicine moved forward with the principle of germs as a bedrock.

We create 100% of our experience through thought in the moment.

This is a principle of psychology in the same way as germ theory is a principle of medicine. It is happening all the time whether we know or believe it is. Without principles, psychologists and therapists have tried everything to help people. But they didn’t find anything which helped everyone. These principles will revolutionise mental health practises like germ theory did for medicine.

Every person working to help people overcome mental illness is doing their best. But like the surgeons of the past, it is less effective because they are missing these principles. We don’t need to know what experience in the past created a thought. We need guidance to see that we create our experience 100% of the time through thought in the moment

Imagine if we based all our help for mental illness on these principles.

Imagine how that would simplify things.

Imagine if it didn’t matter where in the past a thought originated from.

So, how does this work?

Because these are principles, they work a bit like gravity! We don’t go around thinking about how to function in a world which has gravity. We have an embodied understanding which we learnt way before covered it at school. We can get on better in life if we work within the principle of gravity and don’t try to fight it. It means we don’t spend the day walking through the remnants of the things we have dropped and broken. Life is easier.

It’s also easier when you know that you are creating 100% of your experience through thought in the moment.

But hang on a minute, I hear you cry. People just need to spend time in therapy so they can learn to control their thinking and feel better. What are the tools and techniques for this?

I can understand why you might be thinking that is the case. You might have spent years and years trying various techniques to help you feel better. I tried affirmations, gratitude journals, mediation, tapping, yoga and more. I got so caught up that I reached the point where I didn’t think I would ever be okay without those practices. Can you relate to this?

You cannot control your thinking

Have you ever noticed the randomness of your thoughts? Do you ever get a funny thought about the past pop up? You notice it and move on. Then another thought pops into your head!

This arrival of thoughts into your mind at random is the principle of mind. You might believe this is the wiring and firing of neurons or an energetic power much greater than you. Either way, you cannot control your thinking.

Some random thoughts from the past feel easy to let pass, don’t they? But have you noticed that some thoughts feel like a command or a fact about the outside world? Then we add more thinking into the mix. We get caught up in a thought storm and start to experience unpleasant sensations.

But thoughts are random. You do not get to control them. When you let them, thoughts flow through your mind. As each thought passes, another one arrives in its place. This is the nature of how we work. Trying to control your thoughts using tools and techniques is something else you can let go of.

The one thing you can do is choose where to focus your attention because …

… you are not your thinking

In fact, you can finally let go of the impact your thoughts have on you when you realise one more thing.

You are not your thinking!

You are the awareness of your thinking!

But YOU ARE NOT YOUR THINKING!

This is the third principle. The principle of consciousness. The fact that you are the one aware of the thoughts! That the thoughts are not part of you no matter how long they have been around.

When you realise that you are the awareness of thought, it’s like shining a light on your thinking. And that has an almost magical effect. It makes the thoughts melt away and seem less powerful. It’s a bit like the way the heroes in the movie defeat the Gremlins. All you have to do is expose your thought Gremlins to the light that you are and ‘poof’!

And the joy of this is that you are only ever one thought away from remembering who you are. Only one thought away from reconnecting to the mental health that is always there. One thought away from confidence, clarity and inner peace.

Every single one of us has innate mental health. It’s only ever a thought away.

No-one is anxious or has anxiety; they have anxious thinking.

No-one is depressed or has depression; they have depressing thinking.

No-one is suicidal; they have suicidal thoughts.

This is not underestimating the impact this has on those who are suffering. It’s about saying that we are stuck in a way of helping them that is never going to quite get there. It won’t whilst we work with a misunderstanding about where experience is coming from.

What next for mental health?

In a world of therapy without this understanding, there is a search for answers. There is a reliance on techniques and a sense that we need to fix people. With this understanding, there is a feeling of optimism. There is a sense that everyone is well other than their thinking sometimes takes them away from that.

And as I spend time with people guiding them towards this understanding I notice that in action. How someone who feels lost and sick can settle and find peace so fast. And as someone who has been there myself and helped so many others, that’s all I ever want. I don’t really want to start a revolution. It’s more of a gentle wave. But I do want to see things change and fewer people suffer.

So, if you are reading this as someone who helps people or someone who would like to feel different, get in touch. An hour of my time costs you nothing but could make all the difference.

You can book a 121 to find out more about my approach here or start your journey to mental wellbeing by booking a discovery session here.

Be Less Stressed Like Animals in Nature

Be Less Stressed Like Animals in Nature

Animals do not experience stress in the same way as us humans. Here’s a little bit about why and how you can be less stressed like animals.

Imagine the scene …

It’s the African Savanna and the gazelle is minding its own business, eating the grass. Then there is a rustle in the grass and the gazelle smells fear. Inside the gazelle, the flight or fight systems are kicking into gear. A lion is nearby. Of course, the gazelle isn’t going to fight the lion so he sets off running. Every part of the gazelle wants it to survive. Adrenaline is pumping and cortisol is helping as the gazelle’s stress levels reach a peak. Every bit of energy goes into the process of flight. There is no thought, only action.

A happy ending…

The good news is that today is the gazelle’s lucky day. The lion is not on top form and the gazelle outruns her and gets away. A short time after the incident, the gazelle is back on the Savanna munching the grass and 100% chilled out.

The gazelle is not:

  1. Ruminating about what happened
  2. Worrying about whether it will happen again
  3. Creating an imaginary stressful incident inside his head

Human stress

This is the complete opposite of how the majority of human beings react to events. We can create the same level of stress as the hunted gazelle with only the power of our minds. We do this by thinking! Negative thinking about the past or the future can create an adrenaline and cortisol rush the same as that fleeing gazelle.

Stress is bad for you

This is not good for your health. Being stressed reduces our immune response and stops us sleeping. It makes it harder to concentrate and affect your mental health.

What can you do to be less stressed like animals?

The main difference between us and animals is that they live in the present. They react to what is happening around them in the moment and do not spend time in the past or future. Here are my top tips to help you live in the present and be less stressed like animals.

Meditate

I know I go on about this but meditation is one of the best ways to teach your brain to be present. Meditation teaches you to move your attention from the thoughts to the body and breath. Once you can do this in isolation, it gets easier to do it in everyday life.

Breath

If you feel yourself getting lost in time travel thinking, try deliberate breathing. Breath in for four, hold for four, breath out for four and hold for four (and repeat). Keep going until you notice your mind slowing down.

Slow down

Try slowing down and noticing what is happening around you. Pause for a moment and focus on each sense at once. Notice:

  • Five things that you can see.
  • Four things that you can feel.
  • Three things you can hear.
  • Two things you can smell.
  • One thing you can taste.

Be grateful

Pause for a moment and take some time to think about all the things you have to be grateful for. List 5 things in your head and notice how you feel.

Mindful eating

Whenever you sit down to eat, make sure you savour every aspect of your food. Start by noticing the colour and shape of your food. As you cut into it or bite it, notice the sound it makes. Feel the texture in your mouth and the taste on your tongue. Enjoy every moment of eating. Not only will this help you feel less stressed, but it will also help you eat less by noticing more.

These are a few tips to help you be less stressed like animals. I hope you have found them useful.

Find out about how I can help you be less stressed like animals

If your stress levels are high and affecting your ability to be healthy and happy, I can help. Please contact me or book your complimentary discovery session today.

Habit Creation Top 10 Tips for Happiness and Health

Habit Creation Top 10 Tips for Happiness and Health

We all know that habit creation can be tricky. I am sure you have tried lots of times to establish new ones and never got to the habit stage. Whether it is eating better, exercising more or writing every day, these top tips to change a habit will help.

Why we need good habits

Having a set of positive habits in your life makes a huge difference in your health and happiness. The simple reason is that habits are what we default to when we are under stress. If your healthy behaviour is habitual, you are much more likely to carry it out at stressful times.

Be clear on the benefits/ consequences

Don’t choose a habit on a whim. Make sure you are clear about the benefits and consequences related to the habit. What will happen if you do not change your habit? How wonderful will life be with this new habit in place? How will it improve your health and happiness? Get clear on how this habit will impact on your life.

Write it down

It is much easier to make things stick in your mind if you write them down. Put your new habit on a post-it (or many) and put it where you will see it often. Even when you don’t notice it your subconscious mind will be taking it in. This will really increase your habit creation ability.

Start small

Do not try to make huge changes in your habits overnight. When you do this, your mind resists the change and you end up failing. Start small! If you want to start exercising, do not decide to go to the gym 5 times a week. Start by committing to put your kit on and do something! 10 sit-ups will do to start with. Start very small and have a slow build-up to allow your mind to adapt to the change.

Keep going for 30 days

Keep your steely determination for 30 days and you will be well on the way to permanent habit creation. Don’t miss more than one day because that will disrupt the flow and knock you off track. Once you get to 30 days, you will notice that the habit is becoming part of your everyday life.

Make your new habit daily

When you are involved in habit creation, it is best to do it every day. This helps your mind to develop that new neural pathway which will make the habit stick.

Find a way to remind yourself

Use the post-it notes above as reminders but also use other tools like alarms and habit tracking APPs. There are lots of tools you can use on your smartphone to remind you to do your new habit. Let your phone be a bit of a nag for a while whilst you are getting going.

Get a buddy

Sometimes we all need some help from our friends. Tell those close to you what you are up to and ask them to help by reminding you and checking up on you. This will be even better if it is someone habit creation same or similar to yours.

Use a trigger

Habits work best with a clear trigger. Your alarm might spark your morning meditation or getting home your exercise routine. Keep the trigger the same so your mind can make the connection between the trigger and the habit.

Allow mistakes

Be patient with yourself. Developing a new habit is a process of mind rewiring. Your mind is neuroplastic but it still takes some effort to change it. Be patient and allow yourself to make mistakes. Make sure you pick yourself up and start again as soon as possible.

Surround yourself with positive people

When you are trying to change any aspect of your life, having positive people around you is vital. Make sure you spend time around people who support your goals. Even better, if they are people who have similar goals to you.

I hope you have found these Habit Change Top 10 Tips. Changing habits can be challenging but if you adopt this strategy it will help.

Still stuck with your habit change process then get in touch now. I can use my powerful mindset change tools to help you change your habits so you can be happy and healthy.

If you are ready to book a complimentary discovery session so you can find out more about how I can help you with habit creation, click here to access my calendar.

Habits You Create Make You Happier

Habits You Create Make You Happier

The Importance of Habits

I think we are all aware of how important habits can be in maintaining our physical health. We all know that some habits, like smoking, drinking alcohol every day and eating takeaways for every meal, can be detrimental. We also have some physical habits which most of us would not be without like brushing our teeth and taking a shower. Many of us spend a lot of time trying to increase the healthy habits in our life like getting more exercise, eating more fruit and vegetables and getting to bed earlier. I suspect many of us have at least one physical habit we are trying to install in our lives at any point in time.

Habits Create Freedom

This is probably because we realise that habits are important. When we install a good habit, it frees us from the swings and fortunes of that old devil called ‘willpower’ and its illusive little friend, ‘motivation’. When those two are absent, our habits are what we fall back on. When we are ill, tired or stressed, we will fall back into our habits which is why it is important to have as many good ones as possible. The other thing about good habits is that they free you up to think, to create, to problem solve and to tackle all that stuff that pops up in average days in our lives.

Habits Make You Who You Are

Your habits also make you who you are. If you have habits which help you to overcome procrastination, you will become an organised person. If you have habits which get you being active regularly, you will become a fit person. if your habits mean that you eat good, nutritious food, you will be a healthy person. When Aristotle said, ‘We are what we repeatedly do.’ he was utterly correct.

What this Looks Like in Reality

A great example of this has come up for me in the last few days. I developed an awful stomach upset a few days ago which has left me feeling washed out and weak but, I have still meditated every day and the last two days got up, got into my workout gear and did some yoga. Both habits I probably did on a lesser scale, but I still did them. The key to this is that I am not saying I am tough or strong to keep doing these things, it is just that now, these things are who I am! To not do them would be so much stranger than doing them. As I already said, once a habit is established, it becomes part of your hardwiring and is just what you do. You will all have habits you can relate to like this. Ones like brushing your teeth for example. The sort of habit where you just know you would not feel right if you didn’t do it.

I suspect that many of you would love to feel like that about a healthy habit you have been trying to establish for a while but I also imagine that you can’t remember how the habit of brushing your teeth became established because you were very young at the time and began doing it way before conscious thought and internal blocks began in your mind.

How Do We Establish a New Habit

I have recently been reading a lot about habit formation and the most important thing I have learnt is … start ridiculously small.

If you have ever made a commitment to go to the gym several times per week (probably as a New Year’s resolution) and failed, you may have realised that some changes are just too big for our minds to accept. It feels too hard to make such a big change because your mind suspects that you are trying to change your personality overnight and it just will not accept that. We all have a set of beliefs and values particularly about ourselves and if you try to change those too quickly and drastically, your mind kicks back and point-blank refuses. To overcome this, start very, very small. It’s a bit like making a stealth attack on your belief system, sneaking in the back door, under cover of darkness, completely undetected.

How Small is Small?

Let’s continue with the concept of exercise. In order to sneak past the guards protecting your belief system (where the belief that you are a lazy layabout who doesn’t exercise is held!), you could start by just putting on your workout gear and trainers and standing at the place where exercise will start. In his book, ‘Mini Habits’, Steven Guise just commits to one press-up each day but consistently did so much more on each occasion he started small. When you have done that, you will probably notice an urge to do some exercise but still stay small. One sit-up will easily sneak past the guards but if you tell yourself you are going for a 2-mile run now, it might be too much. You can play about with this – setting your very small habit goal each day until that feels utterly comfortable. What you will notice over time, is that you consistently do more that your very small habit but never change the small goal as that will be your fall-back habit when the going gets tough.

Change the Beliefs You Have About Yourself

The key here is to overcome the self-sabotaging blocks you have to exercise; to change who your mind thinks you are. Once you establish your small habit, your mind stops believing that you are that lazy layabout, and the resistance to exercise is reduced. Remember that the key to this initially is not the exercise itself but changing the belief and establishing a new habit.

By starting small, you can begin to change who you think you are and establish a whole set of new habits which can help you thrive and be happy.

Ready to change your habits and be happy and healthy, get in touch with me and let me help. If you’re really ready to be happy and healthier through changing your habits, book your complimentary discovery session here.

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