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Have you ever worried about how you’re going to feel when you do something for the first time, expecting that you can’t do it, that you’ll mess it up or that you’ll be terrified doing it? And then when it comes to actually doing that thing, you were right? You couldn’t do it, you messed up or you were terrified? I think we have all experienced this at some point in our lives. Often when we have this experience we feel justified in having the worries leading up to it. But what if those worries actually caused it all to go to pot in the first place?

“Our worries become self fulfilling prophecies, propelling us toward the very disaster they predict”~ Daniel Goleman

A self fulfilling prophecy is defined as a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behaviour.

In the psychology and hypnosis world, this is known as response expectancy, where basically you experience what you expect to experience.

“I don’t believe it.” ~ Luke | “That is why you fail.” ~ Yoda

If you truly believe in your heart that you cannot do something, then as Yoda said, you will fail. It’s the perfect self fulfilling prophecy or dysfunctional response expectancy.

But it’s not just about our expectations or beliefs determining if we succeed or fail at something. The expectations that we have in our lives can be a contributing cause of a number of psychological problems. However, they are also how we can over come them. And that is good news for us!

If you expect to feel anxious when you give a presentation at work, meet someone for the first time, or have a tooth removed, for example, then it is very likely that you will experience symptoms of anxiety to some degree. It also means that the next time these things come up, you might assume that you will have a repeat performance of last time. And that’s exactly what happens. And now you’re far beyond the point of your bog standard anxiety. Now you’re anxious about being anxious. Perhaps you go over all the past experiences where it didn’t go according to plan, continue to worry about all the worse case scenarios ahead of the situations, and even start to become fearful of these situations and avoid them if you can. Things get worse. And the cycle repeats. You can really see how a problem can develop, can’t you? Dysfunctional response expectancies have been shown to partially cause and maintain anxiety (Reiss & McNally, 1985) and depression (Teasdale, 1985).

Changing these negative expectations are an important part of therapy (Kirsch, 1994) and helping to overcome issues such as anxiety, phobias and depression.

Here are a handful of ways that you can change your expectations so that you can have a different experience, one that is more positive:

1. Build awareness of your thoughts. We get used to what and how we are thinking. When we have no awareness at all, our thoughts can continue unchecked and this can be quite detrimental if our thoughts are negative. Quite often our thoughts can run away with themselves. I often find that just by talking about thoughts with my clients they start to become much more aware of them. I give my clients a postcard with the word “Think” on it for them to put up around their home or at work which acts as a prompt for them to just check in with what is going through their mind at that point. This starts to become a more familiar process to them then.

2. Monitor your thoughts. Each day, write down any negative thoughts. Once you have an awareness of when you are thinking negatively about a situation or yourself you can start to do something about them.
3. Question your thoughts. Where is the thought getting you? Is it contributing to/maintaining a self fulfilling prophecy?
4. Open up to the possibility of another outcome. What if there was another outcome, one which is more positive, calm, and supportive in helping you to feel better about yourself and the situations you find yourself in? Think about whether there is another plausible outcome? How would you like things to be?
5. See the positive outcome as a real possibility. How will focusing on how you would like things to be help you? Can these thoughts create a positive self fulfilling prophecy?
6. Visualise the positive outcome. Spend some time visualising your self, believing that that positive outcome is a real possibility for you, imagine yourself accepting these new positive thoughts 100% and see this reality start to unfold in your mind.
7. Review your positive thoughts/goal daily. Post your new thoughts and positive outcome up on the wall somewhere at home or perhaps on your phone so that you can read them each day to help reinforce this new way of thinking.

Now you have this new positive mindset in place, it’s a matter of practice and repetition of thinking and imagining this to be your reality so that you can experience those very positive things you were expecting to happen in reality. Here, a positive cycle is then established. Slowly but surely you overcome that old problem. And you go from strength to strength, feeling calmer, more in control, and with a more positive mindset.

If you would like to find out more about hypnotherapy and how I help you to create positive expectations about your future situations contact abbeyhypnosissheffield.co.uk

Imagine being able to put Anxiety into the past with a 3 minute exercise. Over half of my clients are seeing me for anxiety relief. It seems as though the scourge of society today is anxiety/panic attacks. And yes depression or the symptoms of depression are there as well but I want to focus on the impact that anxiety has on people everyday. I have taught hundreds of clients how to control and alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and panic attack and I’d like to share one technique with you now.

Anxiety is affecting more and more people every day but it doesn’t have to be that way. Anxiety is NOT a part of the conscious mind. It resides in the unconscious mind. The most common symptoms that someone experiencing anxiety or panic are:

  • tightening of the chest muscles leading to shortness of breath and heart palpitations,
  • Sweaty palms,
  • A rolling or uncomfortable feeling in the stomach … sometimes nausea,
  • Tightening of the neck and shoulder muscles leading to having a light head or tension headaches.

If you want to have control rather than being out of control, I’ll walk you through the steps.

  1. Close your eyes and allow yourself to focus on the anxious feeling. Where in your body is it located?  Now focus on (or observe) where the feeling of fear or anxiety starts.
  2. Imagine that there is a wheel spinning in the location of that feeling. eg chest, stomach. The wheel could be metal, wood, plastic or whatever you imagine it to be. And see or be aware of how it moves, and how it spins.
  3. Increase that spinning feeling, getting faster and faster … now see that you have the ability to take it out of your body so that it is now spinning in front of you.
  4. Then count to 3 and flip it upside down so that it is spinning in a different direction, then change its colour to a calming colour (your choice), keep the spinning going faster and faster then imagine pulling this spinning wheel back into your body keeping the spinning going in this new direction.
  5. Now as if you were applying a handbrake, slow the spinning down to a leisurely pace … and notice that your breathing … and heart beat has slowed as well. And just before the wheel stops you can open your eyes.

As you bring your focus to your breathing … be aware of what you are now feeling.

If anxiety is an unwanted element of your day, you can put it into the past with effective Hypnotherapy. Give hypnosis a go. It might be one of  better decisions. For more information on Stress and Anxiety check out the link http://abbeyhypnosissheffield.co.uk/

When you are in the midst of a problem, it seems reasonable that you would worry. You’re only human after all. A small amount of worry is ok when it is productive but when it starts to be all that you do, going over and over things, trying to solve the problem but not getting anywhere with it, it can become detrimental. In fact, it can keep you in the problem for longer.

Before we go any further, let’s look at what worrying is. The dictionary definition of worrying is to feel or cause to feel anxious or troubled about actual or potential problems.

Our thoughts have a lot to answer for. They are, as the definition above states, what can cause us to feel anxious or troubled about something. Your thoughts are not innocuous, falling on deaf ears as you think them. Sure they are just words but they are words with power. You know all too well that your thoughts affect you in a number of different ways. They affect your emotions and behaviours but also impact you on a physiological level too.

I talk a lot about thoughts with my hypnotherapy clients, how they can be more aware of them, identify any thinking errors they might be having, disputing the negative thoughts and ultimately restructuring them into something more supportive and useful for them.

I have lost count of the times that clients tell me that worrying helps them. This is quite a commonly held belief among people with stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, holding this belief can be quite limiting. If you think worrying is helpful, then you’re going to want to keep doing it and then you’ll be stuck with the anxiety or stress for even longer. Here I am going to talk about some of the most commonly held beliefs about worrying.

Worrying Helps to Prepare Me
Anxious people often believe that worrying helps to prepare them for situations and events. I get that you want to be prepared for things. And thinking about upcoming situations can indeed be useful to ensure that you have everything in order. However, worrying about it all the time and thinking about all those what-ifs doesn’t help you be more prepared. Just think about all those times where something happened spontaneously and you were able to handle it. You weren’t able to worry about it beforehand because you didn’t know it was going to happen but everything turned out ok. There are so many ways that you can help prepare yourself both physically and mentally for something that doesn’t involve worry.

Worrying Helps Prevent Bad Things from Happening
Some people think that thinking the worst is a good thing because then when something bad happens, they aren’t surprised (and disappointed) by it. Other people with anxiety think that worrying actually helps prevent bad things from happening. Worrying can indeed make you decide not to do something, to avoid a situation. You might think that this is preventing something bad from happening but the avoidance behaviour reinforces your worries, making anxiety worse. This is when fears and phobias can start to form too. There are no guarantees in life and bad things do happen but there are many ways that you can build your resilience and be more in control so that if something does happen, you can cope effectively.

Worrying Motivates Me
There are some people with anxiety who believe that their worrying motivates them to do things. I kind of see their point in that when we have something in our life we don’t want, we can strive to move away from it. However we need to know where we’re heading too otherwise we can lose momentum. But wanting to move away from and towards something and being motivated to do that has a very different result to worrying about the situation you are in or the goal you have set yourself. Let’s say you had a goal to start exercising regular, perhaps do Couch to 5k, in order to get fit. If you worried about every aspect of the programme, what shoes to wear, where to run, who to run with, will you be able to even run for 1 minute, how long will it take for you to get to 5k, is that even possible or are you going to fail and just stay put on that couch. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t bother going for a run at all if I kept thinking all those things. I would not feel motivated. Realistic and measurable goals can help to motivate you, as can focusing on the benefits of whatever it is you want to do.

These are the most commonly held beliefs about worrying that I’ve come across over the years whilst seeing clients. However, there are more. Some people believe that worrying shows that they are a caring person and it becomes a part of their identity. They mistakenly believe that if they stop worrying, people will think that they no longer care about things.

A little like the belief above about how worrying helps you prepare for something, some believe that worrying is an effective way to problem solve, that they are taking action to help them out of their problem. But worrying is not the same as problem-solving and nor is it taking action. Sure there are some similar characteristics perhaps, looking at the pros and cons of something, and the positive and negative what-ifs. However, problem-solving tends to have a goal in mind and is more structured whereas worrying tends to be more chaotic and all over the place with no specific destination in mind.

And another belief is that worrying protects you from negative emotions. But this is so far from the truth. When you’re worrying, how do you tend to feel? Not amazing I bet! You’re experiencing negative emotions as a result of the negative thoughts that you are having. They might be different emotions to the ones that you were trying to avoid but they are negative emotions nonetheless.

Do you recognise any of these beliefs in yourself?

If you are experiencing anxiety or stress, in order to break away from it, you need to be aware of whether you are holding any of these limiting beliefs about worrying and then recognise that worrying gets you into far more trouble than you perhaps once thought. And then it’s time to rethink those beliefs. What would be a more useful belief to have about what worrying does for you?

Just for a minute, think about something that happened recently that you worried about. And ask yourself these questions: What happened? Did the worrying really help you? Did it protect you? Prepare you? Motivate you? Prevent negative emotions or bad things happening? If you hadn’t worried about it, do you really think it would have been worse? Now imagine that you hadn’t worried about it, what do you think the most likely outcome would have been then? Would it have been better, worse or about the same as when you spent all that time and energy worrying?

It is very possible to gain all the perceived benefits that you get from worrying elsewhere. By learning a variety of ways to relax and destress, gain control over your emotions, build confidence and resilience you can become more prepared, motivated, and in control so that you no longer feel the need to worry.