Treat Your Flying PhobiaIf you are seeking ways to treat your flying phobia, it will require a complete reassessment of some essential issues: how you perceive flying in a plane, the management of your own anxiety and the underlying beliefs that are influencing your reaction. Having a ‘fear of flying’ recognises that when you fly, you suffer with high anxiety. The phobic flyer however avoids flying completely and is extremely distressed when they go anywhere near a plane. They may even suffer anxiety when friend or family member takes a flight. This is the major distinguishing factor between a fear and a phobia: when you have a fear, you somehow manage to get through, whereas when you have a phobia, you keep away! Since you have a flying phobia, let’s consider that for some time, you have abandoned the idea of flying in a plane. You are a master of avoidance strategies, but you are desperate to change this situation and treat your flying phobia. What are the first few steps that will initiate a change? Here are six stages that will help you face your flying phobia so that you can view it as a more manageable task. Be prepared for some deep self-analysis and a strong determination to acquire your coping skills. It may even require some outside help, but we’ll come onto that later. These ‘treat your flying phobia tips’ draw from my years of experience as a clinical hypnotherapist helping patients overcome their flying phobias in Cardiff with hypnotherapy.
Treat your flying phobia Cardiff #1: Identify your primary beliefVery few flying phobias begin as flying phobias. Flying just happened to fall into the progressive development of an unresolved external fear e.g. a fear of confined spaces. Over time more anxious situations are engulfed by the original fear until any situation can unpredictably set off your panic attack. In your heightened state of alertness, you ultimately ‘panic about panic’, responding to your own internal danger ‘signs’, until no situation appears safe. When you can identify your primary belief however, you are in a better position to confront what is driving your flying phobia. You can then focus on dealing with the primary issue and ignore the minor ones that are fooling your heightened state of alertness. Identifying your primary belief can be achieved with self-hypnosis. Take your time with this visualisation: Imagine a time-line of all your past experiences and as a viewer looking in from the outside, consider all the situations when you first panicked. You may not have realised at the time that it was a panic attack, because you were trying desperately to cope with the situation. You were probably young and felt very distressed. Your mind will have “sited” the situation although you may not have become conscious of it. But it will be there waiting to be identified. Then consider any situations in your past that you made an effort to avoid. With avoidance tendencies, you recognise that there is something uneasy about going into this situation; you just haven’t identified the primary issue behind it. Identifying your primary belief can take you one step closer to being able to treat your flying phobia. If you are struggling with his visualisation, learn some breathing techniques to help you relax and help you use more of your imagination. You can also use this list of fears associated with a fear of flying to help you analyse what lies behind your flying phobia.
Treat your flying phobia Cardiff #2: Manage your anticipatory anxietyDealing with the anxious event whilst it is happening is one thing. Coping with what is ‘churning’ in your mind before the event takes place is the focus of this ‘treat your flying phobia’ tip. Anticipatory anxiety is the worrying that precedes your exposure to a future fearful event. It could be fear of a panic attack or an imagined “catastrophe” when flying. It is ‘real’ anxiety that exists in your mind because common sense tells you that “the flight is not happening right now”, but your emotional history is creating symptoms as if you were experiencing it right now! In an attempt to warn you of this danger, your “fight or flight” stress response ‘kicks in’ and generates more anxiety symptoms. Unfortunately, this extra alertness is adding to your distress because these are the symptoms you are desperately trying to avoid. Externally, nothing is happening yet, but you are causing your own false alarm! Your mind is locked in a circle of “what if’s” that could go wrong in the forthcoming flight (but rarely ever does go wrong in that situation). The continuous red alert created by anticipatory anxiety can disrupt your life in many ways including your concentration, your moods and your sleeping patterns. Hyperventilation, palpitations and IBS are commonly experienced on a daily basis. Even when you are doing something routine, the fearful outcome rises up into your awareness and prepares you for the imminent danger, even though it could actually be weeks away. The irony with anticipatory anxiety is that your worry works against you. Your mind is waking you to the place that it is desperately trying to avoid (usually having a panic attack). Don’t think of an orange, and what happens? You think of an orange! If you associate anxiety with an orange, thinking of an orange will generate your anxiety symptoms. If what you historically associate with flying are imagined catastrophic events and/or panic attacks, then when you think about flying, up surges your anxiety symptoms as a warning of these past/future threats. Anticipatory anxiety plays its part in almost all anxiety-related conditions and situations. When you can recognise anticipatory anxiety’s deceptive nature of avoidance, you are in a better position to release your ‘false alarms’ and deal with the situation in hand (i.e. control your emotions when flying). Here are some ways to manage your anticipatory anxiety when you want to treat your flying phobia: • Separate the present from the past/future Anticipatory anxiety “locks” you into perceiving the build up to the anxious event and the actual fearful situation as one traumatic process. It’s as if you are on a conveyor belt about to be tipped into the fire and the only way to survive it is to avoid it completely. Using this analogy, step off the conveyor belt and break free from the build up (the anticipatory phase). Only then can you consider what you are actually required to do to cope with the situation when it happens. In many cases, you are required to do very little in your phobic situation, as is the case when you fly in a plane. Control your stress symptoms and let the journey take care of itself. • Recognise that being anxious now doesn’t mean it’s going to get worse It’s easy to think that if you are suffering anxiety now and the flight is a month away, your anxiety will only get worse as the flight draws nearer! But this is anticipatory anxiety fooling your mind again. The majority of anxiety is created leading up to and immediately before the phobic situation. In the phobic situation a very different set of resources are required. Consider the situation where your primary fear is of confined spaces. You will have high anticipatory anxiety just before boarding the plane and prior to take-off. But once the plane has taken off, the anticipatory phase has passed. You are now coping with your confined space and can benefit from the exposure to it. If you fear turbulence, you may run a series of anxiety attacks throughout the flight. This is because you will panic when you experience turbulence. You then switch back to anticipatory anxiety, placing yourself on standby waiting for the next sudden movement of the plane. When you focus your coping skills on dealing with turbulence alone, only then can you become more proficient at overcoming it. • Anticipatory anxiety “feelings” can overshadow a successful outcome You already know that previous traumas can keep you on the high alert when facing similar situations again in the future. But what do you take away from the event when the outcome has ended favourably? When the plane has successfully landed at its destination (or you removed the spider from the bathroom), does it mean that you no longer have a phobia? This “light bulb” moment of change can instantly happen in some situations and with some people. This is because the success of the event has altered your deeper beliefs and emotions related to your phobia. But when the success (or the absence of the imagined catastrophe) fails to register with you, it can be because you are measuring the success using your anxiety feelings. It’s as if “you felt anxious at some point, so it must have gone wrong. Better stay on the alert next time just in case!” Inevitably, you stay locked in the anxiety cycle the next time you challenge your phobic situation. Part of the positive re-learning process is to have some anxious feelings, but this doesn’t mean it has failed. Even positive change can create “butterflies”, so expect a degree of anxiety. When you can focus on the success of the outcome, the anticipatory anxiety will no longer keep you locked in anxiety. • Anticipatory anxiety is such a waste of your precious energy You can now identify that anticipatory anxiety is creating a false alarm and fooling you into believing that the worst possible outcome is going to materialise. But the number of times that the imagined catastrophe has actually happened is probably rare (compared to the times that the imagined catastrophe didn’t happen). Until you can appreciate that all of this emotional preparation is unproductive and is a waste of your effort and energy, you’ll continue to stay on the alert, waiting for your past history to repeat itself. What can you do about this? It takes courage to stare anxiety in the face and ignore your anticipatory anxiety warning signals that just serve to distress you. Only then can you focus your effort on how to cope in the situation that is triggering your anxiety when it actually happens. That’s where the positive emotional benefits will be returned to you. Is keeping busy going to help to you manage the anticipatory anxiety? It can, but you have probably found that when you are doing something routine, the anxiety pops up into your awareness. So it’s not the total solution. It’s ironic that in many cases, you are required to do very little in that situation that is triggering your anxiety. When you are sat on the plane, you can use some techniques to control your anxiety and find some activities that help pass the time; and that’s just about it! For those who rely heavily on distraction as a solution, this is where your mind is compromised. Yes, it helps when you can actively engage in activities, but when they are ‘low intensity’ activities, anxiety will worm its way into your consciousness and overwhelm you. So ‘meet’ with your anticipatory anxiety and let it pass through your mind, right out of the other side! You don’t have to battle with it; your energy is too precious!
Treat your flying phobia Cardiff # 3: Commit to desensitising your phobiaThis ‘treat your flying phobia tip’ assumes that you have identified your primary belief related to your flying phobia. Let’s say that your flying phobia has grown out of a fear of confined spaces. You can now begin to approach moderately anxious situations that are confined but without the same intensity as flying (e.g. lifts or other modes of public transport) and re-learn how to desensitise your response. This is classic systematic desensitisation, and provided you are committed to the re-learning process, you can gradually re-build your confidence in progressive stages. Methods of desensitisation involve creating an anxiety scale from one to ten. Ten on the scale would be a highly anxious situation (flying); one would be a calm situation. On the scale involving confined spaces, identify all of the dynamics that increase the anxiety rating. This can include, the level of commitment, size of the confined space, number of people present (social anxiety), the relationship of the people present (are you more confident when you know them?) etc. The aim is to start low, engaging in various situations and progressively moving up the scale as you relax or get used to these situations. Then challenge the next situation further up on your anxiety scale, until you are ready to cope with flying. The process also involves setting up an internal anxiety scale. Ten on the scale is feeling panicky; one is feeling relaxed. When you enter a chosen situation, assess your anxiety level e.g. going into a confined space triggers your anxiety at feeling level of six. Aim to stay in the situation until your anxiety level goes down even slightly so that you feel more relaxed than when you arrived. As long as the situation doesn’t change (i.e. there are no new perceived threats), your anxiety will peak, stabilise and then decrease. The act of staying in the situation until your anxiety level lowers helps you to benefit from exposure to your perceived threat. By repeating this process, you will overcome your fear of the situation over time. However, leaving the situation at the height of your panic state increases your phobic response. A “quick getaway” reinforces your mistaken “claustrophobic solution”; that the quicker you can run away, the calmer you will feel. So wait for the anxiety to diminish and learn some relaxation techniques to facilitate this change. So with your commitment to overcoming progressively anxious situations, the top of the anxiety scale (flying) won’t seem like a huge mountain to climb in one go. You will develop confidence and self-belief en route. The emphasis on “commitment” is also an important requisite. This is because when you commit to a realistic goal, it helps your mind to decisively focus on the method required to achieve the goal. This is in contrast to the effect of anticipatory anxiety (see above) that causes your mind to hesitate and avoid confronting the situation. You’ll keep dithering until you can’t run away any longer, which will generate more anticipatory anxiety. Committing to a realistic goal has with it some notable amounts of stress, but the commitment helps you to step away from the procrastination stage and move into the “how to do it” stage. This is helpful in the process of change and for the beneficial exposure to your fear when you want to treat you flying phobia.
Treat your flying phobia Cardiff #4: Manage your panic responseThis “treat your flying phobia tip” considers your reaction only. What do all phobias have in common? Regardless of whether your phobia is related to an object, situation or internal fear, you will panic or fear that you will panic. Your panic has become your conditioned response. You believe that by confronting your situation (and/or panicking), it will traumatise you further. When left on autopilot, a panic attack will “lock” onto whatever you believe to be the cause. If you can’t identify the cause then, over time and left untreated, it is likely to generate a social phobia and agoraphobia, spontaneously erupting at random. With a flying phobia, you associate your panic with flying. But the plane, the crew, the journey (or any other part) is not “causing” your panic. It is caused by a series of internal negative programmes now conditioned to keep you on the alert until you can change it. Objects and situations outside of you are harder to “control”. Some situations like flying require you to be a “passive passenger”, allowing what’s around you to take place as a series of compulsory events. You can’t just tell the pilot to pull over for five minutes to give you a break! So part of your reprogramming is about turning this focus away from what’s going on “on the outside”, and giving attention to what’s happening “on the inside!” When you can switch this focus of attention, you will be devoting so much more of your energy and resources onto internal events i.e. the source of your panic. Not an easy task, but is essential to fully take control of what is yours. The control-centre for changing your panic is in your mind, not the object or situation. Trust that the external situation will take care of itself. You may not consider this next activity to be helpful, but persist with it. Momentarily close your eyes as if to meditate so that you can remove some of the visual cues likely to distract you from focusing on the inside. This places your mind into the arena where to can manage your panic. Now imagine closing your eyes on a journey in which you would feel moderately anxious. Does it cause you to feel tense? If it does, then consider practising this in situations in which you consider them to be moderately anxious e.g. when travelling on a bus. It will be a useful resource in your preparation for flying because you are learning to access your internal solutions, rather than being distracted by external false triggers. So having switched your attention to the “inside”, what does your panic present to you? Fearful beliefs can vary from thinking that you are going to die, to being embarrassed in front of your peer group, or thinking that you are losing control that will eventually cause you to breakdown. This is part of your anticipatory anxiety (see treat your flying phobia tip #2). You continue to escalate your response by triggering more fearful beliefs, hyperventilating in your attempt to cope, but this makes your condition worse. The tension in the abdomen or chest is a common feature of panic attacks. By learning how to breathe to reduce your panic, you can alter the course of your physical symptoms. Do use the link to master your breathing techniques because when you are breathing slowly, deeply and abdominally, your physical tension can be lowered. With less physical tension, it diminishes your internal red alert (see treat your flying phobia tip #3) and the conviction of your fearful beliefs.
Treat your flying phobia Cardiff # 5: Visualise the experience that you WANTThis treat you flying phobia tip focuses on mental rehearsal. Strong visualisations can serve as mental preparation for your desired future experiences. In other words, when you practise imagining a calm flight, your mind will construct a template of you being on a plane, feeling relaxed. Over time, your repetitive positive visualisation can transform your images into your actual experience. So, work on visualising the experience that you WANT. But I can appreciate that when your default position has a flying phobia in the background, the negative impact of your phobia will initially block your attempts to visualise the ‘other side’. Having a flying phobia means that without actively trying to imagine a relaxed flight, there’s ‘the projection room is empty!’ This will need some serious reprogramming! So how do you learn to visualise? The breathing techniques help you to bring your mind down into a relaxed state where you can access chosen thoughts and images. When you are relaxed, it’s easier to be the “director” in your mind, rather than being directed by past traumas. After your breathing techniques, develop a script of your imagined positive experience during your flight. If this seems difficult to create right now, borrow a “script” from a different relaxing experience and transfer the detail into the flying situation. Next, “colour” the script with your relaxed feelings and emotions, making the details as vivid as possible. You could even use somebody else’s experience for your own script if it is easier to construct. Use whatever can be translated easily into your own positive flight scenario. Once the script is written, begin imagining this scene as a situation that has already happened, as this acts to consolidate the belief about your future reality (I know that it literally sounds back to front, but this is the whole idea – in your mind you want to visualise that you’ve already done it!) Re-draught the script as you become more experienced, intensifying the emotions with each practise. It is a gradual process however, so don’t lose faith if the feelings and images don’t seem real enough at this stage. You are learning to create this state of mind; it won’t be mastered in one attempt. Is it easy to get distracted when visualising? Yes, it’s easy for the mind to wander with all the obligations and responsibilities in your life. This is quite normal, but is common when novices also learn to meditate. Being aware that you have gone off your positive flight path is the trigger to placing your mind back onto it again. Keep practising. How long should visualisation take? After the breathing techniques, the positive visualisation can take about ten minutes a day. Expect a more believable visualisation after a few weeks of daily practise. As an actor would learn their script, the frequency helps the process become automatic. Repetition is important with this ‘treat your flying phobia tip’. What is crucial through this process is recognising that your script is helping you access what you “want”, rather than what you “don’t want”. Imagined experiences of you relaxed, coping with your flying experience is the experience you desire. Ask someone to check your script for positivity if it helps you progress with this.
Treat your flying phobia Cardiff # 6: Be prepared to avoid avoidanceMost people can relate to this ‘treat your flying phobia tip’ only too well. When a situation triggers your anxiety, the common reaction is to avoid the situation again to stop you feeling more anxiety. This is the natural stress response that protects you from a perceived threat. Over time, if you are required to deal with that situation, your confidence is diminished and you doubt your ability to cope. Anticipatory anxiety (see treat your flying phobia tip #2) rules your mind and “offers” you short-term, secure alternatives to your anxious feeling. It convinces you into believing that if you can avoid that situation now, then you will feel better. Avoidance becomes a tempting safe option. But anticipatory anxiety doesn’t help you to see the long-term implications; it just deals with what is immediately up ahead. With you having a flying phobia, you will know only too well how destructive avoidance can be. It is has been a major contributor to the development of your flying phobia. You are aware that by foolishly “dodging it” over time, you will become reliant on that option as a way of coping. Avoidance stifles your progress and it becomes part of a vicious cycle of anxiety; you take short term fixes to feel better now. But it also creates long term problems that take more effort to undo. So what can you do about this once a conditioned response (your flying phobia) has set in? The answer is to label this anxiety cycle for what it is and begin challenging your thinking and your behaviour. Firstly, recognise and admit how avoidance has fooled your mind into the creation of a condition that has rarely actually “done” this to you, but continues to put you on a huge standby, exhausting you with excessive anticipatory anxiety when you so much as think about that situation. Secondly, find a positive anchor in your memories when you overcame adversity. Have you ever been afraid of something and avoided it only to respond with a hardened determination to keep going until you overcame it? If you’re struggling to find something within your memories, then do you know someone else who has done this? Borrow their example and use it as an anchor and building block for change. Thirdly, be honest about your personal avoidance behaviour. What do you keep doing that is safe to justify “not” dealing with your goal? Do you procrastinate by watching television or making a snack? “It’s time to tidy the sock drawer again!” is a good example when avoidance is controlling your mind. Help yourself by listing those trivial tasks that interfere with your goal so that you can “catch” yourself running away from it. With busy lives, the mind can easily prioritise according to what feels the nicest first, sometimes referred to as the path of least resistance. When this procrastinating “strategy” is employed to lead your life, those anxious yet important tasks are going to mount up! Fourthly, plan a realistic goal that relates to your flying phobia (see treat your flying phobia tip #1 and #3) that has only moderate anxiety e.g. aim to overcome confined spaces, until you can relax when using lifts. Be sure to expect some anxiety through this process of change. But this is part of the natural “undoing” development. Exposure to that situation helps you to learn how to manage your anxiety. Once there is momentum, your confidence and skill-resources will grow because you are now “dealing” with anxiety rather than “worrying” about it. In addition to this, the exposure will help you eventually get used to your anxiety, rather than being fearful of it. Your anxiety is something to overcome, rather than run away from. It takes courage to want to challenge something that is a deep-rooted part of human nature. So with the confined spaces scenario, grade your experiences (see treat your flying phobia tip #3) and commit to gradually challenge your confined spaces scale on a weekly basis. Use the breathing techniques to manage your anxiety.
Treat your flying phobia Cardiff: SummarySo these are the early developmental strategies that can help you treat your flying phobia. It can seem a long road back when a response has become conditioned, but with persistence and determination, you can make a u-turn and steadily work towards your flight goal. Of course, if you are struggling with any of these stages when attempting to treat your flying phobia, then hypnotherapy can offer you that booster with any part of your programme.
For further information on how to treat your flying phobia in Cardiff, contact Richard J D’Souza Hypnotherapy Cardiff
Public speaking TipsWhen you are worrying about a giving a presentation, public speaking tips can offer your mind a release from your anxiety. Public speaking tips can help you to focus on a “process” rather than being consumed by your own self-limiting doubts. They can also help you to portray confidence that you can embrace as your experience grows. Over time your public speaking courage will become a natural part of you, but it takes determination and a desire to succeed; this change rarely happens overnight. These public speaking tips are written using my experience as a qualified teacher/trainer. They also draw from my experience as a Senior Clinical hypnotherapist for Hypnotherapy Cardiff. Use these public speaking tips to guide you if you have never given a presentation before. Alternatively, you may find one of these public speaking tips helps your preparation in your next presentation. Presentations can take various forms. These public speaking tips are aimed at the typical educational setting where you are given a title and required to present information within a set time limit. This information you present could be personal, factual or emotional. The information generally serves to inform the audience or help shape their opinion about making an informed choice in the present or the future.
Public speaking tips #1: Research your topicResearching what you are going to talk about is not one of the most exciting public speaking tips to begin with, but it is an important one. Your presentation could be a disaster if you (or your personality) don’t fall into the following categories: • You ooze self-confidence and love being the centre of attention. It doesn’t matter what you speak about, you just relish the opportunity to be on stage. Even if you messed up, you wouldn’t notice because you possess a hardened exterior called arrogance. • You have developed and mastered your presentation character/role. This allows you to think on your feet and you seamlessly move from one topic to another. You could wax lyrical about anything • You are an expert in your field and can talk for hours because you are qualified and knowledgeable. • All of the above! If you are new to public speaking, given time you can become one or all of the above. In the meantime, research your subject until it you have enough content to play with.
Public speaking tips #2: Keep your presentation relevant to your aimWhat’s that, you don’t have an aim? Then how will you know what is relevant? Ok, so this is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. This really does depend on whether you have been given a presentation with strict criteria to follow or an open-ended title in which you are required to make the decision for yourself. If you have been given the criteria to follow, keep reminding yourself of the meaning behind the criteria. Keep using this in every stage of the process because there’s nothing worse than talking about something that is a million miles away from the title. It is also important to identify any marking structure. The higher the marks allocated to a topic, the more likely you are to devote your time to these topics. If the title is open-ended e.g. Pop music, then give your presentation a direction (your aim) such as “number one hits by (a certain) pop group”. You simply can’t cover every fact in a short presentation. Give a statement of your aim at the beginning with possible subheadings. These can include a few ground rules e.g. asking questions at the end rather than throughout the presentation. You may even give a statement of what you “won’t” present because of certain limitations e.g. time. Factors that can influence your aim include: • Temporal factors: Such as the time you have to prepare (and take into account other obligation), the duration of the presentation or your other obligations that might intrude on this project. • Situational factors: This can include the availability of resources e.g. microphone and lectern, the layout of the room and the size of your audience. • Personal factors: Such as your subject-knowledge, confidence, voice projection, use of non-verbal gestures etc. The more you know about these factors, the more you can shape the precise intentions of your aim.
Public speaking tips #3: Identify an objective for your audienceSome of these public speaking tips clearly overlap. This one has direct links with public speaking tips #2. Your aim is what you intend to do in your presentation. Your objective considers what your audience will be able to do by the end of your presentation. If your presentation is about your formal one-sided communication of information (i.e. only you speaking), then your objective may simply be about your audience hearing/understanding you and being informed about some facts. One important question to keep asking yourself is “How do I know that they..?” in this case “...can hear me/understand me?” The answer to this might depend on what kind of feedback is available? Are they looking puzzled throughout? Are they laughing at your jokes? What type of questions do they ask at the end? Are you being graded (formal feedback)? The feedback could be immediate or post presentation. An objective is made clearer when it can be expressed in behavioural terms. “Understanding” is not a behavioural objective because the audience may not have been required to do anything to understand. They can just sit there and passively listen. The feedback may not be known until sometime after the presentation. This is where the objective might be sales-based e.g. gaining 10 sales of your product or service within a month. Or maybe your presentation is influencing your audience to make a decision e.g. vote about a policy you are advocating in the next election. In a didactic situation e.g. teaching or training, the process can include an assessment of the behavioural outcome e.g. the audience needs to write an essay on the content of your presentation. Depending on the value of the essays (feedback), you then evaluate the whole process and make adjustments to your presentation or lesson.
Public speaking tips #4: Give your presentation a beginning, middle and endStructuring your content is essential for clarity. Without statements of intent (or limitation), the presentation can appear vague and disjointed. The audience have no concept of your direction or won’t know their involvement in the process. The first stage in public speaking tips #4 is the introduction. This can include some of the following points where they are relevant: • A welcome - Stating who you are, qualifications and experience, situation (“I have been asked to give a presentation by the...”) • State your aim – See public speaking tips #2. “The aim of this presentation is ...” • State any limitations affecting your presentation – Stating what you will not be presenting helps the audience recognise the emphasis you are giving to your presentation. • State any methods you are using: Are you discussing or describing your content? Are you using any visual aids that help your audience anticipate their involvement? This can be an extension of the aim “The aim of the presentation is to compare styles of pop music between two decades. I will be playing some pop music from those decades to demonstrate my analysis.” • State any objective for the audience: See public speaking tips #3. “I would like you to listen to the various styles of music. Please give a vote at the end of your preferred choice.” The next stage in public speaking tips #4 is the middle section. This consists of the main points of the presentation. The main points need to be organised, logical and relevant to the aim. Ideally, your points will be enhanced with additional information and/or visual aids (pictures or diagrams). Following the example used of the pop music presentation, pictures of the pop bands and audible aids (music or video) would complement the presentation and help make it more captivating. Include linking statements sometimes called “signposts” that help the presentation to coherently flow from one point to another. They act as bridging statements and can be used to build rapport with your audience. Signpost statements can: • Summarise what you have just done - “Now that I have discussed...” • Emphasise what you are going to do - “The next section of my presentation will...” • Clarify the importance of a point by linking it back to the aim – “You will notice the statement made by...” Signposts can be created by changing the pitch of your voice e.g. starting a new point with a raised tone of voice. Signposts can also be non-verbal but still serve to navigate the audience through your presentation. They can include moving from one part of the room to another, creating a short pause, switching equipment on or off and glancing at another part of the audience. The last stage of public speaking tips #4 is the end section, sometimes called the conclusion. The end section can make the following points: • Re-emphasise your aim and objective – “In the presentation, I have aimed to... you can now...” • Summarise your main points “I hoped to have been able to show that...” • Mention any closing remarks – For example, thank the audience, inform them of what is happening next, tell them about any exit procedures or a “call to action” regarding further information “Please help yourself to the information booklets..." or “contact me for further help...” • An opportunity for the audience to ask questions – Where appropriate, leave time for questions about any topics presented. Remember that it is better to admit that you don’t know something and be prepared to research the answer for them, than to bluff the way through with a vague answer.
Public speaking tips #5: Learn how to breathe to control your anxietyKnowledge and experience can build self-confidence. Along your presentation journey, some useful breathing techniques can help release your anxiety: • In anticipation of a presentation – Use breathing techniques to help you relax when your presentation anxieties “appear” in your mind. Worries have a habit of popping into your mind whilst doing other routine activities. • During the presentation – Breathing techniques can calm your nerves throughout the presentation. Think of it as a useful “vent” when tension builds up. • After the presentation – It can seem like a relief that you would rather not replay in your mind, but “putting the presentation away” can help you build confidence for the next presentation. Use breathing techniques and visualisation to process what you have done well with a feeling of achievement. Then “over trace” the parts that didn’t go so well, imagining your return, tackling any errors that you made. This process can affect how and where you “store” the presentation in your mind. Better to learn from it, than to run away from it! A common problem associated with anxiety is the development of psychosomatic symptoms. These can include shortness of breath, palpitations, blushing, profuse sweating, dryness and constriction in the throat, involuntary tremors in the hand, tendency to stammer, IBS etc. The anxiety sufferer then worries that these symptoms are visible to the audience and desperately tries to conceal them. They are more preoccupied with their psychosomatic symptoms than with the task in hand. Breathing can act as the anxiety diffuser that alleviates the symptoms, allowing you to focus on your presentation. Learn how to breathe now! Learning to breathe outside of any external distraction is essential to being able to control your anxiety. You can then begin to use these breathing techniques in progressively more stressful situations. Thus developing breathing techniques is part of your preparation. Actually, it’s part of how you manage your lifestyle! The use of breathing techniques can be considered a self-hypnosis. This is explained below in public speaking tips #6.
Public speaking tips #6: Rehearse and visualise your presentationHere’s a quick summary of where you should be: • Once you have written the content of your presentation, check that it matches your assessment criteria. • Amend any content so that it is relevant to the aims and objectives. • Organise the layout so that it has a distinct beginning, middle and end. • Adjust the content so that it fits into any time constraints. With most of the boxes being ticked, you can now practise (rehearse) your presentation. Some people like to start with a script and condense it down to a few key points. This will involve familiarising some of the content so that keywords can be placed on a hand-sized card/bullet points in PowerPoint. This “condensing” process can help you to recall some of the material from the notes yet still maintain the planned structure (since it’s easy to lose your place!) The condensing stage is important because it stops you “reading from a script” with your head and eyes in your notes throughout the whole presentation. Now that you are familiar with the content, visualise giving a confident presentation. That’s right, close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and imagine being in the situation with everything going well. So, imagine all that you would talk about, feel and see in your audience. Thinking positively means just that! Many people “think” they are thinking positively, when all they are doing is taking their mind to the place that they don’t want to go! Most “positive” thinking in default mode ends up reinforcing the negatives, or it involves anxious worrying about a situation. The process of positive visualisation (thinking) involves giving your mind something to focus on. You can work towards this image by converting your internal (anxiety) symptoms and what is happening around you into positive outcomes. When you are anxious what happens? • Breathing is rapid and short – visualise giving your presentation breathing slowly and deeply and at regular intervals. • Voice becomes quiet and throat feels constricted – visualise speaking with a loud multi-tonal voice and the throat feeling relaxed. • Legs feel like jelly and hands shake – visualise your legs feeling strong and hands feeling relaxed. And so on... Then visualise converting some of your “external” anxieties: • The audience look bored – visualise the audience looking interested and stimulated by your content and use of voice control. Imagine them being on your side! • You fear losing your place – visualise using a prompt card that helps you to move seamlessly from one point to another. • You fear some technology not working – visualise keeping calm and apologising for the “technical issue”. Explain what your audience would have seen as a contingency plan. Visualisation and rehearsals can be done in front of a mirror. You may even wish to practise using a video camera or a trustworthy audience (e.g. your family). With each rehearsal you will build up a positive template and expectation for how you will present on the actual day. This has the effect of lowering your anticipatory anxiety and helps you to feel like the presentation is a natural part of what you do.
Final public speaking tipsSome of these public speaking tips are summarised in the previous points. Other public speaking tips you will acquire with experience as your confidence grows: • Use memory prompts – A well-rehearsed presentation will flow smoothly. Learn your material until a keyword prompts a sentence or paragraph about that topic. Effective use of PowerPoint or visual aids can also help this process but are secondary to the dialogue you use through your presentation. If you are quoting some complex dialogue, ensure you glance up at the audience at regular intervals. • Project your voice – Develop a “presentation voice” that is loud, multi-tonal, and moderately paced with effective pauses. Recording and listening to your own voice can help you develop your “presentation voice” Your pitch can be maximised when you involve your diaphragm muscles. Imagine speaking to someone in the room next door! That doesn’t mean shouting, but the focus of your voice should be in your abdomen rather than straining your vocal chords. Varying the tone in your voice can help stimulate interest in your audience. Learn to raise and lower the tone of your voice to emphasise and de-emphasise certain parts of your presentation. Vary the pace of your dialogue. If you are anxious, you are likely to speak quickly, so the general advice is to slow down. Momentary pauses can generate a feeling of confidence. Coordinate your relaxed breathing with your voice projection. • Develop a stage presence – This is something that grows with your experience and your confidence. It includes certain points already mentioned such as the content of your presentation and the way you have organised it. It also includes non-verbal aspects of communication such as: Eye contact – Your eye contact can be used to give each person a feeling of importance. Staring at one person in particular can feel intimidating, so pan across your audience slowly in a gentle rotation, as if you want to acknowledge each person present. It’s easy to give too much importance to people in the middle of the audience, so try not to ignore people in the corners of the room. Posture – How you stand/sit can set the tone of your presentation. Standing tall behind a lectern (when there is one available) can be appropriate for a more formal presentation. It gives you somewhere to place your notes whilst still facing the audience. Where the situation is didactic, some people prefer to stand without a “barrier”. Sometimes, sitting on a table can emphasise the informality of the situation. Your movement around the stage can also create a feeling of confidence. Some “purposeful” steps can help counter the tendency to stand rigid when feeling anxious. Facial expressions – A (genuine) smile can indicate that you are comfortable and enjoying what you do. The audience will feed off your body language, helping to put them at ease. Hand gestures – Hand gestures can help you to appear animated and interesting. Use a few gestures (but not too many) to emphasise any visual aids. Some psychologists believe that “open hand” gestures can communicate that you are open and honest. Some animation can be better than remaining completely still. Seeing a video of you speaking can be a good way of developing stage presence in the long term. A video can also help identify and reduce any communication “annoyances” e.g. excessive use of hand gestures. Organise your stage – How you arrange the stage and seating (where appropriate) will create a formal or informal atmosphere. As you grow in confidence, organise the stage in the way that helps your communication. Can any visual aids be seen by your audience? You won’t always be able to choose the layout in every venue but it helps to have a concept when you can arrange the stage yourself. • Break down any barriers with your audience – Finding out something about your audience can help you to tailor your presentation to their needs. What is their prior knowledge or learning about this subject? Do they all work for the same organisation? Has the advert targeted a specific need? This information can help you to build rapport with your audience with references to their “group” that they might find interesting. Barriers can also be broken down by speaking to individual members of your audience before and after the presentation. Any feedback that is returned can help you to develop your presentation in the long term. If your presentation is aimed at your peer group as part of an assessment, then find something refreshing to add to the presentation even if it’s some light humour (but keep it to the presentation aim). Hearing numerous presentations on the same topic can be repetitive. Involving members of the audience can be a good way of keeping their interest and keeping the presentation informal. Think of your audience as being on your side; this will ease your anxiety. Surprisingly, they want you to succeed. Giving them a welcome can help put them at ease. • Have some contingency plans – Plan for things to go well, first and foremost. But keep a few back-up plans with solutions in case something goes wrong. A technology failure is rare, but can happen. You can only then do your best to make amends. Apologise for this and then if it means you rely on written notes, then use them! It’s amazing how “character building” situations like this can be. You can’t cover every eventuality, but when left to think on your feet, it serves to... • Believe in yourself – Confidence comes with achievement. If you have never given a presentation, then transfer the feeling of confidence from any other successes you have had in your life. Rehearse the affirmation “I can do this!” as part of your preparation. Public speaking is a continuous journey of learning. Give your presentation, then assess and review your performance. Make changes and try something new when the perceived risk is low. That way, if it goes wrong, it won’t be the end of the world! Public speaking tips can help give you feedback and freshen your strategies. Public speaking tips can remind you that different approaches are required for different situations. More information: Fear of public speaking: Causes and treatment Fear of public speaking and social anxiety
For further information on public speaking tips and treating your fear of public speaking in Cardiff, contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff
Fear of public speaking and social anxiety
For many people, a fear of public speaking ranks as one of the most common dreaded fears. If you are an extrovert and love attention, then you are more likely to take these presenting matters into your stride. But for the shy introverted speaker, life can be very, very different. Hearing “don’t worry, it’ll be fine...” is meant with good intentions, but it can seem so patronizing.
A fear of public speaking (glossophobia) is a form of social anxiety. You can have a fear of public speaking yet still be comfortable displaying physical skills in public or meeting new people. But if these situations also cause you to feel nervous, then your social anxiety is considered to be more acute. When you suffer severe social anxiety, public speaking can cause you to panic and can be the source of major distress. In work, during those meetings of great importance, it can cost you your job. More importantly, if you have social anxiety and general anxiety, it can be a source of depression.
Fear of public speaking: The socially anxious experience
Does this seem familiar to you?
The racing heart beat; the familiar “knot” in your stomach and the nausea are just the start of the affairs when you are told that you have to speak in public. It’s rarely something that you volunteer to do. Who wants to be publicly shamed and disgraced in front of your wider family, peer group or colleagues? The agony has started long before the presentation date, yet there is this impending doom that beats as each day draws closer. Your sleep is restless.
The socially anxious speaker hates being the focus of attention. If you could guarantee that your presentation will impress your audience then it might not seem so bad. But to be in the spotlight when you are struggling to be coherent is degrading. The harder you try to mask your symptoms the more “visible” you become! There is nowhere to hide from your fear of public speaking.
Can you avoid giving your presentation? When you look back on your life, I’m sure you would have done all you could to skive those early childhood school presentations. You tried to feign a tummy ache (which was probably anxiety) in the hope that it would convince your parents that you needed a day off school. But even moving through the educational system, a presentation would have been demanded as part of an assessment somewhere. And when they gave out the subject titles, you had to pick the “dull” subject that you knew nothing about and would send everyone to sleep. You did the best you could to make it interesting, but the “yawns” of boredom is what you learnt about the experience. The seeds of fear and humiliation have been sown!
So in work, you’ve disguised your fear. You’ve delegated the presentation to a subordinate member of staff because “it’s good for their development!” But those small business meetings demand that you to give a short introduction of yourself; you can’t pass the buck in this situation. This is enough to get you flustered and put your professional reputation on the line. And when you’re tenth around the business table, the time moves so slowly. You don’t even remember a word of what is being said by the other delegates. You are deafened by your own internal voice of worry.
Even socially, you cannot escape the personal request from a loving family member to “say a few words” during their moment of pride. At weddings or formal occasions, there’s nothing like being expected to say a few “stammered” mutterings to ruin your day for you and lose your social esteem.
Why is the fear of public speaking such a problem?
Unfortunately with performance anxiety, when you are stressed and place too much importance on using a certain part of you, it’s that part that can “lock” and become dysfunctional. So the tennis player’s shoulder tightens, the pianist’s fingers become stiff and the singer’s voice becomes strained. It’s as if that precious part of you is fired with excessive nerve impulses and is out of control at the worst possible moment.
For the socially anxious public speaker, anxiety “grips” the ability to speak. The diaphragm muscle tightens making it hard to breathe. This causes your words to become stammered, misplaced and forgotten. Your throat can become dry and constricted. Your voice can become overly quiet or sound choked. In short, it’s an effort to get your words out.
But it’s not just the voice that is overwhelmed. The mind can be affected too. It can distort your awareness of time. The things you want to end quickly, take forever. Waiting for everyone else to finish their presentation (so that you can start yours), can take an eternity. You then build up more anticipatory anxiety. But when you are giving your own presentation, your brakes have failed. It’s as if you are chasing a prize for the fastest presentation. In your confusion, you abandon your bullet points for a “speed-read” of your notes. Your eyes and head drop down into your script in desperate hope that if you can’t see them, they won’t be able to see you.
Stress can also affect memory and concentration to the level that you lose your purpose. You become forgetful, disorganised and distracted. Other phrases for the latter can include being “spaced out”, distant or self-absorbed. This can happen at any moment of the proceedings. Some get overwhelmed immediately before or during the presentation. But even after the presentation, the trauma keeps you in a daze for...days!
Another important issue for the socially anxious speaker is prejudging the audience as experts. You believe that they can see through your inferiority. You are convinced that they know more than you about your subject and you are about to be exposed as a fraud.
If the presentation involves questions and answers, this will be the key moment of public humiliation. You believe you will be asked intellectually challenging questions that you don’t even understand! Never mind being able to remember the answers, the question is so complicated, that you remain petrified as if they’ve sent you an electric shock. So you stall for a repeated question because you have developed temporary hearing loss!
Not only do you believe that the audience know more than you, but you imagine that they have X-ray vision. They can see every symptom of your anxiety: the blushing, the excessive perspiration and the hand tremors. These are somehow caught on camera with a powerful zoom lens and are being broadcasted on a screen behind you. Even the internal anxiety symptoms e.g. heart racing, nervous diarrhoea and “jelly like legs” can be seen and judged as out of control.
Your fear of public speaking is contained in a higher negative belief that anxiety is a sign of weakness. This only serves to make matters worse for you. It prevents you from gradually working through your fear because you (wrongly) equate anxiety with incompetence. It’s a non-starter and you don’t feel very well!
Compounding your fear of public speaking with anticipation
The anticipation of something can be more traumatic than the stress of the actual event. When the notice has been given of the presentation, anxiety can weigh you down, causing you to procrastinate, cling to unhelpful comforts (food, alcohol, cigarettes etc.), lose sleep and generally become forgetful and distracted. Your heightened state of anxiety draws you deeper into fearing the worst on presentation day. The stress symptoms can then peak immediately before the presentation.
Contingency plans to proactively deal with what might go wrong are left open-ended as a vulnerable fear, rather than something that you can act on and make the situation feel safe. Stress levels can be so high that the moments before and during the presentation can seem like going through the motions on auto-pilot. Unless your presentation is recorded, there is very little recall of your experience.
Even after the presentation, the distracted emotional state makes you immune to absorbing any positive feedback. Regardless of whether it has gone well, your self assessment is still biased since you based your measure of success on the feelings of anxiety. You were anxious, so you must have failed. The presentation has traumatised you yet again and is something you must avoid if given the opportunity.
Breaking the fear of public speaking
Does this seem like part of your routine? For the socially anxious person, this is probably déjà-vu. But it doesn’t have to remain that way. The best way to deal with your fear of public speaking is to confront it, armed with some helpful techniques. You can tackle your fear of public speaking in small progressive steps. This will help you to focus on it as a series of skills that can be learned, rather than seeing it as a cycle of events that submissively drags you through a bush full of thorns.
Hypnotherapy can be used to control your anxiety, re-frame past traumas and visualise your confidence. My expertise as a qualified teacher/trainer will also help to ensure that you are using effective techniques that get the best out of you in your preparation and on the day of your presentation.
Looking for some more self help tips? Overcome your fear of public speaking with a series of public speaking tips.
For further information on treating your fear of public speaking in Cardiff, contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff
Anger Management in Cardiff
What is anger?Anger is a basic and normal human emotion that you can feel on a daily basis. Anger is not problematic in its milder form of irritability; feeling angry is nature’s way of telling you that you have perceived a threat, a wrong-doing or an injustice. Uncontrolled and persistent anger however can be harmful. It can be detrimental to the individual’s health, and damage family, social and working relationships. When anger is unrestrained, it can show itself in situations where innocent people can be hurt or even killed. Examples can include road rage, domestic abuse, and individual and gang violence. With anger, property can be damaged with complete disregard.
What happens when you are angry?Anger is a heightened state of arousal that prepares you to deal with perceived threats. When you are angry, stress hormones are released to alter the functioning of your mind. Your mind is alerted to the perceived threat in a distorted way. The rational intelligence normally used to handle situations is swallowed up by a primitive “caveman” logic to either attack or be defeated. Your body also responds to the stress hormones. Adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body, increasing your heart rate and causing your breathing to become more rapid and shallow. Non-essential functions like digestion are de-prioritised. Blood flow is diverted to voluntary muscles as if preparing you to go into battle and strike out. With higher levels of anger you are a machine poised to deal with the perceived threat with very basic “animal” instincts. Not all anger is primitive however. You can get angry and then rationally evaluate the most appropriate response. Even when anger is moderate or calculated, these same physical reactions can still take place. But there is more interpretation and analysis of how the situation is affecting you and how you externally want to deal with it. Cognitive processes help you to assess the injustice of the situation. Behavioural processes consider how you express the anger. It can include changes in your facial expressions and posture. Physical expressions involve acts of aggression towards people and property e.g. slamming doors. Your verbal expression of anger can include speaking more forcefully and quickly, with a raised tone.
Where does anger come from?Anger is a basic human emotion. How angry you are, how you process your anger and how long anger persists after a experiencing a threat can vary between individuals. Your anger level is also influenced by a number of internal, social/cultural and situational variables. Internal factors: Most studies consider anger to be a secondary emotion and a response to pain and fear. Thus it is generally believed that anger is learned rather than something you are born with. However, there is some evidence that pregnant mothers exposed to stress can affect the developing foetus’ own stress response system and influence the child’s own temperament. This would support the view that you can be born predisposed to certain emotions like anger, as if setting up a template of emotion. What you learn after birth will then reinforce this template. Early developmental issues in the young child affect communication skills and can create a general disposition to be angry throughout your life. Being able to verbally express your anger in a calm way becomes a frustrating experience and is replaced by aggression. Social/Cultural factors: Your emotional template is mainly developed from your parents and family culture. How your family deal with anger can teach you what is an appropriate way to express your own anger. This continuous transfer of anger culture would suggest that it can remain in families through generations. Cultural factors can also affect gender differences with expressing anger within the family and in wider social groups. Stereotypically, men are encouraged to express their aggression to assert their masculinity particularly in youth culture, whereas women are discouraged from displaying their aggression to appear more feminine. Women tend to talk about their feeling of anger and stay angry for longer. Hormonal differences may explain some of these gender variations. Situational factors: The specific situation can trigger different levels of anger in different people. Take for example being stuck in a traffic jam. The level of anger you experience can depend on
- The reason for the traffic jam
- The importance of the journey
- Your relationship with the other people at your destination
- Your ability to communicate to those people the reason for your delay
- The disposition and needs of your passengers etc.
What affects the intensity of your anger?When classifying anger, a scale of 1 to 10 is commonly applied to rate the degree of anger felt or expressed. At the lower levels there is irritation and aggravation, at the upper levels hostility, aggression and rage. Revenge (as a form of anger) can be used at all levels. The intensity of your anger is dependent on the history, internal, external and situational factors:
- Your history of anger and history of the event
- Your general disposition and current stress levels
- Background cultural factors
- How much you rate the severity of the perceived threat
- The relationship with the perpetrator and their apparent intentions
- Your analysis of the circumstances surround the event
What can cause you to get angry?Modern living rarely needs the primitive “fight or flight” anger response that our ancestors once used for survival. The threat of survival has evolved into the threat of losing one’s self-esteem. How you define your esteem can mean different things to different people. But modern anger is usually stimulated when there is a perceived threat to:
- Your physical well-being - The aftermath of an attack can create a deep feeling of anger to get your revenge on your attacker and level the score.
- Your self-image and social status - This can be defined as how you see yourself and how you believe others see you. A nasty comment that defames you can cause anger particularly when it is untrue. It can have an impact on your reputation.
- Your family - When your child is being bullied at school, anger can be a response to your own feeling of helplessness. Naturally, you would want to protect them from harm, but you are not able to be present in every situation.
- Your social group - A criticism given to the football team you support or pop group that you like can spark a verbal or physical argument. Youth culture is known for having a strong social group identity that links with one’s self image.
- Your property - Your possessions can act as extensions of your identity. The sentimental or monetary value of possessions often defines people. The modern car is an example of how some people like to present their image. Damage the car and you damage the owner’s ego.
- Your boundaries - You like to know the rules that govern what you can and can’t do. When you know where you stand in life, you feel safe even if you don’t agree with the rule in principal. When a change takes place, you can feel angry. A teenager who has a curfew set by their parents can feel angry about the rule change if it does not equate with his/her offence. “It’s not fair” is a common angered response.
- Your privileges - Losing something that helps you to feel special or that gives you some advantage can invoke an angered response. Cuts made in work organisations create “hot” air in the staffroom. The mistake that generates the anger may be caused by taking the privilege for granted in the first place.
Types of angerAnger can take various forms. Some types are overt, but the more hidden forms of passive anger are not always recognised so easily.
- Behavioural anger: This type of anger is used to describe someone who is physically expressive with their anger regardless of the trigger. It includes acts of physical violence and abuse.
- Verbal anger: This type of anger is used to describe someone who is verbally expressive with their anger regardless of the trigger. When this anger is used maliciously, this type of person can be insulting and critical of others, destroying their self esteem. Facial and postural gestures accompany verbal anger.
- Persistent anger: This describes people who tend to be angry with life in general. There is no apparent trigger, just a continuous exhibition of anger. The expression can be verbal or behavioural, intense or mild. You know where you stand with this person.
- Explosive anger: This person would be defined as volatile. They can explode with rage for no apparent reason and then be calm. They are unpredictable and may choose innocent victims. Their anger can be verbal or behavioural.
- Critical anger: This verbal anger aims to judge and others and point out their mistakes. The comments make others feel ashamed and embarrassed about themselves or their abilities. Other people’s self-esteems are destroyed in an attempt to repair their own scarred self-esteem.
- Passive anger: This subversive form of anger uses sarcasm to hide suppressed anger e.g. saying “now what type of brain were you born with?” The angry person tries to disguise sarcasm by saying that the offended person is just being sensitive. Passive anger can also take the form of avoidance to get back at someone e.g. not attending an invitation to a party at the very last moment. Someone who favours passive anger likes to avoid confrontation. Or passive anger can be “expressed” by giving the silent treatment e.g. after a row with your partner. Saying nothing may be the better option than saying something that is offensive. But it is still an indication that you are angry.
- Distressed anger: This anger is a reaction to overwhelming distress in this person’s life. They are not coping with some of the bigger life changes like a new job or a break up in a relationship. They are constantly tense and lash out at people when any extra demands are placed upon them. The anger is a general reflection of high stress levels.
- Vindictive anger: This is probably the most common form of anger. The “injured” party seeks to get “even” after a perceived threat. It can take the form of direct “tit-for-tat” behaviour or by indirect forms of revenge where you withhold something that they may need.
- Self-directed anger: This form of anger accompanies self-blame, self-harm and low self-esteem. A person who uses this anger struggles to be assertive and handle situations confidently. They see view most situations as major conflict. So the only way to turn is inwards directing the anger at oneself. Examples of punishment include eating disorders and cutting oneself.
- Calculated Anger: When someone isn’t getting their way, they use anger as a way to over-power the other people in the situation. They may be defined as “control-freaks” who expect people to comply with their orders. When someone protests about their plans, it intensifies their anger.
- Suspicious anger: This person feels angry because they are jealous of others and are paranoid that other people will take what “belongs” to them. This jealous anger typically surfaces in relationships. The angry person has trust issues and tries to possess their partner. When their partner is seen innocently talking to other people, they are accused of flirting and face accusations of infidelity.
- Constructive anger: On a personal level, this type of anger is about being assertive. It considers the needs of all parties in the situation. Constructive anger emphasises communication and negotiation to resolve situations and reduce any future disharmony. On a group and organisational level, it aims to make positive change from situations, decisions or actions that have been mismanaged. Examples include the formation of movements, unions and associations.
Treatment for anger using hypnotherapyFor many people, anger can seem like an internal eruption that is out of control. Any habitual response develops that way, particularly when you have been subjected to abusive anger as a child. Changing the way you express your anger can help protect your relationships, your career and your health. Hypnotherapy can help you deal with your anger at different levels. Hypnotherapy is more than just a way of relaxing. There are a number of steps that can help you to change your expression of anger: Understand the nature of your anger: There are very few situations where anger is just about anger. When it is related to the present situation, it is dealt with in a controlled manner. Most of the time, anger is a response to suppressed underlying issues that you are not ready to deal with or may not want to want to deal with. Your anger acts as a front to a deeper pain. Fear of rejection, worthlessness, embarrassment, shame, and jealousy are some of emotions that can fuel anger. These issues can relate back to childhood. Without understanding the background, your attempt to control it will seem as if you are swimming against the tide. When a small wave comes along, it’s enough to knock you back without the energy to control it. There are many situations that can signal that your anger is about something else. One situation is when you struggle to admit that you are wrong and will aggressively defend your viewpoint. You fail to compromise because you fear that you will be judged as inadequate. When anger is your way of life this can also indicate that there is something else that is sustaining your anger. Identify your anger warning signs and triggers: Deep-rooted negative beliefs and can act as catalysts to your anger. They can rapidly take you from being in control to out of control. When you over-generalise, you will consider one threatening situation to mean this happens to you all day, every day. The angry person exaggerates by saying “this always happens to me!” Narrowing your internal choices by using modal verbs (have to, should, must) can also cause anger. You can probably recall situations when you have said “I’ve got to complete this by today.” You have then built up anger when you haven’t met these demands. Anger can be triggered when you convince yourself about a negative event without getting all of the evidence. Typical situations include mis-reading an expression on somebody’s face and then thinking catastrophic consequences. Who is responsible of your emotions? You are responsible. And when you take ownership of your emotions, you are in a better position to control and change them. But a blame culture has mistakenly encouraged placing the responsibility for your feelings on someone else. This can easily trigger your anger when you share this view. It’s a common phrase when people say that “you made me angry, it’s your fault!” Only they can reset your emotions when you feel angry or anything else. It’s a disempowering outlook to have in life and is likely to short-fuse your anger when someone else makes a mistake. Some of these anger triggers can be physical stress responses that take you over your body. Feeling the tightness in your abdomen and chest, your heart racing and rapid breathing can transform a calm temperament into an angry one. By recognising some of these signs that your anger is building, you can take active steps to make changes before the anger escalates. You may already know certain people, places or situations that can trigger your anger. But rather than blaming them, identifying how they affect you can help you choose how you interact. You may avoid certain topics of conversation with aggressive people because it generates anger. Avoidance can be a useful short-term fix for many situations, but it can help you manage your emotions during times of general stress. Learn ways to keep calm: When you understand the nature of your anger and can identify the signs and triggers, you can then learn ways to deal with your anger before it hits the upper limits. There are certain methods that are helpful at in the heat of the moment. They include deep breathing exercises and developing the courage to walk away from the scene. Anger that persists after the event can benefit by evaluating the importance of the situation and the way it is impacting on your emotions. What else can I do about the situation? Can I communicate my anger in a more constructive way? What outcome do I really want? These questions can help you divert your mind away from unnecessary aggression. An ongoing situation that angers you requires constant anger and stress management. Breathing techniques and progressive relaxation can help reduce physical tension. Frequent exercise is another way of venting these symptoms. Develop constructive ways to express your anger: When you recognise that your anger is worthy of the situation and that there is a way to resolve it, you can then direct your anger in a more constructive and assertive way. Focusing on the immediate situation prevents you from bringing up past irrelevant issues. It also minimises blame. If the situation allows for you to reflect on it, walk away and explore all of the possibilities. Consider if there are any ways to create a win-win situation. This will help to preserve long-term relationships. The other person will be grateful that you are valuing their needs. If you are particularly angry and intend to confront this situation head on, evaluate whether it is worth the emotional intensity. Being selective with your conflicts will help others note your seriousness rather than it being “yet another tantrum!” By being selective, it can also help you to appreciate when it’s better to let something go. Courageously walking away from anger can be considered as a “win”, particularly when you have evaluated how much a situation can draw on your long-term resources. When you have walked away from the situation, it can give you (and the other party) an opportunity to assess the value of the relationship. An apology can restore broken relationships when it is genuine. Forgiveness can then be considered where an on-going workable partnership is in both the party’s interests.
Hypnotherapy: When is professional help needed to treat your anger?Hypnotherapy can be an effective way to treat your anger, although it is unlikely that you willseek hypnotherapy for occasional irritability. Some of the warning signs that your anger is out of control include: · Anger is affecting your relationships. Aggressive (verbal and physical) behaviour canbe detrimental to close family relationships and friendships. Self esteems can be destroyed when you are taking out your frustration on people close to you. It can shatter the confidence and feeling of security of those who witness your anger.
· Anger is affecting your jobCompetitive work situations and unnecessary change can create anger in your workplace. When you are an angry boss, it may scare your staff into completing their tasks, but it can harm relationships, affect job satisfaction cause unnecessary health issues.
· Your anger is creating constant physical tensionSuppressed anger or unresolved anger from long-term issues can cause insomnia, high blood pressure and depression. There are numerous other health issues that can develop when it left unchecked.
· Your anger is causing you to physically strike out at people.Physical violence that stems from rage is a clear indicator that some professional help is required. It may help you from being arrested.
· You avoid too many situations because of your angerSome tactical avoidance may help you to manage your anger in situations where there is a strong trigger. Avoiding too many situations in fear of an outburst however means that anger is still dominating your life.
How can Hypnotherapy help your anger?Much of the anger that is expressed at a particular moment has an unconscious association. If it was conscious, you would control easily by yourself. Hypnotherapy can treat your anger in the following ways:
· Hypnotherapy can help you understand the nature of your angerHypnotherapy can be used to identify relevant past traumas that are surfacing when you are angry. By re-framing the emotion behind your past traumas, hypnotherapy allows you to be more focused on and in control of the current situation. You can then feel released to deal with the situation constructively and express your anger calmly. Suppressed criticism and feelings of worthlessness can be an example of a typical past trauma treated with hypnotherapy. With hypnotherapy, your mind can make the important link to what generates your anger.
· Hypnotherapy can help you identify your anger warning signs and triggersHypnotherapy can help you to identify your internal and external signs and triggers. Anger can seem like an “either or reaction”. One moment you are dealing with the situation and then the next moment you are boiling over with rage. When it happens unconsciously, trying to analyse it afterwards can seem a little too late. With hypnotherapy, the intense visualisation allows your mind to revisit the situations as if being there in slow motion. Depending on the hypnotherapy techniques used, the hypnotherapy consultation can ensure that you are detached enough to learn from the experience without feeling re-traumatised. Hypnotherapy can also employ symptom reversal techniques to alter the physical reactions that can generate your anger.
· Hypnotherapy can help you to stay calmHypnotherapy has the advantage over other therapies because the relaxation techniques are part of the hypnotherapy induction. When stress levels are high, you are generally more irritable and your potential to learn is inhibited. But more importantly, hypnotherapy can plant effective calming techniques into your anger ritual, positively disrupting the negative chain-reaction. Hypnotherapy also incorporates breathing techniques into the anger programme which is suggested by most anger management therapists.
· Hypnotherapy can help you develop constructive ways to express your angerHypnotherapy can help you to react more calmly and bring your anger under control. You can then learn to appreciate the demands of the situation and the people involved. Hypnotherapy can help you to walk away from the situation or help you to focus intensely on solutions for both parties. Being assertive ensures that the needs of each person are taken into account. Use hypnotherapy as your preferred choice of treatment for your anger issues. Each hypnotherapy programme is individualised for your emotional and behavioural transformation. Benefit from hypnotherapy to treat your anger.
For further information on treating anger in Cardiff using hypnotherapy, contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff
Coping with Anxiety
Anxiety CardiffThese practical ‘coping with anxiety tips’ are a starting point to lift you out of your ceaseless cycle of worry and place you into somewhere brighter, ready to embrace life. They have been written using experience from my hypnotherapy practice in Cardiff. The majority of my hypnotherapy patients have anxiety-related issues. Quite often it is the main focus of their therapeutic goal. Anxiety is the apprehension about something that is you think is going to happen. It is usually based on something that has gone wrong before. That past situation is now buried in the depths of your mind, yet it feeds into your irrational prediction that the outcome is going to all go wrong again. Let’s face it; in reality, it hardly ever happens that way. But the past event lies there to protect you from danger (fight or flight response) with such force, that it disables you with inaction. Your mind is stuck in worry mode and it needs help coping with anxiety. So, what can you do? Here are my practical ‘coping with anxiety tips.’
Coping with anxiety tip #1: Learn to breatheThis is a fundamental ‘coping with anxiety tip’. It’s something that you just “do” and you have heard people say it in passing, “take a deep breath.” But breathing properly to reduce anxiety is something that few can master with effect. When someone around you is anxious, pay attention to where they are breathing from. It’s likely to be high in the chest. Then consider how quickly they are breathing. They will be ventilating with short, rapid breaths. This can prolong the feelings of anxiety and make your symptoms worse. Learning to breathe for relaxation has the effect of calming the nervous system and lowering the stress responses. Read this article on breathing techniques to reduce anxiety for more details. Once you have begun to use breathing techniques, you can learn to centre your mind. In a more relaxed state, it’s easier to access other resourceful ‘mind’ techniques that can help you when coping with anxiety. In a hypnotherapy course, this is a core technique that is incorporated into the early part of the hypnotherapy treatment. View it as life-skill beyond hypnotherapy. It is useful for coping with anxiety and many more emotional states.
Coping with anxiety tip #2: Do some physical activityDid I say the ‘E’ word? No, that’s because exercise (oops, I said it!) doesn’t have to be a regimented activity in the gym. If it is and you enjoy it, then go ahead and do some. You may be someone who likes your exercise to be self-directed. So you go on each exercise station problem solving or exorcising (pun intended!) your worries whilst doing something repetitive. Have you noticed how some people sit at an exercise station, daydreaming until someone walks past and “wakes” them into their next set of repetitions? This happens with any activity that has a repeated movement like running or swimming. For those with muscular tension, any activity that has an increased level of effort involved like using weights or circuit training can release physical tension associated with anxiety. Combining these elements with something competitive can help your mind to be absorbed in something else. This can be by playing a racquet sport with a friend. You may even employ a personal trainer who helps to personalise the “no pain, no gain” process. If “exercise for exercise sake” just seems pointless, then physical activity can be disguised as something more sociable and fun. Try dancing, swimming, brisk walking and chatting with a friend, or try something as part of a hobby like light gardening. What is important with the physical activity is that you place extra physical demand on your cardiovascular system. This in turn will trigger more forceful breathing so that the diaphragm muscle is brought into play. This breathing response links with ‘coping with anxiety tip #1’. You are again breathing abdominally, but the exercise is initiating the relaxation response rather than it being a conscious process. In my hypnotherapy consultations, my hypnotherapy patients who exercise say that it helps them when coping with anxiety and releasing physical tension. They feel much better after having done some physical activity. Coming from a health, fitness and coaching background, I would recommend exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s more than just a ‘coping with anxiety tip’.
Coping with anxiety tip #3: Have some useful distractionsThis ‘coping with anxiety tip’ is useful when you are worrying about a problem that can’t be resolved right away and you can get stuck in worry ‘mode’. This situation can be made worse when there is nothing else to focus on. The aim is to centre your attention on something that can absorb your mind just enough to leave anxiety where it is. This does not mean fill every moment with activity however. Coping with anxiety directly is something quite different. This is just another way to temporarily manage your anxiety by ‘stepping out’ of it, aware that it will be dealt with at a different time. Call it strategic avoidance. It’s useful when you a dreading making a phone call to someone who is absent. You have planned the conversation but you don’t know how they will respond. So you keep worrying about this, filling every quiet moment with ‘what if’s’. The call just needs to be made, but unfortunately they are not available. When using a valid distraction, it’s crucial to consider:
- The level of concentration required in an activity and
- The level of importance of the activity.
Coping with anxiety Tips #4: Get talkingIs there any substance in the saying “a problem shared is a problem halved”? If you have a good social circle, it can be a very natural ‘coping with anxiety tip’. Talking to people can help to lift your mood and release your anxiety. You don’t have to be given an action plan of solutions that you take with you and tick off as you deal with each one. It can just be about being placed in a situation where you are talking to someone and they are there listening to you. It can be (ideally) in person, on Skype or even on the telephone, as long as you are connecting in some way with the listener. When you can have a good “natter”, you can offload and unburden your worries and then feel free of them. It’s the emotional attachment to your worries that make them more of an issue than the issues per se. Remember that worries are perceived and only exist in your mind. When the emotion has changed, the problem can be repositioned in your mind. Talking is like unloading your heavy burdens onto someone else who has space in their worry trailer. The listener doesn’t have to be a professional therapist. As long as they are patient with you and seek to understand the nature of your issue, you can benefit from the interaction. And if you feel guilty about taking up their valuable time or “borrowing” from them, you can always return the favour on another occasion. Coping with anxiety can be a two-way exchange. Hypnotherapy consultations involve a hypnotic induction. When exploring the patient’s issues, the early part of the session is a useful opportunity for you to offload and discuss the problems related to your goal. When the situation demands it, I let this cathartic function continue, being aware that it is therapeutic in your overall treatment. It helps to build report and this helps you to be more receptive to my hypnotic suggestions.
Coping with anxiety Tips #5: Get writingWriting a letter, but not sending it, is a particularly useful way of coping with your anxiety if you have a more reserved personality. There is evidence to suggest that it is a good platform to actively process and express your feelings but in a passive way. In certain situations, processing them is all that is needed to feel better about them. Writing a (disposable) letter is typically useful for emotions likesuppressed anger, when venting it directly at the person would not be wholly appropriate. When writing a letter, no one needs to be involved in the process unless you choose them to be. So the disposable letter acts as the cathartic release of your raw emotion. You can “get it off your chest” without needing to rant at the other person and then regret it afterwards. With the emotion of anxiety however, the letter does not have to be aimed at anyone in particular. You can address it to your own mind! You recognise that your mind is generating these worries and it is getting you nowhere. So rather than being possessed by it, the letter gives you the opportunity to step outside of the worry and communicate with the anxiety. Consider that in your mind, you can go through internal discussions several times a day. Call it the process of deliberating. When there is a dominant part of you, it is that “voice” that will make the loudest noise. When you are struggling coping with anxiety, anxiety is the most dominant part of your mind. And when you can’t bargain with it, the act of writing the letter strengthens other parts of your mind, giving the writing process more power to discharge your anxiety. There’s a huge difference between dealing with something and suppressing it. By writing a letter in this style, you are acknowledging that your mind’s anxiety is doing the job that it is designed to do (if only a little too well). You are opening the lid on the anxiety box and releasing it, rather than shutting the lid on it where it usually builds up and returns with a vengeance. When suppressed, the anxiety comes to the surface when you try to relax or it plays through your dreams creating restless sleep. The way you structure the letter further facilitates the cathartic process. Avoid a letter in which you are just expanding your worries. It can drown you in anxiety and be counter-productive. Write the letter in two stages.
- Acknowledge the negative state. In this case it is anxiety. State the worries and fears you have. Detail them just enough to be able to vent them. State what they are doing to you and how you are reacting to them. Detail some of the symptoms.
- Reject the negative state and embrace its positive-opposite (antonym). State how you are taking a huge step over to the positive side and succeeding in a more favourable place. With anxiety the opposite could be relaxation, calmness, peacefulness, confidence, contentment or assurance. State what the positive side is doing for you, how it is empowering you to act and how you are making significant changes to your life.
Coping with anxiety tips: Hypnotherapy summaryThese practical ‘coping with anxiety tips’ are active ways in which you can release your mind from anxiety and the associated physical tension that is generated from it. When you can incorporate these activities into your lifestyle, they will reduce your awareness of anxiety. You can feel more relaxed and feel fitter. Coping with anxiety is an on-going process. As you would expect, a hypnotherapy course would have a much deeper impact on certain types of anxiety. A hypnotherapy course can help you to relax whilst being in a highly suggestible state. It can help plant techniques that have a lasting impression on your thinking. Hypnotherapy can also help you to reframe sensitising events that are influencing your anxiety.
For further information on coping with anxiety in Cardiff using hypnotherapy, contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff
Stop Smoking Tips 2In my first article on ‘how to stop smoking tips 1’, I discussed three of the essential background stop smoking issues that focus your mind on the big day. Firstly, recognise that the nicotine cycle is just cravings fooling your mind. Over time, as the addiction takes over, you will make up any justification to keep the addiction going. Secondly, by appreciating how anxiety and stress are connected with smoking, you can find new ways to cope with your anxious and stressful issues. Without this, you will feel like an “ex-smoker” who is still vulnerable to smoking again. Thirdly, recognise how breathing (inhaling) is part of your smoking habit. Relaxed breathing is a way of controlling anxiety and stress. When you see these connections for what they are, life without a cigarette becomes a realistic achievement. In my hypnotherapy consultations, I aim to identify other important issues that individualise your smoking habit and match them with an appropriate stop smoking hypnotherapy treatment. Converting to being a non-smoker requires an understanding of your personal smoking triggers and then rehearsing alternative ways to cope without a cigarette. This way you can be ready for your stop smoking transformation. If you want professional help to stop smoking: Stop Smoking Cardiff
Stop Smoking Tips #1:
If you’ve previously stopped smoking, identify what caused you to re-start smokingIdentifying the reason for your smoking lapses can help you to establish your vulnerability when you want to stop smoking again. Stopping smoking is one achievement; staying stopped is the ultimate goal. When you know why you have re-started smoking, you can prepare different coping strategies that take you through past failings. This is particularly significant if you have stopped smoking for more than 3 days. After 3 days, research has shown that the majority of the nicotine has left your body. After 7 days, cotinine (the main nicotine metabolite) is absent from the blood. Physiologically, you have done the necessary work; you are an “ex-smoker.” What draws you back into smoking cigarettes after this period of stopping is what you psychologically and emotionally associate with your smoking habit. If you lapsed in a social situation, then it can explain that you are socially anxious, you give-in to peer-pressure or seek acceptance through social rewards. Armed with this knowledge, you can then prepare for a different way of coping in social situations. Ironically, the first lapse is usually an issue of over-confidence. You have stopped for a few weeks and haven’t fully understood the nature of your psychological smoking habit. You believe that you can stop-and-start whenever you feel like it. You then find yourself in a situation where you feel that something is missing. You think that “just one” cigarette won’t matter. You may not even enjoy restarting, but the one cigarette is enough to draw you back into your addiction as a smoker. For the rest of the day and the following days, you succumb to the power of the nicotine cravings. You have now learned how addictive nicotine can be and that you are not in as much control as you once thought. Stress can be a reason for re-starting smoking. As discussed in the “how to stop smoking tips 1”, if you underestimated the impact of stress, it may have drawn you back into smoking when going through a crisis. Psychologically, at higher a level of stress, your mind goes back to what it knows. If you have previously convinced yourself that smoking cigarettes helps you to cope with stress, the smoking trigger will overcome you. So you start smoking to get you through the stress, but after the stress has eased, the nicotine addiction will have you hooked again. Hypnotherapy can help you identify the nature of your stress and offer you alternative ways of coping. When you can see yourself coping with stress as a non-smoker, your confidence will grow. You can change from the mind-set of the “ex-smoker” to the “non-smoker.” Another reason for re-starting smoking is because when you have stopped, you put on weight. There is evidence that nicotine can act as an appetite suppressant but taking this issue into account, there are ways to ensure that the weight gain is temporary. Where smoking has been used to comfort your stress, food will tend to be the next accessible crutch. “Skinny smokers” who have become non-smokers, have included exercise and healthier eating in their transformation. When this issue is identified in a course of stop smoking hypnotherapy, weight loss suggestions are used to ensure a smoother transition through these health changes. Other reasons for re-starting smoking are varied and personal. Some stop smoking hypnotherapy patients are unsure why they have restarted smoking. When the reason is unconscious, hypnotherapy can be a useful tool to uncover and treat past negative learning. When your mind can connect with “why” you have done something, you can develop the necessary tools needed to fix the situation. If you have smoked continuously for years, then this issue of “re-starting” won’t directly apply to you. But your smoking habit will have integrated a number of other issues. By identifying situations when you have smoked more cigarettes, you can establish when you will be hit by the physiological and psychological cravings (see stop smoking tips #2, below).
Stop Smoking Tips #2:
If you’ve never tried to stop smoking, identify when you smoke more cigarettes and what influenced you to start in the first placeIf you’ve never stopped smoking for more than 3 days then you are dependent on identifying your smoking triggers “inside” the nicotine addiction. Those with a heavier addiction may not be aware of those differences because there’s very little time when you are not smoking. Those with moderate addictions are likely to recognise these subtleties. Maybe it’s stress, anxiety or boredom. Once you have identified the link with your increased dependency on cigarettes, you can find alternative ways of coping once you have stopped. The reason that you first started smoking may have been several years ago, but don’t dismiss it as being irrelevant. Teenage traits can still direct adult behaviour. Many of you may have succumbed to peer-pressure back then. Do you find that you still smoke more cigarettes socially? If so then, social reinforcement is still part of your adult life. When you are stuck in a negative habit and are struggling to change it, hypnotherapy can be an effective technique to uncover the cause of the habit. Hypnotherapy can then be used to release the emotion behind the habit. For example, some of you may have started smoking to defy controlling parents. As an adult, the defiance is no longer required but is still blocking your progress. Taking a “U-turn” with your belief system can be difficult on your own. Many adult patients recognise that the reason for continuing smoking is pointless. But transforming defiance into something positive would mean changing a deeper part of your belief system. Regression hypnotherapy is used in this situation to help change emotional blocks.
Stop Smoking Tips #3:
Consider if you “miss” smoking in situations where you can’t smokeThis issue is something that smokers have had to deal with more since the ban on smoking in public places. When the ban was first announced, there was a moderate rebellion followed by general compliance. It may have hardened the defiant smokers attitudes to smoke “by right” when they ‘can’ smoke. For others, it was a breath of fresh air; (pun intended!) you just went outside! What is so helpful for the aspiring non-smoker is to consider if they “miss” smoking when they are not allowed to smoke. Many of my stop smoking hypnotherapy patients say that they just accept the situation and focus on other things. They don’t feel deprived. They flick the “internal smoking switch” off when entering their workplace, but switch “it” on again the moment they have left work. Can you see this positive “mind-mechanism” as a decision of choice? If you can, then it’s a choice that is transferable into other situations where you “can” smoke but chose not to smoke.
How to stop smoking tips: summaryIn this article, these 3 stop smoking tips consider the fluctuations in your smoking behaviour. It considers the beliefs and emotions when you first started smoking, re-started smoking after temporary stops and increases and decreases in the number of cigarettes smoked in certain situations.When you have an understanding of these issues, you can prepare your stop smoking programme to match these changes in your smoking habit. Hypnotherapy helps to create a state of deep relaxation. In this state, your mind is more receptive to the suggestions used by the hypnotherapist to stop smoking. In my stop smoking hypnotherapy courses, the techniques are personalised to treat your stop smoking blocks quickly to help convert you from a smoker to a non-smoker. For professional help to stop smoking: Stop Smoking Cardiff
For further information on stop smoking tips, and stop smoking Cardiff hypnotherapy courses contact Hypnotherapy Cardiff
How to Stop Smoking Tips 1There are many articles offering ‘how to stop smoking tips’. In this article, these ‘how to stop smoking tips’ are based on my experiences using hypnotherapy as a successful smoking cessation method. Hypnotherapy uses techniques that help the patient’s mind to be more receptive to positive suggestions and visualisation. When this is combined with an awareness of central issues that drive the smoking habit, the hypnotherapy patient is ready to stop smoking. They can then go through a re-learning process of how to stay “stopped”.
These three ‘how to stop smoking tips’ are part of that early journey. Your mind and body moves from being a “smoker” to “ex-smoker”. Once you have stopped smoking, you can then ultimately embrace the belief system and lifestyle of the “non-smoker”. In this lifestyle change, you lead your life naturally without the want or need for a cigarette. This is how to stop smoking.If you are seeking professional help to stop smoking: Stop Smoking Cardiff
How to Stop Smoking Tips #1:
Recognise that the nicotine cycle is just cravings fooling your mindIn my view, the first of the ‘how to stop smoking tips’ is the most fundamental tip of them all. If you smoke on a regular basis, then you are likely to be addicted to nicotine. Being a very addictive drug, it serves a simple purpose – once addicted, it wants to keep you addicted.
When your blood-nicotine level falls, your brain registers this depletion. You begin to feel “incomplete”. Symptoms include irritability, edginess, poor concentration and physical tension. In many ways it is similar to mild anxiety. These feelings sweep through you in waves until you are able to smoke a cigarette. When you smoke your next cigarette, you are increasing your blood-nicotine levels. Your brain registers this increase and the irritability symptoms begin to subside as you feel “complete” or “relaxed” again. The blood-nicotine levels are normalised and for how long this equilibrium lasts depends on the severity of your addiction. It can be a few minutes to a few hours.Consider the nicotine cycle as purely an addictive drug cycle that wants to keep you on the inside. All other reasons for justifying smoking are superfluous to that cycle. If you are using those excuses of “but I like it” or “it helps me to feel better...” recognise that it is just the nicotine cravings that are deceiving you. Those who say that they “like” smoking have gone way past the initial nausea stage. You have dragged yourself through this stage, using another ‘value’ to keep you firmly on the smoking path e.g. “I want to look grown up”. As the nicotine cravings and smoking habits changed you, you will have suddenly realised that you are struggling without them. In my stop smoking hypnotherapy consultations, when my patient can recognise that they are stuck in the nicotine trap, they can then throw out all of the other excuses that justify the need to keep smoking. Hypnotherapy is a useful way of communicating this to the patient’s unconscious mind. It facilitates an important dissociation stage.