Lost that loving feeling (Reason 1)

When we experience pain or an adrenaline rush, many people find themselves disconnected from the experience, not feeling anything, which can be very handy if you’ve dislocated your knee and have to get to the hospital to have it knocked back in!

Unfortunately though, a similar process can happen with psychological pain and we can learn to disconnect with those feelings that caused us to feel hurt in the first place. This can manifest itself in the form of feeling physically disconnected from one’s body or emotionally numb.

In it’s extreme form people can experience PTSD but it can happen from prolonged mini stresses and difficult experiences too. I have had a number of clients experience a lack of any sexual feeling as a result of prolonged difficulties, rejection or sadness in their relationship, as well as just from other external factors.

 

If we look to our biochemistry for answers, we know that being in this state for long periods of time, causes us to have elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. We have understood for some time that the bonding or love hormone, oxytocin, however can play a significant role in alleviating unpleasant responses to stress. If oxytocin goes up, cortisol comes down. Having loving, close connections has a profound effect on our ability to reduce stress,but the hormone interaction also happens the other way. If we are continually in a state of elevated cortisol – where we are stuck in the cycle of needing it to function (say from a constantly high pressured job or caring for a terminally ill parent for example) – then we suppress our oxytocin. 

As well as helping us have the energy to get through tough times, cortisol has an anti-inflammatory affect on the body. That’s why so many people end up getting ill as soon as they leave their stressful situations and go on holiday. Their cortisol reduces and the underlying inflammation they have been suppressing to ‘just get through this’ comes out.

There are a number of damaging affects of elevated cortisol, an increase in belly fat being one of them (which doesn’t exactly help with the whole ‘not wanting to connect with our body’ especially in a sexual setting). It really isn’t something that the body can deal with long term.

However, many of us have trained ourselves to live in this state, ignoring the warning signs from our body and shutting out experiences that would cause our bonding hormone to rise as our stress hormone would fall, and then we couldn’t function at this level. It’s not always a psychological decision to reject our partners, it can just be that at that time, our body can’t deal with what it knows will be a reduction in stress thanks to the flood of oxytocin.

So what can be done?

For example, when the major cause of stress is work, it comes down to having that difficult conversation to say ‘I’m not quite coping’. We don’t want to complain, we don’t want to show weaker than others (or put extra burden on them),  don’t want to risk not being looked upon favourably at work for fear of loss of promotion or worse still losing our job. These are all very real threats. But so is ruining your health and your relationship. Stress is the biggest cause of employee absence in the UK so it really pays for your employer to work with you to mange the situation before it gets out of control. Even if nothing can be done to improve your workload or manage it better, there might still be damage limitation options. A longer lunch break a couple of times a week to make room for lunchtime yoga class? A walk through the park then eating your lunch with your phone switched off and paying attention to how your body feels as you sit on the grass or feel the sun on your face (or rain on your brolly in this country!).

Mindfulness based hypnosis or meditation can help to reconnect with the body, in the form of basic ‘body scan’ or ‘progressive relaxation’ meditations (google them, there’s loads to choose from). Any kind of meditation though can help to bring down stress levels on a daily basis. Therapy can address the underlying fears that say ‘if I’m not stressed, I won’t be motivated’ or ‘I’ll fall apart if I let my guard down’ as well as worries about hurting loved ones by being intimate sometimes, then seemingly unpredictably being unable to at other times. Your therapist can only do this however if it’s true. There’s no use in hypnosis to ‘get rid’ of fears if they’re actually correct or serving a purpose. If it’s not possible, then the only real solution is to find a way to cope without being in a permanent state of stress and that means taking time out and asking for help as mentioned above. It’s hard, if not impossible sometimes but a good therapist should be able to help you find some ways, or at least put things in place so you have a plan for when you can get to that stage (sooner rather than later).oxytocin

 

Just not feeling the joys of spring

The world is waking up from hibernation and while for many this is an exciting time of motivation for new beginnings, it can be a really tough time for those that just aren’t feeling it.

It’s acceptable to be grumpy and not take care of our bodies in winter. To spend our evenings watching TV and eating comfort food. Even for people who don’t feel the pain of Seasonal Affective Disorder can feel sorry for themselves as a result of post-Christmas austerity measures. There is a sort of collective drudgery in January and February that is an accepted norm.

Next weekend marks the start of Spring. Temperatures rise, the days get longer.  Projects and summer holidays are planned. The house gets an overhaul and we look forward to walks and days out with loved ones. Salads are all of a sudden back on the menu and sex drives get a real surge.

Many of my clients suffering with depression, sexual disorders and weight difficulties have told me how much harder it is when everyone else is cheering up.

 

I would like to thank the new clients below, who have been kind enough to give me permission to quote them in order to hopefully help other people realise they are not alone:

‘people keep telling me how nice it is outside. Talking about the fun stuff they’re getting up to and calling me a grumpy old man. It just makes it even more obvious that there’s something wrong with me and they’re right’

[depression & erectile dysfunction client, 51]

‘it’s already started. The magazines with skimpy summer clothes and the chats about holidays. It’s only going to get worse from now on. I brought leftover Birthday cake in and only 2 lads had a piece. Everyone else just looked at me with pity’

[weight loss client, 29]

‘we took the dog to the reservoir for a long walk on Sunday and it was really sunny. There were all these couples holding hands and girls out jogging and my husband just kept fawning at me and it was so uncomfortable we ended up having a massive row’

[one half of a relationship therapy couple, 33 & 37].

By 21st June these 3 clients that started this month will have a wonderful summer to look forward to. Living and loving. We all deserve that.

Make me not….

Something that attracts a lot of people to hypnotherapy is the idea of making thoughts, feelings and behaviours go away.

If hypnosis works to stop you smoking, then surely the same technique can be used to stop you eating, or cheating, or obsessing? Sometimes, yes. A lot of people make a lot of money out of this approach. It has it’s place. The techniques involve basically telling you that you don’t want to do something anymore, and giving you tricks to interrupt the habit. Sometimes this is enough. Unfortunately with many more complex issues, they are there because at some time they served a purpose, because there is something missing, or something wrong. If we keep ignoring it or providing false relief, our subconscious can engineer something 10 times stronger later on.

When we acknowledge and appreciate our feelings, we can experience true mastery, not just a temporary relief.

Once of the cornerstones of the Chinese Five Element Acupuncture theory is that our elemental weakness is also our strength. So for example a fire element may suffer terribly from a broken heart, but consequently can come out the other side with even better love to give. An earth element may struggle terribly with food addiction but once balanced, may find themselves running macrobiotic cookery classes! Resolving our worst bits can in fact bring out the best in us.

But….and here’s the tricky bit. There is a a fine line between embracing your negativity and using it to help you, and actually dwelling on it and believing it.

One of the books that first helped me on the start of my journey years ago to start facing my negative feelings, was The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

I have been an avid follower of the wonderful Geoff Thompson since I was introduced to him by the equally inspiring Jon Price from City Spring Acupuncture.

Great to see him applying his straight talking, practical explanations of the technique here. Give it a go.

The self improvement practice above takes time and a commitment to want to change and to listen.  Sometimes when we are at our worst is a great time to be forced to listen and act but other times it is just too hard, life may be getting in the way or we just don’t feel strong enough to avoid getting drawn in. So we may want to be more selective about the battles we fight with our inner negative feelings or habits. We may for example want to delay action until our health improves for example; or appreciate that it may be better to start with smaller problems; or we may be waiting until we have the finances to go and see a therapist. This is all OK and doesn’t have to mean burying them.

I love this simple technique from my yoga teacher Bret Larkin to let things be as they are, but not allow our minds to give them power.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

draw down

Successful people ask for expert help

We all know that successful people aren’t shy about asking for help. Fortune ‘How Asking for Help Actually Helps You.

They understand their own strengths and don’t waste time on things others can do for them better, faster and cheaper.

How many of us would cut our own hair, or ask a friend to check out a lump in our breast? Very few I’m sure!

Yet when it comes to malignancies in our thoughts, so many people try to figure it out on their own, or worse still ask friends and colleagues to dissect it for them!

The result is prolonged pain, confusion and a sense of failure.

This time of year most of our enquiries at JQ Therapy are from people who realise that their fad diet is making them miserable or their successful dry January only resulted in a catch-up February. They see themselves as having weak will power and seeking out expert advice as an admission of defeat.  Especially hypnotherapy, surely there’s nothing empowering about someone else telling you what to do?

Well that’s where we’re different. We don’t tell you what to do. There is no such thing as will power. It’s will coercion. And it’s our job, as experts of the workings of the human psyche to help you gain the insights you need, to give yourself whatever your mind is telling you it wants before it can make the changes you want.

That’s why we only work with an average of one in every three clients that come to see us. We don’t do Groupon deals and we don’t do quick fix gimmicks.

Investing in just a couple of months seeing a competent therapist, to set you up for life, works out cheaper, more efficient and so much more effective in the long run.

Don’t come and see us to get better. Come and see us to get EVEN better. Because successful people know that to ask for help doesn’t make them weak: it makes them wise!